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Mar 1, 2010

Yup, it's MONDAY again!

Greetings from me and Bob!

Monday morning and there's so much planning to be done.  I don't know about you, but I haven't quite recovered yet from last week's excitement: the makeovers, the contests, the snow!  Frankly, it's hard for me to keep up with my cousin Cathy; she has seemingly limitless energy and can stay up all night and still style a fashion shoot in the morning.  Very different from me.

As always, Monday is a time both to reflect on the previous week and to map out a tentative plan for the week to come.

Let's briefly review last week.

1. Cathy swept into town on a cloud of Glamour, took me by the hand and gave me the sophisticated look I've always wanted.  I can guarantee you that I have been maintaining this look since then.  Not only is it easy, since Cathy seems to have "disappeared" most of my other clothes, but it also leaves me feeling more confident.  I was on the subway yesterday in a close approximation of this and I actually felt taller -- and happier.  So once again, thank you, dear cousin of mine.

2. I sewed last week -- not much, but I sewed.  I made my very first cotton knit tee shirt from McCall's 3438, a vintage mens underwear pattern from 1972, and for a first stab, it's not bad.  I realize in describing it I wasn't clear about how stretchy the knit is -- more like taffy than anything you'd ever pull out of a Jockey 3-pack.  It's semi-sheer and clearly much stretchier than was intended for the pattern.

It's interesting: when I go fabric shopping most of the cotton knit I find is extremely stretchy and the less stretchy cotton knits are scarcer.  Or maybe they're just not in the $2/yd. area.  Must explore.

3. Michael's parents came to visit on Saturday, which gave us a reason to straighten up the living room and put things in order.  I'm always so happy to have my fabric and accessories put away as opposed to piled on every available surface.  I can think again.

4. I visited my friend Johanna in Queens yesterday and look what she gave me:


It's from 1969 and chock full of great sewing tips and wonderful illustrations.  I love old sewing books and I'm delighted to add this one to my collection.  Thank you, Johanna!

Johanna also has a fantastic collection of vintage sewing machines -- ten to be exact, which kind of makes me feel normal with just eight.  While many of my machines are obscure, last-tweek-before-model-termination types like my Necchi 555, Johanna has the best of the best, including a Singer 201-2, a 301, and a Featherweight.  I was privileged to try all three (well, really all ten) and I can tell you they are fantastic.  As soon as I got home I bid on a 201-2 and a 15-91 on eBay and lost.  Maybe it's just as well -- it all felt a little desperate and dirty.


I'd shlepped carried my Singer Genie with me for Johanna to try, and the poor zigzagger was as outclassed as Stella Dallas at her daughter's graduation party, if you know Barbara Stanwyck movies.

And now, on to this week:

1.  I never got around to sewing pants and frankly, I don't think I'm going to this week either; I'm just not feeling it.  I want to pick up some more knit and perfect my tee shirt technique, I think.  Those little undergarments are deceptively complicated if you want them to look like RTW (ready-to-wear) and I do.

2.  I downloaded my first BurdaStyle pattern yesterday!  I figured it was time since I've been posting my projects on their website so much lately and never tried their downloadable patterns.  This one is called "Jakob" and it's a mens shirt pattern.  We'll see how it turns out.  I may make a shirt for Michael since he's wanting to work on his look since I got mine.  We can be a little competitive that way and it's probably not healthy.  I can help him, but heaven knows I'm no Cathy.

One of the things that does kind of bother me re Burda is that I have to print out twenty-eight (28!) pieces of paper to assemble the pattern, which seems like a lot of paper just to make a shirt. I probably already have enough mens shirts patterns to last me the rest of my life, but I'm always up for something new.

3. As always, I'm leaving room for the spontaneous.  I'll probably hit the fabric stores today or tomorrow and who knows what I'll find and where that will lead?

Now then, how are all of you doing with your projects?

Somebody's been staying on track, I see:

Sue from San Antonio just finished this Dale Evans jacket, and let me tell you, if I started this garment today, I might finish it by June...of 2011.  When I looked at this and then turned my eyes to my dinky pink tee-shirt, I bowed my head in shame.  Great work, Sue!

So what's up with y'all?

Sarah: did you finish the fitting shell?  Toby: How goes the belt and suspenders?  Elle: Did you finish the Sencha blouse?   Darci: Did you finish the shirtdress and did you wear it yet?  Puu: How's the 1952 coatdress coming along?  Meg: How about that sheath dress?

I know full well that many of you were busy with your Cousin Cathy's Makeover Challenge projects, but not ALL of you.  It's March, kids -- we'll be thawing out soon and we're going to have to have something to show for our snowed-in weeks. 

OK, time's-a-wastin'!  

Go forth, my children, and sew!


  1. Agh, I did not even get to the fitting shell! But, I did: get rid of tons of patterns, made another vintage apron for the girl, a long-sleeve raglan tee for myself, and finished two muslins. All that with another 2 feet of snow dumped on us! I would have had more done but ran out of matching thread and couldn't get anywhere in the snow.

    The fitting shell gets tackled this week (I hope) because I want to get started on some dresses for spring. Even though it feels like it's a long way off right now....

    Also, thanks for linking to Michael's blog, I have been getting a lot out of his posts (even though I am so NOT a singer)!

  2. haa haa, I knew I was going to get called out! I posted a critique request to stitchers guild and checked out several books from the library on fiting. I am still in the information gathering research portion in the battle of the sheath dress.

  3. This week: I need to start (and finish) a pair (or two) of dress pants that I am sewing for one of my professors. She's barely taller/bigger than I am and struggles to find pants that fit (the plight of the petites). She loved mine so I offered to sew her a few pairs in exchange for $$ and help with my stats on my thesis. I have one pair done that needs hemming, then on to the second and third pair. Then I need to print a Burda download pattern. I too am struggling with printing out 48 sheets of paper. I bought some tracing paper at the craft store - the kind that comes in a sketch book, all bound. I am going to try and rip it out of the book and load it into the printer and then see if I can print the pattern onto the tracing paper, then just cut out my size. I've never tried a Burda before but it's the Hikaru jacket and I am hoping my previous lined wool coat sewing projects have adequately prepared me for this. I'd like to at least get the pattern cut out this week (after the pants are done). But in addition to that I need to work on some teaching presentations for school related stuff - something about the quantitative relationship between frontal area, velocity, and drag force affecting cyclists. But before I can do any of that, I need to go get on my bike and complete my workout that was supposed to happen yesterday.

  4. re: my beautiful red gabardine coatdress, i finished the lining, the piping, the undercollar, the upper collar, and inserted the entire facing/lining unit into the dress. i did the collar stitching and the entire thing is starting to look real! this week: attach the buttons, make the button loops, and finish the jacket. it should only be about two hours' worth of work if i can settle down and do it.

  5. I look forward to your Monday post more than anything I think. Hmmm.... what's on the docket this week? Well, I have have have to finish this vintage shirt pattern I'm working on. Totally not motivated either. It's plain and white and well, I want something with color and fun, but need something white and simple. Oh well! I loved the makeover series and you look stunning. I hope as you go along you will show us some of the secrets you've found for knits. I have the hardest time with them and I'm interested to see what you have to say about sewing up another t-shirt!

  6. Darn you and your Monday sewing goals! And yes, Sencha blouse is finished. Now, it's on to a hot pink dress from a Butterick pattern. I've been trying to fit (tissue fitting AND a muslin) this baby for days, and it's time to just throw caution to the wind and cut it out.

  7. Looking good in your t shirt! I'm working on a jacket, and if I just get the freaking welt pockets done this week, I'll be happy.

  8. Peter: Have you sewn a lot of jersey? It seems that's the bulk of my experience and I would suggest a) the fabrics are rather pricey - a good one will cost almost as much as a Gap T from the store b) a walking foot may really help with the thinner fabrics and c) I really like to use a Stretch needle (ballpoint is good, but stretch is better). I can't believe I just gave some sewing advice - so if you know it already, pretend it's new :-)

    This week I'm leaving the bras - the next one I made failed for totally different reasons. Nice to develop a range of "learning experiences". I did spend a fortune on all kinds of lingerie fabrics and 3 patterns (2 bras, 1 undies) and these are 3-piece cups. I remain eternally optimistic but on the verge of dispair.

    And my plan for this week is to make the Vogue 8640 jacket in 3 season navy wool. I made a pencil skirt in the same fabric! This thing is so retro fab but it's my first Vogue pattern and my first lined garment and my first jacket. Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

  9. I like this weekly check-in, it definitely makes me more motivated. As for my goals from last week, I have to put my vintage dress on hold. I made the muslin, and unless I want to look like a Mennonite (not that there is anything wrong with that!), it wasn't the right style for me. When I have more time, I will do some heavy tweaking. I did choose my next two projects and started working on the first. Yay!

    So this week I want to get further on my Vogue dress. I want to have the bodice attached to the skirt before the weekend. Also, to have all the notions purchased and ready. I'm about the small victories this week ;)

    Peter, did the knit not shrink back after washing, as you thought it might? Or do you think there was just too much stretch in the fabric? I'm also curious to see what happens if there is a round two :)

  10. Thanks for the great shout-out! I tried to post the picture on PR, but it kept telling me it wasn't in the "library", even tho I uploaded it to my FoPR picture album, and it listed the pictures in the drop-down. After the third try, I gave up! -- San Antonio Sue

  11. Hrm. Let's see. I finished the quilt top. It's all sewn together and ironed in preparation for sandwiching it. Got to ask permission to borrow tables at church to do it, I think. Don't know. My quilting group recently lost its meeting place and with it, its tables. And crawling around on the floor isn't my thing anymore.... I also need to prepare the backing. I need to cut it in half horizontally, and then one piece vertically, cut off the selvages, and sew the the halved one on either side of the other piece.

    This week's docket includes pajama pants for my brother, preparing the backing, and one of the baby layettes I've promised. As soon as Evie goes home, I'm cutting out the pajama pants... Oh yeah, and I can post a picture later on today on my LJ of the quilt top, if you'd like to see it.

  12. I love your little tribute to Bob Mackie. I'm pretty sure he's the reason I eventually ended up where I am. I still have a letter I wrote to him when I was about 11-I only knew of him because I got one of those collector Barbie magazines and he sometimes did designs for them. I drew a godawful dress, finishing the letter with the sassy line: "I started it, you can finish it." Regardless, it never was sent.
    I love your t-shirt. I may have to make one for my own man whenever I get over my fear of knits.
    As far as goals for the week, I have to drape a bodice for class, but I'm thinking I want to make View 1 of this pattern: if I can find fabric.

  13. This week I need to sew the muslin of my handbag for the handbag contest at PR. I also need to find hardware, interfacing, and lining for the real bag.
    Thankfully, the main winter olympics are over and Vancouver should return to normal soon. This means I can more easily get to my usual fabric store.

  14. Your pink tee has the most classic vee neck tee lines ever, nice! It's knits for me this week. Yoga pants to replace the ones I wore thin shuffling around my sewing room this winter and then a few random tops and things to use up a cotton lycra print that is taking up way too much stash space. Maybe a few more tees as well and I'm thinking about a sweatshirt jacket that doesn't scream dumpy.

    People have embraced the lycra in jersey knits so enthusiastically that the plain classic tee jersey is harder to find, I think. Perhaps you can cut down an overly large tee from the thrift store.

  15. I love the cover of your Singer book! I have the 1971 edition and it has the flowery Singer machine as a line drawing on the title page. I want to embroider it on something. It's also my go-to book for how to sew a technique I've never done before.

    I have a huge list of sewing to get through this week. I'm perfecting a pattern for skintight leggings for my teenage daughter and want to make 9 pairs from op shop and gifted fabric.

    Then I hope to cut out the fabric to make my son a shirt for next Christmas. If it turns out well I'll be making him a Hawaiian shirt with some awesome sunset fabric I was given, plus a few more for next Summer (he'll only be 2 so I can make him wear anything I want, lol)

    I also need to work out how to sew him some fleece jackets because I have the fabric and it's getting cold around here! And I better not forget to draw up a pattern for shorts for my daughter so I can teach her to sew them on the weekend. Eek, that's a lot of sewing.

    I'm using the Sure-Fit designs pattern drafting kits that were out in the 80's, they're proving to be well worth the $30 or so that I paid for them at the opshops and on ebay :)

  16. I've never tried a Burda downloaded pattern, but do they have the option of split or whole sheets? Because if they have whole sheets, you can take this to a reprographic printer and have them printed on one large sheet of paper. (Since I have access to about five of these printers, I've been known to splice together my downloaded patterns in AdobeIllustrator and then print it out in one sheet.... I'd rather splice on the computer than with tape).

  17. You definitely need a 201-2. I hope you can find one soon. I have declared March my month of finishing up several half done projects - The tops 4 (yes, sad to say there are others) are 1. purse, 2. a jumper for me, 3. a dress for Dd, and a robe for me. We'll see on April 1 how I did!

  18. Oh, Peter! I can't believe that me, of all people, can tell you where to get it... but your standard cotton rib knit is on clearance at for $1.95 a yard. And you only have 43 colors to choose from! ;) You *do* have to pay for shipping, though I usually manage to avoid that... because if you spend $35 (which, face it, is really, really easy with fabric) shipping is free.

    Sorry, made an oopsie! Just go to clearance, and then "Everything's $1.95 a yard"....

  19. Wow, you folks are inspiring! So glad to hear so many of you are sewing up a storm -- wait, no more storms, please!

    Laura, I've never bought fabric online, but maybe I'll look into that cotton rib knit. I just got some neat stuff today that I'll be posting about tomorrow; I think I have enough fabric to keep me going for most of March!

    Patti: I just won a 15-91 on eBay not 1/2 hour ago. Not a 201-2, but another great model, apparently.

    Beangirl, being the cheapskate I am, I could NEVER bring myself to having something professionally printed like that. Unless you'd like to do it for me, he he....!

  20. Peter, I highly recommend

    They're reliable, the pictures and the fabric match up, and if they *do* screw up, they're really nice about fixing it and give you $$ off coupons for your trouble. I also like that they have how many yards of a fabric are in stock listed with the fabric swatch.

    I've actually bought fabric there that I could only find in fat quarters at my local fabric store.They also ship really fast. It also helps that they have an absolutely huge stock. :)

    I do know what you mean about having enough--I have a walk-in closet that's got lots of boxes and bags of fabric in it. See, I have a tendency to buy fabric on whims when it's a good price and I like it. And people give me fabric, too. I once bought an elderly lady's entire fabric stash for $10 at a yard sale. And I'm still buying fabric for specific projects. My local wal-mart has a very attractive cotton/poly strawberry print for $2 a yard that I swear I'm buying some of to use for baby dresses in the next few weeks.... One of these days, I'll organize that closet and find out what I actually have. I sometimes dream of it all sorted into bins labeled by color. Ah, well, too much to do, not enough time!

  21. I, too, am a big fan of the Monday planning posts (and all your other posts, too!) I meant to finish a McCall's shirtdress last week for Cathy's Makeover Challenge, but I couldn't do anything but watch the Olympics all week long. This week I plan on getting significant amounts of work done on it.

    I recently got my first order from and was very pleased. I ordered some plaid shirting material to make a shirt for my boyfriend which was called light-weight and which turned out to be too light-weight for him, but it's so pretty and goes so nicely with the other fabrics I got for myself, I'm just keeping it to make a shirt for myself, but that's a project for another week.

    Beangirl: Burdastyle patterns often have an option to print at a copyshop, but that seems to cost so much it makes sense how much people complain about paying for the patterns.

  22. Hi Peter

    I'm still loving your blog. Cathy's makeover was amazing - you are so lucky to be related to this glamorous woman, and so lucky that she can spare time from her exotic, jetsetting lifestyle to spend time with you! (and it is amazing - after the makeover, the family resemblance is stronger than ever!!).

    On a less frivolous note, I have found your blog to be not only entertaining, but also a bit inspiring. I am determined to do much more with sewing this year, and am committing to the added discipline of blogging about it. It seems to me that the blogging side of things has given you an extra incentive to keep going, so maybe it will work for me too. I don't know whether my blog will end up as entertaining as yours (after all, i don't have a cousin Cathy..), and the dizzy heights reached by everyone else's nemesis, the Selfish Seamstress are probably out of everyone's reach, but I may as well have a go!

    Keep up the excellent work, and do keep us up to date with Cathy's adventures!!


  23. I wanted to say I LOVE your t-shirt! It looks very much like the ones they charge so much for at American Apparel! They use that super-stretchy, kinda see-through knit for their tees.

  24. I am completely focused this week on making my vintage 1970s maternity dress in big bold orange floral silk twill. I got distracted last week making a skirt and taking naps but all weekend I perfected the muslin for the dress (almost completely redrafting the entire bodice and front skirt patterns), hand-washed the silk, spent AGES trying to get the wrinkles out with my crappy iron... and now I am FINALLY cutting out all the pieces and cursing myself for trying to work with silk for the first time when time is running out (baby shower is this Saturday).

    My other sewing goal is to get some sewing projects packed up for my trip home, since I have the whole week off and my mother has a wonderful sewing machine and very well-stocked sewing room.

    I didn't have time to submit to your makeover challenge but your resolve has inspired me to admit that as much as I IMAGINE myself to have a look, what I actually wear doesn't always match up. There are entirely too many non-descript T-shirts and yoga pants hiding amidst the more fabulous items in my closets and drawers.

    And then I realized--if you don't keep frumpy clothes in the house, you CAN'T wear them. Or even just clothes that don't work with your look! So I can't wait to get really ruthless with every item I own again--is this REALLY fabulous enough for a stunning look, or is it just ho-hum?

    I have already purged about 7 or 8 bags of clothing (a bit easier when none of it fits me now) but still have some weeding to do.

    And there are a few areas in which I think I am deficient--scarves, belts, earrings. Back to the thrift store!

  25. That is an excellent Singer sewing book, I own that one, I also own the revised edition, with the supplement chapter dedicated to knits. I own many sewing books , but thats always the first one I grab for. You sure do marvelous work


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