Me Made May 2018 Week 1: Sewing with Knits

img_0476May is off to a great start in the Northeast. The weather is finally beautiful after a winter that just wouldn’t quit and with spring, my sewjo has returned. I spent some time the last few weeks testing a new knit top for Made By Rae and this has gotten me back into sewing knits. I finished 4 (!) garments the first week in May and I love all four. Rae’s new pattern Jade, soon to be released, is a knit top with four sleeve options. The best part for me is that the sleeves are designed to work with the Isla knit dress. I have made many versions of this dress, which you can see here, here and here. I couldn’t wait to try one with sleeves. This is Art Gallery fabric that I originally bought planning to make a maxi dress, thinking that it would be navy, but is more of a teal. img_0515When the fabric came in the mail, I decided that it was too similar to a teal maxi dress I made last year and cut out an Isla. And there it sat for months until the Jade pattern testing. Since I had bought a bit more yardage than I typically do since I had planned a maxi dress, I had enough for sleeves and was even able to match stripes. I finished it this weekend and wore it to work today. The fit is perfect and adding sleeves is actually quicker than finishing the armholes with binding. I have two more versions of Isla’s with sleeves cut and ready to go. I can’t recommend these patterns more highly. I mean check out the fit. Spot on! img_0588I was given this beautiful striped cotton knit by Cloud 9 Fabrics to sew my tester version of the Jade pattern. img_9987I sewed a couple of versions using scraps of knits I had on hand to make sure that I had the fit down but it was pretty perfect from the start. I added one inch to the length and one inch to the 3/4 length sleeves. I would add one more inch to the length the next time I make the pattern but it was otherwise perfect.¬† img_0088The fabric sews up beautifully and it is lovely to wear. So soft and comfortable. I used my regular sewing machine with a walking foot and used a stretch stitch. img_9986All the tips I use to sew knits can be found in this post.¬† I had to re-learn how to sew cuffs since it had been so long. Here is a visual. You turn it inside out and sew it on the inside.¬† img_9990I was really happy with the finished shirt and have worn it several times already. The fit is so good! img_0084Back view:img_0081-1Sewing the Jade inspired me to finally sew a pattern I bought last year and that I have been meaning to sew for so long: the Blackbird Cardigan by Helen’s Closet.img_0119 I had bought some sweater knits on sale from Rachael at Imagine Gnats last fall (word to the wise: her sales are amazing and you should be on her email list). I had an afternoon of cutting out various patterns and had the pieces ready to go Saturday morning when the weather cooled off (we had a brief 85 degree temp heat wave for a day or two) and it was only a couple of hours of sewing. img_0173I basically haven’t taken it off since. SOOOOO GOOD!! Here it is with a double gauze Gemma Tank and Luna pants that I sewed during last year’s Me Made May.

img_0154Here it is with the Jade striped top and jeans. img_0200I have a couple of other versions planned, one in the same grey and white striped Cloud 9 knit that I used for the Jade top. Stay tuned. I also sewed up an Isla in awesome Cotton and Steel octopus fabric which I finally found at Alewives Fabrics after searching the internet (I think it was so popular that it is sold out at many stores). I am glad I persevered because I love it as an Isla. I didn’t have enough for sleeves but I like it as is. Sleeves might be too many octopi; although is that a thing?


Note: I was gifted the Cloud 9 striped fabric to help test the Jade pattern. All of the opinions expressed in my blog are my own. This blog is not monetized. I provide links to resources that I have found useful but I do not earn any money if you click on the links. The Jade Pattern will be available soon from Made By Rae Patterns.

Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Liberty Fabric, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Linen and Liberty Josephine Blouse

I had already started making a version of the Josephine Blouse by Made By Rae in this Loominous fabric when I saw a version of the Roscoe blouse on instagram with contrasting neck and sleeve binding and that was it. I had a vision of a boho blouse in linen with a Liberty floral trim. I had already purchased this lightweight Telio linen checked fabric and I realized that this Liberty lawn would be perfect. Both fabrics from fabric.com. (I plan to also make the Roscoe at a later date but will be making it in rayon.)The Josephine is usually made with pleats but Rae posted a version with gathers that is the perfect Boho Blouse. It is loose and cute but shaped with bust darts. Many of the other styles such as the Roscoe have raglan sleeves and need a really flow-ey fabric such as rayon but the Josephine’s slimmer profile works well in cotton and in linen. It is less full cut and the gathers are more controlled.¬†Rae suggests using elastic thread but I find that I have more control with my two rows of gather stitches. The linen is so crinkly that the gathers don’t have to be perfect and it still looks good.The actually cutting and sewing of the pattern is very straightforward. The front is sewn together and the back is one piece cut on the fold. You gather the fabric in the center back and the center of the two front pieces. You cut the two mirror halves of the front, one back piece and two sleeves. I then made the bias binding and two rectangles to make cuffs. I usually stitch just on the edge of the cuff, not in the ditch. I like the look of the visible stitching.I have to say I was thrilled with how this turned out. I used bias strips of Liberty as hem facings, as one does.Finished blouse below. It is finally warm enough for front door pictures.My sewing room has one window that faces west. Such beautiful light.I had enough of these two fabrics to also make a version of the Gemma tank cropped with a gathered linen skirt. This dress is going to be perfect for spring. More late afternoon light. I can’t get enough of it after a long, dark winter.

And many pictures of the blouse as worn. This is going to be in frequent rotation. I love the neckline. Rae is a genius with necklines.img_9738I used the curved hem from the Gemma tank as my guide for this hem. I love how you can mix and match Rae’s patterns.¬†Back view.The other side view.I look as though I am summoning the backyard spirits but I think my husband caught me on the way to fix my hair and put it behind my ears.As you can see in the next picture. He takes a zillion pictures and then I whittle them down to a few. What can I say? Perfect combination of pattern and fabrics. The Loominous version is going to be great too. Almost finished! Spring sewing is officially underway.

Made By Rae Patterns, Quilting, Reading and Books, Sewing

April 2018 Reading and Sewing

The weather in the Northeast has been a bit strange this spring with at least one day of snow most weeks since February. This has been good for my reading life, not so good for my sewing life, since all I want to do is lie on the couch and read. But there are consolations. For one, I read this book which had been on my shelf for years and which was fantastic. What a writer. The kind of book that leaves you afraid to pick up the next one because it will break the spell. I loved the protagonist, the setting, the weirdness of it all. If you haven’t read it, you are in for a treat.I heard about the next book from From¬†the Front Porch. I had never read anything by this author but based on the five star reviews of several people I trust, I picked it up at the library. I loved the first section and expected to love it all. I am not sure if it was the fact that there was so much hype but although I liked the book and was glad I read it, I didn’t ultimately love love love it. I am not sure if it was because it felt to me as if several of the characters made poor decisions or effectively sold out-I think that is a large point of the book-but I didn’t connect with it as many others appear to have. But I would still give it four stars-worth reading, if for no other reason because everyone else is and you will be able to be part of the conversation. On another note, my book group just picked this book for May and based on things I am hearing,¬† I really don’t want to read it. If you have read and have opinions, please comment!The next book is a non-fiction account of a series of murders of members of the Osage tribe in the early 1900’s in Oklahoma and how that related to the beginning days of the FBI. It was well researched and I am so glad I read it because it is a chapter in history that I knew nothing about. Side note, I was an America History major in college and it still shocks me how little I seem to know about history. Trying to remedy that but it is a project. ūüôāThe Heart’s Invisible Furies was recommended to me by Catherine who is one of the four people whose taste in books most closely resembles mine and who I rely on for book recommendations. The other three are Anne Bogel, Annie Jones who owns this wonderful bookstore and Lindsey Mead. I highly recommend all four as wonderful resources. This is the story of an Irish woman and her son and the country of Ireland with its geography, culture, religious influences, history. Really Ireland is as much a character as any of the characters. I loved the writing and became very invested in the outcomes of the characters and learned so much. Again, feeling as though there is so much I don’t know-my grandfather’s family is Irish but what I don’t know about Ireland is a lot. This book gave me an entirely new perspective. Highly recommend.¬†I listened to Sourdough at the suggestion of my daughter who is a passionate home chef and loves to try new recipes. When she read this, she was inspired to bake all the bread and I can see why. The book was very entertaining and I appreciated the humorous take on some of the current non-food, food trends.¬†I listened to the next book on audio. Joshilyn Jackson is an actress and she narrates most of her own books. I enjoyed it and will continue to work through her backlist. They make great car listening because they are entertaining enough that you stay engaged in the story, but don’t require a huge amount of focus.I read this sweet little book because I had gotten it on a daily kindle deal which is how I get many of the books I have been meaning to read. I really appreciate that Modern Mrs. Darcy curates this list. It was entertaining and light after some of my other reads. This is the book I am currently reading and I am so engaged in the story of the central character Jojo. I am about 100 pages in and loving it although the themes are hard. I read Salvage the Bones earlier this year and I highly recommend both. She is really an amazing writer. I picked up her memoir at our local independent book store and have added it to the stack of books I am taking on vacation in June.Next up will be this book which was my April Shelf Subscription book. I love books where place and setting and atmosphere are a big part of the story so I am really looking forward to reading it.

And now on to sewing. With spring peeking in every couple of days, I am excited to sew all the things, especially with Me Made May right around the corner. I have several projects in the almost done phase and hope to blog about them soon.

First, I have been sewing several different Boho blouses, a current fashion trend. I sewed a Valley Blouse in navy double gauze that I purchased from Imagine Gnats (they have a great selection and their prices are really reasonable.) This is the neckline which is quite low. The verdict is out on this but after setting it aside and coming back to it, I am liking it more. Does that happen to you too? I hope to finish it this week. Stay tuned.

After feeling a bit discouraged with the somewhat voluminous shape of the Valley blouse, I decided to try the Josephine Blouse by Made by Rae, a pattern which I bought several years ago and have never made. I was inspired by this version that Rae made. I decided to try it in a different Loominous fabric and I am loving where this is heading. Hope to finish it this week but it is looking promising. The profile is slimmer and more shaped which I prefer and the neckline is not as low.

After having some success with the Josephine, I happened to see a version of the Roscoe blouse on instagram where the sewist had used a contrasting fabric for bias binding the neck and for the sleeve cuffs and I thought aha! I had already bought some linen to use for summer dresses but once this idea got into my head, I just had to try it. This is going to be a checked linen Josephine blouse with bias binding made of Liberty fabric. I am really happy where this is going.Also inspired by Rae and in the same vein as this Beatrix dress, I am making several versions of the Gemma Tank with peplum ruffles or with a skirt. Here are those same fabrics. I love how floaty the linen feels. I didn’t quite have enough for both the blouse and the dress so I added a panel to the front of the skirt. It still needs hemming but I think it will be great for summer.Here are some shorter versions in process in quilting cotton and rayon. You can find Rae’s tutorial for this version of the pattern here.

I continue to hand quilt this antique top I bought probably 20 years ago. It is my go-to when I need something quiet and meditative to do. I am always inspired by the creativity of those women who came before us who pieced little scraps into these works of art and love.¬†Other plans for the spring are the Tamarack Jacket. I have this olive twill for the jacket and just a yard of this quilting cotton so plan to see if I can use the quilting cotton for the lining of the front and back and line the sleeves with a solid pink double gauze.¬†And finally, I joined the rest of the sewing and knitting community in buying this book and plan to make at least two versions of the Uniform Tank. This is watercolor linen from Purl Soho for a long-sleeved version and a floral cotton sateen by Nani Iro (also from Imagine Gnats) for a sleeveless version. And then I will need to learn to knit!I have been doing some more writing and set up this little desk on our third floor. This was taken yesterday in the early morning sunshine. I am typing here now and it cold and windy. And there you have it, our spring in a nutshell. I can’t wait for May and warmer weather!I am linking up today with the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog quick lit post which you can find here.



Nursebean Sews a bit and Reads a lot: March 2018

I have done a bit of sewing since the new year began. I finished some long-standing works-in-process in time to mail them to my daughter for her birthday. See Exhibit A below. I love making Ruby Blouses with a patterned yoke and white double gauze for the rest. I finished two and mailed them off. The Ruby yoke can be made with a single fat quarter of quilting cotton so it is a great stash-buster.I also have spent a lot of time planning sewing projects and some time shopping for fabric with the lovely Christmas gift from my husband who is also quite the artist as can be seen in Exhibit’s B and C below. I am not sure what I will use it all for but I love both the In the Folds Peplum top and Rae’s Gemma Tank peplum-ized with this tutorial. I think I will try them both.img_9176I also bought this knit (couldn’t resist) for another Isla dressimg_9149 and some double gauze because when I imagine my ideal fabric stash, it is basically all double gauze. I don’t know what I am going to use it for but I do like the Hadley Blouse in double gauze (check out Teri’s version here) and I like the juxtaposition of a more tailored look with fun fabric, hence the teal below which I bought with the Hadley in mind.img_9115-1I also spent some time and money on finding some new PDF patterns with which to sew up some of the many yards of fabric that I already own. I was inspired by the #makeyourstash instagram challenge and am looking forward to learning new techniques from pattern designers who are new to me: Closet Case Patterns, True Bias Patterns and Tessuti Patterns in Australia (word to the wise, the exchange rate with Australia is very favorable if you live in the US. The two bottom rows are Tessuti patterns.)img_9088-1But with all that being said, I have done very little sewing and have just been reading, reading, reading all the month long. So many good books, most of them recommendations from this podcast and¬†this bookstore.

I loved Heating and Cooling which is prose written by a poet. Beautiful, funny, spare. So good.

Educated is going to be the book everyone is reading, mark my words. It reminded me of The Glass Castle. I couldn’t put it down. Just read it.

I read Frances and Bernard, a beautifully written story told in letters that I learned about when it was recommended as a comp title to Fire Sermon, my January shelf subscription book. I loved Fire Sermon and really enjoyed listening to the Love it or Loathe It discussion  on the From the Front Porch podcast after I read it.

I read Prairie Fires, an extensively researched history of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. It was well written and compelling. The Little House books were the first chapter books I read to myself as a child and this brought all the details back to me and filled in many parts of her story.

Text Me When You Get Home was my February Shelf Subscription book.  I loved this exploration of female friendship. It is a book I might not have found on my own and I am so glad I read it.

I had never read anything by Kazuo Ishiguro and I found The Remains of the Day to be a beautifully written, understated, hauntingly sad book.

I found Forty Rooms¬†again from the From the Front Porch podcast, (notice a theme?) where I find many of my books these days. It was the story of a woman’s life told as a series of stories and memories that take place in each of the rooms in which she has experienced significant events. It was an interesting premise and a good read. Another novel written by a poet, beautifully told.

I read this collection of short stories because I really enjoyed the writing in Fire Sermon and I liked these even better. The writing is beautiful and compelling and sometimes a little weird. I expect to read these again. I love Jamie Quatro’s writing. She also made me miss running which was a big part of my life up until a few years ago.

Stay with Me was beautifully written, gripping, drew me in, made me cry. Read it!

Priestdaddy. I didn’t know what to expect but I loved it. A poet writing a memoir. Hysterically funny, beautifully written, such a command of words. I will read this again. Not for everyone. A bit crass. But so good. Another great book recommended by From the Front Porch and another great Love it or Loathe it discussion.

Far from the Tree: a young adult novel that drew me in and kept me reading. I read it in a sitting. Loved it and highly recommend.img_9074

I had fun going to the new Brooklyn location of this independent bookstore this past¬† weekend where I picked up two new-to-me titles by Ali Smith, whose recent book Winter was really excellent. I also picked up 4321 which I had heard about and haven’t yet read, figuring that it is so long, I would never be able to read a library copy, and The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch, whose memoir The Chronology of Water was incredibly compelling and beautifully written and I am also (slowly) working my way through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci.

I read this cozy mystery which takes place in Maine.¬† I have enjoyed Sarah Graves’ mysteries for many years since Maine is basically my favorite place. It is a light read and I enjoyed the characters and the sense of place.¬†img_9178

I am working my way through this collection of short stories which is my March short story collection (I am reading one each month in 2018.)img_9180

I read this novella which has sat on my book shelf for years. I am trying to work my way through the inventory of books I own but have not yet read. I enjoyed it and plan to read more of Michael Chabon’s books, one of which I already happen to own.img_9179

And I am listening to this mystery on audio book. The narrator for this series is spot on. So much fun, though a bit gory for anyone with a weak stomach. img_9181

Yesterday, I got my March Shelf Subscription book in the mail. I had hoped this would be the one because I loved Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty. So one of these days I will switch back to a bit more sewing and a bit less reading but I am loving reading all the books these days.

I will be linking up to Anne Bogel‘s Quick Lit, a wonderful monthly summary of new reads. Her podcast What Should I Read Next is a must-listen for me every Tuesday. So many fun guests and book suggestions. Highly recommended.

What are you reading and sewing these days? Only one more week until spring. I can’t wait!

Reading and Books

Nursebean Reads: Winter 2018

This year is off to a great start reading-wise. Mostly because it is all I feel like doing. The cold weather and the post-holiday exhaustion means that I come home from work, claim the couch (we are currently a one-couch family) and read. And what great books I have been reading since the new year. I am trying to list them in order of awesomeness. The top four books I have listed are really excellent reads, the kind of book you finish and you can’t imagine finding anything as good to read. But luckily, I did.

One my big goals for 2018 is to read books I already own. The cabinet above belonged to my grandparents. It is filled with my father’s scholarly work, books I have read, loved and kept (I have moved several times in the last 20 years so I have given many away) and books I have yet to read. I would say that the yet-to-read exceeds the already-read and this year I hope to change that. I really enjoyed this week’s What Should I Read Next podcast episode because the focus was backlist titles and while it is hard to not always seek out the shiny new releases, I know that there are so many good books that I already own. This year I plan to read them! Here is what I have been reading lately.

I had never read anything by Ali Smith but I went to the library and Winter was there by the checkout line. It was fantastic. I loved the writing. I will be buying this and reading it again once it is in paperback. I will actually be reading everything she ever wrote. Her writing reminds me a bit of Kate Atkinson’s. Hard to describe but really fantastic. Just read it.I finally read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close after owning it for 13+ years. I bought it in the summer of 2005 which turned out to be a turning point for me and my family. Life got crazy and I never read it. It moved with me twice (many books were lost along the way as I donated them to the library book drive, despairing that I would ever have time to read again) and I am so glad I kept this and picked it up over the Christmas holiday and read it. So so good. The writing, the writing, the writing and the main character. If you haven’t read it, do. That is all I am going to say.¬†Another amazing book is¬†Salvage the Bones.¬†I am waiting for Jesmyn Ward’s new book (in line at the library). Such powerful writing. I loved the main character and the last several chapters with the description of the storm were stunning. I was late to the party on this memoir but am so glad I finally read it. I also loved this collection of stories which I read last year. I highly recommend both. Really terrific. A friend recommended Norwegian by Night to me. It reads a bit like a mystery but so well written with interesting characters and setting that it really transcends the genre. I highly recommend it. I picked up Swimming with Bridgeport Girls at my local library. The author grew up in my town and it was fun to read as the story took place largely in places that I know well. This is the story of a guy who gets in his own way. It was well written and entertaining. Not my typical read but definitely enjoyable but maybe more so for me because I live in Connecticut.¬†I read We Were the Lucky Ones on the recommendation of multiple podcasters, bookstore owners and fellow readers. I have read so many WWII novels in the past several years but what makes this one stand apart is that it is the real story of a real family told by a daughter who researched her family history. So compelling. I was moved to tears. A wonderful read.The Last Days at Cafe Leila was recommended to me by a friend whose taste I trust. I loved reading about life in Iran and the story and characters drew me in. And the food! A good read.Love and Trouble was initially challenging for me. The content is racy and in the first part of the memoir, it was hard for me to get past. But I persevered as it had been a recommendation from my book whisperer,¬† Catherine who never disappoints. I am glad I read it and I would say that I thought it was a brave book. The writing is spot on and the story, while hard to read at times, rang true. The writer seemed to really be grappling with her past in a very authentic and vulnerable way so I was ultimately glad that I read it. Another book with sex and infidelity as a main themes, Fire Sermon, was my January Shelf Subscription book. This book was beautifully written. The author explored these subjects through the lens of faith and Christianity. It was¬†interesting to read these two books back to back. Definitely check out the From the Front Porch podcast episode where this book is the Love it or Loathe it topic. Really terrific. You can link directly to that episode here.I finished a number of books that were half-read in the first few weeks of the new year. It was a great feeling to have a clean slate so to speak. I was inspired to read Moby Dick because one of our children was reading it for school and I am so glad I did! I think that I may have read it in middle school during a semester when we intensively studied whaling (and quite a lot of the book dwelt on the history of whaling) but the parts of the book that were dramatic were really dramatic and worth all the rest. If you haven’t read it, winter is the perfect season. It helped that I had this nice edition that I bought years ago. One of my reading resolutions for 2018 was to read a collection of short stories each month. I was inspired by this podcast episode. In January I read George Saunders’ first published collection of short stories. They are satirical and sometimes disturbing and often funny. They sadly rang a little too true in our current political and social environment. I also really loved the author’s note where he talks about how and when he wrote them and what his life was like then. It was worth the whole book to read about how he came to write.This month I am reading a short story collection by B.J. Novak which is very entertaining so far. I don’t watch TV, like ever, so I have never seen the Office and had no idea who he was but I am really enjoying the stories. I chose my 12 short story collections (one for each month) based on recommendations from the Bookshelf staff. I love that there is such a wide range of authors and writing styles. To see the whole stack, check out this post.This was a book I started in 2017 and finished in 2018. I started this story collection in 2017 because our book group read it. I hadn’t finished so tried to plow through in the first week after New Years Day. I almost made it but some of the later stories were really hard for me to read. Some very tough going on topics such as drug running, addiction etc. So I probably read all but the last two stories. I just couldn’t keep going. The writing is really terrific but the themes are a bit tough.

I really enjoyed Glitter and Glue and look forward to reading Kelly Corrigan’s latest book which I am waiting for at the library. I loved her honesty. It was a quick read. I think I read it over a weekend.I have just started this book which was on the NY Times notable books of the year list. I loved the Little House books as a child but I do have to say that some of the descriptions of Native Americans gave me pause as I read them aloud to my children. I am really interested in the back story. Stay tuned.I have a big stack of books lined up for the next month which I am looking forward to tackling including a beautiful hardcover edition of The Essex Serpent which was a birthday gift from my mother. I am really looking forward to reading it. I have heard such good things about it. and just today, I received my February Shelf Subscription in the mail. So fun! What are you reading and loving this winter? I am linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s monthly quick lit post today. Link here to read her new book recommendations!

Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Heritage Rayon Challis Beatrix Dress

When I first saw this beautiful April Rhodes fabric last summer, I knew that I wanted to make something with it. Red is not normally a color I gravitate to. Most of my handmade garments are blue or yellow but I loved the fabric so I bought a couple of yards. I thought it would be perfect for a holiday garment (tree close-up with ornament made 25 years ago when my daughter was in preschool, sob.)

Then life got busy, as it usually does. I teach nursing students for 12 weeks in the fall in addition to my regular Monday-Friday job and there isn’t time for much sewing. That gave me a lot of time to think about what to make. This summer I made this dress.

I liked the general shape of the dress but the shoulders and neckline didn’t fit me well: too loose in the neck and too tight in the shoulders.¬†I decided to try using the Beatrix Blouse pattern by Made by Rae as the starting point to make a loose dress that was similar.¬† I had made the Beatrix several times and knew that the shoulders and bodice fit perfectly. I thought if I cropped it and added a gently gathered skirt that I would end up with a dress I would really enjoy dressing wearing.

I first made the¬† Beatrix when the pattern was released. It was one of the first patterns I sewed after the Washi Dress and I learned a lot in the process because Rae did a series of blog posts that walk you through making the pattern from start to finish. I learned so much going through that process. She literally explained how to tape the pattern, how to take your own measurements and how to make adjustments for your body type. I learned so many great sewing techniques. When I first made the blouse, the medium fit pretty well with a couple of inches added to the length (I am 5’9″ with a very long torso) but there was a bit of gaping at the neckline. Rae told me how to do a hollow chest adjustment and once I did that, the fit was perfect. It is a really subtle adjustment but it makes all the difference. I just fold a tiny bit of the pattern at the center front and then shift it back once I cut the neckline.

When I cut the bodice out for this project, I put one of my Beatrix blouses on and then figured out where I wanted the bodice to end and the skirt to start which was just under the rib cage. I marked the spot with a pin and then drew a line on the pattern pieces to match that bodice length after adding 1/2 cm for a seam allowance. I folded the pattern piece on that line and cut out the shortened front and back bodice in both the rayon and in the cotton batiste that I planned to use for the bodice lining. I cut out the pieces before Thanksgiving and then they sat on my ironing board until January. But that’s ok. Sometimes you have time and energy to sew and sometimes you don’t. I did a lot more reading than sewing this fall. Reading on Christmas Day below. Such a good book. The ear muffs were my given to one of my daughters. I was just borrowing them. They are actually really warm and cozy though a bit flashier than my usual style.

After the holidays I went back to work and did a long drive the weekend after New Year’s Day,¬† taking my daughter back to school. Finally, the second weekend in January, I had time and energy and finished the dress. img_8464Pictures of sewing the bodice below.

I realized that I cut the back lining piece too wide so I just sewed a center seam to take out the excess. I like to top stitch around the neckline so that everything lies flat.

I sewed the shoulder seams together for both the bodice and lining, sewed the pieces together at the neckline, gathered the sleeves and attached them and then used Rae’s burrito or sausage method to line the bodice. Then I sewed the side seams of the sleeves and the bodice side seams.

I used the skirt from the Isla pattern as a template to cut out the front and back skirt pieces.

I added 2 inches to the width of the back skirt piece because I am bigger in the back than the front and I thought the dress would flow more nicely with a bit more gathered fabric in the back. I did this when I made my  Isla Maxi Dress I was really happy with it. I marked the back skirt piece with two pins and front piece with one pin because they were so close in size that I was afraid that I would mix them up. Then I gathered the front and backs, sewed the two skirt pieces together using french seams, lined up the center front of the bodice with the center of the front skirt and did the same on the back and sewed the bodice to the skirt. I turned the bottom edge of the lining under and hand sewed the lining to the seam that joins the bodice to the skirt in the same manner that Rae shows in her Washi tutorials.

I usually make a hem facing but I thought it might make the hem more stiff since the rayon was so lightweight so I just turned up the hem twice and sewed a line of stitches using a matching thread. It came out fine. I have yet to hand hem a garment. I am sure there will be a time when I feel I should but I have gotten this far machine hemming with good success. And that was it. It was a pretty quick sew. I like that the dress has shape from the darts but is also loose and flowey. I think it can be dressed up and down. I have already worn it to church and I have plans to make it again. I have this rayon which I think would be perfect! This isn’t the first time I lengthened the Beatrix. I have also made two tunic length Beatrix’s that I love. One seen below last summer on the beach. You can read details about those here and here. I highly recommend the Beatrix pattern and Rae’s Beatrix sewalong posts and her videos demonstrating the bodice-lining technique.

More pictures of my new red dress below. You can tell it was windy.

I had the perfect sweater in my closet. Never get rid of a cardigan, that’s my motto. I want to sew the Blackwood Cardigan¬†by Helen’s Closet this year. I think it will be perfect in a sweater knit over this dress worn with jeans.

Perfect with denim.

I love the fit through the bodice.

I highly recommend this pattern!


Sewing with Knits for Little Ones

img_7799I went back to school in my 40’s to become a nurse practitioner. It was a long journey that included many detours, the most significant of which was taking a job as an inpatient oncology nurse. I started working as an RN¬† when I needed to support my family while still in school in my Masters’ program and have worked at the same hospital first part-time, then full-time, then part time for over ten and a half years.

There is much I could say and write about and may some day but one of the best things about working as a nurse in the inpatient setting was the opportunity to work so closely with and become friends with so many amazing women (and men, but mostly women) who do this incredibly hard work with so much love. I have had a lot of jobs but none with this level of camaraderie. The work is so intense and you rely on each other to such a great extent that you become family.

Emily and I started our nursing careers together. When I found out that she was having her first child, I got busy sewing.

I have made baby quilts as gifts but this little one already had several so I decided to try sewing a knit outfit. I was inspired by this one by Erin.¬† The pattern, by Rachel of Stitched Together is a free download. It is a straightforward pattern with clear instructions. I made a hat to go with it from the Green Bee Patterns Modern Baby Set. I want to sew the rest of the Green Bee layette garments when I have more time. They are so cute! But I thought the sleep sack would be great for easy diaper changes in those first few months when it feels as though that is all you are doing. I also hoped it would fit this little guy for a while. The fabric is from the Blake collection by Carolyn Friedlander. It is nice and soft and easy to work with. This was such a fun little sew. I am not yet a grandmother but plan to be ready when the time comes. This was entirely sewn on my regular sewing machine. One of my sewing resolutions is to spend some time getting acquainted and actually using my serger. I took a great class last year at The Cloth Pocket which I highly recommend but haven’t had the time to practice what I learned. This will be the year.

Some pictures of the project in process. img_7794

img_7793I love the knot at the top of the Green Bee hat.

And now for the baby pictures. I mean seriously can you stand how cute this little guy is?img_8451 Hat close-up.img_8449Working on baby planks here.img_8450 I am not yet a grandmother, but I plan to be ready when the day comes. img_8453Happy baby! img_8448 One yard of fabric. One afternoon. Go make some baby clothes friends. Instant happiness!