Friday, July 22, 2016


Jess, this one is for you!

I have been sewing all kinds of active wear since I started running regularly.  It seems my machine always has a stretch needle on it.

First up, sports bras. I have made several versions of Jalie 2563.  I made a size V and lined the fronts with firm powernet in order to have some serious compression.  I also lined the backs with less firm powernet.  Compression indeed!  The negative side effect of this compression is that once sweaty, the bra was really hard to get off.  I needed some escape help.  So...I tweaked the back and added bra hooks!  It was a simple change involving making a "U" shaped cut out of the back the width of the bra hooks I wanted to add.  I covered the edges of the U with fold over elastic before attaching the hooks. Now I can get it off without contorting myself.

I used a variety of fabrics including swimwear nylon spandex, red supplex, and a gray wicking activewear knit. 

Next up: Steeplechase Leggings!!

I really like wearing running tights in colder weather and was very interested in the Fehr Trade Steeplechase leggings since they have clever seaming an no seams on the inner thighs.  I did make a muslin of these to check the fit.  My hips were a L and waist was closer to a M, so I cut a L for the legs and made the yoke smaller by making several partial depth cuts at the top of the pattern piece and then overlapping the cuts to make it 3/4" smaller. I followed the advice of fellow pear shaped runner, Kathy, and raised the CB up 1", although she took the complicated route, and I just made the yoke taller in the back tapering to 0" at the sides.  Like her, I found the legs to be a little loose and took them in about 1/2" with my serger after they were assembled.  

My first pair were capri length and made from a gray/black "space print" I found at Hancock Fabrics (RIP).  The my 2nd pair was made to be bike short length, above the knee.  The leggings are drafted for someone with longer legs than mine, and I need to shorten them almost 3".  This pair was made with a blue/pink "space print" also purchased at Hancock.  I omitted the back pocket since I wear a hydration belt (like this) when I run and didn't need the extra pocket. 

Here they are:

(For comparison of body shape, the gray pair was photographed in mid-May and the blue on July 1st.)

I really like the Steeplechase leggings and find them to be very comfortable when running.  With that success, I really wanted to try the Cora running short from my beloved Jalie Patterns.  Again I consulted Kathy's blog to see what she did with her Coras.  Based on her recommendation, I did not raise the CB since she said they had great coverage as is.  I also wanted some compression so I made a straight size X which is one size smaller than my high hip measurement.  The fabric was a High Performance ATY Nylon Spandex in Heather Purple from for the main body of the shorts.  The waistband and leg bands were made with a Violet Nylon Activewear knit from FabricMart, which was slightly stretchier than the Heather Purple.  Construction-wise the pattern is excellent.  The fit was great too.  They are definitely compression shorts both because I made a smaller size than suggested and also because my fabric was slightly firm.  They are very comfortable for running and they make me feel awesome!  

My next pair was made with my blue/pink "space print" for the front of the legs and denim blue supplex from FabricMart for the remainder.  I skipped the back pocket for both pairs.

The blue supplex was less firm than the Heather Purple, so I didn't hesitate to make this pair in a size X as well.  They are also excellent, just not a compressing.  

But wait...there is more!  More activewear and more Jalie!

Enter Jalie 2796 multi-sport skort.  I made a few tweaks to this pattern.  I had read reviews of other curvy sewists who said that the back of the skirt was a little snug across their curves.  So I slashed and spread the back of the skirt pattern piece to be 1" wider at hip level.  The back piece is very A-line now.  

My first version was the royal blue which was made with an athletic mesh type knit that I think I bought at but I really don't know for sure.  The mesh wasn't as stretchy as was needed for the waistband (I couldn't even come close to getting it past my hips.  Thankfully I had some royal blue swimwear spandex that worked perfectly.  Underneath the skirt, I made the compression shorts using a Nike Dri-Fit purchased from  I didn't even bother hemming the need for extra seams or bulk along the inseam. I felt like the waist should have come up higher, all around, especially in the back.  I raised the front waistband up 3/4" and raised the back waistband up 3/4" at the side seams and 1.5" at the center back.  I also lengthened the skirt.  Version 2 was the marron version using the same mesh-type fabric.  I knew I didn't have any matching spandex to use for the waistband, so I used gray wicking athletic knit.  The 3rd version was the black/gray space print and black ITY for the contrast and waistband.  I love these!!

Last up is the one thing that isn't really me.  I bought the Fehr Trade VNA top, and for some reason I thought it had a built in sports doesn't.  I guess I got confused with the XYT top.  Anyway, I used my violet activewear knit from Fabric mart for the lower front/back and bindings and  the blue/pink space print for everything else.  I raised the neckline up 2" to provide more coverage on my chest.  

The instructions were very good an walked you through the assembly step by step.  I made a size Small and that seems right.  I think I need a little more length in the upper front, the seam hit me in a weird place.  I have worn it, and it is comfortable, and not having side seams is a plus, but it doesn't really feel like me.  I really don't like excess sun exposure and I feel a little exposed in this top.  Maybe I'll wear it on cloudy days. 

There you go, lots of sewing, lots of activewear!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


I spend a lot of time during the summer at the pool, and I like to vary which suits I wear each day.  I also wear rash guards so that adds more variety to my swim wardrobe.  The 3 suits I wear the most are my 2 versions of Jalie 3023, in blue (blogged here) and red polka dots (blogged here).  I also wear this one, which is a Jalie 3023 skirted bottom and a Jalie 2563 sport bra top.  



I love tankinis and wanted to make a new one in a different style.  I wound up copying a RTW suit I had that fit well, but whose elastic was showing its age and whose straps were stretching out.  For the top front, I copied the RTW suit, and for the back I used Jalie 3023 raising up the back to eliminate the back band.  I cut the straps extra-long so that I could decide later if I wanted them to cross in the back or not. 

The bikini bottoms I copied directly from my RTW suit, and once I tried it on, it was a little blousy on the back (I’ve never had that problem before!) and I removed some of the length between the legs by taking an extra large seam at the crotch.  There is still a little bit of extra fabric but it is acceptable as is. (Sorry: no photos of the bottoms). The fabric was a printed spandex from that I bought quite a while ago and had been saving for something special.

As I said before, I wear rash guards at the pool since I don’t want to tan/age prematurely.  My current collection of rash guards, most of which were purchased from Land’s End, are starting to wear out.  The fabric in several spots have worn thin and they need to be replaced.  I have made one rash guard for myself using Jalie 2566, (blogged here).  Searching on Pinterest for some rash guard inspiration, I noticed that most of the ones I liked had raglan sleeves.  I owned Jalie 3245, the raglan tee and tank pattern but had only made the tank.  I traced off a size V (2 sizes smaller than I would normally) and raised the neckline up to be much higher for a rash guard.  For the sleeve and back, I used the size FF neckline.  The front needed to be raised up even higher than the FF level.   I did a quick muslin and was happy with the fit.  Instead of doing Jalie’s method for the neck binding (which is quite clever) I cut a 2” wide band and folded it in half lengthwise, for a Renfrew-style neck binding.  I also made the sleeves full length. 

The fabric is a very pretty navy background with dark turquoise rose and leaves.  I purchased it from Hancock Fabrics before they closed their doors for good (sniff sniff).  I absolutely love how it turned out!

(the sleeves are all twisted because I was already wet when it put this on!) 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Endless Combinations!!

Hello! I have been sewing like mad!  When I discovered that Hancock Fabrics was going out of business, I went a little nuts buying fabric.  By "a little nuts", I mean a little more than a little.  ;)

I started sewing up my new-found stash and then discovered the Endless Combinations Contest going on at Pattern Review.  It was fate I tell you!!

Let me describe my entries in the following ways:
1.  Using cool fabric
2.  Replicating a cool pattern envelope photo
3.  Replicating a long gone and memories-attached jacket

First up. A skirt made from a blue/white/navy/green swirly ITY knit.  I used the trusty McCall's 6654:

Cool fabric isn't it??  Since the going out of business sale at Hancocks had 2 yard minimum cuts, I had plenty left over for a top to match.  Enter Vogue 8390:

My previous version of this pattern was in a brown knit and I still love it (but it did need some tweaks):

When the 2 pieces are worn together, it looks like a dress:

On a side note, I have started running...and apparently my waist has returned!!

Part 2 of my thoughts for this contest was replicating the Jalie Eleonore pattern cover.  In particular, the light blue capris and the striped top:

Jalie Eleonore Jeans

The model seemed so springy, cool and comfortable.  It is very unlike me to copy a pattern photo, but it happened this time.  I even bought similar shoes!!  

My attempt at the cover pose

I did a split hem on these, using this excellent tutorial from pattern~scissors~cloth.

The top was a new pattern: New Look 6384.   Let me tell you that the top runs big.  I cut a large and should have done a medium.  The neckline was both low and wide.  I took in the shoulder seams and also the center front.  The fabric was a white striped interlock knit which I used on this dress:
McCall's 6886 blogged here

I am not a big fan of interlock knit mostly because it has poor recovery.  My neckline was a wavy mess when I finished it:

I was industrious and used some stretch thread which I ran through the channeling made by the neck binding.  I did not follow the pattern instructions, but used Jalie's method of using a skinny binding. Here is a great tutorial to show how it's done.  Once the elastic thread was inside the casing, it was almost gathered.  After ironing, however, it came out perfect!  Quite the save!!

So my pattern envelope re-enactment was finished and last up was replicating a long gone and memories-attached jacket.  Back when I was 18, I was an exchange student in France (Western Brittany).  At some point during my year long stay, I purchased a white Gap jean jacket from the Kilo Shop, where everything is sold by the kilo.  I remember the jacket being a bit too big, and I remember adding velcro to the inner pockets to prevent pick-pocketing during my travels (I was really paranoid about theives).  I have fond memories of that jacket including learning that the French word for velcro was "velcro".  So when I needed something to create Endless Combinations, a white jean jacket would be perfect.

I used Butterick 5616 from my stash:
Butterick 5616

Most reviewers mentioned the pattern being boxy, which is something I meant to minimize, if not eliminate.  I wisely made a muslin and did the following changes:

1.       I tapered the center back piece to narrow at the waist.  As drafted there was about a 2” difference between the finished bust and finished waist measurement…boxy indeed!
2.       I did a swayback adjustment, taking a ~1” fisheye dart across the back & side back pieces, tapering to nothing at the side seam.
3.       I did a slight FBA adding 3/8” to the bust at the side front.
4.       Below the bust I shaved off ~ ¼ ”on the seam to fit closer to the stomach.
5.       From my muslin, I discovered that the shoulders were very wide.  I narrowed them about 5/8”.
6.       I lengthened the sleeves from ¾ length to full length.
7.       I made the sleeve cuff narrower to match the lower band and used 1 button instead of 3
8.       I added ¼” twill tape along the collar to stabilize it. 
9.       I added interior pockets to the front pieces (you must have interior pockets to thwart pickpockets!!)
10.   I added a coat hanging loop.

I had JUST enough fabric for this jacket.  This is all that was left:
"Big" Scraps

"little" scraps

I am very happy with how it turned out.  I did made a bit of a goof-up however.  The sleeves & cuffs were designed to be 3/4 length and ending at the forearm.  I made the sleeves full length, but I forgot to taper them both down to be wrist size.  I realized my error after the cuffs were attached and topstitched.  Sigh...   So I put the button on ~2" from the edge of the cuff to make them a more sensible size.  

My Endless Combinations were complete.  Here is my collage:

It is a great assortment of outfits, and I am very pleased with how they turned out.  

Mid-April I was able to tag along when my husband had to go to Miami for work.  Here is a photo of me on South Beach, all cool and windblown:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Eleonore, je t'adore!

Lets start by stating the obvious: I love Jalie patterns!  27 sizes in each pattern, great directions, clever construction, and modern wearable designs.  My latest Jalie creation is the Eleonore pull on jeans (#3461)

Jalie 3461

I started by tracing a size Z and then compared the pattern pieces of the Eleonore jeans to my beloved Jalie 2908 which I have made several times.  I needed to add quite a bit to the hip area of the Eleonore since the widest part of my hip is lower than the pattern's.  I also shortened the leg at the knee since I am 5'-2" tall.  I then added length back to the bottom of leg to be sure they would be plenty long.

I made a muslin out of some low stretch cheap knit and one thing was clear right away...I needed to raise the back up quite a bit, the yoke was barely covering my butt!  (I skipped the waistband on the muslin).  I lengthened the back crotch length up 1.5" at the center back tapering to nothing at the side seams.  I then made the yoke more curved so that it would come in where I curve in. 

My fabric was a thin stretch denim with 3% lycra.  I used it previously on this dress, and had plenty leftover.


Front view (complete with odd facial expressions):

I have only done a temporary hem at this point so that I can decide exactly how long I want them and allow for any future shrinkage before committing to a length.

Side view:  You can see that is a good place for the back waistband to sit.  (Everything is covered!!)

I do need a little more room across the front of the thigh.  You can see diagonal wrinkles pointing to the front of my (athletic) thigh.  

Based on the excellent review by Manju of the Eleonore jeans, I compared the pocket size of the Eleonore pattern to my Jalie 2908 jeans...and the pockets of the 2908 were larger so I used those.  Since I made adjustments to the back, I needed to check the location of the back pockets.  For the first time ever, I entirely basted the jeans together so that I could try them on before determining the best location for the pockets.  Smart move:

Based on Manju's advice, I also tightened up the elastic on the back waistband.  The instructions tell you to cut the elastic the exact length of the waistband.  I cut it 1" shorter and stretched it to fit.  That was another wise move, although I could have made the elastic even shorter.


I am very please with how these turned out, and I anticipate making more in the future.

I would like to thank everyone for the kind words, comments, & messages of sympathy about the loss of my dad.  I truly appreciate it.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016: Not the best start

Friends, 2016 has not been off to a good start.  We had some sadness in our family as my dad died on January 6th.  He had been in the hospital for the last 2 weeks of 2015 and was showing some improvement and was moved to a rehab facility.  Last Wednesday night, he stopped breathing. 

My blogging had been pretty poor last year and right now, I don't feel up to it.  Let me sign off with a photo of my Dad & I when I was about 8 that we took in one of those Old Time Photo Booths:

Friday, November 20, 2015

McCall's 6886: 2 Versions of the popular knit dress

There are over 75 reviews on Pattern Review for McCall's 6886: a close fitting knit dress with neckline variations. I wasn't sure how this would work on me and my pear shape, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway.  My first version was done in black ponte.  I cut a 14 in the shoulders and did a 1.25"  FBA adding a bust dart.  I also did a 1" swayback adjustment. My result wasn't bad.  I had graded up to a 16/18 at the waist and a 20 at the hip.  It was very big.  I took about 3/4" off each side from the waist down to the hip.  (That was very surprising for me).  There was still a lot of pooling in my lower back, so I wound up making 2 back darts to take up the excess fabric.
Here is the front view:  I don't look like a giant pear!

Side view: not bad

Side view of bust dart.  Looks like I need a slightly larger FBA

Back view:  (I really need to work on standing up straight and not dropping my right shoulder).  You cans see the back darts I made to eliminate the excess fabric at the back.

The black dress came out pretty well, but I thought I should try again right away.  Version 2 was made with a very stretchy striped knit (it must be interlock or double knit because it is exactly the same on both sides) purchased at my local Hancock Fabrics in the clearance section.   For this version I made an even bigger swayback adjustment and skipped the bust dart and did a cheater FBA by grading out at the bust.  I lined the front and back with an ivory nylon tricot.  I love the feeling that the lining gives, it's very sleek and smooth on the skin.  It also adds stability to the stretchy knit.

My hem looks a little funny in these photos.  I hemmed the lining together with the knit.  The problem that I discovered is that the knit stretches vertically but the lining does not.  I may cut the lining loose and leave it unhemmed.

The back view is pretty good, no darts, and no real pooling. :)

I had trouble following the instructions included in the pattern but I found this great video from Jalie:

Closeup of the V neck.  

 There was one flaw in the fabric...look where it wound up: on my right side, a few stripes up from the bottom of the V.  Sigh.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had to do some finagling around the bust.  I had initially thought to do some slight gathers along the bust at the side seams, (like Vogue 8536) but it was ridiculous with this fabric, and I needed to remove the sleeves and re-do the underarm and lower front armhole area.  After some trimming and basting it turned out ok.

I wore it out with a red scarf and a denim jacket.  My daughter said all I needed was a beret to look really French!  :)

In summary, I really like this pattern.  It does work on pear shapes.  It was drafted roomier than I expected through the waist and hip and it was a nice ego boost to have to take it in in those areas!
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