My little twin! Mistake turned into an On Purpose

Sfloralsweatshirt1Look at my little twin! She is not exactly my twin, since she looks just like her father, but we still had a lot of fun dressing alike!

zSfloralsweatshirt3I totally futzed up my first version of the slinky sweatshirt, making it much too small in the shoulders by using a pattern designed to be a fitted baseball t-shirt style from Sew U Home Stretch. I had to drag myself out of a hole of despair to try it on S. Sfloralsweatshirt4

The shoulders (nearly) fit! It still may be a tad big on my slight girl, but I was NOT going to rip it apart to make smaller when I had already added the fold over elastic trim into the seam as piping. Especially since I serged all my seams! I just finished the hem right up and pretended like it was my plan to make her this top all along.

Sfloralsweatshirt5Even though I am so sad as each birthday candle gets added to my older daughter’s cake, it is nice that she is 9 years old and that wearing a matching shirt with her mom is plausible (she no longer wears shirts with sequin ponies on them) and not totally embarrassing (though I know that day will come soon enough).


My First Jacket! Islander Sewing Systems Jacket Express

IkatJacket2Well, not exactly my first – I used some thrifted polyester to muslin the entire jacket. It was really a learning process…I tried every technique and even had hopes of wearing my first draft until I got to the welt pockets and had an utter fail.

IkatJacketBackI avidly followed the Craftsy class “Sew Better, Sew Faster” with Janet Pray. She is amazing! I learned so many things it boggled my mind! She taught me:

  • Successful topstitching
  • How to use a clapper and why
  • Better fusing of interfacing
  • The burrito method for collars, cuffs and waistbands
  • Most important—how to hold the fabric as you sew to keep the sewn layers even!

IkatJacketTopstitchingThe last two items I had been introduced to at the Sew Expo here in Washington a couple years ago. They had an Islander Sewing class that was great, but the teacher didn’t make me understand how their method of holding the fabric as you sew would help you be so much more accurate in the pesky top layer vs. bottom layer problem that plagues us all. That technique is ah-mazing! Worth the price of the class. And I know that my Bernina doesn’t pull fabric nearly as badly as my Brother, so if you use a newer machine with 5 feed dogs, this technique is vital. I felt like I had to use a walking foot to sew anything on my Brother. Does anyone know of this pain?

The burrito method I also learned at the Sew Expo, came home and practiced once, then promptly forgot. It is really helpful also and will make my turned under edges look so professional from now on. I am going to incorporate it into my sewing world right now!

IkatJacketHandinPocketI’d like to turn your attention to my welt pockets. I finally reached success! Such a scary process to cut into your project like that. What I did is I put those welt pockets in first, before I sewed the lower side front to any other piece. That way, if the pockets didn’t turn out I could just cut another couple lower side front pieces and go on my merry way without the pockets. With my Plan B clearly laid out, I wasn’t as nervous and they turned out fine. Perfect, in fact. Janet teaches you how a welt could go awry so you can be on the alert for those problems. She also teaches you to mark the hell out of your sewing lines before you sew. That way you know just where to start and stop, down to the stitch.

IkatJacketWeltPocketThe “Express Jacket” pattern was not very “express” in my hands. I have been tracking how much time I spend in the sewing room with a timesheet app and it took my 16 hours to complete this baby. Whew! I must be the slowest seamstress in the universe. The practice jacket took 10, and I didn’t finish it since the pockets didn’t work out. But it was a labor of love, and an invaluable learning tool.

IkatJacketCuffI knew I was going to turn my cuffs up, so I cut out some contrast cuff facings to add style. Another feature I love is how the top yoke is turned sideways and then the sideways print looks like it extends down the sleeve. My metal buttons are fun, too, but I did choose not to put buttons on my top pockets. I liked it without, so I left them off.

I love my jacket so! It is going to slip right into my MMM ’14 wardrobe project and pull everything together. I didn’t photograph it with the other pieces yet because I am waiting until May, but I know it is going to be worn to death. I do wish I could take the whole thing and shrink it down a couple sizes (especially the sleeves, they are wide!). I made the XS, but the fit is very relaxed, and that isn’t usually my silhouette. But I will take these jacket sewing tips and tricks and make more jackets. More, more, more!


A slinky take on a sweatshirt

GussiedUpSweatshirt4I have to admit that I adore this current “gussied up” sweatshirt trend I’ve seen everywhere. I know I’ve mentioned that the name of my blog comes from the weather here in the PacNW. I tend to be cold quite often. And that means that if I didn’t love beautiful clothes and fashion so much I would be perfectly happy in a sweatshirt 80% of the time. But, alas, I do love cute clothes, and I try to pull it together, at least part of the time.

GussiedUpSweatshirt1So this is a perfect piece to add to the arsenal for fending off my near constant chill. It was one of my planned pieces as I gear up for MMM ‘14. I acknowledge that, as much as I hope we will get some bright, spring-like weather in May, it is certainly not guaranteed. I’m going to need to stick to longer sleeves for a while yet.

The floral front panel is a slinky knit found in the LA garment district for $2.00/yard. I bought just 1 yard, but they cut generously and it was plenty for me to cut the front out, totally ruin that version, and cut another one out. I also had quite a bit of the royal blue rayon jersey, luckily.

GussiedUpSweatshirt5I used a pattern from my Sew U Home Stretch book. But I did not realize it was more of a baseball T-shirt type fit, with lots of negative ease. So I did add a little to the seam allowance, but not nearly enough. Also, I think I have some broad shoulders that I need to start accounting for. I sewed up the first one on my serger and realized how ridiculously tight it was. Not at all the look I was trying to achieve! I finally hit on the brilliant idea of grabbing the sweatshirt I was copying as a guide for the measurements. Why didn’t that occur to me at first? I ended up adding an inch and a half to all the seams to get this relaxed fit.

GussiedUpSweatshirtCloseUpI added some little ruffled elastic in the front shoulder seams. I basted that in with a zig zag on the sewing machine then serged right over it when I had it placed correctly. I just wanted to add a little something to make it my own.

It ended up just as I envisioned (the second time around), but don’t worry, I’ll be putting my too small first version to good use. You’ll see that on the blog soon.

GussiedUpSweatshirt3Look how my gear up pieces are already playing so nicely together! The skirt really does act like a neutral, even with that big floral print on top. The plan is beginning to take shape! Exciting! Speaking of the MMM’14 plan, here is my pledge:

I, Helena, of Gray All Day, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14, and commit to wearing all me made outfits for the duration of May. That means all major pieces in my outfit will be me made, but not undies, camis, accessories or coats, and I might need to wear sweaters that I did not knit (I still don’t know how to knit!).


Wins Losses
-Relaxed fit finally achieved-Slinky knit matched well with the rayon jersey

-Successful application of ruffled elastic

Entire first version was a fail-The neckband could be pulled tighter

-The seam where I joined the neckband sticks out

I linked up to Share In Style…their theme was flowers! How perfect!

Houndstooth Moss Mini but longer

HoundstoothSkirt1And here is the first piece of my Me Made May Project – the houndstooth skirt. The Moss Skirt is such a great basic and a great blank canvas. I love the straight shape and with the bottom band it is long enough for me to remain comfortable. The fly front makes a casual, but, as a seamstress, you always have the option to sew it up in a unique or glamorous fabric.
HoundstoothSkirtPocketsMy goal with all my sewing is to make things stamped with my personality, but this project is very specific in that the pieces must work together to form enough outfits to get me through an entire month. I love this large-scale houndstooth, it has texture and the pattern is distinctive yet remains neutral. But… the fabric has a very loose weave (which I didn’t notice in my rush to purchase the stuff). I think this would be considered to boucle? It was so difficult to work with. And even after all the fighting to construct my lovely skirt, the truth is, will it last very long? It may fall apart at any moment. Gah!
HoundstoothSkirt5You can see some attention was paid to the matching of the houndstooth stripes, and yet, they are not perfectly aligned. Oh, the troubles I’ve seen… I sewed up a seam, the fabric shifted while sewing because the feed dogs grabbed the textured stuff so hard, then when I beheld the awful shifted seam I immediately got out the seam ripper. Except taking the threads out of this loose and delicate fabric was like performing brain surgery (like on Gray’s Anatomy where they have witty and/or life-changing conversations easily without a thought to the operation they are performing on someone’s head). I hacked at the brain for a while before I “closed” and opted to simply love it instead. That is also about the time when I really came to terms with the fact that the skirt may not be an heirloom piece that will stand the test of time. It might not last that long. Ah well.
HoundstoothSkirt2An especially tricky operation was the fly front in that material. In Jen of Grainline’s fly front zipper tutorial there is quite a bit of basting and ripping, to which this fabric screamed in protest. I finally got it in there, with the added bonus of knowing that whatever I chose to put a fly front zipper in again will seem like a piece of cake compared to that.
HoundstoothSkirt3Also, despite my muslin, the back yoke is kind of riding up. I blame my bottom (don’t women always do that? Such a cliché I am!) I’m afraid of yanking down too hard on that fabric to keep it where it should be. If I just lost 3 pounds. *Insert moans here*
Anyway, yay, the first piece of my project is complete! I’m going to store it carefully way until May and I hope it helps me make it through the month. I’m clicking over right now to sign up for the Me Made May Challenge here.
HoundstoothSkirt4Oh yeah, the top is from Lekala pattern #4142 that I made months ago and couldn’t bear to take pictures of in our cold wet weather until now. It is inspired by some Anthropologie tops they carried last summer. Again, I love mixing different fabrics! The top yoke is a silk remnant, which I lined with the blue rayon, and the bottom is a lightweight rayon knit and is very soft. I know I will wear this top a ton during the summer, but this photo shoot was very chilly. HoundstoothSkirt6Please note the placket! My first placket attempt and it went okay, but I know next time I will interface the silk and it will look even sharper. I have tiny little green buttons that would be perfect on the placket, but alas, buttonholes were impossible on my non-interfaced silk. I guess I didn’t think that through totally before I assembled it. Live and learn. But I like this pattern and I think I’ll make it again with some other scraps have saved carefully like hoarder. No, not a hoarder, I was thinking ahead to this very day when I would have the perfect pattern to use them up with and create a whole wardrobe of darling summer tops. That is the story I am going with!


Vogue 8805- Colorblocked fun for The Monthly Stitch

Vogue8805outsideHere is the Monthly Stitch Challenge project finished (and photographed, which is the step that always slows this blog down) at last. I liked this pattern, Vogue 8805, much more than I expected. The fit in the shoulder and the shape of the top panel joining the middle panel is really great. Additionally, it includes adjustable darts—you pick the cup size. A very nice feature for this rather simple pattern.
Vogue8805sleeveI ignored the instructions totally. I self-lined the top portion by just cutting 2 fronts and 2 backs. And yet I still had to hand stitch the armholes because that slippery rayon did not match up and I didn’t want it to hang funny if it did not align properly. So I sewed it together at the neck and down the back, attached it to the middle panel, and then folded the sleeves in as it hung on my dressform so I could guarantee that the lining wasn’t pulling. I finally used my Japanese “Wonder Tape” stuff that I got at the Sew Expo to hold it in place and it worked handily!
Vogue8805bottomPanelHow about that embroidered silk bottom panel? I told you there was a little surprise coming…I folded that fabric in the voting picture so you couldn’t see the awesome detail of it! I’m so sneaky! It is another designer remnant from my local Pacific Fabrics. I cut the bottom panel shorter than the pattern calls for because when I researched other versions, the shorter bottom band looked more modern and had a better proportion.
Vogue8805backI split the entire top back panel instead of just a few inches like the pattern suggests. I had seen other bloggers had done it this way and it made finishing easier anyway. Then I added a little gray fabric covered button I found in my button jar—it obviously came with a purchased top as a spare that I never used and it was perfect. It is soooo satisfying to my cheap inner self to use up odd and free notions that I have lying around. I even made a thread chain loop. It was just like crocheting…easy.
Vogue8805frontMy conclusion is The Monthly Stitch is quite fab. I am so glad I joined! I found many new blogs and I appreciated everyone who came over to my blog to vote. I’m looking forward to the next challenge.
I’m considering making this pattern again in a top length. Before I put on the bottom band I loved it so much I almost went with it. But I didn’t want to disappoint those who voted. I am really loving mixing fabrics right now. The possibilities are intriguing. I sit on the floor of my sewing room for hours dreaming up schemes. Most don’t get made, since I sew very slowly. But the daydreaming is fun and I count it as creative time. This pattern is great for that kind of daydreaming!

The Plan for Gearing Up for MMM 2014

Here are the details of my Gear Up for MMM project:

I’ll start with the pattered fabrics.


mission-maxi-cover_1024x1024This colorful chevron is very large scale knit that I plan to make a maxi dress out of. I’m thinking something very simple like the Mission Maxi wouldn’t break up the print, but I’m hesistant because of the $15 price tag. I know It would look equally good as a loose, batwing top or tunic, but a summer maxi dress fits my vision of an easy and stylish summer piece and I’ll probably wear it a lot.


airelle_225I love this navy, beige, and white swirl and it is a cotton silk blend and so light and airy! It could be a Deer and Doe Arielle blouse or perhaps the Colette Jasmine blouse. I don’t need too many details with such a busy print, and I don’t want to put buttons on such a lightweight fabric. It is so lovely and soft and will be perfect for spring and summer.

aqua floral chiffonI found this floral chiffon at value village and it will make a great Kimono sleeve dress. I think Salme patterns has one that’s simple, or maybe I could just draft my own. Using the word “draft” sure sounds official, but I think it would be fairly easy. I do know I would have to French seam and finish all those chiffon edges.. Still, I like the colors! And it was only $4.

navy floral slinkyThis Navy blue floral is a somewhat slinky knit. I have a top that I bought at Nordstrom that’s a slinky mauve knit cut like a sweatshirt and it’s one of my favorite tops. It’s easy to wear and comfortable but the slinky fabric makes it kind of special and still chic. I’m going to make the sleeves out of the plain blue, I’ve seen this done a lot in ready-to-wear and I think too much of this floral pattern would be too much. Just too much. I have a basic sweatshirt pattern from the book Sew U Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin.

navyIkatAnd then I found this bottom weight white and navy blue ikat fabric and squealed with delight! I plan on making pants and a jacket (but not to wear together, I promise!) I think pants out of this pattern will go with almost everything else I plan on making, and a jacket will also look great in this pattern. I’m so excited about this fabric. Boy am I a dork.  It actually has quite a bit of stretch so making skinny jeans out of it should be successful. I say this with great trepidation because I have never made pants before. But I am ready to tackle pants, especially since I wear them so much, and I love the Named Jamie jeans pattern.

grayhoundstoothI wanted to add some textures, not just prints (even though they are fun and addicting). This wool is houndstooth pattern, but it really acts more like a texture because it’s in such neutral colors and it is nubbly. Is it boucle? It is loosely woven and ravelly as hell. I am making a simple skirt with this and I think it will pair well with the other things I have planned, but it’s still a great piece on its own. I would buy it in a store.

tweedMossSkirtI also have a little bit of this blue tweed I also found a Value Village. I think I have enough to make a Moss miniskirt but I haven’t laid the pattern out yet so it remains to be seen. I hope so. Though it just now occurred to me that I don’t know how to line a Moss miniskirt. Should I skip a lining… but I might regret that in the summer. Tweed can get itchy and hot. I have to think more about that.

graycorsetM6325This gray looks textured but it’s actually quite soft. I loved Crab and Bee’s version of this corset- like top, McCalls 6325. I really liked how it could go under jackets or sweaters or still be worn on its own. Layer, layer, layer is my motto! And I think it will be a fun fitting challenge. But bust cups! Eek!

knitsSolids: I have these 2 very lightweight knits, one in gray and one in mustard. I think I’ll make a color blocked T-shirt. Something simple and probably not very fitted. Maybe a Hemlock Tee? Plantain T?

royal blue rayonThis blue rayon has a tiny bit of sheen to it. It is nice and silky but still substantial. I want a button down top with button pockets and tabs on the sleeves. Classic.

pinkcrossI picked up this strange polyester pink and black pattern stuff just for fun. I don’t have a lot of it, so I was thinking I jacket but with contrast sleeves in black? I don’t know how it works into my wardrobe plan, but it was just so cool I had to have it.

I also want some pink denim for pants or jeans, and I’m having a little trouble finding some. A pink jacket would be great too, but again, not to wear together! It would be a good contrast with all the blue. And I think it is pretty obvious that a white jacket is going to be necessary. A white jacket would basically change the whole look of each outfit. Oh man, did I just add another piece to my plan?

Comment with a link to your spring/summer wardrobe plan and I’ll list them on my Gear Up for MMM’14 page and we can delight in the fun of a wardrobe full of Me Mades!

Gear Up for Me Made May ’14 Project

button200x200I love a big project. Isn’t it fun to plan and work on a complex and multi-faceted project? The bigger the project, the more rewarding it is to me. That’s why I train for marathons! When the scope of my goal is expansive, I get excited, not overwhelmed. Is that weird?

But sewing is a little different… I am not technically ready for the typical “big project” things like the hand-tailored jacket or drafting my own pant pattern. Nope, not yet.

Last year, I created a wardrobe for my nine-year-old daughter and it was a blast. I made two dresses, a skirt and top combo, a coat, and some cardigans. I kept them all in the same color palette so they could mix-and-match. The colors also meant I could buy her shoes, accessories and sweaters confidently since I knew what she had in her wardrobe. I got the idea from Simple Simon and Co., her collection was brilliant and inspiring!

It was so fun! All that fun I had inspired me to start this blog, actually.

But since I began this blog I’ve been sewing much more for me. So, it just makes sense to do a similar project with my own wardrobe. Selfish selfish sewing!

Me Made May is only a couple months away and, as it stands, I don’t think I could get through an entire month of wearing my own creations. A big hole that I need to address is how things in my handmade wardrobe go together. I make stuff with no thought to how it will fit with everything else. This project will intentionally deal with that problem.

The Plan is to make 13 pieces.

  • 5 tops
  • 4 bottoms- 2 skirts and 2 pants
  • 2 dresses
  • 2 jackets

colorsSmallColor story – navy, gray, white, and pink

These pieces (in theory) should be able to work together to make at least 25 different looks. If I can include some of my other hand mades into my month, that has me covered for the Me Made May challenge. I do need to finish a project and  half a week, but that is just the kick in the butt I need, anyway.

Tomorrow I’ll post my fabric and pattern selections. Isn’t looking through your stash and perhaps purchasing a piece of fabric or two one of the funnest parts? It was for me!

If you also need to gear up for Me Made May this year and want to join in the fun, I made a blog button (code in my sidebar) for you to use if you’d like. Let me know in the comments if you are joining me so I can follow along with your project, too!

Mathilde blouse & info overload at the Sew Expo

Mathildeblouse1I found a BLUE rayon print with NEON yellow and my favorite MAUVE color, too! I love this print so hard. I buy blue and/or gray fabric every time I find myself in a fabric store, so this fits right into my MO, but with colorful accents. Excellent!

mathildeblouse2And yes, I made yet another cute blouse to go with jeans? I can now go a full week wearing my own makes but still staying in my cozy jeans. I feel like my wardrobe is really shaping up!

The Mathilde blouse is fun to sew and I love the fit. I liked the sew along directions, which I followed, but I plan on making this again and using the checklist next time. But even though I like this blouse so much, it was not without its bumps in the journey.

mathildebouse3Bump #1–I carefully sewed the pintucks (first time for me!) Then I laid the top across my chest to admire my work and realized they weren’t centered! Doh!  They were correctly spaced, just both sets were shifted over. Stupid, stupid. I didn’t have enough extra fabric to cut out a whole new front, so I really had to finesse it over; recut the armholes on the one side and shortened the side darts. And, miracle of miracles, it all worked out! I adore this top! I want to make 20 more. How many of the same shape top with giant bell sleeves can I get away with? I guess I’ll let you know.

Bump #2— I only bought 6 buttons, because I did not refer back to my pattern while at the store, but in actuality it calls for 7. It took me over 3 weeks to get myself over to the other Hobby Lobby (since I had bought up the last of them at our closest Hobby Lobby) and the blouse was sitting on my dress form, mocking me, waiting for that one single button forever. Needless to say I was so excited when it was finally done and I could wear it. Yay for anticipation!

mathildeblouse4I definitely recommend the pattern. My silky rayon draped beautifully. The gathered sleeves are a nice design. Even though they are full, they are not annoyingly so and still fit under the coat I must wear constantly in this never-ending rain.

I did get to attend the famous Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup for a mere 4 hours. I loved every precious minute of it (except perhaps the part where I got there so early that it wasn’t actually open yet and I had to sit and stare at the vendors longingly. Sewing nerd alert!). I took 3 classes– 2 on fitting and 1 on couture sewing techniques. The 2 fitting classes were great, but taking them back-to-back was so funny because the teachers taught the most opposite philosophies you can imagine! That kind of blew my mind. One was teaching from a patternmaker’s perspective (very interesting, but many times it flew right over my head!) and the other taught from a draping perspective (easier to visualize, but I don’t know how skillful I will be at copying the technique!) Anyway, I got A LOT of information that my mind is sifting through.

I am most excited about the people I met—I got to meet Amy from Sew Well (and her tiny newborn! It was hard to resist petting her sweet head!) and Leah from And Away I Sew! I also met some people from my local sewing Guild that I promise to start attending. Through my new BFF Leah I met a Craftsy teacher Laura Nash who had some great patterns and lots of interesting info on the Craftsy experience. Leah took me all around to the vendors that I had missed the last time I had attended and then we went on a wild goose chase to find the Islander Sewing booth. We never found it, but I decided I will take the “Sew Better, Sew Faster” Craftsy class even though I am not wild about the jacket pattern. Apparently the Islander Sewing techniques you learn are really valuable, so I am going to give it a try!

mathildeblouse5I didn’t buy any fabric (what a saint I am!) but I did get some super skinny and lightweight wonder tape stuff and a roll of bias fusible stabilizer. I can’t wait to try it out! And try out my new knowledge of fitting.

IMG_5009My next project will apparently be the Vogue color blocked dress, according to The Monthly Stitch votes cast. That whole voting process was great—I loved seeing the comments and I loved going out to vote for everyone’s projects, too! It really made me feel like part of a  community!

Renfrew knit dress w/leather

renfrewDress1This is what I call easy! A Renfrew T that I extended a few inches to turn into a dress. I’ve seen it done here and here. But then I complicated matters with leather shoulder inserts.

renfrewDress2Upon catching sight of this fabric I instantly imagined a cozy knit dress that I could wear boots with all winter long. But my mind wouldn’t allow me to simply follow a pattern. Oh no! I had to add my own twist– I love a twist!

renfrewdressAMy twist was the shoulder inserts. I had a scrap of embossed fake leather from who knows where that I had been biding my time on. Now was the perfect time to unleash it! But I did have to do a pattern alteration that made me nervous (and excited). I pinned the pattern’s shoulder seams together to draw the new pattern piece  over it and extend down the shoulders. Then I had to modify the existing pattern pieces and, of course, add seam allowances all around. It was especially interesting the shape of the piece of leather I ended up with. Putting the shoulder seam together doesn’t result in a straight line over the shoulder. The shoulder seam is sloped so the pieces come together at an angle. Getting that angle right was the tricky part, or the leather wasn’t going to lay correctly.

renfrewDress3So, my tiny twist took quite a while, but it turned out splendid. It is just the detail to turn this from straightfoward to unique. And those unique design details are one of the main reasons I sew!

I tried to lift my foot off to show off my new shoes, but I almost fell over! That is why I am making that silly face!

I tried to lift my foot up to show off my new shoes, but I almost fell over! Don’t I look surprised?

The Renfrew has a fairly modest (high) neckline, at least on me. So I brought the whole dress shape in to be more body-con. This knit is very forgiving of my figure issues and the curvier shape makes it more edgy. But I promise it is still so comfy to wear! Just a simple knit dress, really.

I’m entering this in Project Sewn Sew-Along! I’m number 45!

Vote on my next project for The Monthly Stitch

Since I have sewing ADD, I had no problem picking 3 unused patterns that I want to tackle in March. Help me decide on which one!

Contender #1 Colette Peony in brown plaid

colette peonyIMG_5020









Contender #2 Vogue 8805 in gray, navy and green


Contender #3 – BurdaStyle Checked Cape 08/2011 #112 in brown tweed (score from Value Village!)

112_burda cape