Sunday, December 19, 2021

Vanilla Village Wench Blouse - Adrienne Blouse

Pattern: Friday Pattern Co. Adrienne blouse (2018) 

Pattern Description: Slightly cropped knit top with statement sleeves gathered at shoulders and hems with elastic.

Pattern Sizing: XS-4X, I cut out an XL, easing to size XXL at the waist and hips

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? As you see below, it looks exactly like it!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes! This was such a quick and straightforward top.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I fell in love with the neckline, the gathered shoulders, and the drama of those full sleeves.

Fabric Used: 57" Birch solid Modal blend knit (49% Modal, 45% Polyester, 6% Spandex) from Joann Fabrics, leftover plush back bra strap elastic from the stash, Dritz 1/2" braided elastic for sleeve cuffs, Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Ivory, #800.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I traced the bodice pattern piece into a full pattern piece, which made it easier to cut out.

According to my measurements, I cut this in the XL size (bust = 40" to 43"). I made a 1/2" full bust adjustment (FBA) using the instructions in the pattern booklet. However, I could have done more; I underestimated how much of an adjustment I needed. I was unaware that I had gone up a few (!) cup sizes to a DD. That was quite a surprise!

I had cut the XL for my measurements, but after trying on the sleeveless bodice, I decided to decrease the side seam allowance to 3/8" to cut down on the cling factor.

The pattern describes this top as "cropped." That is baffling to me because I felt it was long. I suggest that before making alterations to the pattern that you hold the tissue up to your body or compare to a favorite top. At 5' 4," I cut more than an inch off and it is still long enough to tuck into pants or skirts.

Those cuffs!

Those shoulders!

I removed 1/2" from the pattern's measurements for the wrist and neck elastic lengths. This was an improvement in fit that I learned from wearing my muslin which felt too loose.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, most definitely! This is a great pattern; all the examples out there prove how attractive and romantic it can be.

Conclusion: I love this pattern and how it looks. I made the right size and alterations this time, and I will definitely make it again. I already plan to make some in print fabrics like so many of the examples I've seen on the internet. I would also love to make a dress version in a stretch velvet or velour.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

The Sea and the Soil - Style Arc Bob Woven Pants

Pattern: Style Arc Bob Woven Pants (2019)

Pattern Description: A uniquely balloon-shaped pant with an elastic waistband and inseam pockets.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 4-30 (32"-61" hips) There is 7" of wearing/design ease between body measurement and finished garment measurement. Ideally, I would choose a size 18, but I printed this pattern months ago, so it was a size 16.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? 

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, I thought so. Style Arc is known for sparse instructions; they do not hold your hand. However, in this pattern, they also split the construction steps into two places: the written instructions and the multi-color illustrated ones on a separate sheet. Only by reading them both do you get the complete process. Other than that, the instructions are adequate if you're an intermediate sewist but may be frustrating if you are a beginner. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the shape of the legs; they give the pants a modern vibe.

Fabric Used: Pair A) An old cotton/polyester sheet, Dritz 1-1/2" soft waistband elastic, Gutermann 100% polyester thread in no particular color; Pair B) 2 yards stretch cotton poplin in Chocolate from Fabric Mart, c. 2014 ($1.99 a yard!), Gutermann #100 polyester thread in Charcoal, #125, and Dritz 1-1/2" soft waistband elastic.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: For the muslin (A), as I was dealing with a smaller size than I would have liked, I changed the seam allowance to 1/4" and crossed my fingers. In the end, I might have been okay with 3/8", but it saved me some stress. In my second pair (B), I chose to throw caution to the wind and sewed a straight size 16 with the recommended seam allowance.

Attaching the waistband elastic

I liked the instructions for the waistband, which allow for equal distribution of the elastic and eliminates the possibility of twisting. However, I regret following those instructions on the muslin (A) because it denied me the option of adjusting the waist, which came out 1/2-1" too loose. (Actually, I think I used the size 18 length for the elastic, oops!) I like the technique; however, I suggest that you try on and adjust the elastic before you attach it to the waistband and the pants.

I read in other reviews that people were changing the pocket draft because the pockets were floppy. I understand that, but I feel that the pattern addresses that issue if you follow all of their instructions. The only sewist review I've read that understood the instructions the same as I did was Sewslowsarah. Hi, Sarah!

The illustrated portion of the instructions

Anchoring the pocket direction

In my second pair (B), I used the shorten/lengthen line to remove 1/2" in length. My blue pair were long enough to make the ballooning sides collapse on themselves; you can clearly see the shape in a slightly shorter length.

Hand sewing the inside waistband

Another change was how I handled the waistband for B. I decided to follow the first few steps of sewing the ends together and folding and pressing them in half. However, before attaching the elastic, I sewed one edge of the waistband to the pants. I then laid the elastic loop inside the fold and stitched it on with a wide zigzag stitch. From that point, I needed to either slip stitch the other edge to the pants or stitch-in-the-ditch. I chose to hand stitch, of course.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, In fact, it was only a week before I cut out the second pair; I have never done that before! I also want to try them in a thicker fabric like corduroy and a fabric with drape like a rayon.

When I wore this ensemble to work a coworker thought I looked like Han Solo. What do you think?

Conclusion: These were better than I expected. I will be making more!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

So Easy "Element" Top

The first of these simple tops was achieved with a yard of black gauze, a Pinterest pin, some trial n' error, and a very patient woman (me!).

I found this example from

My first top started as a simple length of 44"/45" fabric folded, selvage to selvage. I held it up to my body and decided how wide I wanted it to have short sleeves. I estimated an opening for my head, though initially cutting it too small. I enlarged the neckline with a 1/4" hem folded twice; so 1/2" in total. For this first one in black windowpane gauze, I measured and cut directly on the fabric with much trepidation.

The draft work included determining how the cut-on sleeves should be shaped. I choose a 9"-10" vertical opening. At first, I was going to simply sew the sides up to that measurement and leave it at that. However, there was too much bulk.

My inspiration for the shape

I then looked at pattern images and diagrams on Pinterest and cut a shape similar to the Easy Tee from Mishi2x Designs (see above). I started at the hem and cut up at an angle and tapered it about 2" at the armscye.

The pattern piece 

The final garment measurements:

It measures 23.5" long, 13-1/2 sleeve and to center, 11-1/2" wide at the bust line, 13" wide at hip, with 9-1/2" wide neckline (a 1-1/4" drop in back, 2" in front) and 10-1/4" deep armscyes. It turned out perfectly.

Sewn with a 1 /2" seam allowance everywhere, I achieved the following final garment measurements:

52" wide at shoulders, 52" wide at hip, 44" at underarm, 10-1/4" deep armscyes, 23.5" long, with 10" wide neckline (a 1-3/4"2-1/2" drop in back, and 2 -1/2" 3-3/4"  in front.)

After wearing my original make for months, it was time to make more. This time I drew out an actual pattern. I named it Element, and it only takes 1/2 to 2/3 yards. I had a little less than needed for the next two, so the "sleeves" didn't have enough to hang over my shoulder and instead stuck out a bit.


Materials: Galleria Good Nature Bubble gauze in purple gumdrop (100% cotton) and a blue and green watercolor floral textured crepe (100% polyester), both from Joann Fabrics.

These were definitely the heavy workhorses in my wardrobe this summer, and many more will be made in future summers.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A Green Armoire, Finally!

Years ago, I bought an armoire from the Spiegel catalog. The assemble-it-yourself kit was made by American Moulding & Millwork and was a joy to put together. The accomplishment made me aware of my ability for DIY. 

This cabinet has served me well over the years, storing books, sewing fabrics, and supplies. But, almost from the beginning, I knew I wanted to paint it green.

While debating on the exact shade, I sealed it with a clear finish. Well, it ended up wearing that for years! I chose different shades over the years, even buying one twelve years ago that went bad. Yes, paint can go bad, horribly bad, even if it has never been opened. The smell was disgusting, nauseating!

Last year, I bought a new shade, a small 8-ounce tester pot of Clover Green in satin by Benjamin Moore, and finally got around to painting it a few weeks ago.

I had to wipe the piece down with prepaint cleaner Krud Kutter and give it a good sanding. I first attempted to paint without primer but thought it might take too many coats, so the rest received a coat of Kilz 2 primer.

I have to admit, I took a somewhat lazier approach to paint this piece than I usually do. I didn't sand between the paint layers and probably should have painted the inside, especially those doors. I didn't think of it at the time, was limited on the amount of paint, and I was very impatient to finally have it done. So, so many excuses! 

So there will be no open door photos in this blog post; 1) because I didn't paint the interior doors, and 2) it still hides a mass of stuff and materials despite my very thorough decluttering.

It is what it is.

But check it out? I even refolded all of the fabric for my "near-future" projects using a tutorial pinned from Pinterest. It is so much neater and easier to comb through to see what I have. The first thing I noticed is how neutral the fabric within is compared to the cabinet itself, It is all white, cream, gray, black, and navy blue. So, I guess I'll have to change that!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The White Stripes Are Coming! - Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee

Pattern: Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee (2013, the original one-size-fits-all version)

Pattern Description: Oversized boxy top with shallow boat neckline with dropped shoulders and three-quarter-length fitted sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: One size fits all, finished length: 23.5" finished width: 58." The pattern is now available in four sizes here

Fabric Used: Black/Gray/Ivory stripe cotton jersey blend knit from Girl Charlee Fabrics, Wright's (vintage) non-stop rayon seam binding in Navy 55, Gutermann 100% polyester thread in Black #010 and Silver #100.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: For this version, I cut the armscye of the sleeve 1/2" wider than the pattern tapering out to nothing at the wrist. I also added six inches to the sleeve length. Trying to gain more ease, I used a 1/4" seam allowance at seams except at the shoulders where I used 1/2".

Conclusion: I need to make more of these and I also need to enlarge the sleeves even more!

Monday, June 07, 2021

KonMari Method Part 5 : Komono Sewing/Crafting/DIY

This entry is for all the makers working in garment sewing, crafting, and home DIY projects. How do WE declutter?

This particular category was not given significant focus by Ms. Kondo. Supposedly it is a part of the Komono/Miscellaneous group. I didn't even realize that fact until I had my latest stack of plastic bins in front of me. These five small bins were just my crafting supplies, but I realized I also had my heavy-duty DIY tools, plus loads of garment fabric and sewing patterns. Luckily, I had done the first pass on those last two categories pre-KonMari, and I did not revisit those now. Note: When I decluttered that time, my only criteria was 'could use the fabric in the future?' I am now aware I will need to go through them again with "Do they spark joy?" in mind.

One of the difficulties with this category and the KonMari method is the whole concept of "sparking joy." When you work with craft and sewing supplies, you want some surplus materials or a "stash." These items will come in handy at some point but do they necessarily spark joy?


I had multiple cardboard boxes and plastic containers that held all of this stuff. I needed to organize, consolidate, and label everything that I had. I ended up with four specific containers:

  1. Paint Prep: A small portable tub with my pre-painting gear such as nitrile gloves, assorted paintbrushes, foam brushes, sanding blocks, latex caulk, spackle, Frog tape, some blue painter's tape, a paint can opener, plastic drop cloths, and a concentrated degreaser and cleaner for prepping all surfaces before painting.

  2. Primary Paint: A plastic tub holds the plastic paint trays the I line with aluminum foil, my handy paint pail (if you use latex paint, you can let it dry out and later lift the entire pail shaped paint thing out, it's so freaky cool!), extra foam rollers (in two sizes), paint edging tool, plastic cups, and painter tripods to support drying objects, small portions of leftover paint, Kilz 2 primer, and my must-have supply of Minwax Polycrylic in Satin. 

  3. Electric Tools: Another container holds my products which just happen to be Black + Decker products; a BullsEye auto-leveling laser level with stud sensor (BDL190S), 7.2-volt cordless screwdriver (PD600), and a 1.2 Amp corded Mouse detail sander (BDEMS600). Because there was room leftover, it also holds the tile leftover from the kitchen makeover (Yup, I know, potential future clutter!)

  4. Manual Tools: These live in a plastic toolbox with multiple-sized screwdrivers, wire cutters, two box cutters, two types of old school levels, a complete set of sanding files, two sets of pliers, and .


IKEA Misi table (No longer available)

I have an old IKEA Misi table with four convenient drawers that I use to store my most used notions.

  1. This drawer holds all of my old Coats & Clark's threads. I now have a separate container for the Gutermann thread that I use now.

  2. Sewing and machine needles, sewing scissors, my rotary cutter, walking foot, seam pickers, and my marking chalk all live in this drawer.

  3. This one holds my sewing labels, pinking shears, fabric swatches, 

  4. My Babyloc sewing machine manual, tracing paper, tracing wheel, tape measure, my bobbin thread box, and the-all important not-for-fabric scissors live in the last drawer.

In addition, my sewing cabinet (a former Spiegel Catalog armoire) holds even more. Inside, it has several similar-sized plastic totes, each with a different purpose.

  • Notions: One container holds all my interfacings, Pellon Easy Pattern paper, seam bindings, elastics, ribbons, velcro fasteners. To simplify things, they are all in individual clear plastic zip bags, so I can easily see what I have.

  • Knit Scraps: This one holds all the good knit remnants, fold-over elastics, and salvaged findings that could be made into underwear, tank tops, or turban headbands.

  • Office: A little bit different, this tote holds tape, rubberbands, envelopes, pens, plastic sheet protectors for my PDF patterns, and archival envelopes I use to protect my vintage patterns.

  • Soft toys: Leftover fleece, juvenile print fabrics, and felt that I can use to make things for my grandniece and two grandnephews.

  • Crafts: See below.
  • Paints: See below.


For me, craft supplies meant: older unopened acrylic paint tubes, newer acrylic paint for small projects, assorted paint brushes, sandpaper, pipe cleaners, hot glue gun, a staple gun with staples, rulers, several different types of tape, oil pastels, chalks, drawing pencils, stencils, unused origami paper, watercolor paper, sheets of vellum, metal knitting needles, and even a set of circular bamboo knitting needles.

I also had a small jewelry supply stash of jewelry findings, leather and suede cords, beading wire, some leftover elements from older jewelry pieces, plus packages of metal and wooden beads.

I took my time going through these, thinking of the likelihood that I would ever use each one or if it would be more useful to someone else, i.e., could it spark joy in someone else? If so, they were moved to another tub destined for the ScrapRVA reuse organization in Richmond.

An in-progress donation tote


I love the idea of oil pastels (I bought them for a college course in 2010), but I never used them after that, so it was time for them to go. Once I started thinking about it, more things made their way into the ScrapRVA donation box. So, could I see myself needing and then using it in the foreseeable future? That was the main question I asked myself. The effortless donations were any items that I had in multiples, or I had no idea that I even owned it. I ended up with a healthy group of things; many were never used.


At one point, I found myself trying to justify keeping items that could still bring me joy. You know, you can always use paint, pencils, hot glue... I had to revisit the contents of a few containers several times to remove things that I knew would continue to sit around unused. Because that was the same attitude that filled those boxes in the first place. Perhaps I was having a more difficult time because I took longer with the KonMari process than I was meant to. Ideally, you do it in one continuous session, not over several months as I did.

For now, the box of donations, my box of 100+ sewing patterns, and any other goods for ScrapRVA are living in my car's trunk until I drive to Richmond to hand them over. That's good enough for me.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

KonMari Method Part 4: Continued Komono/Miscellany

I am continuing with decluttering this huge Komono category. These are the categories that took up most of my storage space. It's so good to have these handled. Finally!

Electrical Equipment and Appliances:

Mine no longer looks as good as this one!

My Crosley Traveler CR-49TW turntable had been in storage for five years, and there was nowhere to set it up. I knew better than to store the actual albums outside, so I had stacked them vertically in my room. However, the turntable was out in storage, and when unpacking it, I noticed there was the start of mold on the leather case. Searching the internet, I wiped it down with a diluted alcohol solution outside, then soapy water, and let it air dry. It turned out good as new! 

I had a Dell desktop computer that I hadn't used in five years, but I let it continue to take up valuable desk space. I donated it to Goodwill, along with a Kodak photo printer that I had not used for the same amount of time. I had the long ago busted camera that went with it too! Why did I keep all these things that were of no use to me?

I will be selling the Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 manual camera that I haven't used since my Sophomore year of art school in 1990! Oh, Lisa.

I had accumulated two boxes of mystery cords, old phone chargers (of course, I still had the phones too!), laptop adapters, phone cables, and an old cordless phone. 

CDs, DVDs, and Vinyl Records:

I went through my records, keeping all my new wave and trip-hop records from my high school and college days. I will also evaluate my vintage movie soundtrack albums; if they are in decent condition, they will be cleaned and properly stored.

When looking for album storage ideas, I read this article and am inspired to take care of my albums properly. I haven't clicked Buy Now yet, but I have two combinations of supplies saved; one through Vinyl Storage Solutions and another cobbled together from separate companies on Amazon. Unlike serious collectors, I only have fifty albums and six 45s, so I don't need as much.  I don't expect to buy any more records so finding the right combo is essential. Update: In another storage box, I discovered 14 more 45s that I completely forgot I had!

By the way, I learned four things from my research that I need to do (or buy) for my records: 

  1. I may need to wash my thrifted vinyl and will need to do it correctly.
  2. Brush each disc with a carbon fiber brush before every use.
  3. Store the vinyl records in anti-static liners.
  4. Store the album covers in polypropylene covers.

I rescued all of my CDs and tapes too. I will need to find a way to have them in my room where I'll easily access them for use. I've started a rotating group of CDs and tapes for car travel, so I'll have chances to hear them all. I will have music back in my life!

Household Equipment and Supplies:

The following items have FINALLY left my house:*

  • Dell Dimension 2350 desktop computer, keyboard, and two speakers
  • Microsoft Office XP 2002 software (why was I keeping this?)
  • One unused Westell VersaLink 327W modem
  • One Netgear N300 wireless USB adapter
  • HP Pavilion Entertainment PC laptop and cords (going to a friend in IT for parts)
  • One laptop power adapter
  • Laptop carrying bag
  • Two cameras (Kodak EasyShare C310, Yashica FX-3 Super 2000- to be sold)
  • Kodak Easyshare Series 3 Printer Dock
  • Ziploc bag of dead batteries (saved for proper disposal?)
  • Two phones (Samsung Galaxy Ace Style, LG Cosmos)
  • Three phone chargers
  • Assorted earbuds
  • Three telephone cords
  • Aiwa CA-DW630 portable "boombox" stereo
  • Emerson 13" color television (TC1379) Update: This was too old for Goodwill to take but they offered to dispose of it for me.
  • Samsung DVD-V5500 combo DVD/VCR

Final large Goodwill haul

Final Observation:

This one was deep.

I realized that I was keeping everything that had ever cost me money. In all my years of struggling with financial insecurity, I apparently could not part with anything without first trying to recoup my investment. The plan for most of these was to sell them on Etsy, eBay, or Craigslist. However, I always procrastinated because of the hassle or something else, which created stress, shame, and clutter. Now, I don't even care about that hypothetical money because it feels so better already to let these things go! Honestly, the KonMari process has proved therapeutic. 

Update #2: Two weeks later I found a completely forgotten box of cassette tapes in storage! 

* This detailed list lets me acknowledge the items that had served some purpose in my life in the past. As instructed by the process, I thanked them before I discarded them. Also, having this list means I never have to wonder, "do I still own such-n-such"?