Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June Wrap-Up

Gah. I can't get my sewing mojo or my picture taking mojo back. I'm rapidly losing track of made-but-not-reviewed projects. And it is REALLY important to me to review my 'makes'! I like to know what adjustments I made without pulling the thing out. I like to see lengths of skirts/dresses/sleeves...I like to see the fit on me in case I revisit the pattern or am looking at something similar. Bleh.

This month, I sewed 7.5 yards. I sewed:
  • Vogue 1507 top - 3 yards (fussy pattern cutting)
    • floral print cotton woven from SR Harris
    • Hug Snug binding
  • New Look 6614 dress - 2 yards
    • orange linen from Fabric.com (stash)
    • eyelets, clasps
  • Burda Magazine 5/2020 - 2.5 yards (WIP)
    • border print Ankara
    • buttons
Favorite. FAIL. Accomplishment:
I am digging the Vogue top even though the fabric was *just* slightly too heavy. The front and sleeves are double layered. I'm really liking the Burda top so far. I knew the shape (of the not yet reviewed black version!) would be great in an Ankara print. Then, I cut a length from the upper portion with plans to hem it and use it as a head wrap, but it felt a little "Spider Man" with the blue, red and yellow. LOL!

The NL dress is not quite what I imagined. I don't know if it'll be wearable. I did finish it, so we'll see. Could be a fail.

it's been completed since this pic

Also, I stopped tracking purchases. I also stopped updating my sketch book. WAH. Stupid pandemic. Considering the vast majority of my shopping is online, and there was no in-store shopping until late May (when I bought the fabric for the Vogue top from SR Harris), my email shows no pattern or fabric purchases in June.

I've really been pushing myself to learn my knitting machine and have had some successes...

baby blanket using a tuck pattern

initial progress on baby sweater (sleeve is blocked so the ribbing looks nicer!). 
I accidentally dropped the work when I went to do the decreases on the other side

and then, SPLAT. Fell on my face again and again. Now, I'm thinking I damaged some needles/latches on the main bed. I have some on order and will try to replace the ones where my fabric is getting hung up and see if that helps.


Lots of Cricut love this month with Father's Day and graduations! The sign is for my dad, tee and onesie are for my son in law, and the t-shirts for a couple of cousins. 


Plus, I bought these cheap-o containers from Target ($2!) and jazzed them up with some permanent vinyl.

The other 2 larger containers say "dressmaking debacles" and "Crafting is the Best Medicine"

2020 goals

And, we're halfway through the year! 2020 is a total wash in so many ways. blehhhhh.

Sewing related, I'd set few hard goals for the year. I wanted to keep my spending very conservative because I knew that this year would be so unpredictable economically (due to the administration, election year, etc). I set a budget of $250 for fabric (hahaha) and $50 for patterns. I've spent about $385 on fabric and $48 on patterns. Well that ain't half bad! I can see myself making it the rest of the year without adding new patterns but we'll see what happens when the fall releases drop :) I've only purchased 14 patterns this year - that's some kind of record.

And while I blew through my lowly fabric budget, I added 68 yards to the stash and I've sewn 83 yards. So I'm ahead!

Also, I've sewn 60 items and 32 of them have been from stash fabrics (older than 6 months) - a little more than half. I'm going to revise my fabric goal to end the year with 75% of items sewn being from the stash.

I have barely touched this goal list! I made a jumpsuit and made some loungewear. Summer is a bust and I should probably just move into fall sewing soon. I really want to make my husband's blazer this year. We shall see.

Lastly, I was planning a career move this year. At an interview with a major corporation that I would have LOVED to work for (have you ever noticed how many Fortune 500s are headquartered in Minneapolis?! Target, Best Buy, 3M, General Mills, US Bank, United HealthGroup, I could go on!) we were making lighthearted jokes about the slight stock dive. The next week, the world was shutting down around us and they pulled the position. Bleh.

So I'm gearing up to get back in the saddle (there was like, NOTHING on the job boards for awhile there) and figure I may as well start looking elsewhere. So my relocation MAY happen in 2020 if things play out well.

I'm tired and could use a fresh start. I have a brother and sil here, some friends and my fantastic sewing community that would be well missed. But I am also very anxious here and feel so...repressed. It's not healthy :( Current events only exacerbate what's been true since my mid 20s.

Hope you are staying healthy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Repeats: Butterick 6330 and 6621

Dresses and tops are my wardrobe holes right now and I have been on a tear! 

I made a couple new dresses before working on the time consuming Vogue 1507 top (post is written, just needs photographs!). When I just NEED to sew or really want to knock a couple things out, I'll use patterns that I've made and loved (like my last post with tops!). 

I don't have pics of B6621 on me but I've already worn it twice since finishing! :-D If you'll recall, I loved this pattern when it came out and promptly sewed 4 versions. I've sewed another last summer and this is my 6th! 

I used the same pattern - a size 14 graded to a 16 at the waist on down, with a 1" full bicep adjustment. On this one, I removed the FBA. 

This rayon jersey is a Fabric Mart buy. I had previously shortened the neckband quite a bit and it was tough going with the wool jersey. I added 1/2" back and it went it fine. I hemmed the tie, overlay, sleeves and hem on the coverstitch. I did an okay job matching stripes (take my word for it!), and sewed the side seams and CB seam at 3/8" from the waist down. 

It's comfy and I love it!

The previous B6330, blogged here, was sewn and LOVED. I made another one soon after in black but that fabric was bad. It grew and grew and grew. I washed it before hemming and it came out so distorted that I tossed it. 

As with the prior version, I cut a size medium. I added 1" to the back skirt but cutting it 1/2" away from the fold (it uses the same piece for front and back). This does result in an unmatched bodice to skirt but it's knit and there's elastic and mehhhh it's fine. :)

I really, REALLY love the fit. This jersey was a FM precut that I previously made a cardigan from and I love it!
I added the pockets and finished the armholes and neckline with a facing(?). I cut a 1 1/4" strip of fabric, stitched it in place, trimmed and graded the seams, turned it to the inside and coverstitched. The pattern has you just turn in 5/8" and topstitch but that's just hard to do nicely on curved seams. 

Lastly, the pattern doesn't actually include a tie, it's a bow sewn to the front but, no thank you! I cut a 1 1/4" strip and serged it, turned the tube and pressed. I didn't bother trying to sew the ends. 

Fabric Mart had a sale on their Milly odds and ends and I racked up. I took the opportunity to add these cute silver beads to my tie. Swoon. 

This dress, especially, is going to get TONS of wear this summer and into fall. It's begging to be paired with a cute jacket!

In other news...

I've been following this online knitting machine lesson and did a terrible job on this sweater :-p
That mock ribbing IS cool though!! 
The wonky front half was so traumatizing that it took me 2 days to do the other side - it was much better :) The next step was to sew the raglan seams, leaving one open and then rehang the neckline and knit the neckbinding. But then...


The main machine does stockinette and you need a ribber (or garter carriage I think) to make purls. So the mock ribbing above is made by skipping a needle (basically leaving a small float) and ta-da, mock 2x1 rib. But the ribber does REAL ribbing! Woohoo!!

So I'm going to learn to use it and do another practice sweater with actual ribbing. 

The inspector

A set of plates that aid in attaching it to the main bed was missing so I'm waiting on those. I'll clean it up in the meantime (vacuum out the dust, inspect the needles, clean it and oil it) and hopefully I'll have my plates in the next week and can get to practicing. SO exciting. 

The other technique I've been trying to learn is how to knit lace. There's a separate carriage that works in conjunction with the main carriage on the machine that does all the needle selection and transfer of stitches for lace patterns. You can always manipulate stitches manually, but I've got a good selection of built-in lace patterns. 

After trying and trying and trying I FINALLY figured it out!! I do notice some dropped stitches so I'll have to look harder at what's happening during the process (someone pointed out that it looks like a specific needle dropping so I'll watch for that). 

You don't know how many times I've stared at this swatch and smiled!

Monday, June 8, 2020

A Bunch of Tops

I didn't get a chance to update here but put a post on Instagram (here) explaining why I was postponing Faye's Tops That Pop. It took a bit for me to wrap my head around my feelings about everything and ultimately, I don't feel good uplifting brands that are choosing to be silent. So, soon. We will do this soon.

These tops were made pre-challenge.  I've made all of these patterns before so they're getting lumped into this post. 

This fabric is a cotton lycra knit from Girl Charlee. I haven't ordered from there in years because of a bad experience and reading about many others' experiences. 

This fabric felt really nice when I pulled it out of the package - soft and smooth! It was much, much less so after washing. I wore it and washed it again and bleh. It won't last long :(

Size 14 with sleeve hack mentioned here and lengthened it 6" (the top in the pattern is a peplum). I intended to length the sleeves but forgot. 

Next up was another version of the Kommatia tee pattern in this printed cotton knit, also from Girl Charlee. Same pattern adjustments here - size 14 with an extra 2.5" added at the hip. 

When I made this Ottobre tee, I liked the cute print but I joked that it looked like I should be working in the pediatric wing of the hospital. This gives me the same vibes! WAHHHHH. I'm not making any more cotton knit print tees! LOL!!!

On the right, I tried it with a few garments before sewing the neckband and hemming to be sure I should finish it. I do not love it. I love the print, but the garment is meh for me. 
Next up was this top intended to copy a top I saw at LOFT. I made this pattern previously here. I chopped the sleeve but should have cut it a bit shorter. I was aiming for more of an extended shoulder look vs. a short sleeve.

The color is so me, the fabric felt really nice even after washing, but it was HORRIBLY off grain and had a giant hole in it. 
I was not pleased and will not be ordering from them again. 

Lastly, I saw this Jason Wu top during some of my RTW idea gathering time and decided to use the Ogden to copy it. 

I used my normal size 12, chopped off 6" and decided on an 8" ruffle at 2.2x the width. 
I used a cotton poplin that was in my donate bin. I hated the top I made with it but I thought it was perfect for this little summer top. 

Also, I really wish I had made the ties like twice as long!!
I hemmed the gazillion miles of ruffle with my rolled hem foot. I've mentioned before that I had lots of trouble making rolled hems until I got my new machine and used the foot that came with it. EFFORTLESS. I think it's the foot design and if you have a rolled hem foot that gives you the blues, try another one! Especially if you have a machine that takes universal feet.

And, I finally learned to use my serger to gather fabric! I found a blog post from someone and tested different settings. Differential turned up a little and needle thread tensions way up to 8-9. 

Then, I adjusted to match the bodice (be careful when doing this. It's easy to loosen the gathers but putting them back is tough (or impossible?)

I like ruffles - a lot! And now that I don't have to do a bunch of work to get them done nicely, there will be more. :) 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

May Wrap-Up and June Plans

As you all know, the country and especially my city, is currently in upheaval. This is hard work but it is necessary work. America has a nasty history with many minority groups but the treatment of blacks in America has been unparalleled. We are fighting for freedom. We are fighting for justice. We are fighting for our very humanity. We are people. We are mothers and fathers, daughters and son. We are friends and coworkers. We are aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews. We are worthy. And our nation's citizens, law enforcement, lawmakers, etc. just can't seem to find it in themselves to see as such. Well now, we will make them see. 

Do NOT comment on my blog with some blah, blah, I thought this was a sewing blog. In case you haven't noticed, I am black. You do not get to ignore that fact because it is one of the single most defining parts of my physical identity. It's certainly why I had a cop waiting for backup with his weapon drawn on me when I was 16 because I had a headlight out. It's certainly why I was face down on the asphalt with multiple officers, weapons drawn, when I was 19. It's why my son had been stopped by police, frisked, car searched, more than half a dozen times by the time he was 17. (Driver's licenses aren't issued until 16) 

So take solace in sewing if you must - I do. But do not bring your privilege here. If you can ignore all that's going on around you it's because you have the privilege to do so. 


This month, I got off track pretty quickly. I got fixated on this Mother's Day gift plan and spent a ton of time at the start of the month making gifts for family and friends. 

(I am an affiliate for Cricut but there are no links in this post. There are banners on my blog)

I bought a 12-pack of socks and used the Cricut to cut HTV to add some flair! :)
there's 3 of each design

Then, I used Cricut rose-gold faux leather to make keyrings. Each one has a word + mama on back. 
I got the swivel hooks from an Etsy shop. 

Then I used the Cricut Joy insert cards to make cards for everyone. 

It was fun! It was exhausting! LOL!! The gifts were super cost efficient but then there was the shipping. OY! :)  But they were well-received. Success!

Then I made a couple pairs of shorts for my daughter:

I was participating in Me Made May the life happened. My husband's grandfathered died earlier this month due to Covid-19. Last month, I lost my uncle. We traveled to Chicago to take care of things and ended up babysitting for cousins - 2 kids under 4 and welcoming their 3rd! So that was a bright spot. 

Then I got on a top binge because I really do need to replace almost all of my tops and dresses. 

So...this month I sewed 16.25 yards
  • New Look 6530 skirt - 1 yard
    • ivory ponte
    • elastic
  • Burda 6389 x2 shorts for my daughter - 1.5 yds
    • floral lightweight denim
    • blue midweight knit
  • True Bias Ogden cami - 1.5 yds
    • striped cotton poplin
  • Kommatia Relaxed Tee - 1 yd
    • print cotton knit
  • McCall's 6764 tee hack - 1.5 yds 
    • navy cotton jersey
    • elastic
  • Ottobre 2/2018 top - 1.25 yds
    • coral striped jersey
  • Burda Mag 4/2019 dress - 2.5 yds (estimation)
    • plaid cotton voile
    • buttons
  • McCall's 6886 dress - 1.25 yds (WADDER)
    • cotton rib knit
  • Butterick 6330 dress - 2.5 yds
    • black & white print jersey
    • elastic
  • Butterick 6621 dress - 2.25 yds
    • black & white stripe jersey
  • Jalie Clara x2 for my daughter - not counted in yardage as it was a muslin from my random pile 'o knits
I bought 4 cuts of fabric (6 yards) from Girl Charlee - NEVER AGAIN. More on this later when I review the tops I made. And I bought a cut of fabric from SR Harris. 

I think my Butterick dress covers by my favorite and accomplishment this month. It is exactly what I wanted. 

FAIL would be the M6886. I've made this pattern a ton of times and this is the first post-reduction. I forgot to undo my FBA + cotton rib with no recovery = YUCK. But the idea was cute so I'll toss that wadder in with another review post.


I am more hyped than ever to honor Linda Faye this month with this sewing challenge. Full announcement here

As mentioned there, there are no rules aside from sew a top or tops between June 1 and June 15! I will do roundup posts here on the blog. You can ensure I see your top by either using the hashtag: #FAYESTOPSTHATPOP or emailing me at sewcraftychemist (gmail) with photos. 

There is no requirement but since I need new tops anyway, and I am always complaining about lack of cute summer wear, I am going to go straight for cute summer tops. And I also decided that I am going to make things that I "couldn't" wear pre-reduction or wouldn't have wanted to make the FBA. 
So far, here are my plans:

Vogue 1507 has been on the list and I have it slated for this HOT pink cotton shirting. I'd love to use the woven below that I picked up from SR Harris but I'm not sure how much the wrong side being mostly white matters for those open, swingy sleeves or for the bow in back. So I have to think about it.

I love Simplicity 8385 and have a knit version of view C in RTW. I'm going to use this nice, weighty rayon challis in a peachy tan/black/white print. 

I plan to use the chartreuse silk on the True Bias Calvin top. The Ogden works so well for me that I'm hoping to have similar luck with the Calvin. 

The Pensee on the other hand...well I like it and will need to muslin it. So we'll see if I get around to it. The only other Deer & Doe pattern I've sewn is the Sirocco and I had to make SO many adjustments to make that bodice work so I'm not sure. And, that was knit, this is woven, and it was pre-reduction so I can't exactly transfer those adjustments over to this pattern. So we shall see. 

As always, more later. Stay safe physically but it's long past due for us to challenge ourselves in other ways. Injustice is a threat to us all. <3

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Burda 4/2019 (again!?)

First things first, in just a few days we'll kick off our #FayesTopsThatPop sewing challenge! 

Currently, In-House Patterns is offering 20% off of all patterns through the end of the month. The discount will automatically be added to your cart at checkout. 

I am a huge fan of InHouse. I own the entire catalog except for the Diana blouse! Alexandra is a professional pattern drafter and offers patterns in sizes 0-16 and cup sizes A-D. 

Click HERE to shop patterns

Also, Sew House 7 is offering a 20% discount for all tops, including dresses with top options. The discount code is FAYE.  This sale is through midnight on June 1st. Sew House 7 has an extensive size chart. The standard line is intended for a B/C cup and includes size 00 (bust size 31") to 20 (bust size 47"). The curve line has cup options for C/D, E/F and G/H depending on style. It includes sizes 18 (bust size 45.5") to 34 (bust size 61.5").

Click HERE to shop patterns

I have yet to sew a SH7 pattern but I do own a few! The Burnside Bibs WILL happen for me this summer!! :) And I am going to snag the super cute Underwood today! 


I have to say that April 2019 was probably my favorite issue for all of 2019. This dress is item number 5 for me from that issue!

I saw a dress somewhere that had a ruffle across the back only with a "normal" front with mixed prints. I could not find that image again. Often, when I'm browsing the internet I will screenshot things that interest me so I can find them again. I especially like this method because on my phone and my computer, screenshots save to a specific place so I don't need to endless scroll files/photos to find them. I must not have taken a screenshot this time. Wah. 

At any rate, I liked this top initially but not the tunic length. I'm just not a huge fan of tunics! Burda lists the finished back length as 30" so I thought adding 6" would be appropriate.  I marked 6" from the edge of the back along the (curved) hemline and then added 3/8" seam allowance because I knew I'd be doing a narrow rolled hem. 

On the front, I added 3/8" to the front hem and cut a rectangle of fabric out that was 1.5x the width of the front (I wanted a really soft gather) plus 5/8" seam allowance on each end. I added 3/8" seam allowance to the top and 3/8" seam allowance on bottom. 

I used my serger to gather the fabric after practicing on a scrap. More on this later! I actually learned this technique and used it to make a Ogden hack. I recorded a video and will share later! It is on my IG grid if you're interested and can't wait :)

I cut a size 40 neckline, 42 through the armhole and for the front, and a 44 back. I ended up taking the back side seams back down to a 42. 

I did a 5/8" foward shoulder adjustment which may have been a hair too much. I have folds which I think are ALSO due to just having more sloped shoulders than Burda drafts for. In a casual dress like this, I'm not bothered by it. The neckline and upper back feel AMAZING though! So glad I had the lightbulb moment over forward shoulders!!

Look at that upper back fit!! :-D

I was deliberate with my stripe choices but didn't worry (at all!) about trying to do anything at the side seams. The back has the prominent red stripe down the center and you can see the horizontal plane of the stripes match. I chose a piece for the yoke with no narrow stripes and cut the collar to feature the narrow stripes.  I used a solid navy poplin on the inner yoke and collarband facing.
the back crossover makes a giant pleat on the inside!

The fabric is a cotton voile so it is as light as feather! <3  I bought this in October 2017 from Fabric Mart and knew I was saving it for something bold. Well, this dress fits!! 

Everyone is entitled to dress in a way that makes them comfortable. But please, don't put your requirements on me! I got a lot(!) of inbox comments on IG about this being (dirtyword) flattering. I just don't dress to de-emphasize my body. I always say...I am 5'5" and weigh 190lbs. I ain't gonna "look skinny" so I ain't gonna try to "look skinny"! It's loose and voluminous and comfortable and cute and I adore it. So that's that!

I briefly considered a ruffle to the armhole but then decided to stick with my original plan and keep it sleeveless. I think this will keep it more versatile and allow me to wear it through early fall with a jacket. I fit the armhole pretty closely but I'll have to see if I can layer a close-fitting tee underneath. 

It was cute and I thought it balanced the lower ruffle well.

Making bias binding from lightweight cotton is such a joyous experience! It came out beautifully!! Also worth nothing that I only added 3/8" seam allowance to the armhole in expectation of using binding. So much easier to apply with a smaller seam allowance. 

Lastly, I used these large-ish buttons I had in stash. I wanted everything about it to be standout!

EVERY moment of sewing this dress was just SO fun. And I can't wait to wear it!