A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Top 5 Misses of 2019

I did not have many misses this year. I had to dip into the sewing-for-kids section to round out my top 5! So I guess that's a good thing.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Top 5 Hits of 2019

When choosing my top five this year, I focused on ease of dressing, number of wears, and satisfaction with the garment's fit. The following makes are ones that I have reached for over and over again, and that have no fit issues that bother me when I wear them. Making this list has reinforced my identity as someone who enjoys to sew wardrobe staples that I will wear many times.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Can you do a narrow shoulder adjustment in place of a full bust adjustment?

As someone who always has to do a full bust adjustment (FBA), I've long wondered whether it would be possible to replace this adjustment with the simpler narrow shoulder adjustment. If choosing a size based on your full bust results in a too-big shoulder, wouldn't doing a narrow shoulder adjustment on that size fix the problem? I decided to try it out.

Can you replace a full bust adjustment with a narrow shoulder adjustment?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Brother 2340CV coverstitch machine review

Brother 2340CV coverstitch machine review.

Do you know what a coverstitch machine does? Have you been thinking about purchasing one? It seems they're not that common in the online sewing community, and I didn't find many reviews when I was researching mine. The machine I bought, the Brother 2340CV, remains the least expensive coverstitch on the market. Read on to learn what a coverstitch machine does and to read my review.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Self-drafted jungle trekker shirt

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that the Amazon rainforest was not on my list of places to visit in Colombia. Although I love hot weather, I like that hot weather in proximity to a sea or an ocean. But last year, after we studied South American geography, Z announced that she just had to see the pink river dolphins in the Amazon. In October we finally made the trip.

Colombia has a tiny slice of the Amazon River, something like 50 miles of the Amazon's 3,977 miles, and 10 percent or the Amazon rainforest. We stayed in the town of Leticia, which is right at the corner where the borders of Colombia, Brazil and Peru meet.

Trip to the Colombian Amazon.
<a href="http://www.noticiasser.pe/index.php/opinion/trapecio-amazonico-tierra-de-nadie">Photo credit</a>.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Simplicity early spring patterns review

This is a new thing for this blog. I've read other bloggers' reviews of Big 4 pattern company collections for years, but I've never felt drawn to post one of my own until today, when I saw the new Simplicity collection.

The new collection contains 20 patterns, most of which feature new branding. It looks like Simplicity might be taking some cues from indie patterns in both branding and style with this release. I wondered whether they might also be modernizing their fit standards (aka less ease), but it seems that is pretty hit or miss.

I'm not going to talk about all the patterns in the release, because that would be an insane blog post. I'm just going to review some of the pattern collection's standouts (good and bad).

Sunday, December 1, 2019

November 2019

I did a lot of traveling in November (see my travel wardrobe capsule posts here), which didn't leave much time for sewing. But I also managed to refrain from buying fabric, so that was good at least.

Projects Completed:

One of my flights was a red-eye, so the morning of the trip, I quickly made a velvet sleep mask from the Tilly and the Buttons free pattern. I can't really claim any fabric used since the project is so small though.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Capsule travel wardrobe: Family wedding

Earlier this month we flew to Virginia for 10 days to attend my brother's wedding. The trip coincided with a cold front that plunged temperatures into the high 30s and low 40s. I needed to pack for casual hanging out with family and friends, two weekends at church, a rehearsal luncheon and a wedding. 

What to pack for a 10-day trip. Capsule travel wardrobe.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

New Look 6582 sewing pattern review

Review of the New Look 6582 sewing pattern.

I'm so glad to have finally sewed this fabric, which I bought more than three years ago. I've always loved it but just didn't have a pattern for it. Then this summer I bought New Look 6582 and a match was made.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Mostly handmade capsule travel wardrobe: Toronto

I got so much encouragement after my last capsule wardrobe post, that I decided to do another one. I took a trip earlier this month to visit my elderly great-aunt, who lives in Toronto. My trip was timed just a week too late, as the temperature dropped to the 40s a few days before I arrived.

Here's what I took along:

DIY capsule wardrobe for a long weekend in Toronto.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Self-drafted t-shirt pattern

Draft a custom-fit t-shirt sewing pattern.

I should start by noting that this all started quite on a whim. A true flight of fancy. And as they are prone to do, this particular fancy has already flown. But I thought someone might be interested in reading about my experience dipping my toe into the world of pattern drafting, so here we are.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

October 2019

October was nuts. We had a birthday, a trip to the Amazon and our 12th anniversary. I had been in a bit of sewing rut, but this month pulled me out of it.  I made a few things for myself and sewed a lot for my kids, which was one of my goals for this year.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

McCalls 7435 cowl-neck top

McCalls 7435 is a ridiculous pattern.  And clearly, everyone knew it but me, because it is out of print, and I've only found Internet evidence that three other people ever made it.  I'm sharing this review mostly just to talk about the sheer insanity that is this pattern, and also to talk about why I kind of love my finished garment and am going to be wearing it all the time.

Cozy cowl-neck sweater made from the McCalls 7435 sewing pattern.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sewing fairy godmother

I've mentioned our "sewing fairy godmother" on this blog a few times. She's a very special lady who brightened up a very dark time in our lives by making beautiful clothes for my kids while my husband was recovering from his stroke. I've finally written our story, and today I am sharing it on the Oliver+S blog. Click over to have a read!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

10 real-life sewing rooms

I love a good sewing room tour. Since we move so often, I get to set up a new sewing room every few years, and I guess that's why I never tire of reading about other people's sewing spaces. I've rounded up some of my favorites from the Internet - and they're not all picture-perfect Pinterest spaces. In addition to the coveted dedicated sewing room, I've included some small sewing spaces and some shared sewing spaces (which is the category that most of my sewing spaces have fallen into).

Read on for inspiration!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Leopard print Simplicity 1059 dress

I sewed a second Simplicity 1059 dress - a swishy, drapey, dramatic sleeve-y leopard print confection that is really, really hard to photograph.

Friday, October 18, 2019

7 top sewing tools and notions

So let's start by saying that the true top sewing tools you need to start sewing are a needle, thread, scissors and a seam ripper (and fabric, of course). That's it - simple and basic.


There are so many notions and gadgets out there these days, many of them inexpensive, that make sewing easier and just more fun. I thought I'd round up a few of my tried-and-true favorites into this list of top sewing tools. All are easy to find and inexpensive. If I've left out some of your top must-have sewing tools, please comment below! Maybe we can all find a new gizmo to try out.

List of essential sewing supplies and notions. These are the top sewing tools you need.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Peppermint PJ pants

Sew a pair of cozy pajama pants with the Blank Slate Patterns Peppermint PJ sewing pattern.

Last month I tested the new Peppermint PJ pants from Blank Slate Patterns.  A new pair of pajama pants has been on my sewing list for two years now. In 2018, one of my sewing goals was to make two new pairs of pajama pants. I made one pair of modified Simplicity 1563 pants (using the same fabric as this pair, actually). I wear those a lot, but I still needed another pair (or two). And that pair does not have pockets, so I jumped at  the chance to make a pair that does.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Z's black velvet frock

While I was making this dress, I couldn't get A Little Princess out of my mind.  It was one of my favorite books as a kid.  Not long into the story, little Sara Crewe is informed that her father is dead so she must wear black.  Sara's only "black frock" is sizes too small, but she is forced to wear it anyway.  Thankfully, that story has a happy ending. And, happily, this particular black frock is just the right size for Z.

Girls' DIY black velvet bell sleeve dress from a free pattern.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Pattern Comparison: Liana Stretch Jeans vs. Ginger Jeans

Sewing your own jeans for the first time is intimidating, and trying to decide which pattern to start with can be one of the stumbling blocks.  I've written this pattern comparison of the Liana Stretch Jeans vs. the Ginger Jeans sewing patterns to help remove one obstacle from your jeans-sewing journey. I've sewn both multiple times and am sharing my detailed thoughts on all aspects of the patterns.  
Sewing pattern comparison of the Liana Stretch Jeans vs. the Ginger Jeans.

Monday, September 30, 2019

September 2019

September was spent readjusting to life in Bogota, getting our homeschool year started, and catching up on work that had piled up a bit.  I knew that it would be easy for me not to get near the sewing machine unless I made a concerted effort to do so, so I applied for a pattern test the first weekend I was home to get the motor running. That worked, and I did a good bit amount of sewing this month.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Shared bedroom sewing space tour

Cute shared sewing room with lots of natural light.

We've been living in Bogota for 13 months now, which means we've passed the halfway mark of our time in Colombia. So it's probably time that I get this shared bedroom sewing space tour published, don't you think?

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Green Blackwood

Three years ago, I made a bright green Lisbon cardigan. It was, hands down, my favorite item of clothing. I wore that cardigan constantly for two years, until a giant purple splotch, about the size of a half-dollar, appeared on the back.  I have no idea what caused the stain or where it came from, but no amount of stain-treating would get it out. It was a sad day when I realized this, so I'm just going to take a moment to reminisce about my favorite me-made ever ...

Monday, September 16, 2019

Janome Magnolia 7325 Review

Review of the Janome Magnolia 7325 sewing machine.

I bought a new sewing machine a little over 2 years ago, and I've been making notes since to share my thoughts.  Recently I was asked how I liked my machine, so I thought it was time to publish this review of the Janome Magnolia 7325.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Plantains again

Today I've got a couple more Plantain tees to show you, which I think brings my total up to roughly 11,000 items sewn from this pattern.

I made both tees from the original (non-updated) pattern in a size 40 shoulder widened to a 42 under the armscye and size 42 sleeves.  I think, at a glance, these tees look like they fit perfectly well, and I certainly would agree, were I to happen on them in a store.  But as usual, here I am picking apart every wrinkle and pucker.  Every time I critique the fit of my garments, I get encouraging comments saying that I'm too hard on myself, etc.  And I totally appreciate and get that.   I do wear these tees a lot, so my fit critiques don't really hinder the amount of use I get from a garment.  I just find that I kind of enjoy analyzing fit issues. I guess it's almost like a secondary hobby to my sewing. Anyone else do this?

Monday, September 9, 2019

Men's Shirt Pattern Showdown: Fairfield Button-Up vs. All-Day Shirt

Pattern review comparing the Liesl & Co. All-Day Shirt to the Thread Theory Fairfield Button-Up.

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am not a menswear sewing expert. But I have tried to branch out from pajama pants and t-shirts when sewing for my husband. I've sewn eight men's shirts in the last two years, using three patterns - the Colette Negroni, the Thread Theory Fairfield Button-Up Shirt (affiliate link), and most recently, the Liesl & Co. All-Day Shirt.  While sewing the All-Day Shirt, I was comparing it to the Fairfield every step of the way. I thought others might be interested in the comparison of the Fairfield Button-Up and the Liesl & Co. All-Day Shirt too, so I wrote them up. I'm comparing the two patterns on the parameters of fit; pattern format and instructions; pattern options; and finally construction and finishes.  I hope someone out there will find this useful!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Another birthday Fairfield

I made my husband another Fairfield Button-Up Shirt (affiliate link) for his birthday.  The last one I made him was for his last birthday, and he still wears it all the time.  Like the last time, I made him up a medium, graded to a large in the chest and waist.  I sewed the sleeves at the prescribed length (last time I messed around bit with the length).

Friday, August 30, 2019

July and August 2019

There was no sewing this month.  Instead, I bought 23 patterns and nearly 22 yards of fabric.

Monday, August 26, 2019

No-pattern gathered jersey skirt

DIY no-pattern gathered jersey skirt. Sew this skirt without a pattern!

Way back in May, continuing with my theme of sewing for summer while living in a city that never sees summer, I got an idea in my head for a floaty, softly gathered knit skirt.  I didn't have a pattern for the skirt envisioned, but this was quite easy to make without any pattern at all!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Suitcase Files

Something you should know about me: I love a good peek into someone's suitcase. Nothing will get me to click over to a post from Bloglovin' faster than the promise of a good packing-for-vacation post. I've shared my own on Instagram a handful of times (see here and here and here), but since I recently had to pack my suitcase for seven weeks of travel, I thought I'd do a more in-depth post of the sort that I like to read.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Striped knit pencil skirt and v-neck tank top

DIY striped knit skirt and v-neck tank top made from the Blank Slate Abrazo Tee pattern, modeled on the beach.

Spring is always my most productive sewing season.  Sewing for warm weather is almost a ritual, along with de-fuzzing my legs, painting my toenails and swapping out the cool-weather clothes in my closet.  I can't resist it.  

Monday, August 12, 2019

Simplicity 1358 Sleeveless Maxi Dress Review

You know how sometimes your style is altered by those around you?  I'm that way when I spend time with my sisters-in-law on my husband's side.  I always feel as though they are a little more fashion-forward than I am.  In the summer, my uniform is skirts and tank tops.  But sometimes when we are together I can feel a little frumpy - particularly if we are going out.  They always wear cute dresses and I'm usually in the same old stuff I wear every day.  We had a family reunion at the lake last week, and this year, I was determined to be fashion-ready for any occasion.

Simplicity 1358 sleeveless maxi dress in green rayon jersey.

Monday, August 5, 2019

My favorite TNT patterns

Hi friends!  There isn't any sewing going on here these days, because I'm on vacation. We have been having a fantastic time visiting family and friends and enjoying the warm weather and everything that goes with it.  I've also really enjoyed wearing my handmades on this trip.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Lago Tank Pattern Review

Itch to Stitch Lago Tank pattern review by the Itinerant Seamstress.

Virginia tends to be pretty steamy during the summer.  I wanted to make a few knit tank tops for our summer trip home since most of my summer clothes no longer fit.

Monday, July 22, 2019

More Simplicity 1887 shorts

Handmade olive green linen/viscose/lycra shorts made from Veronica Beard fabric and the Simplicity 1887 sewing pattern.

I do love a good TNT, so it shouldn't be too surprising that I'm here blogging my eighth and ninth makes from the Simplicity 1887 pattern.  In 2016, I used the pattern to make four pairs of shorts and two skirts (see here and here). Those items constituted the backbone of my summer wardrobe for three years.  Now none of them fit (and some are looking a bit raggedy for wear), including the black linen skirt I made from the pattern earlier this year.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Graphic black and white Simplicity 1059

Graphic black and white print stretch poplin sleeveless dress made with the Simplicity 1059 Jiffy sewing pattern.

I put the Simplicity 1059 "Jiffy" sewing pattern on my to-buy list years ago after seeing Mimi G's velvet version. I didn't have plans to make it up any time soon, and I certainly had never planned to sew it in a woven. But back in June, during my sewjo explosion, I was casting about for something [else] to make for my trip home. I came upon the pattern while rifling through my pattern bin and decided to give it a whirl.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Liana Jeans #2

Itinerant Seamstress models skinny black denim Liana Stretch Jeans.

Immediately after completing my first pair of Liana jeans Liana Stretch Jeans (affiliate link) I cut out a second pair.  This time I used a black Cone Mills denim that Fabric Mart briefly had in stock in March.  It was a 62" wide denim, so I used less than two yards of it. It's a stretch denim, but it's not the S-Gene that everyone raves over.  It's also a bit lighter weight than I had thought it would be.  The recovery is excellent, though.

Monday, July 1, 2019

June 2019

A collage of nine sewing patterns, four of which have been sewn already.

This month was a little bit insane.  Fueled both by the need for clothes that fit AND the knowledge that I was going to be away from my machines for all of July and August, I sewed 15 16 17 garments (19 20 21 if you count both pieces of the four two-piece sets that I made). I completed another item off my Make Nine list- the Liana Jeans - twice.

Monday, June 24, 2019

DIBY Club Anna Button-Up Skirt

A button-front denim skirt made from the DIBY Club Anna pattern.

Allow me to present my new favorite skirt.

This is the Anna Button-Up Skirt from the DIBY Club, a new-to-me pattern company. Nicole of DIBY reached out to me, asking if I'd be interested in reviewing one of their patterns.  I took a look at their offerings and loved the buttons, the gores, the wide waistband and the close fit of the Anna.  I've been missing my trusty Tillery and Alberta Street jean skirts, which no longer fit, and the Anna seemed like a good candidate for a new denim skirt.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Liana jeans, finally

Modeling hand-sewn Liana skinny stretch jeans in Robert Kaufman denim.

Me-Made May made painfully obvious that it was time for me to make some new jeans. As I had put the Liana Stretch Jeans pattern (affiliate link) from Itch to Stitch on my 2019 Make Nine, it was clear what had to be done.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Summer sewing for the girls

One of my 2019 sewing goals was to sew more for my children.  I made some strides in doing that in May.  We had a trip planned to Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast, where it's 90 degrees and 80+% humidity year-round. The girls' hot-weather wardrobes were looking a little bedraggled, so we pulled a few fabrics from the stash and I got to work.

I made each girl a romper using this free pattern from Purl Soho. I made one for N first.  I cut the size 6/7 width and the size 10 length, with the prescribed strap and elastic length. The sizing ended up pretty spot-on.  I used 28 inches of a plaid shirting that I ordered from Fabric Mart in April.  Looking at the photos, I think she could have used a touch more length in the bodice; this probably won't fit next summer.

Purl Soho Summer Romper in pink plaid shirting.

Monday, June 3, 2019

May 2019

May was a super-productive month for me! I sewed mostly simple projects with the exception of one button-up shirt, and made three summer pieces for each of my girls. They wore them on our recent trip to Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast, and will wear them for the two months we are home this summer.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Chambray Traveler Shirt

Simplicity 2246 sewing pattern review.

I sewed Simplicity 2246/Lisette Traveler last in 2014. It was actually one of my very first sewing blog posts.  I wore both versions constantly until I got pregnant later that year and couldn't fit into them anymore.  I packed them away into a bin of "skinny clothes," and there they sat until a couple of months ago, when I had finally lost enough weight to integrate them back into my wardrobe.  Once again, they are my favorite shirts to wear, so I decided it was time to make a new one.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Striped Plantain Tee Dresses

I've been eyeing up the uber-popular McCalls 6886 pattern lately.  If we lived in the States, I would have picked it up at a Joann's sale by now. As I've been too spoiled by the $1 sales to pay mail-order prices for Big 4 patterns, I decided to use my Plantain t-shirt pattern to make the dress.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The altered wardrobe

So I have been whining here and there about how nothing from my handmade wardrobe fits anymore, and how alterations haven't worked out the way I want them to.  I think maybe I was indulging in some bad-attitude moments, because lately I've been very motivated to alter existing pieces to fit, with a good deal of success.

I did, at first, think I would just start sewing new clothes. But then I realized that I was going to have to redraft and/or refit every single pattern just as if I were starting over.  That knocked the sewjo right out of me.  I had built up such a reassuring repertoire of TNT patterns before I lost weight, that I had many options to choose from when I was hit with the urge to sew something fast and well-fitting.

Not anymore.

So I've been hitting the sewing machine with a few old makes that I wanted to salvage.  Today I want to share my newly altered Josephine tops. These were made in 2017 from a Made By Rae pattern that I modified a bit. They've gotten a lot of use in the summers.  But with my changing shape, the tops had not only become too wide, but the armholes were too low and they now seemed much too long.

This top was made from a long-hoarded Kaffe Fasset rayon challis.  It was actually my second go at this pattern in the fabric; the first one suffered a horrible washing-machine death. Here's a photo of the second version when I sewed it about two years ago:

Before (original blog post).

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April 2019 and my Me-Made May Pledge

I don't have a focused Me-Made May Pledge this year.  I've gone from nearly everything in my closet being made by me, to not having much that fits, and even less that is me-made. I'm hoping to continue losing weight, so trying to sew a new wardrobe quickly doesn't make too much sense either.  So I will document my outfits on the days that I wear me-made, try to repeat outfits as rarely as possible, see if I can alter anything else to fit, and sew a few new things that I really need - like a pair of jeans and long-sleeved tops.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Yasmin Yoke Skirt

Modeling a stretch bottomweight skirt made from the Maria Denmark Yasmin Yoke Skirt sewing pattern.

Back in January, I decided to try the keto diet. Although I hadn't been happy with my inability to take off the baby weight since Niko was born in 2015, I had begun to accept my shape, and had sewn enough clothes to wear 100% me-made every day.  Sewing really helped me accept the shape I was then, and I had put thoughts of weight loss on the back burner.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

March 2019

I made some good progress on my Make Nine goals this month.  I don't know that I'll make it all the way through my Make Nine, as my priorities are already starting to shift, but I'm happy with the things I've made so far.

I'm not sure I will get to that Yuzu Coat after all, and I'm less interested in the Cynthia Rowley dress than I was when I made this list.  I do still definitely want to make the Extra-Sharp Pencil Skirt and the Classic Shirt, as well as a new Traveler shirt dress.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Lonetree Jacket and a new fitting issue

Indiesew/Allie Olsen Lonetree Jacket in red twill with a gold zipper.

I sewed myself a jacket.  I sewed a jacket because I needed a jacket.  I sewed a jacket instead of buying one because I generally find RTW jackets to be tight in the arms and too big in the shoulders, and, just for once, I wanted a jacket that actually fit me well.  I think I succeeded, and I need to tell you all about it.  So settle in, because this is going to be a long post.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Cupro Cropped Calyers

French Navy Now Calyer Pant in cupro twill with an elasticized hem.

You guys, I'm really pretty excited about these pants.  They turned out almost exactly the way I planned/envisioned.  They go with a good chunk of my tops.  They represent an evolution in my style (I don't think there's any way I would have been caught dead in baggy, elastic-hem pants a few years ago).  And, they are the first finished item from my first-ever Make Nine.

Friday, March 1, 2019

February 2019

This month we hit the half-year mark of our stay in Bogota.  We're a quarter of the way through and it still feels like we just got here.  And although I was thrilled at the thought of no winter when we moved, I'm finding the constant temperatures to be a little bit monotonous. Don't get me wrong; I prefer this to what's going on in much of the United States at the moment, weather-wise, but there's something weird about trying to teach my kindergartener about seasons through pictures instead of through experience!

I only completed two projects this month, but they were both pretty involved.


Orange faille skirt sewn from the Simplicity 1369 sewing pattern.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Denim Gallery Tunic

Denim tunic made from the Liesl and Co. Gallery Tunic sewing pattern.

Before we packed up in Virginia, I paired three cuts of fabric with patterns and put them into clear zippered bags (the kind sheets come in) along with notions and thread. The idea was that they would be the first projects I would work on when I arrived in Colombia.