I, for one, am very glad the last decade is over and gone, particularly 2019, which has been the culmination of a difficult ten years.


This last year hasn’t had much sewing for a variey of reasons, and the sewing that I’ve done hasn’t gotten properly photographed, or wasn’t photographed at all.  Some of it hasn’t even been worn… like a pair of jeans made from this fabric, for one.teal leopard denim fabric

It’s been a year of challenges and good things.  I thoroughly enjoyed my French classes every Saturday – my heart was singing every time I drove home – but that came to a screeching halt in May due to health concerns.

I made a few tunic tops from linen and cotton voile that had been lingering for years in my stash.

Burda 2-2018-111 linen front

I cannot remember when I purchased these fabrics, but I do remember where! And the tunics are thanks to Anne’s make for one of her daughters, which reminded me I had had a keen interest in the Burdastyle pattern every since it was released in February 2018.  It felt good to just get on with the projects and get them sewn so I could wear them. Impulse sewing.

Burda 2-2018-111 front

The summer went by quickly – too quickly – with so much stress at an unfullfilling job as we rolled out a new website, with little or no time to sew, and no mental energy left if there was time.  We had a family wedding to attend in August, and I literally had nothing to wear that would fit my growing waistline, so sewed for 5 days straight, letting everyting else in the household go to pot, while I made this unsuccessful attempt to copy a spectacularly beautiful Dolce & Gabbana green velvet dress (which I cannot find anywhere except in print advertisements).

The dress seemed a lot worse to me on the day I wore it than it does now.

Of course I washed it afterwards (I always launder my own clothing, if I possibly can, instead of sending it to the toxic dry-cleaners), and the hem went wonky, mostly because I didn’t support it with flannel bias underlining.  So it’s still hanging up, waiting for a do-over, or alterations, or disection and reincarnation.  Then everything came crashing down in October, when I became an ostomate and was diagnosed with Stage III colorectal cancer.  No wonder my waistline had been expanding so I had nothing to wear to the wedding!  The sad part was, even as I was waiting for emergency surgery, all I could think about was, “Thank God I don’t have to go to work for the next few weeks.”  It took me until the third week of recovery to realize the shocking absurdity of that being my first thought, given the situation.

These front bands make me so happy!

I have had so many ideas going through my head for sewing over the last three months, and no energy or mental strength to do any of it until this past weekend, partly due to recovery, partly due to rethinking so many parts of my life.  I guess coming face to face with a potential death sentence sooner than you expect does that to one’s thinking.  Re-evaluation and change are inevitable. Crossing the half-century mark in December brought several things into sharp focus, too, as a milestone will.

When I first began this blog a decade ago, it took a lot of courage to post pictures of my makes out there for the world to see, despite the fact that I’ve been wearing them since I was in my teens on a daily basis.  It was so much fun for the first few years, but slowly negativity crept in from voices close to me, and the joy of making disappeared into the pointlessness of making garments that were not likely to be worn, given my lifestyle of a SAHM.  That negative voice was given it’s proper perspective, although it is, unfortunately, not silenced, and still a part of what I hear now and then, through an excellent support service provided to my dear daughter #2, who has Down syndrome. It was her crisis that brought me the help I had desperately needed for years.


Two years ago I was introduced to the concept of choosing a defining word for each year.  In 2017 it was ‘baby steps’ for me: baby steps forward into independence of thought and being; baby steps into health and freedom.  Last year I struggled with a defining word, although ‘commitment’ was persistent, particularly because I really became aware of how making decisions is easy, but follow-through is difficult due to constant reassessment – sometimes hourly – on my part.  ‘Courage’ became a rallying cry, too, early in the year, due to a friend’s struggle and hardship as she watches her husband disappear into the void of aggressive early onset Alzheimer’s.

And this year, I wasn’t going to bother thinking of a word, as I just want the next 6 months to have good reports and scans and results, and learning to look after myself (even at the expense of others’ demands) is still a daily decision and takes a lot of my strength and courage.  But this quote really reverberated with me a few days ago, attributed to Muhammad Ali:

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” 


That is my word for 2020. Here’s to taking risks in sewing up my stash and sewing up patterns I’ve wanted to sew for years, regardless of their ever getting worn or used.

dk edge: Vogue 1175


I have been sewing.


Three pairs of Jalie 2908 jeans and two pairs of slim BurdaStyle trousers, just in the last 10 days. Of course there’s no photos, mostly because it’s winter and I have no decent place indoors for photography.

I confess to also making a few garments recently that didn’t work out as planned, and they took the wind out of my sails for a bit. The first was a waterfall cardigan for DD3 which just did not work. I was not happy with it, and neither was she. Fortunately, there is a lot of fabric in a waterfall style, so no waste! It will be remade into something else sooner or later.

The second was a deep red silk velvet dress for DD2 which I was hoping would be a success. DD2 is a difficult client, sometimes, and although she loved the dress, she has yet to wear it, and didn’t want to wear it for the function it was made for.

And the last ‘failed’ project was an olive silk velvet dress that I wanted for myself – actually wanted for Christmas, but it wasn’t finished in time – for a wedding in February. The design was inspired by a green velvet D&G dress I saw in September 2018 Vogue, and I have not seen a photo of it anywhere else. But I am not a tall pencil, and I seem to have become more ‘mature’ in figure recently, so it wasn’t the most flattering of dresses. I did wear it, however, but it’s not a finished project, as I want to change a few things.

And now I’m facing a pile of mending, the largest of which is this inner thigh section of a favourite pair of Roots sweatpants for DD3.

Hundreds of tiny running stitches

And this is just one leg. What you see above is about 30 minutes of work. The patch was put in about a year ago, when I had no idea what I was doing. But I have a better idea now, after taking a visible mending class in February.  In order to do this patch ‘properly’ I should cut away the worn fabric and patch from the outside. But this would not look good on these sweatpants, and I don’t think it would be aesthetically pleasing given the location if the patch. DD3 wants it to be as discreet as possible, and I agree. So I will leave it as is, reinforce all around it to about 5 cm beyond the current patch, and see if it holds up for another year or so.  Here’s the rest of the required mend.

Big mend
Monster mend

Plaid shirts: Burda 02/2013 #101


DD3 has wanted big, oversized plaid shirts for a while, but we’ve not been able to find any that both fit properly and that she liked.  And, since she’s taller and much more shapely than most 13-year-olds, it just is a whole lot easier to make clothes for her.  Initially she was going to do the sewing after I did the cutting, but that wasn’t happening as the weeks passed, so I just decided to get on with the project and let her finish them by sewing on the buttons.

She shopped my pattern stash and decided on the boyfriend shirt from Burda’s 2013 February issue.


I asked if she wanted interesting touches like a bias front binding, or bias cuffs or a bias back yoke.

No.  Plain as day. Nothing interesting fancy. Thanks, Mom!

But I cheated.  I deliberately offset the front bands on both shirts, although it fit the check pattern perfectly in the blue.

Burda 2/2013 #101 front placket
play “find the pocket”…

And added a bias pocket to the blue check.

Burda 2/2013 #101 blue check

From these photos you can see how much wearing ease there is in this design. I did a 2cm FBA by cutting away the seam allowance spreading the front armscye, hinging at the outer shoulder point.

And I decided on a bias yoke simply because it meant no matching stress.  Lots of room in the back. The red fabric is a rayon, and it hangs beautifully.  The blue is a cotton flannel.


I’m stating the obvious, but this is not a fitted shirt, so DD3 usually wears it open over a tee or tank.

Burda 2/2013 #101
I’m so pleased with the CB matching!

I have nothing special to say about this straight-forward pattern.  The sleeve plackets are a simple bias binding, not a fancy placket.  I must say, though, as someone who is used to the very precise markings on a Vogue collar/stand pattern, Burda leaves a lot to be desired.  These collars took a lot of checking and double-checking because there was no point on the collar stand marked where the collar edge should be.  Just a personal (slight) annoyance.  Vogue spoils their sewists with their markings, that’s for sure.

Burda 01/2016 #114: Boho Blouse

Burda 01-2016-114
Jeans: Jalie 2908

Remember my discouraging post about overthinking? How elusive and brain-numbing playing with a patterned fabric can be?  Well, I got over the hurdle and jumped into this blouse from Burda’s January 2016 issue.


The gorgeous silk is from EOS, and when she first posted it I started drooling.  She’d suggested the purple denim as a coordinating fabric, and, since I needed new jeans, thought I would happily splurge on the combo.  I am so happy with the colours in these fabrics.  So gorgeous!!

I cut the sleeves out first, because I wanted them to be symmetrical.  They don’t get in the way even though they are incredibly full.

Burda 01-2016-114 sleeves
first sunny day in a month of Sundays…

The next cutting challenge was the back. The design is printed in a slowly squiggling line, so centering the design took some effort. One of the yokes was cut slightly off centre, so I used it as the yoke lining.

Burda 01-2016-114 side
not sure about the tucked-in-at-the-front look

The front of the blouse has a slit opening. I disregarded Burda’s suggestions and used a strip of fabric cut on the straight instead of the bias and finished it by hand. And for the life of me I couldn’t find a button I liked, so I made one using a strip of bias tubing and the instructions from Vogue 1107.

Burda 02-2016-114 neckline

The neckline and the sleeves are bound in a narrow bias binding.

Burda 02-2016-114 binding
no, I didn’t remove the gathering stitches…

And the yoke has little interesting bias ties that serve no purpose whatsoever. I don’t even think you notice them much in this fabric, but they’re a unique decorative touch.

Burda 01-2016-114

Did I mention I really love this fabric? I had a little less than 1m combined  of various-sized pieces left over after cutting and matching, and I just couldn’t bear to see it sitting in my trash bin. So I pieced together a tank top using Burda 4/2015 #103.


In order to make some sense of the fabric design and to accommodate an FBA, there’s a seam down the centre front, one side front, and the left shoulder is pieced to the depth of about 8cm.

pieced tank front

I wasn’t sure when I made it if I would ever wear it – I just wanted to use the gorgeous fabric for something!  But, as summer is around the corner, who knows?  I’m sure it will get worn.

Yes, you’ve seen these pictures before… in the Jalie jeans post!


I often see patterned fabrics and fall in love with them enough to bring them home with me.  It doesn’t always follow that there is an instant happy marriage between the fabric itself and a specific garment pattern or design, but eventually, with thought, I come up with an idea that I think I would like to wear.

Then I lay out the fabric, and stare at it for a while.yardage

And drape it this way.

crosswise – perhaps a bell sleeve?

And that way.


And end up, at the end of a few hours, having not cut even one piece, and a long way back from where I initially started because so many possibilities for the use of the fabric placement come to mind as I play with it, I have accomplished nothing.  I cannot commit, usually out of fear of ruining/wasting such pretty fabric on an imperfect design.

And another block of sewing time is gone.

Burda 05/2016 #115: Bat Sleeve Top

Burda 05-2015-115 top

This ensemble is more of my stash sewn up.  It makes me feel good making up what I already have in store instead of buying yet more.  It’s nice to have a library of fabrics from which to choose, but at some point it begins to feel burdensome.  These couple of projects lightened my mental load a bit.  Does that happen to you, too?  I don’t like it when fabric starts staring at me askance when I walk into my sewing area.Burda 02-2006-114

Anyways, both these fabrics are from the fabulous EmmaOneSock. The lime green skirt is a cotton blend stretch denim. I used Burda 06/2006 #137 again, since it fits so well and I’m loving it these days. I left off the pockets on this version and the Team Portugal one.  And I cut the CF panel on a fold this time around. The only other adjustments made were lowering the front waist by 1.5cm and grading down a size through the back waist. I have another version of this skirt pattern planned, which will hopefully get sewn before the end of summer. But now, the top.

I made mine of a feather printed rayon/lycraBurda bat sleeve top jersey.  I really liked the sleeve detail, but this top has proved to be a little problematic.  I cut a straight size 44 (my upper chest measurements dictate this in Burda sizing), and did a 5cm short-waist adjustment by folding out 5cm across the waistline.  I found the instructions simple and easy to follow.  The markings on the pattern made the overlapping of the sleeves at the shoulders simple to find.  The neck binding is wide – about 2cm – and I cut it about 5cm shorter than Burda suggested, and I’m glad I did.  I also raised the CF neckline by about 2cm.  I’m at the age of being over showing a bit of bra when I bend over.

lime green and feathers

I made a deep 4cm deep hem instead of the 1.5cm one suggested by Burda.   And the bottom of the top was HUGE.  I ended up folding out 4cm on each side seam and stitching them up into an inverted box pleat about 6cm deep at the side seams.  Did you read that?!  A total of 8cm extra in width at the bottom of this garment.  I was surprised, because I usually need to grade up a size over my hips.

Burda 05-2016-115 back

And let’s talk about these lovely bat sleeves, OK?  They were the selling point in this pattern for me, and I really do like them.

bat sleeves

Quite the bat’s wings happening. Burda also refers to the top as a “cape sleeve top”.  Definitely!  And they are a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen.  If the camera was at the right angle while I was standing with my hands on my hips, you could see all you wanted to see – and probably more.


Hmmm…..  Moving on! How to correct this?  After playing around with pinning the sleeve hemlines in various places, I decided to stitch them down to 10cm from the neckline, creating a dropped shoulder effect.  It keeps the overlaps in place and there’s not a chance of flashing anyone.

Burda ensembleI may make this up as a dress.  I’ll still make my short-waist adjustment, but I’ll experiment with making it under the bust instead of at the waistline to see if eliminates the need for stitching those shoulders down.

Simplicity 2846

My good friend and muse, Miss V, gifted me a length of printed batik from Cambodia, where she lives, studies and connects with every person she meets.  You may remember the red dress I made for her a couple of years ago (has it been that long?!) from the same type of fabric, and, yes, the same pattern.  The fabric comes in a set length/width, and is usually stitched together to form a continuous piece.  One then steps into it and ties it sarong style at the waist or upper chest if you’re tiny.  I decided to keep the dress idea alive and well.

S2486 front

There is nothing much to say about this pattern.  I did my usual FBA of about 2.5cm, and did a 5cm short-waist adjustment (which works better than the popular sway back alteration with my shape).  I left the fit a bit loose through the underbust and waist.  I’m starting to get self-conscious about the middle spread phenomenon that seems to be my lot in life right now.  Wanna see the best part of this dress?

Simplicity 2846 back

The BACK!!! Isn’t it awesome?  I love that it’s so average from the front, and then when I turn around, hello!

Here’s the stamp on the CB seam allowance.


I lined it with cotton batiste, and put in an invisible zip down the centre back.  I used the selvedge as the hem.  I’m glad it’s summer.  The sun and bright colours are wonderful to see after the long dreary drab winter.

Cambodian batik

EuroCup 2016: Team Portual Bomber Jacket

Back in the fall of 2015, I participated in the 2015 PR Sewing Bee.  The last challenge was making an Olympic team uniform, and this was part of my submission.  I thought it would be fun to blog it now that Portugal is playing in the EuroCup semi-finals today.

I made the skirt, trousers and top as blogged in my previous post.  This is the first bomber jacket I’ve made, and I thought it would be fun to pull out all the red silk and linen scraps in my stash to make up this John Richmond bomber-style top from Burda September 2013.  And it is not the most simple with a gazillion pieces, but it worked perfectly with all my little pieces of red.

Burda 09-2013-130I used red linen from my jumpsuit for the front bands and collar; a cotton-silk voile for the lower jacket, upper front and sleeves; and a rayon plisse (a double-layered fabric where the pleated fabric is loosely attached to a flat back) for shoulder and side constrast sections. The centre back panel and elasticated sleeve and bottom bands are made from silk taffeta.  Here’s the front. You can see the contrasting fabrics with the piping.  The single welt pockets are silk taffeta, too.

Burda 09-2013-130 piped

Here’s the back view.

Burda 09-2013-130 back

The sleeves have a pleating detail, which is just beautiful.  I made the lining for the sleeves separately instead of pleating all layers together as one.

Burda 09-2013-130 sleeves

I did a double row of piping around each section using gold and green silk shantung.  Labourious, tedious, and quite satisfying, for sure, once it was done.  This is a close-up of the back shoulder (from L, clockwise:  silk taffeta, rayon plisse, silk-cotton voile).

Burda 09-2013-130 piping

I’m not a big bomber jacket fan, but this is so luxurious to wear, and doesn’t advertise it’s patriotism too loudly, which suits me.  Back view, waving my flag.

Burda 09-2013-130 and 02-2006-137

Here’s the interior. I fully lined the jacket.  The body and sleeve linings were sewn as separate pieces.  I put the sleeve lining/fashion fabrics together, added the sleeve elasticated cuffs, and then stitched the sleeves to the jacket body.  The armscyes are bound with gold and green silk shantung.  The facings are linen.

Burda 09-2013-130 interior

Here’s a side view.

Burda 09-2013-130 side

If Portugal wins this round, we’ll be downtown at my MIL’s in Little Portugal on July 10th, cheering frantically for them to win.  If they don’t, I have some pieces to wear when I feel a bit Portuguese.  🙂

Bandage Bodice Gown

Here are the promised pictures of the finished bandage bodice dress.  dress 3

Here’s a close up of the layered elastic forming the bodice.

prom dress 2

And another one almost showing the full length skirt.  It did hang rather nicely despite the unusual combination of heavy polyester jersey lining and thin polyester crepe fashion fabric.

prom dress 1

I cannot tell you how glad I am this unusual request (experiment) turned out so well.  I must say, it suited the client to a ‘T’.  She was pleased, and I’m sure will get a lot of wear from it once I hem it to be worn with flats.

Stay tuned for the next graduation commission in yellows and pinks.

It’s WDS Day!

Happy World Down Syndrome Day, everyone! Down Syndrome (also called Trisomy 21) is caused by a third 21st chromosome, so we celebrate it on March 21st.