Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Birthday Suit: S1276


It's my bornday y'all! And you know what that means. It means I had to send out search party for my mojo (I think it was in the witness protection program) and make me a brand new garment to celebrate!

Since I last Built with y'all, The God and I decided to get married. Getting legally married is not something that is common within the 5% Culture. Our righteous compadres have been looking at us side ways. But it's fine. They always look at us like that. We don't fit the standard mold for God and Earth. One of many reasons we got hitched is because we are striving to purchase a house! We thought we had one. But the inspection came back scary, so we passed. But we loved the house so much initially, that we started packing. I had packed up my sewing room. I had to unpack it some to make this garment.

This is not what I initially intended for my birthday suit. I wanted to make a cream corduroy skirt and a black knit top. But for some reason I couldn't find the pattern for either. (Found the top pattern after I was done making this one) So as I was going through the Air Jordan boxes that I keep my patterns in I came across S1276 and thought, why not? Now that I have a stash.... I went to see what could work.

Out of the big 4, simplicity is my least favorite. I get more wadders from Simplicity than any other pattern. If I'm using Simplicity I allow extra time just in case I need to sew something else or buy something. This is not my 1st attempt at making this particular brand of simplicity pattern. I made a capsule wardrobe for a friend using S1167. These patterns work for some folks. I don't think they really work for me. I wanted to be supportive. When I made S1167 it was a lot of confusion. The tutorial didn't help. The instructions were hazy and at some points contradicted the tutorial.... Just a bad time. I don't' know if my friend even liked her capsule. We've not discussed it. So with MUCH hesitation I went on and made S1276.

I don't hate the dress. I don't think color blocking works for me. I've tried it a few times and never like the result. Even this simple Black and white combo. I was worried about the light band across the middle. And I was right. Whatever. I don't' mind the top and the “peek-a-boo.” You can't see it. If I make this in the future (because I don't discard patterns unless they piss me off) I won't make it with a band. Just solid all the way down.

I didn't make many changes. I made it out of knit so there is no zipper, nor did I interface the neck facings. I need to be able to get it over my head. To keep the facing down I tacked it. But you can't really see the tacks unless you were looking for them. the directions were really vague about what pieces to cut out. My suggestion if you decide to make the peek-a-boo version is instead of cutting a front facing, cut a second front piece and use the entire piece as a facing.

I used ponte knit. I love this stuff! I have finally been convicted after 30+ years of sewing that the good fabric, sews better. No pulling, no getting stuck in the machine, stitches stay in and it's just a pleasure to work with. I've heard that before, but I finally believe it. I never wanted to PAY for the good fabric. But you get what you pay for. I realized at the end of construction that I wasn't even using the correct needle. But even still, everything went smoothly.

From the completed pics of other folks work, I noticed that the waist was elongated. So with my breasts, I didn't think I needed to add the 3 inches that I normally would. I guessed correctly. This white band hits at my waist. I'm not sure I like that. No. I don't like it at all. But it is what it is.

I added 2” to the skirt. I really need for my clothes to pass my knees. If I take that big band out then the skirt will be too short. I might replace the band with just a black one. But I don't' really want to putz with the dress.

I'm still mourning. But 6 months will be officially over on 11/12. I'll transition into wearing brighter colors. Hopefully, if I feel up to it, I can be festive around the holidays. It will be my first holiday EVER without my brother. My brother always called me at 12:01 on my birthday to be the 1st to wish me a good day. I hate to say this.... because last time I said this I ended up needing it for that purpose... but this dress will serve as a winter mourning dress. I hope I don't have to use it.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015



This pattern is from the 1993. Clearly it's out of print. (I refuse to use the acronym for out of print... because I'm an AKA) That means it's vintage!!!!! I can't. Nope. I ain't ready! According to the interwebs... anything over 20 years is vintage. Damn.

I got this pattern in a mystery bag. This now defunct mom-pop shop used to sell like 10 patterns and odd notions in a mystery bag for a $1. Every time I'd buy some fabric from them (And I went like once/week) I'd buy a mystery bag or 2. Why not? I was always more curious than anything what was in the bag. There were a lot of baby clothes, doll clothes, bags and stuff that I don't wear. The sizes were super small too. But it was a dollar mystery bag. What do you expect? Some of the patterns I gave away to people who CLAIM they want to learn to sew but really just like the idea of sewing rather than the practice. But occasionally they had something in the bag for me. Usually 2 of the 10 patterns I could use. That's worth a dollar, right?

I sooooo remember the young woman I was in the 90's. I turned 21 on a Sunday in college in SC. LOL! Was super mad I couldn't buy alcohol on my birthday. My friends all came through with bottles for me to drink legally from. I had a drink from every bottle that came in the door that day and even went to an underground speakeasy. I was so hungover that Monday. I graduated college (92) ready to take on the world. I attended dental school until 96 graduation. Got married in 98. A cool wild ride of a decade. First (legal) drink to 1st car to doctorate to wife!

I remember how I looked too... It used to scandalize my mother. I did “Black-Girl-Grunge.” Grunge was a 90's thing but you know Black people do style their own way.... I had Janet Jackson/Patra Poetic Justice braids. Actually. I wore my hair braided/cornrowed all while in dental school. Black hair takes a lot of time. I needed that time to sleep, eat, study and party. I wore the dark lipstick and also that green stuff that changes color... the baby doll dresses.... the Dr. Martens.... My mother used to tell me that I didn't look like a woman.

My favorite go-to go-out outfit was a thrift store man's suit that fit my bottom and closed in the front. (I've always had large breasts. And that is ALWAYS a big concern for me) I cut the pants into shorts took them in in the waist and put a professional looking cuff on them. I rolled up the sleeves of the jacket and actually tailor tacked them down so they would stay like that but not look altered. I wore this suit to every party! Either in pieces or all together. I changed out the top, hose and shoes. I had a kente cloth sleeveless tank with a pussy bow... I had that peasant white top with the big lapel that makes you look like a painter... Some times I wore the blazer with no top at all. I used to rock tall boots with platforms... another with stiletto heels. (my mother used to rock tall boots in the 70's and she used to keep them in her closet. She couldn't war them anymore, but wouldn't let me have them. So I'd steal the boots and leave the boxes)When I wore the suit with my DMs, I'd get that thick granny hosiery and tear big holes in it. My mother would have a hissy fit watching me get dressed. But she'd laugh it off. I promise you I had more fun than was allowed. That's why I'm not a 40-some woman not lamenting my lost youth. I just wish I had the energy to party all night and still be able to work or go to class then next morning. Now I gotta got to sleep before 10 or I'm no good for work the next day. I did what young people are supposed to do.


My goal with this dress was to have something black to wear on the weekend that wasn't super clingy. My fibroid is growing and becoming super noticeable. At first I was gonna make M6559 but that seemed more form fitting than I was wanting. I made M6559 a few years ago and I liked it.... but I just wasn't feeling it for this summer. I also wanted to have a high-low dress. Vanity, forced me to google high-low to see if it was still a thing. When you sew for yourself, you tend lose trends. That lends to looking homemade. High-low shirt is still hanging on... but by a thread. But High-low tops are trending. I decided to high-low the dress and leave the front a midi thereby making the trend current!

The fabric was a remnant that I got at Fine Fabric for $1.99. I assumed that it wasn't long and had planned to make a top out of it. Imagine my surprise when I unrolled it. It was enough to make this dress and plenty of fabric left for a headwrap that I don't need because I have a lot of black knit headwraps. FF just keeps on surprising me. I hope they never do anything to turn me off.

B4545... loose fitting tunic/dress/separates. I made the "E" version pictured in the green dress

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope?:
Sort of. I made a few changes

Were the instructions easy to follow?:
Didn't bother

How long did it take from start to finish?:
Several days. For some reason, I just didn't finish it. IDK why. I'd sew a seam and something would catch my attention. And I'd be gone for a few days. Then I'd come back and do something else and then get distracted. I did run out of black thread. That took a few days to correct. I think the dress was TOO easy and just didn't keep my attention.

What did you like/dislike about the pattern?
I dislike that the 90's is considered vintage.....

Fabric used?:
soft Black knit so sweet I keep feeling myself

Pattern alterations or design changes made
I made a lot...
1. Instead of cutting the pattern pieces all separate and having a seam running up the front and back.... I just cut it in 2 pieces
2. the pattern comes with a facing... that I decided to not use
3. Since I didn't use the facing I needed to add on something around the collar and armscye
4. and I made it a high-low

Would you sew it again?:
YES! If I like a pattern, I will sew it about 3 times then retire it.

Would you recommend it to others?:
If you can find it

I'm old. I planned to wear this dress only on the weekend, but I find myself wearing it belted to work. Belting it makes it a bit high. But not belting it makes me look a bit pregnant. I wish I still had my Dr. Martens....

I have been making some other garments. If I blogged them before I don't see the reason to reblog it. Like I said earlier, 3 garments from 1 pattern is enough for me (unless it's a TNT basic). I'd planned to make 4 more black dresses for the summer. I probably won't. My eyes have turned toward the fall and when that happens I lose interest in summer clothes. That happens in the spring too. I'll be in mourning at least until Thanksgiving, probably until the end of the year. I bought some things from the thrift store. A few tops... a skirt. A bathing suit for parts. All Black. My boss asked me how long I was going to publicly mourn. I told him. He told me 2 things. (a) It was a nice and fitting tribute to my brother (He lost his sister recently) and (b) I'm really making it look good. I appreciate that....


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pre Fall Ideas..... (pic heavy)


I'm not a designer. I'm good with that. I make clothes either from patterns or from something that I see. I give it up for creative people who create trends and lines and so forth. Because designers have it hard...

Collections used to be just Fall and Spring. Now you have Pre-fall and resort in addition to the fall and spring lines. That isht is cray cray. Is there no down time? Well if not, oh well... They are compensated well for their time....

It's July.... My thoughts start drifting FROM summer clothes (though it will be very warm here until October) TO the fall clothes. Here in GA I can wear my summer frocks longer than I could when I lived in NJ. But I don't really need snow clothes. I'm also a big girl and I need for folks to know and understand that big girls can be fly, fashionable and non-sloppy. I actually crack up when I'm around standard sized girls dressed busted. The look at me with shock and awe. And when they open their mouths to say something crude, I ask... “Have you EVER seen me busted?” So to be extra fine... I peruse the fashion runway shows to decide what I'm going to make. An aside: When other Earths try to qualify how I'm dressed by saying the only reason I look good is because I make my own clothes... I remind them that 14:14 says that they should be proficient in sewing just like I do.

Pre-fall is perfection for the weather we get here in GA. I suppose this post is more of a record keeper of what I plan to sew/buy for fall...

You're gonna have to click on the image to see it. I can't seem to get it small...

I like this look from DVF. DVF is one of my favorite designers because her stuff is timeless. This her standard wrap dress. I like the boots. I need new boots. I had to toss my black boots and I tossed the brown boots 2 years ago. I'm not going to feel guilty when I buy boots this year. I don't like the extra flourish at the wrist of the sleeve, though. If I was to buy this dress, I would remove the flourish

I love Donna Karan too. She makes age appropriate clothes for grown women. All the models are wearing Flatform shoes. I have a pair and kinda don't like them. I've been wearing them all summer and find them hard to walk in.

Gucci has some nice things too....

I already have a suede coat like this

This is cute. And should be easy to figure out. I'll be mourning until November so I have to decide what color to make this or make it in this color and and just wait to wear it.

This dress is pretty amazing...

This is old-school enough to find in a thrift store in the men's wear section. It would be cute with a cream corduroy skirt and some brown boots would it not?

This is from Halston. This is dressier than my life really demands but I think it would be nice to have on hand

I'm feeling the skirt... a lot

From Jason Wu... A black mock neck is on my list. I prefer at least short sleeves for fall. That belt is hot

Vuitton... I saw this look in the magazines. I don't wear pants but I can do this with a skirt. Imagine a dark wash denim with a gold topstitch...

WOW!!! I should be able to make this Versace with my remnants.... Teehee!

Ok... this is a good start of me dreaming about the fall.


Friday, May 29, 2015



This is my 2nd mourning dress.

I really thought that this was a cute dress on the pattern envelope. Really I did. But.... the envelope is drawn and not an actual picture. I know pictures can be airbrushed and reconfigured but drawn???? No. I don't trust drawn pictures. Have you looked at all them vintage patterns with them chicks with them snatched waists? No normal woman has dimensions like that. If you can't find a model/hanger to make the pattern look good, then I don't want to waste my time and resources. But.... it's so cute!

I love this fabric. It's a heavy, almost denim cotton with 2 way stretch. It has a tribal look that I was planning to rock this summer. I really love tribal and FF has a great selection of fabrics with a tribal theme. I was planning to make a bunch of African outfits for the summer. I'm really into Ankara. But my plans have changed. I put the fabric that I had originally purchased for the summer in the cabinet. Is that how y'all get a stash? I definitely have one now. I love this fabric so much... that I inadvertently bought it twice! Last time I went to FF, they had this fabric wrapped up on clearance. I bought 1.5 yards then. LOL! Its heavy enough to use when the weather turns cold to make a top. I can wait.

I did make a bobo.... I cut it wrong. Instead of cutting it with east/west stretch, I cut it north/south. I think I'll be okay because I assume this fabric will give anyway. Grieving is distracting... My late father taught me to sew in the 1980's. His mother had been a seamstress and taught all her children. He didn't even know that my mother had bought me a sewing machine. Daddy came to visit in the middle of some drama I was having in my primitive sewing room/bedroom and helped me. We were both surprised for different reasons. My brother walked in in the middle of the crises and Daddy taught him to sew too. He made a killing sewing permanent creases in everybody's pants that summer. LOL! Yes we are/were old. But he told folks I did the alteration because he didn't want folks to know he was sewing. He didn't give me a cut though.... Wasn't unusual to find him at my machine when I'd come in form outside.

Pattern: V9021
Fitted dress has front and back extending into sleeves, low armholes, back zipper and hemline slit.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope?
Yeah. The fabric looks damn similar to the long version on the envelope which is the version I made

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Look through them a bit

How long did it take from cut to finish?
3 hours

What did you like/dislike about the pattern?
OK.... why did the skirt have so many darts? 4 in the front and back? Really? Why does a skirt need 8 darts? Good thing you can't see them....

And the sleeve, the way it's designed, gapes. Shows your bra if you lift your arm. I'm sure I can close that off, but it takes away the fullness of the wings.

The back bodice doesn't exactly match the front in length. It's off about an inch. I worked on it a bit and it is accurately off an inch.

This is MY issue but my boobs pulled the front bodice an inch. Maybe that's what that back inch was for?

Fabric used?

Pattern alterations or design changes made?
I added 2 inches to the bodice and not 3. Since I only needed 2" on my last dress, I thought, WTH?

Would you sew it again?
I suppose. Just not immediately. I still feel some kind of way about all them darts!

Would you recommend it to others?
Yes with a bunch of modifications

Not sure.... I'm not one to discard a garment, since I learned to sew because of alterations. I'm just not completely 100% satisfied with it. Maybe 76.2%. It looks nice on the hanger. In the future, I might separate the top from the bottom. If I did that, I'd have to add fabric to the bottom of the bodice. I'm a wear it a few times and see how I feel.

The God said the dress looked nice. Nice and not his usual I look comfortable. Reason enough to keep it


Wednesday, May 27, 2015



This is the 1st of my mourning trousseau. When I saw this knit at FF I had to have it. I've been wanting something floral for a minute now.

M5042 is out of print I think. I bought it years ago when I started back sewing with patterns. So it's been sitting in my pattern stash... since I had a stash.

M5042, A sundress with princess seamed bodice and a flared skirt. I made version C: high necked with no belt. I have a belt should a want it belted. Why are princess seams called that? Anybody?

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the envelope?
Yes it did

Were the instructions easy to follow?:
I didn't use them

How long did it take from cut to finish?:
About 3 hours

What did you like/dislike about the pattern?
I sewed it straight out of the bag

Fabric used?:
Cotton knit

Pattern alterations or design changes made?:
Because it's knit, I didn't add a zipper. I added 3" to the length of the bodice. I always add 3" to bodices because my breasts take up a lot of space. But... I only needed about 2". I like for the waist to sit at my waist. It's about an inch too long. I can always take it in if it bothers me too much. Won't kill me. I also added binding to the neck and arms to finish it off. The pattern didn't call for anything like that but it looked shabby without it.

Would you sew it again?
I was thinking about it. I have some polka dot fabric to make a sundress. It's a toss up if I use one of the other versions or another pattern all together. I like the fullness of the skirt

Would you recommend it to others?

I like this dress. It's perfectly simple but dressy enough to wear to work or to some party. I can see myself wearing this deep into fall with a blazer or sweater and some tights. And the daisies are too damn cute.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015



This is my brother....

He died Tuesday May 12th. He was my hero.

Many of you with brothers may think that you have/had the best brother. You are wrong. Mine was the best.

This is a sewing blog and I'm not going to get into the whats and hows... But I miss him and plan to mourn him; publicly and privately.

Unfortunately... I have mourning experience. I lost my 1st husband in 2003. My mother, always aware of appearances, told me that I should mourn Michael in dress. I didn't quite know what that entailed. So I researched it. Mommie told me that it was a family tradition to mourn a spouse for 1.5 years. I asked her where she got that from. she said it was just what they did. Mommie is in her 70's. I've come to learn half answers is all I'm getting from her. But there are African traditions (many of which match a lot of family traditions) that say that one mourns a blood relative for 18 months. There is fanfare month 1 and month 18. But the best record of mourning etiquette comes from the Victorian era. That queen mourned her husband for more than 40 years. She must have loved him.... So I combined the family, African and Victorian traditions to make "Serenity Mourning Traditions."

Included in my external mourning is the way I dress. When Michael died in 2003, I wore black for 18 months. Solid black the first year and then a mix of black and other patterns/colors for the last 6 months. After 18 months I was disgusted with black and did everything to not wear it again. I even got rid of a lot of the clothes that reminded me of mourning. It was such a dark time in my life. When my Daddy died in 2008, I mourned for 1 year. 6 months of solid black and 6 months of broken black. I discarded the black after that too. Now.... I'm starting from scratch again. I plan to mourn Clarence, for at least 6 solid months. I will probably be the only one mourning him. Our family was small to start with my parents and just the 2 of us. My mother is cracking up, as you can imagine. Clarence was her favorite... her words, not mine. His wife is a "special" person. It's doubtful that she will mourn him at all. And what she does, my nephew follows suit... as he should. I would mourn him even if my SIL did, but I will make sure that he is remembered as an honored ancestor (as if he didn't have a wife).

So my sewing will take on a different hue... literally. I didn't have a lot of black or even broken black. I wore the dress that I made earlier in the year for mourning to the funeral. Who knew? I went to Fine Fabrics and bought some things.... I went to Charming Charlies and bought jewelry and accessories to match. I'm going to do this right and make this look good...

I actually have Michael's death to attribute to me getting back into sewing. I have been sewing since I was 13, but not everything I own. That's why my previous sewing machine lasted 30 years. I made a few things here and there, but mostly did alterations, costumes, quilts and home stuff. I could make garments.... I just didn't all that often. Michael died on Good Friday. Do you know how hard it is to find black for spring and summer??? Even the suit I wore to his services was hard to find. Nordstrom found one in a distant store, ordered it and altered it in 3 days. Go Nordstrom! But what was I to wear all the other days? I was wandering in a fabric store and they has bolts of black cotton on sale for $10/bolt. I bought 3 full bolts and proceeded to make my mourning trousseau. That's what got me into sewing all my clothes. The more successes I had the more confident I became. And here I am.

I am going to not discard my black clothes anymore. Apparently it doesn't keep folks from dying.

This is us as children...


Monday, April 20, 2015

Call Me Cassandra


I have been super busy y'all. I managed to get all my Easter sewing completed. But dig this.... A so-called friend.... who up to this point has never really valued my ability to sew decided that I could make her a few outfits. 3 exactly. And these “outfits” are not dresses or something small like that. They are suits of clothes involving a jacket, top and pants. S1167. She fell in love with Mimi's website and thinks that this is easy for me to just whip up 9 garments on 2 weeks. Nevermind I have a non-sewing full time job!

She bought the pattern (at full price), the notions and some really cheap and flammable polyester and has given me 2 weeks to make 9 garments. I gave it back to her. There is no way that a person who is addicted to RTW going to be satisfied with what she gave me to work with. And I will be the blame for it. Not that nasty thick polyester that will cause her to sweat and smell like a fat girl in the already 80*+ weather we are having. And that that nasty fabric will coat my rotary cutter and gum up my machine... Since she couldn't return anything that she bought, she returned to my home with a different take on it.... and 4 pairs of pants she wants hemmed... By next week. I've done some work for her college aged daughter and I never charge her anything. I guess she is expecting the same treatment. B.U.T.... she has a job! This is why I won't sew for family or close friends, just strangers and of course Precise. But this chick is a dear friend so.... I just hope our friendship survives.

Another “friend” asked me to crochet her a sweater dress for a doll. Ok. I charged her $15 to make it and she had to supply they yarn which I gave back. Now was the doll for her child? No. it was for a doll that she was selling. She thought I charged her too much. She paid it but for her next job, she hired someone else. Guess what? They charged her twice as much as I did. She only told me because she was mad. I had nothing.

I have yet another person in my life who is getting prepared for her sister's wedding. Apparently, the attendants can wear whatever dress they want as long as it falls into a specific color scheme. She showed me a dress she was planning to order from China. I suggested that she needs to order it in as large as a size that it comes in, because special occasion dresses ALWAYS run super small. And that it's easy to take in but harder to let out especially when you don't have the fabric to let it out. she ordered it only 1 size bigger than she wears. Guess what? You already know. I don't have to tell you do I? Now she wants me to do something. What can I do at this point? And everything I suggest does not sit well with her.

As a seamstress, I find it annoying that people who don't sew think they are a better know than I am about sewing. My friend for example.... couldn't wait on a sale for the pattern that was to happen this week. She had to own it last week. She couldn't be bothered to go to the fabric store with me... you know the experienced person... but went with her BF. She didn't take my advice and purchase fabric based not on her rtw measurement, but on the finished garment measurement. She want pants and a jacket from the polyester but there isn't enough. And I'm not going to the store to buy it.

All that to say.... My clients are irritating me. And I'm really reconsidering whether I'm cut out to take on clients. But it is shark week so maybe I'm in the midst of a hormone imbalance...