My sewing indie pattern prizes

Hi, I hope you’re having a fun October! This week I had a delightfully tough time choosing which indie patterns I wanted as part of my Everyday Casual Sewalong Contest prizes.

Everyday Casual Sewalong Pattern Prize Pack -

Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick which specializes in petite and petite plus size patterns, officially offered the Mimosa Blouse PDF pattern. However, Betsy, the SBCC’s designer told me I could pick whichever PDF pattern I wanted. Thanks, Betsy!

I decided to go for the Manhattan Trousers. I haven’t made any pants in ages. What sold me on these pants is that they have a contoured waistband. Yes! I typically have to grade up in the hips and a wide waistband will have “gaposis” if it’s not contoured. I’m not petite (5′ 8″ or about 172 cm) but it’s easy to lengthen. These pants have optional pockets and belt loops.

Paprika Patterns offered the Jade Skirt, a PDF pattern for knits with an interesting folds in the front (no folds in the back).

The other designers offered a couple of patterns to choose from or any pattern from their collections.

Waffle Patterns gave a choice between the Perpernoot coat … or the Monaca shirt – a draped wrap top. The coat really isn’t my style, plus it doesn’t get very cold in California so it wouldn’t get much wear, so I opted for the Monaca, which needs to be worn with a cami or tee because it dips a bit low in the front.
I really have no idea how this will look on me. I have a feeling it’s more flattering on slim figures but we’ll see…
Closet Case Patterns offered my choice of a PDF pattern. I already got the Nettie bodysuit as part of the Sewing Indie Month Bundle sale. So I decided to get the Carolyn Pajama pattern. I love pajamas! They can be really expensive to buy off the rack. I usually get something at a discount store but I’m never happy with the fabric – usually some cheap synthetic. But now I can make my own. Thank you Closet Case Patterns!
Muse Patterns are designs with a vintage feel. I chose the Jenna Cardi, a cute cropped cardi, which has nice color blocking opportunities.

And the other part of my prize package included…
Everyday Casual Sewalong prizes
I had fun browsing the Tessuti patterns – tops, skirts, dresses, pants, and jackets, oh my! I’d seen many lovely things people have made from Tessuti on Instagram, particularly the Stitcher & Gatherer‘s Sydney Jacket, which you can see on her blog here. Plus I remembered Sew Busy Lizzy’s blog post about the Sydney Jacket. I don’t have any Tessuti patterns, primarily because I’d prefer getting a paper pattern but shipping from Australia costs more than the pattern.
What did I pick? Well, I looked at all the patterns on Tessuti’s website. I liked the Eva Dress but wondered, do I really need another dress pattern? Then I went to Pattern Review to skim all the things people made from Tessuti patterns. (You can see them here.) The Eva Dress still caught my eye, particularly after I saw the versions by Blogless Anna and Up So Late. It’s got an interesting shape – and pockets!
So I picked this pattern and then I had one more to pick! I looked at all the jackets and decided that the one that would get the most wear would be the Tokyo Jacket. It’s got 3/4 sleeves and looks like it will go well with pants and skirts. And it has pockets in the front – always a plus for a jacket.
I can hardly wait to start downloading the PDFs and for my Tessuti patterns to arrive! Thank you to all the participating designers and companies for providing such great prizes!

The Trench – Christine Haynes Pattern

Trench - Christine Haynes Pattern - Chic & Simple Sewing -

I’m on a stashbusting mission – spurred by The Quirky Peach, who launched a Summer Stashbust Challenge in June. I had intended to make The Trench from Christine Haynes‘ first book Chic & Simple Sewing but somehow never got around to it. A few years ago I had made two other versions of The Trench in solid fabrics (except for the bias tape, which was striped in one and houndstooth in another). You can see those versions here and here (warning – pix aren’t very good).

Joel Dewberry - Ginseng collection - Jasmine palette -

I’ve had three yards of this Joel Dewberry fabric, part of his Ginseng collection of cotton sateen home dec, since 2010 – yes, that’s a four-year delay! The image on the left is taken from Joel’s website so it has the correct color. Isn’t this fabric pretty? This is his Orchid design in the Jasmine palette.

It’s the fabric I picked for my first stashbusting projects. (Here’s my post on stashbusting.)

This is pattern is a TNT (tried and true) for me. It’s simple to make – with only seven pattern pieces to cu – front, back, sleeves, patch pockets, not including the bias tape. The only tricky part is the bias tape edging along the front edge and the neckline – you just need to be careful to catch the double-fold bias tape on both sides of the jacket. I didn’t do a very good job on the first one I made – my bias tape needed stabilizer. This is a medium-weight home dec fabric that didn’t need any stabilizer but it’s rather thick to sew at the beginning and end of the neckline where you have to fold over the ends.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic & Simple Sewing -

I used size large and only made one adjustment – I made the sleeves about two inches longer because I have really long arms and didn’t want my sleeves to end too near my elbows.

This jacket has raglan sleeves, which means the sleeves go right up to the collar (think baseball tee). This style works well with my broad shoulders. I didn’t have to do any wide shoulder adjustments! My biggest challenge in making this particular jacket was deciding which color bias tape to use. If you follow me on Instagram (@csews), you may have seen all the variations – hot pink, green, cream, fabric – and then finally the winner – the same fabric plus hot pink bias tape. (Special thanks to the many sewcialists who chimed in when I was pondering my bias tape options!) I did a lot of basting and pinning before I finally got around to sewing the bias tape – and then I had to rip out and redo some of the neckline because I didn’t catch all of the pink bias tape. :/

Here’s a compilation of the IG photos. The last photo is of one of my patch pockets. I put a little bit of pink bias tape along the top edge of the pocket. I thought about putting it around the bottom of the pocket but I decided to keep it simple.

Bias tape for the Trench -

I decided to use the green bias tape for a Hong Kong seam finish for the side seams and sleeves. The Trench is an unlined jacket so I thought that would give it a nice look on the inside.

Hong Kong seam finish -

And I do like the look but – wow – it sure is tedious because you have to sew the bias tape to each raw edge, which means two strips of bias tape per seam. Then I ran out of bias tape and I had to buy another package (grrrr), using nearly 6 yards total!

Check out those seams!

Trench - inside right

I used hot pink seam tape for the sleeve hems and the bottom hem, which you can see above. And here are a few more photos.

Trench - Christine Haynes Pattern -

I really like this jacket but I don’t think it goes with much of my existing wardrobe, so it’s not as versatile as I thought it would be. Actually, I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought it but I was really fixated on making this jacket with this fabric.

The Trench - Christine Haynes patterns -

I do have a few RTW things in a solid cream, such as this skirt and sweater but it’s not a color I wear very often. I have a lot of solid black in my wardrobe  so maybe I could wear that with this jacket in the fall. The large patch pockets are great. I can easily put my phone, keys, a small notebook, and more in these pockets.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic  Simple Sewing -

Here’s a closer shot of the front – you can see the flat piping.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic   Sim[le Sewing -

Finally, here’s  detail of my vintage beret. I got it at All Things Vintage in Oakland. It’s got eight sections, which gives it a nice round shape. It’s one of my favorite berets. Oh, and the lipstick I’m wearing is American Beauty by Besame Cosmetics. As soon as I saw it on Handmade by Heather‘s IG feed (@knitnbee) a couple of weeks ago, I had to get it.

Vintage beret -

Backstory of the shoot: I got up early because I knew it would be overcast in the morning and the cloud cover would be gone in a couple of hours and I wanted to avoid the hot California sun that would cast stark shadows. I walked to my shooting location, set up my tripod and shot about three test shots using my digital camera’s timer. Then the battery died! The one time I didn’t check the battery. Auugh! So I traipsed home, plugged in the charger for about an hour and hoped that would be enough power – luckily it was.

What are you making this summer? Are you using any stash fabric?

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Me Made May 2014: Days 2-12

9 days of Me Made May 2014 -

On the first of May I committed to five days a week of wearing something I sewed for Me Made May 2014. (If you haven’t heard about MMM14, read about on So Zo’s blog.) On Day 1 I wore a skirt I made a few years ago. All the photos were taken with my iPhone – so apologies for low-quality photos. I posted most of these photos on my Instagram account (@csews).

Here’s a rundown what I wore for the next several days, starting with this red dress on Day 2. I wore this number to a magazine awards event in Los Angeles. (The magazine I work for was nominated for several awards and we won four! I and three other staff members flew down for the event.) The evening began with cocktails so that’s why I’m holding a glass of red wine here.

Me Made May 2014 - red dress - vintage pattern -

I wore my vintage hat (black velvet and white woven fabric), which I got at All Things Vintage in Oakland, along with my new shoes – black with white trim! (Yes, they a bit too pointy for my feet but I figured they would be OK for a few hours. I needed something with a vintage look to go with the outfit. I found these low-heeled Bandolino pumps at DSW in San Francisco.) I made the dress a few years ago from this 1957 McCalls pattern. The fabric is a cotton woven, quilt weight, red with tiny white polka dots. This dress has a side zipper and I made the belt using the same fabric.


Back then I didn’t really know what I was doing as I graded up in the shoulders and hip area. I didn’t now anything about tracing patterns and just cut the actual pattern [wince] and didn’t make a muslin [gasp]. Yep – this was the muslin. In fact I had never made a muslin of anything back then. Heheh. #ignoranceisbliss

From what I recall, my neckline adjustments were slightly off so I had to make some pretty small seam allowances to make it work. Plus it took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r to figure out how to interpret the instructions for that middle pleated detail in the center of the bodice. Even now I stare at it and I don’t remember how I did it! I was slimmer when I made this dress so at the moment there’s not a whole lot of ease in the hip area. 😉 There is plenty of room to walk because of a pleat in the skirt back. It’s not uncomfortable but a little more ease would be better. I need to get back to the gym!

On Day 3 I wore this cotton voile skirt I made last year. On the last day of my LA trip I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy (@nerdyseamstress on Twitter and @thenerdyseamstress on Instagram) who blogs at The Nerdy Seamstress. We follow each other on social media and arranged to meet at Republique, a great place for brunch, and then went to The Fabric Store to do a little shopping. We each wore skirts we made that day. (You can read about my skirt here.)

Kathy of the Nerdy Seamstress and Chuleenan wearing Me Made May skirts

On Day 4 I wore my Hummingbird peplum, a Cake Patterns top, which I made last year. (You can read about it here.)


On Day 5 I wore this hat, which I made from some home dec fabric I got on sale at Joann’s and trimmed with Petersham ribbon from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. (Yes, this is a selfie, thus my shoulder looks odd – a little Quasimodo, eh?)


On Day 6 I wore this bias cut skirt. The fabric is from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco.


Day 7 – The Trench, pattern from Christine Haynes first book Chic and Simple Sewing, which I blogged about here. This one is from a handwoven cotton – very thick, like home dec – and trimmed with bias tape I made from striped silk fabric. I also added a cuff detail in the same striped fabric.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Christine’s and even interviewed her when she released her first of her patterns in 2012. You can read that Q&A here.

The Trench- Christine Haynes pattern

Day 8, my other Trench – this one in wool, trimmed with a bias tape made from tiny hounds-tooth wool fabric. You can read about that Trench here.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern -

Day 9, my hand-sewn bolero from black jersey, pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book by Natalie Chanin. Sorry you can’t see much detail in this badly lit photo. For some reason I never got around to blogging about this bolero.

Bolero - Alabama Studio Sewing + Design  -

Days 10 and 11, I didn’t wear anything I made and Day 12 I wore my Emery Dress – one of my more feminine dresses (lace trim, embroidery on the collar). This is also a Christine Haynes pattern. You can read about my experience making this dress (and see better photos!) here. The fabric is cotton voile is a remnant I got from Britex Fabrics. I also got this cute hat on sale at All Things Vintage. I love the hats at this shop run by two ladies with excellent taste. Nearly every time I go there I buy another hat!

Emery Dress - Me Made May 2014 - Day 12 -

Thanks for visiting! And if you’re participating in Me Made May and have worn anything by the designers mentioned above, please let me know. I’d love to see what you made!

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Bay Area Sewists Meetup and Pattern Swap!

Many patterns

This year began with a bang:  In January I was promoted at work and I also decided to take up the reins as the new organizer for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group, which I mentioned in this earlier post. So life had been super busy, which is why I’ve hardly posted anything in 2014.

But I’m happy to report that on Saturday, February 22, the first official 2014 Bay Area Sewists meetup that I organized, finally happened in Berkeley. It took me a while to get going because I needed to find a free place to meet. One member suggested the San Francisco Public Library but I don’t live in San Francisco and you need to be a resident to use their meeting rooms. Then I discovered that the Berkeley Public Library has a great Community Meeting Room that Berkeley-based organizations can use for free. Our group qualifies because I’m in Berkeley.

I asked Kirsty of Tea and Rainbows if she could help me with this first meetup and she was happy to help. She checked out a Berkeley cafe and restaurant for potential meeting places and she arrived early to help set up. She also had her husband print out some labels for the various pattern categories (dresses, skirts, tops, menswear, etc.) And Meg of Made by Meg, Bay Area Sewists founder, also came early to help set up and stayed to get the room back in order. Thank you Kirsty and Meg!

The room has great tables on wheels that you can easily position around the room. I decided to put them in a square so people could wander around and look at all the patterns. As more and more members and patterns arrived, we added more tables. We began with four tables and ended up filling up eight tables. Dress patterns took up two tables!

Looking over patterns.cropped

More than 20 members came, and nearly everyone brought patterns – anywhere from three or four to more than 30! I handed out “tickets” (small history cards that I had at home) for each pattern. The idea was that people could take as many patterns as they brought.To be fair, everyone who brought a pattern got to pick one pattern, and then after everyone picked one, they got to pick a second one, and then we did a few more rounds and then everyone could just pick however many patterns they wanted.

I brought seven patterns and picked up these four at our swap:

Patterns from swap

I absolutely adore the hat patterns! I have another Patricia Underwood Vogue hat pattern that I got a few years ago. I really like her designs. I want to make that black hat. You can never have too many hats, right?

The vintage Simplicity pattern is from 1967. I always liked those dress/jacket outfits you see in those 1960s films. And now I can make my very own combo!

The Vogue dress pattern appealed to me because of the dropped waist and pleats. And I thought the Very Easy Very Vogue pattern could add some nice casual staples to my wardrobe. And all of these patterns were uncut.

At the end of the swap we held a drawing for Christine Haynes‘s lovely Emery Dress pattern, which was won by Nancy. Thank you, Christine for donating your pattern for our meetup!

If you make the dress, be sure to check out Christine’s Emery Dress Sewalong blog posts on making the dress. You’ll find tips on making adjustments and installing the invisible zipper, and plenty more.

More than 60 leftover patterns were donated to the nonprofit East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland. Just for fun, I did a count and discovered that among this pile were 27 McCalls patterns, 12 Simplicity, 11 Vogue, 9 Butterick, 3 New Look, 2 Burda, and 10 miscellaneous (not Big Four).

Patterns donating

Oh, and as I counted the patterns, I found this XL, XXL pajama pattern – perfect for my husband who needs some new pajama bottoms.

Pajama pattern

Karen of Blinky Sews brought her husband to our meetup and he took some group photos at the end. Unfortunately, mine came out blurry so I won’t post them here. But Meg wrote a post last week about the meetup and included a nice group photo, which he also took. So be sure to check it out!

Big News

Bay Area Sewists Meetup -

January has been an intense month for me – new job responsibilities due to my promotion, getting old machine repaired, buying a new sewing machine – and (drum roll, please) Big News – I’m the new organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup Group!

Yep, the group was about to be abandoned because the founder of the group, Meghan (who blogs at Meg Made This), didn’t have time to maintain it any longer.  So I decided to step up and be the next organizer. Meghan designed the lovely logo for the group – don’t you love it?

In between work stuff (and not sewing, blogging or anything else) I was running around trying to find a free and available space for the group to meet. I finally ended up applying to use the Community Meeting Room at the Berkeley Public Library. And I just heard that my application was accepted.

So our first big Meetup “Pattern Swap, Spring Wardrobes & Pattern Giveaway!” will be at the Berkeley Public Library (2090 Kittredge at Shattuck) on Saturday, February 22, 10:45 am to 12:15 pm. We’ll pass out one ticket per pattern you bring, which you can exchange for another pattern. Because this event is open to the general public, this will make it fair to everyone who comes. Any extra patterns left over will be donated to the nonprofit East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland.

Also, Christine Haynes has graciously donated one of her Emery Dress patterns for a giveaway drawing at this Meetup! Thank you Christine!

Here’s the event sched: Patterns displayed/organized (10:45 to 11 am); Pattern swap (11 am to 11:30 am); Giveaway drawing and discussion of spring wardrobes/fabrics (11:30-12:15).

Kirsty of Tea and Rainbows will be helping me set up for this event before she takes off for Australia. Thank you Kirsty! I’m really looking forward to meeting other Bay Area Sewists. To RSVP for the event, just go to the Bay Area Sewists Meetup page. I hope to see you there!

2013 – A Year of Sewing Firsts

Thanks to Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow for spurring me and many others to look back at this past year. One thing I realized is that 2013 was a year of sewing firsts for me. So here’s a brief rundown of the “firsts” in chronological order.

I entered my first sewing contest in February – the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern contest. You had to make something from the book BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern and post photos to your BurdaStyle profile. I made the Elizabeth Gathered-Waist Dress and a crinoline with the following adjustments: changed the neckline from square neck to boat neck, lined the bodice (first tine I lined a bodice!), added bra strap holders at shoulders. I posted about making the dress but never actually posted this photo on my blog. So here it is.

To my great surprise I was selected as one of 20 finalists. I didn’t win but it was exciting to be a finalist. (You can see more photos on my BurdaStyle Project page here.)

I participated in my first sewalong last June – making the Hummingbird peplum top by Cake Patterns and sewing by first neck and sleeve binding using knit fabric (link to pattern here). I liked the pattern so much I made three tops: solid blue, solid red, and my favorite, black-and-white striped version with binding cut on the bias.

Striped h-bird - standing

It was so much fun participating in the Hummingbird sewalong, I joined in the Fall for Cotton Sewalong hosted by Rochelle of Lucky Lucille and Tasha of By Gum By Golly, and made my first Decades of Style pattern, the 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, a bit of a challenge with three collars and a side invisible zipper.

1940s Girl Friday blouse - Decades of Style pattern

You can see more photos in the post My Fall for Cotton 1940s Girl Friday Blouse Is Finished!

This year was the first time I sewed with chevron fabric – which I discovered was not quite the same as sewing stripes (heheh). I made my Chevron Red Velvet Dress, when I participated in Cake Patterns Red Velvet Knit Dress sewalong (pattern link here).

Red Velvet Knit Dress - Cake Patterns -

And finally, I made the Emery Dress, a Christine Haynes pattern, and did my first small bust adjustment and my first wide shoulder adjustment using the tutorials she provided with her Emery Dress Sewalong.

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

And coincidentally, these “firsts” are also my top five. Happy New Year! Do you have any sewing resolutions for 2014?

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Emery Dress with Embellishments

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

At last my Emery Dress is finished! I began working on it in October when indie designer Christine Haynes’s Emery Dress sewalong for her lovely sewing pattern. (You can buy the pattern here on her website.) This dress has a fitted bodice with bust and waist darts, two sleeve lengths, and an optional collar and bow. I made a variation of View A with the short sleeves. I didn’t add a bow because it’s not my style but I did add a collar and a few other embellishments, which is why it took me a while to finish.  Also, in between making the Emery Dress, I participated in the Red Velvet Sewalong, which began on November 11, and made my Chevron Red Velvet Dress. It was a dress month!

Emery Dress sewing pattern by Christine HaynesI made my Emery Dress from two 42-inch wide (about 1 meter) cotton remnants that I got on sale (30% off) from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. One remnant was 1 1/2 yards (1.4 meters) and the other 1 1/8 yards (a little over 1 m). The pink piping at the waist and the lace at the bottom are also from Britex. If you are ever in the Bay Area, you must visit this special store – three floors of fabrics (many of them imported) and one floor of notions. Though many of the fabrics are quite pricey, you can find generous cuts of remnants (2 and even 3-yard pieces) and a wide range of prices on notions.

I wasn’t planning on putting a collar on my dress because I didn’t think I had enough fabric but after I cut out the bodice, which has bust and waist darts, sleeves, and skirt, I discovered that the 2 7/8 yards I had were just enough. However, I didn’t have enough fabric for the bodice lining or pockets so I used a solid black cotton for the bodice lining (also from Britex) and another cotton fabric I had for the pockets. View A (size 10) requires 3 3/4 yards of fabric.

I love the fabric. I don’t know if you can tell from the photos but it is a dark navy printed with stylized silver flowers that have a bubblegum pink center. Those flowers look white here but they are silver with a slight metallic sheen, which is difficult to capture in a photo. (You can click on any of my photos to see a larger version.)

I didn’t want my collar to just blend in with the bodice so I decided to add an embroidered running stitch similar to the collar on my 1940s Girl Friday Blouse, which I made for the Fall for Cotton sewalong this past September (you can see the Girl Friday collar details here). But instead of doing two rows of embroidered stitches, I did just one using a double strand of floss – one strand of metallic silver and one strand of pearly grey, which I got at Lacis in Berkeley. I also bought some pink floss to match the pink in the print but decided against adding another row of stitches because it looked too busy.

Collar detail - Emery Dress sewalong -

I went to Britex to see if they had any ready-made piping that would go with my fabric. I had a swatch in hand and looked at a pink and silver options. I went with a hot pink that’s closer to magenta. I got the idea of putting piping at the waist when I saw a beautiful 1950s vintage dress with this detail at the Alameda flea market last fall.

Though I haven’t had any experience with piping, I decided to go for it. I found a couple of tutorials on piping on Pinterest but they were about piping on pillows, not clothes. The important thing I learned was to make sure it lined up along the seam line. This would have been a lot easier if the piping width matched my 5/8″ seam allowance. 😉

So I pinned and basted the piping to the bottom of the bodice.

Pinning piping to Emery Dress -

Then I sewed the gathered skirt to the bodice. The challenging part was getting close enough to the piping using my zipper foot. (There is such a thing as a piping foot but I don’t have one.) I couldn’t see the piping because it was sandwiched between the bodice and skirt so I used my fingers to feel where it was. I had to go back over a couple of spots where you could see the stitching on the piping.

The collar does lay flat but the dress is a little tight at the sleeves. I did make a couple muslins of the bodice but I think I need a little more room on the armscye. It doesn’t cut into my arm so it is comfortable to wear but the sleeve wrinkles a bit if I raise my arms up. :/

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

I was really nervous about making the piping line up in the back where the invisible zipper was. After I sewed the piping to the bodice, I checked to make sure it would line up it the center back seam when I put the pieces next to each other – right sides together. Check.

Piping at at center back - Emery Dress -
Piping at center back seam

Now it was zipper time. After I sewed one side of the zipper (also from Britex), I laid the dress flat, stuck one pin in to attach the top of the unsewn zip side to the bodice. Then I used white chalk to mark on the zipper exactly where the piping should be. You can sort of see it on the right, near the pin. Then I pinned the rest of the zipper, making sure that white mark lined up with the piping.

Marking zipper - Emery Dress -

And it worked! The piping lines up! Wahoo!

Piping and invisible zipper - Emery Dress -
Center back seam with invisible zipper

Sewing a 22-inch invisible zipper in the back wasn’t easy because I don’t have an invisible zipper foot so I used a regular zipper foot. I had ordered an invisible zipper foot for my Kenmore sewing machine but it didn’t work very well. The regular zipper foot worked better.

I’d only installed two invisible zippers before this one and those were a lot shorter and thus they were easier to handle. It’s harder to manage sewing a longer invisible zipper using a regular zipper foot. In several places I didn’t get close enough to the teeth so I went back and sewed more stitches to get closer and then hand stitched a few areas as well. Ugh.

Here’s a view of the back – isn’t the collar cute!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

And now to the nitty-gritty details.


Emery Dress sewing pattern – $18 ($25.30 with shipping and California tax)
2 5/8 yards (42-inch wide) cotton print fabric (just enough for bodice, sleeves, skirt and collar) – $21.69
1 yard black cotton (45-inch wide) for bodice lining – about $10
1 yard bright pink piping $2.70
1 3/8 yard of navy lace $8.16
1 skein of DMC metallic silver embroidery floss [can’t remember price]
1 skein of DMC gray embroidery floss
22-inch invisible zipper
matching thread – Gutterman
70/10 Schmetz needle
fusible cotton woven interfacing  for collar and for invisible zipper area
navy seam tape

My pattern adjustments before cutting my fabric:

Bodice – I did my first small bust adjustment on this dress (you can read about my adjustment here) and a slight wide shoulder adjustment. I cut a size 10 bodice.

Skirt – I added a few inches to the length. My waist (30 inches) is closer to the pattern’s size 10 (29 1/2 inches) but my hips are a size 12 (41 inches) so I cut a size 12 skirt.

Adding length to Emery Dress -

I wanted it even longer but alas, I didn’t have any more fabric so instead of making a making a hem by folding the fabric over 1/2 inch and the 1 1/2 inches as instructed, I added seam tape. Somewhere in the midst of all this I injured my right middle finger so I couldn’t do any more hand sewing. My finger really hurt after I hand sewed the bottom edge of the bodice lining to the skirt. So no more hand sewing until my finger is healed!

But now I needed to figure out how I would hem the skirt. I posted a photo on Instagram (@csews) and shared it on Twitter (@csewsalot). On Twitter, Leila (@lbreton) of Three Dresses Project suggested that I do a blind hem by machine. She event sent me a link to Lolita Patterns blind hem tutorial (thanks, Leila!). I was going to do this but after I tried on the dress again, I decided to add more length by adding some lace. I really like a long skirt – preferably tea length.

I made a narrow hem, folding over the seam tape, pinning and then sewing the hem (note: seams are finished with a three-part zigzag stitch).

Narrow hem on Emery Dress

Then I went back to the notions floor at Britex to look at lace and got navy cotton lace that’s about 1 3/4 inch wide (4.4 cm), soaked it in very warm water for 30 minutes, air dried it, and machine sewed it to my hem. I used June Tailor’s Fray Block and hand sewed the ends at the side seam.

Navy cotton lace for Emery Dress

And here are some more views of the completed dress – yes, the dress has pockets!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

Photo shoot details: I was waiting for a warm day and I was in luck last Sunday, Dec. 15. It was in the 60s in Berkeley. So I put on some makeup, stuffed my hair under my vintage hat; got dressed in my skirt, black slip, tights, my new patent leather Mary Janes; grabbed my tripod and digital camera and walked about a block to this location. I positioned my tripod and set the timer on my Sony Cybershot at 10 seconds and began shooting. Yep – no photographer. Just me.

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

I shot for about an hour, which went by really fast. I should have brought mirror with me to check my collar and other things. By the end some strands of hair were falling down in the back. I guess this is why you have hair and makeup people! I’m gradually getting more comfortable in front of the camera but it’s hard to pose without looking awkward. I’ve edited out many photos with stiff arms and oddly angled legs.

Emery Dress - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

My hat is one of my favorites in my vintage collection. I use a hat pin to keep it on my head. I got it at All Things Vintage in Oakland. Love that store!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern

It was fun to participate in the sewalong. Christine Haynes provided plenty of tutorials and tips throughout it. I found the small bust adjustment and wide shoulder adjustment very helpful. The instruction booklet that comes with the pattern has very clear step-by-step direction and it’s well illustrated. But I recommend checking out the sewalong posts for extra tips and to see photos of other Emery Dresses.

Do you make many pattern adjustments when you sew a dress? What do you usually do? Do you have any tips for armscye adjustments? 

Who is your photographer when you shoot garments you’ve made for yourself? Is it just your camera timer, a friend, partner or husband?

Thanks for visiting!

Emery Dress - photo - sewn by Chuleenan of - Christine Haynes sewing pattern


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My Small Bust Adjustment on the Emery Dress

Emery Dress - small bust adjustment

Hey, I finally did my first small bust adjustment! Yep, I’ve never done one before, which, when I think about it, is both surprising and then not. Frankly I never gave much thought to doing one because I haven’t made many fitted garments. Or I’ve made things from knit fabrics so the bust wasn’t an issue. Most of the ready-to-wear shirts I have aren’t fitted so I’m used to a bit of looseness.

But looking back, I can think of two things I’ve made that needed a bust adjustment – the Colette Patterns Jasmine blouse. I was swimming in it and ended up taking in a couple of inches on the side seams but it was still a big roomy in the bust, which you can see here. Sheesh. Colette Patterns are made for women with generous bosoms!

The 1950s dress I made for the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern Contest was a little loose in the bust area too. I did made a couple muslins of the bodice but I was focused on changing the neckline from square to boat neck. I really wasn’t paying much attention to the bust.

But over the past year after seeing sewcialists like Leila of Three Dresses Project mention doing a full bust adjustment on garments she’s made. So doing a small bust adjustment has been percolating in my head for a while.

Then when I got indie designer Christine Haynes’s latest pattern, the lovely Emery Dress, I realized that I had the perfect opportunity to do a small bust adjustment. Her sewalong began towards the end of October and includes many tutorials, including a very helpful one on how to do a small bust adjustment, by Haley on Christine’s blog City Stitching. I followed her step-by-step instructions to make my adjustments. There are plenty of helpful photos as well.

I made Muslin No. 1 for size 10 (37.5″ bust, 29.5″ waist), following the pattern exactly and got this (yes, I only did one sleeve).

Muslin 1 of Emery Dress bodice

The fit wasn’t bad but you can see that it’s a little loose in the bust. I could pinch about 1/2″.

Emery dress bodice - small bust adjustment

In this side view you can see how it’s a bit roomy there, especially above the bust dart.

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress

So I made the adjustments following the SBA tutorial on Christine Haynes blog.

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress

It got a little fiddly on the bust dart – folding it and then trimming it so I wasn’t sure if I did it right. So on to Muslin 2 with the SBA – a much better fit!

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress

Here’s the side view of my SBA muslin. Hey, no wrinkle!

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress

Yippee! My first small bust adjustment worked! The only thing is that the front waist darts seemed a bit long. So I drew another line on the pattern piece as you can see in this photo, to put the apex of the waist dart about 3/4″ lower. Anyway I’m really happy it worked and I’m sure I’ll be doing more SBAs. So thanks Christine for putting the tutorial on your blog!

Small bust adjustment - Emery Dress -

Have you done any bust adjustments?  How did it go?

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Everyday Dresses

Emery Dress and Red Velvet Dress Sewalongs

A few weeks ago I realized that I don’t have any everyday dresses in my wardrobe. Not one. I have everyday skirts but no everyday dresses. Yep. I’m more of a separates kinda gal so that’s part of the reason. And I guess the other reason is my attitude toward dresses. I guess I think of them as being something that you don’t wear everyday.

The five dresses I own only get worn a couple of times a year or not even that. They include a vintage black dress that I got years ago; the dress I wore as a bridesmaid to a wedding; two dresses I made from vintage Vogue patterns, and the dress I made for my BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern contest entry earlier this year (I was a finalist but didn’t win). I usually end up wearing a vintage hat with these outfits and even a crinoline with the one I made for the sewing contest – not exactly everyday wear but I do wear them to work when I’m in the mood and the weather is warm enough in San Francisco.

So when I heard about Christine Haynes‘s Emery Dress and the Red Velvet Dress by Cake Patterns – I had to take a closer look. At first I thought the Emery Dress was a touch too girly for me – I think the bow made me hesitate. But then I saw the striped Emery Dress by Devon of Miss Make blog and it convinced me that I should get the pattern. She cut the collar on the bias and it looks fabulous, doesn’t it? She kindly let me repost this photo from her blog post Emery Dress Pattern.

Emery Dress - sewn by Devon of Miss Make - pattern by Christine Haynes

The Emery Dress Sewalong has just started but Christine is only on fabric and notions. Muslin sewing starts on Oct. 30. You can view the schedule here. I think you could still join in on it if you order the pattern right away. In November Christine will focus on bust adjustments – small and full. I’m looking forward to that!

The Red Velvet Sewalong starts on November 11! So there’s still time to participate.It’ll be a series of ten sessions over two weeks. I participated in the Cake Patterns Hummingbird Sewalong earlier this year, which was a lot of fun. So far I’ve made three Hummingbird tops, which you can see here.

Melizza of Pincushion Treats was a pattern tester for the Red Velvet sewing pattern. You can see two of the dresses she made here.

And I also love the Lady Skater Dress that Katie of Kadiddlehopper made. She wrote about it in Lady Skater: Sakura Blossom Style and graciously let me post this photo of her twirling around in the dress. Check out her post for more photos of this pretty dress.

Lady Skater Dress by Katie of Kadiddlehopper

And last but not least, today my copy of Clothing for Everyday: Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori arrived! I pre-ordered it on Amazon.

Clothing for Everyday Wear: Stylish Dress Book by Toshiko Tsukiori

This is the English translation published by Laurence King. There are dresses, tops, jackets, and pants in this book – a total of 26 garments – according to the book flap. There are plenty of photos in the book – slender, winsome, and unsmiling  Japanese models, which probably means grading the pattern up a bit for me. The pattern is sized for XS, S, M, and L. No XL folks.

The dimensions for large are 36 5/8″ (93 cm) bust; 29 1/8″ (74 cm) waist, and 38 5/8″ (98 cm) hips. Based on that, I’m more of an XL in the hips and height. Oh, and the pattern gives the same height for all four sizes – 63″ (160 cm), which must be a mistake. 63″ is 5′ 3″. I’m nearly 5′ 8″ so who knows what the height measurement means.

I’m looking forward to adding everyday dresses to my wardrobe. Have you made any dresses that fall into the everyday category? What patterns have you liked? Have you  made anything from Japanese pattern books? What was your sizing experience like?

And do let me know if you’re participating in the Emery Dress Sewalong or the Red Velvet Sewalong. I’d love to see what your version looks like!

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The Sassy Librarian Blouse – Craftsy Class

I bought my first Craftsy sewing class a while ago – the Sassy Librarian Blouse by Christine Haynes –  and finally downloaded the PDF pattern and began viewing the lessons in March. I was already a fan of Christine’s. I bought her book Chic & Simple Sewing back in 2009 and made several things from it. So I knew her Craftsy class would be a good buy – and it was – particularly because I was lucky to buy it when it was on sale but the class is still worth the current full price of $29.99 because you not only get the pattern but step-by-step instructions from Christine.

There are two views of this top – a sleeveless version with pin tucks and one with release pleats and sleeves.  But you can easily make your own variations of the two styles – put a collar on the sleeveless version or leave off the sleeves on the other one.

Sassy Librarian Blouse This was also my first PDF pattern. All of my previous experiences with sewing patterns have been with printed patterns from books, indie designers, or from the Big Four (Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls). I had a lovely cotton voile that I got at Fabric Outlet in San Francisco last fall and I wanted to get sewing.

Taped together PDF pattern for the Sassy Librarian Blouse by Christine Haynes
Taped together PDF pattern for the Sassy Librarian Blouse by Christine Haynes

I didn’t like the thickness of the taped together pattern pieces so I decided to trace them on to pattern paper. I wrote about tracing this pattern in this post “A Review of Sewing Patterns I’ve Traced,”see the last few paragraphs. (Also, here’s a post on tracing “Tips on Tracing Sewing Patterns” that may be helpful to you.)

It was an interesting experience watching the video lessons. Christine takes you though every step of the making the top – from pinning and cutting your fabric to marking darts and pleats as well as topstitching and understitching. She offers plenty of useful tips along the way, talking about her own sewing experiences.

Ironing a bust dart over a ham
Ironing a bust dart over a ham

It was nice to see how she marked darts. I definitely learned some additional sewing techniques from her lessons, such as remembering to use my ham to iron the bust dart. I forget to use my ham sometimes!

Overall, the class was quite informative because Christine goes into great detail about construction and finishing, which will definitely make the finished blouse look great. She’s very detail-oriented and precise, offering excellent reminders of things to watch out for and things to avoid and why (i.e. don’t sew over pins or you could throw off the timing of your sewing machine).

You can see the three-step zig zag on this collar facing.
Understiching the facing. You can see the three-step zig zag on the right.

I learned about using the three-step zig zag stitch to finish my seams and facings. I never liked using the regular zig zag stitch because it tends to bunch up but I confess I never used the three-step zig zag. It works great! So thanks, Christine for mentioning that stitch!

My only problem with taking the class is that there are no written instructions so you have to watch each lesson. You can’t really skip ahead without missing something. There are a total of 12 lessons (not including the introduction) and each lesson is divided into anywhere from two to seven parts.

Each part is titled so it’s easy to go back to a section if you need to repeat the instructions or demonstration. For example, “Pattern and Cutting” is broken down into View One or Two, The Fabric, Pining the Pattern, Interfacing, and Cutting Out the Pieces and is 17:55 minutes long. The longest lesson is the Buttons and Bows – 39:35.

I used the Craftsy app on either my iPhone or the iPad as I watched the lessons. The class opens to where you last left the lesson so you don’t have to remember where you were – a handy function.

Occasionally I found myself getting impatient. Making this top took longer than I thought it would because it’s very stop and go: You watch part of a lesson, then you pin, sew, or iron, and then watch the next step, etc. I didn’t do the buttons until May – my incentive to finish was to wear it for Me Made May. I ended up wearing this top twice in May, once on Day 8 and the second time on Day 29.

The cool thing about Craftsy classes – especially if you buy a brand new class, is that you can interact with the instructor and other people taking the class. So if you get stuck or have any questions, you can get answers right away.

At a certain point, instructors are no longer answering questions but there is a discussion section in each Craftsy class and you can see what questions people posed in a particular lesson. So if you do have a question, you can just scroll through other people’s questions and see how the instructor answered them. And if you don’t find an answer, you can pose your question and other Craftsy members who made the top may reply to your query.

Also, as you’re watching a lesson and you want to make note of something, you can click on “Add Note” and then insert a note at the very moment in the video. Then the next time you make the top, you can go to your notes and see what you wrote. This is a nice feature.

Here’s what my finished top (View 1) looked like. I’m wearing a vintage wool beret:

Sassy Top - finished

I confess that I did NOT make a muslin. I was impatient. I just wanted to get going. However, I do have a smaller than average bust so I should have taken then into account before I cut my fabric. What I ended up doing was bringing in the side seams a little so it wouldn’t be too loose in that area.

When I make the top again, which I’m certain I will, I’ll make a real bust adjustment and give myself a little more ease in the hips.

My own variations on this top were that I made it sleeveless and I made covered buttons. Here’s my post about the covered buttons for this top: “Tutorial: Centering Fabric on a Covered Button.”

And here’s another photo of the top. I’m wearing another vintage wool beret. Berets seem to go well with this top.

Sassy top with grey beret

If you’ve made this pattern, let me know what your experience was like!

Tutorial: Centering Fabric on a Covered Button

Covered buttons are a really nice detail. You can buy covered button kits at any fabric store or online at Joann Fabric and Craft or from Etsy sellers [search “covered button kit”]. But how do you center an image on a covered button when the kit doesn’t let you see the fabric on the other side?

This post assumes you already know how to cover a button. But in case you haven’t done it before, here are some handy tutorials I found online: “How to Make a Fabric Covered Button” from Cass Can Sew; “How to Cover Buttons with Fabric/Ribbons” from Ribbon Unlimited. They each include plenty of photos. The only difference is that they each cut squares of fabric whereas I used a circle.

My challenge was that I wanted to center a little flower on the button – and my Dritz covered button kit included a white (opaque) rubber mold piece that wouldn’t let me see whether the flower was centered after I pushed the fabric and front button piece into it.

There are covered button kits with a clear rubber piece but that wasn’t for sale at my local fabric store. But I really wanted to finish my top and I didn’t want to wait and order something online. (The Cutie Stuffs Etsy shop sells covered button kits with the clear mold piece. I ordered a larger covered button kit from Cutie Stuffs last year.)

My fabric and the covered button pieces
My fabric and the front and back button pieces


Covered button kit
Covered button kit

So I thought about how to solve this problem. I drew two lines perpendicular lines through the center of the button pattern (see above photo, my blue lines are a bit faint). The back of the Dritz kit included a circle on the back of the package that you cut out and use as a pattern for your fabric.

Then I drew two perpendicular lines through the center of  the flower I wanted to center on the button.

Mark center of fabric

Next I placed my button pattern on the marked fabric and lined up my markings.

Line up pattern with fabric

I traced my circle, cut it out and placed my front button piece in the center of my fabric circle, pushed it into the white rubber holder. Then I put the button backing piece on top and pushed those pieces together with the blue plastic tool.

And voila! Covered buttons for my top – the Sassy Librarian Blouse by Christine Haynes (a Craftsy sewing class).

Fabric-covered buttons - finished

Here’s a detail of the finished top with the buttons attached. Soon I’ll be writing a post about making it.

See the covered button in between the collar pieces?
See the covered button nestled in between the collar pieces?
Tutorial - How to center fabric on a covered button, covered button kit

Me Made May 2013 – Final Post

Here are the things I wore from May 22 to May 31 for Me Made May 2013. I did repeat a couple items but I wore them with different things.

I wore 18 different hats on the first 21 days. I think over that next 10 days I wore maybe another four that I hadn’t worn in the previous weeks. I wasn’t paying close attention. But I do have more hats than what I wore over the past month. I guess you could say hats are my favorite accessory. ;o)

Thanks to all the folks at work who took photos of my outfits on various weekdays: Cailan, Diane, Donna, Jeffrey, Kari, Karmah, and Marsha. You’re all good sports – especially Donna, who took the most photos towards the end!

Day 22: I make this rayon knit jacket about four years ago (Issey Miyake Vogue pattern). It was a pretty windy day. Hat: Vintage wool felt with an ostrich feather pom-pom.
Day 22: I make this rayon knit jacket about four years ago (Issey Miyake Vogue pattern). It was a pretty windy day. Hat: Vintage wool felt with an ostrich feather pom-pom.
Day 23: I made this jacket from Christine Haynes book Chic & Simple Sewing. The fabric is a herringbone corduroy I got at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.
Day 23: I made this jacket from Christine Haynes book Chic & Simple Sewing. The fabric is a herringbone corduroy I got at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.
Day 24: I wore my hat again. I used an upholstery fabric sample. The pattern is by Patricia Underwood for Vogue.
Day 24: I wore my hat again. I used an upholstery fabric sample I got at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland a few years ago. The pattern is by Patricia Underwood for Vogue.
Day 26: Handsewn knit skirt. Hat: straw with a leather band
Day 26: Handsewn knit skirt. Hat: Tightly woven straw with a leather band.
Day 25: Hand-pleated Petersham flower.
Day 25: Hand-pleated Petersham flower.
Day 26: Handsewn knit skirt. Hat: straw with a leather band
Day 26: Handsewn knit skirt. Hat: straw with a leather band
Day 27: I made this mini-infinity scarf from this silk remnant. Hat: corduroy cap from the Gap.
Day 27: I made this mini-infinity scarf from this silk remnant. Hat: corduroy cap from the Gap.
Day 28: I made this jacket - The Trench - from Christine Haynes book Chic & Simple Sewing. I made the bias tape for it as well. The skirt is RTW but I added the lace trim.
Day 28: I made this jacket – The Trench – from Christine Haynes book Chic & Simple Sewing. I made the bias tape for it as well. The skirt is RTW but I added the lace trim. Hat: vintage – I added the lace trim and made a hat pin from the same lace.
Day 29: I made this sleeveless top from Christine Hayes Sassy Librarian Blouse Craftsy class (pattern comes with the class). Hat: vintage wool - I use a hat pin in the back to keep in in place.
Day 29: I made this sleeveless top from Christine Hayes Sassy Librarian Blouse Craftsy class (the PDF pattern comes with the class). I wore this top on Day 8. Hat: vintage wool beret – I used a hat pin in the back to keep in in place.
Day 31: Handsewn bolero, tunic, and skirt from a Natalie Chanin pattern. I also made the necklace from ropes of black knit fabric. Hat: vintage - I added an ostrich feather to the original Petersham trim.
Day 31: Handsewn bolero, tunic, and skirt from Natalie Chanin patterns in her 2012 book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. I also made the necklace from ropes of black knit fabric. Hat: vintage wool felt – I added an ostrich feather to the original Petersham trim.
Day 31 - Linen blend pants from a Vogue pattern (these pants have an elastic waist and pockets). Hat: straw
Day 31 – Linen blend pants from a Vogue pattern (these pants have an elastic waist and pockets). Hat: straw trimmed with grosgrain.