2013 Sewing Wrap Up (better late than never)

Top 5 collage

Top 5 Hits for 2013

Infinity Silk Scarf

I *love* this scarf.  I wear it all the time.  I am so glad Marnie brought the directions to one of our meetups last year.  So easy to make & so versatile.

This is a piece of silk I purchased in 2006 at Britex in San Francisco.  I only purchased one yard since it was so expensive.  (I originally planned to make a top of out this – who was I kidding – I only make dresses.)

The directions called for the scarf to be an infinity style.  I didn’t make it that way – mostly because I’m lazy and obsessed with french seams and thought it would be too complicated to do both.  Silk Infinity Scarf

I took this with me on our Spring vacation and was so thankful.  It is lightweight yet very warm.  I can wrap this baby around my neck FOUR TIMES.

I’ve since made this three more times as gifts.

SundressVogue 7080 (and my first hand picked zipper)

It’s a good thing I love to rip up seams because this is the third pattern with this fabric.  I purchased this fabric two years ago from Colorado Fabrics (then Denver Fabrics) and loved the print.  My first attempt with the fabric was the Crepe by Colette Patterns.  It was lovely but alas the fabric was too heavy for the pattern.

I tried again using the bodice from a different pattern (I cannot recall which one) and the Crepe skirt.  Again, not good.  Aarrgh!  What was I going to do!

I finally decided to pull out my favorite sundress pattern – Vogue 7080 – and attempted to salvage this beautiful fabric.  (I have made this pattern five times now.  It works very well for me.)

Long story short, I inserted a center seam in the front bodice and worked some magic on the back skirt which you can’t even see.  It’s a great dress for a wedding or work.  (Just don’t eat too much while wearing it.) Vogue 7080

My proudest sewing achievement of all year is my first hand-picked zipper using Tasia’s method from Sewaholic.  Check out the photo! zip

It’s not the quickest method (4+hours the first time) but it is the loveliest.

HousedressMcCall’s 6346

In the summer I wear only dresses and when I am not at work being Madam Librarian I wear housedresses like I am a senior citizen in Florida.  McCall’s 6346 is a great addition to my TNT housedress pattern.  I can’t wait to make another one.

I cut this out mid-summer and fretted over the sizing issues.  You see, I’ve only recently come to terms with the fact that as my age increases so does my hip measurement.  Let’s hope it hits a plateau soon – my hip size not my age – although I wouldn’t mind staying this age for a while.

So I cut the dress out of a lightweight cotton gauze from Walmart.  And it sat on my piano (the sewing holding area) for nearly six weeks.  I don’t know why I waited so long … it was a breeze to sew up (elastic & all).  I put it on and, lo and behold, it fit beautifully but a half slip wasn’t going to cut it.

Where the hell was I going to find a full slip?! McCalls 6463

I’ll tell you where … an estate sale for $2.  I bought 3 slips and they all work out splendidly.

This dress is so comfortable.  It’s like wearing pajamas.  I will be making this one again soon only in a classier material for work.

Bias DressButterick 5509

I made this one from an old pattern I’ve had since 1999.  I have such fond memories of that dress that I had to make another.  (The other one literally was worn to pieces.)

This is a bias cut dress with no zip and a built in lining.  I used a heavier weight poly from Walmart for the fashion fabric and some silk twill from Vogue Fabrics in Chicago for the lining.  It feels so exquisite to wear. Butterick 5509

I tried out some, new to me, sewing techniques.  I used stay tape on the neckline and armholes.  These were the areas where my previous version came apart.  I didn’t want it to happen again.

I also tried hem tape but it didn’t work out so well.  After two wearings and a washing the hems were fraying.  I took them all out and used a fusible tape and then hemmed.  It turned out much better.

And until I saw these photos I thought I looked pretty good in this dress.  Well, it’s not the most flattering look on me but I don’t care.  It’s comfortable.

BTW, the dress is a sleeveless pattern.  I added the double flounce sleeves using Simplicity 1691.

Knit, Wrap DressButterick 5454

Finally, the dress I am most proud of for 2013.  My first wearable knit dress.  Yahoo!

What can I say … I love the fabric: the feel, the pattern (purchased from Colorado Fabrics 2+ years ago), everything.

The pattern was a cinch to use – very straightforward.  I am surprised I liked the pleats so much on the waistline.  I used clear elastic for the first time on the neck and facings.  I even top stitched the seams, twice on the cuffs & facings. Butterick 5454

The only issue I had is my machine was a bit persnickety about sewing through the knit.  I sew on a Singer Touch & Sew – Model 603E.  It’s older than me.  I love it but it doesn’t do anything fancy.  The issue?  The bobbin thread was not catching.

I tried changing the needle – microtex sharp, ball point, regular, then back to microtex again.  Not a difference.  I adjusted the tension.  Didn’t help.  I asked everyone I knew what to try … even my dad.

Finally, my fantastic library manager suggested I not place the needle so far up into the shank.  I was a bit skeptical but thought I had nothing to lose.  After dropping the needle nearly 1/4″ it would sew all the way through the knit and catch the bobbin.

The heavens opened and hallelujahs rained down upon Colorado.

So, I hope your 2013 was as productive as mine.  I hope you tried some new techniques and fabrics.  The biggest lesson I learned was not to be afraid of trying something new.  If it doesn’t work out there’s your good old buddy the seam ripper to help you out (and a glass of wine doesn’t hurt either). 

Tell me: which one do you like best? 

**Many thanks to my dear friend Jenni B for taking the photos**


  1. I love the wrap dress! You look good, and the fabric is lovely. I have a stash of four or five wrap dress patterns and am so intimidated by stretch fabric that I haven’t made any of them. The needle tip sounds very useful – thanks for passing it on!


  2. They are all really pretty, but I love, love that sundress. And your arms are amazing! If I had those arms and your gams I’d wear nothing but sundresses, even in the dead of winter.


  3. I love the knit dress and I’m glad you took the plunge. And, now we’ve got proof that Jane sews and she sews and sews! And, I was always coveting that blue floral print, looks beautiful!


  4. I think its wonderful you love your dresses so much! When I am not wearing scrubs for work I find myself in long skirts most of the time! They are comfy yet feminine and people seem to think I’m dressed up when I’m not! I think my favorite is the wrap dress! It looks so lovely on you and shows off your cute shape, the floral pattern with the navy and tan are flattering colors on you also!


    • Thank you. I cannot believe I wait so long to sew a knit dress. I’ve already ordered four more knit fabrics from Fashion Fabric Club to keep me motivated. I really think it helped having an excellent pattern (I can’t wait to try gathers instead of the pleats at the shoulder like Elizabeth’s version.


  5. Jane, Your dresses and modeling have been admired in Illinois i.e. Aunt Mary Ellen. Even Uncle Bob and Ryan read every word of your blog. We are very tired of winter but it looks like you have found a very productive use of your time.
    Thanks for sharing! ME


  6. Jane you look great in all of the dresses! I really like the bias dress – looks very feminine. Isn’t it amazing what you can find at Walmart sometimes? Love the needle positioning tip, too. Awesome post!


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