UFO Down!

Hi there!

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted, which is a pretty poor showing as I’m working to revive Sew Tiger Sew. While I’m not nuts about that, It’s just life. I have a very demanding job at a software startup, and sometimes it just takes over for a while. I even had so much work and work anxiety last weekend that I didn’t sew a stitch! I did do a bit of pattern adjustment for a Maria Denmark Rachel wrap dress, but that’s pretty small potatoes for me on a weekend. Sewing is a big part of how I restore on weekends and evenings.

I’ve also spent a silly amount of time looking for a way to create a nice looking graphic for a wonderful event we have coming up here on the blog, about which I am SO excited to tell you all very soon. I’m happy to say that I found a good online option for creating a blog badge without too much fuss—canva.com. Some of the backgrounds and images cost a small fee, but it’s a great way to slap something together and to know that you’re good with any copyright owners.

Anyhow! On to the sewing…I’ve had one UFO to pick off before I could really dive into this next project. Nope, I’m not taking potshots at the sky; I had to finish a pair of lightweight jeans I basted together as a muslin for the hiking trousers I made myself before our vacation in July! I’ve been literally short on trousers since my Ginger jeans went and shrank on me (turning themselves into ankle jeans!) even after I’d prewashed the fabric, so I wanted to finish these up.

High Pants - 3

High Pants - 1

It was a bit laborious for my taste, since I don’t know that I love this pattern for anything other than the hiking purposes, but I did the work in small doses, switching thread on my main machine rather than running the Singer featherweight as well for topstitching. This mainly worked out well, but I did have one hilarious snafu: I somehow topstitched one inner leg seam with the seam allowance toward the front of the leg, rather than the back. It’s not something I expect any mere mortal to notice, but it’s pretty funny if you know anything about jeans construction.

High Pants - 5

There are lots of ways in which I love these jeans, but some things are less than pleasing. The extra room I added to the back of the leg for the hiking trousers needs to be removed in a non-athletic application like this. And worst of all, there’s something a bit off in the crotch curve for this 10% stretch (the hiking trousers are about 30% stretch) so that while they are actually quite loose and breezy while I’m standing, they are a bit uncomfortable when I sit. Sad tiger! I’m hoping that, since I’m currently losing weight, it may resolve in a couple more weeks. On the other hand, looking at the rear view, I think my adjustments to the curve just really didn’t work out. I think I may convert these to a denim skirt and call it a day!

High Pants - 2

Family Hiking Trousers

In the last blog post I showed you what I made for my husband and I to wear while we ran a half-marathon last November, 2014. Much more recently we took a vacation to Switzerland, where we went hiking in the Berner Oberland for 8 days. Neither of us had technical trousers for hiking, just running gear, so I set out to make us some!

A bit about fit

HikingPants - 10I chose to adapt this Sandra Betzina pattern I got at a fabric and pattern swap way back when at Mena Trott’s house. I adjusted it per my trouser block and then made a couple of muslins. I am almost done finishing up my wearable muslin in a 10% stretch lightweight denim from Robert Kaufman (if only my machine would make a perfect buttonhole on my garment, not the test fabric!). It’s going to be fun to have high-waisted, wide-legged jeans.HikingPants - 12


For my husband, I first created and tweaked a trouser block from Kershaw’s Patternmaking for Menswear. I actually want to go back and work on this some more before making him more trousers, but we ran a bit short on time, and he’s not too fond of the fitting process.

HikingPants - 11Once the block was acceptable, I used it to adjust the Jutland pattern from Thread Theory. I had to skip cargo pockets (I’ll definitely be making this with cargo pockets in the future!), but I did successfully include an articulated knee area more or less in the right zone for his knees. My attempt at articulated knees for my own trousers wound up around mid-thigh when I really bent my knees, but looked about right when standing up.

Though the fit isn’t perfect on these two pair, they were VERY comfortable and worked out super for our hiking adventures. I had a little trouble with this lightweight stretch wicking woven from Fabricline and topstitching thread, so I eventually gave up and did the last bits of topstitching with regular thread, as you can see here.

When the machine just won't topstitch with topstitching thread any more....
When the machine just won’t topstitch with topstitching thread any more….

HikingPants - 6Last, I had two immense brain cramps while making these: first, I couldn’t keep the right side of the fabric straight and created two pair of trousers with some pieces facing right-side-out and some right-side-in. Oh well! Second, and even more hilariously, I got the zipper guard confused when putting together the fly and sewed it to the wrong side of the zip! We did fine with this, but it took a little getting used to when zipping them up.

HikingPants - 8

HikingPants - 2
A bit roomier in the thighs for ease of movement. Good fit on the bum, if I do say so myself!

Here are some gratuitous pictures of our hiking trousers in action in Switzerland:




Sewing My Own Wedding Dress

This project took up about 4 months of my sewing time, with only one interstitial project–my February Tiramisu. Boy was I ready to be done when it was finally done!

I started by watching Susan Kalje’s Couture Dress course on Craftsy, and though I didn’t use the included pattern or finish all the steps, I really got a lot out of her tracing, thread-tracing and muslining process. In the end, I had to modify some of the design features of the pattern I chose, not only to get the fit I wanted, but also because the pattern didn’t achieve what I’d been attracted to in the envelope pictures.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Long ago I promised process posts. I didn’t manage that, and I don’t mind too much. But I can at least describe the whole thing a bit.

First, the pattern: Butterick 5750. B5750 It’s supposed to be made in a light crepe, but I think it would probably work best in a really, really light chiffon. I worked on the fit and design in three steps, first fitting the muslin to myself, then transferring those adjustments to practice fabrics and sewing up the dress in a poly crepe, then adjusting the design features on the poly crepe, then making up the dress in the beautiful silk crepe and crepe-backed satin that I chose for the final dress.

The muslin: The first muslin was terrible, as you see here. I made about 3 bodice muslins before moving on to the skirt and then on to the practice dress.

IMG_2104.JPG IMG_2109 IMG_2111

After re-designing the bodice, I liked it!
After re-designing the bodice, I liked it!
Draping came out more like poofing!
Draping came out more like poofing!

The practice dress: When I first got the bodice sewn up I discovered that the soft draping and folds didn’t function at all as I’d expected, at least not in the poly crepe.

So after some thinking, I went with a hybrid approach, using the lining pattern piece for the left bodice, and working out my own pattern of pleats and drapes for the right bodice, based on slashing and spreading the right bodice lining piece.

Ironing a lot of silk!
Ironing a lot of silk!

The silk: I made some mistakes with the silk, but not too bad considering the stress levels and how over my head I was in some respects. I also purchased and viewed the Craftsy course on Sewing With Silks, but didn’t find it too enlightening. I didn’t have a proper cutting table, so I had to let some of the quarter-circle skirt pieces hang over the edge of the table, which distorted them some.

Apparently we're not supposed to use rotary cutters?
Apparently we’re not supposed to use rotary cutters?

I also didn’t experiment with sandwiching the silk in tissue paper or anything like that. And I used a rotary cutter, which may be a no-no, but anyhow, it all worked out. Once the dress was together I let the bias skirt hang on the dressmaker’s dummy for a couple of days, evened up the hem, and all was well.

One quarter of the skirt
One quarter of the skirt

The design features I added were:

  1. I made the right bodice piece in a blue crepe-backed satin
  2. I made 1/8 of the skirt in the same blue
  3. When the straps wanted to slide of my shoulders a bit, I added lingerie keepers, which worked a treat
  4. and when all was said and done (and my draping still didn’t behave quite as I liked), I made a 4-inch wide sash of the blue silk as well.

All in all, this was an arduous project but one I am so very glad I did it. Shortly before finally biting the bullet and buying very expensive fabrics, I went out looking for a dress I could imagine wearing for my wedding. It wasn’t out there.

Getting there!
Getting there!

So I made the dress I was dreaming of, and it turned out better than I may have deserved it to, considering how above my skill level the project was.

Techniques learned:

  • Wax-paper tracing
  • Thread-tracing seam lines
  • Adjusting a muslin
  • Creating my own pleats in a pattern piece (only half-successfully, but what the heck?)
  • Proper catch-stitching for the rolled hem
  • Thread-crocheted lingerie keepers.
Walking down to the ceremony with my sister/matron of honor
Walking down to the ceremony with my sister/matron of honor


MANY Minutes a Day Tiramisu–WIP

Tira Muslin Front

So, I utterly failed on sewing along with StephC‘s 30 Minutes A Day Tiramisu project! I got off to a decent start, muslining the bodice in some scraps, just enough to realize that I would certainly have to adjust the underbust seam, but not thoroughly enough (it turns out) to realize that I probably need to cut the next one a size smaller with an FBA. But that’s jumping ahead . . . .

I knew there would have to be adjustments, but little did I know how long it would be before I got to get into them!

Tira Cutting

First, I had to cut the pieces out of my fashion fabric, more of a challenge than expected. I had won fabric ALL the way from Australia, just the same as in StephC’s striped Tiramisu! She was kind enough to send me more than enough for the dress, and I was thrilled!

What I hadn’t reckoned with, however, were slightly wavy stripes. The printing seems to be slightly off-grain, or else my multiple pressings of the fabric never managed to make up for the wonkiness that was introduced in pre-washing, or . . . I just don’t know. But trying to get stripes to match up for double-layer cutting was in vain. After a a couple of hours of struggle, I finally resolved to cutting the pieces one layer at a time. I may just do this in the future for times when I want to match stripes, just as I do for pattern-matching.

Tira Bodice

That was all I could accomplish during the sewalong, and then things languished until I had a sick day midweek last week, and slowly got the bodice together (slow because I was pretty addled from a three-day headache, and had to rip some–gulp!–serged seams). So yesterday it was time to work on that underbust seam.

This is fitting #3 or so. I was a bit grumpy so I didn’t take pictures of each iteration. I do feel like I know what I need to do now, and will probably baste one or two more iterations today before moving on and (hopefully!) finishing this dress this evening! Or not. There’s always more to do in a weekend than I am able to get done.

Happy Sunday, all!

The Curse of the Big4 Pattern, Emphasis on BIG!

Good heavens, the sewing up of the blue knit top has been just awful! I’ve learned a lot in this process, and managed to keep something I could wear, even though I don’t think I like it very much. This is all quite disappointing, because I cut the pieces out so long ago, and bought the fabric as a part of a three piece outfit. I will try wearing it with the skirt and sash at some point, but, well, I just don’t know.

So, what happened? All was going well at first, and then came the neckline facing. Dun dun dun!!!

Dun dun dun!

I made a very rookie mistake, likely the result of taking over a month off of sewing. I had serged the bodice, but sewed the neckline facings on the regular machine. So when it was time to sew the facings to the bodice, yes, there was a discrepancy in the circumferences. Even worse I’d skimped on pinning, so I didn’t know how mismatched the two parts were until the end, when I’d sewn all the way around. And there you have it. There’s an irreconcilable wrinkle right front and center. I could have unpicked it, and I don’t really remember why I didn’t. This also didn’t occur to me when I started up again this weekend. Sigh.

That was last weekend, and my poor Lion and the little Ocelot had to deal with two machines on the kitchen table for a week until I could sew again today. For, you see, this is my sewing room:

Ironing and workspace

So when I got back to sewing this weekend, I was eager to get things done. I’ve had this top on my list for too long! I got to the machines.

Sewing Machines With Pineapple

I sewed the odd sleeve cuffs, which involved fudging a fix I won’t even get into, for it was so complex and they wound up in the trash anyhow. I sewed the rest of the bodice together, and tried it on. It looked a bit big, but I had hopes, based on the envelope photo, that with the shoulder pleats and all, things would work out OK.

But when I got things together, oh dear! I know I’m pear shaped, but jeez! The shoulders were too big, the sleeves covered my hands, but it was tight around my hips. Sigh.


I started in on surgery, figuring that in its current state, I would never wear the thing. And if I managed to get it in some kind of reasonable shape, but it still didn’t fit, I could at least donate it. What was there to lose? I pinned and marked and hemmed and hawed, then I cut. Slash! There went an inch off of each shoulder!

Oh noes!

Well, I think I’d been working on it for too long because after cutting down the sleeves, cutting into the shoulders and bringing up the side seams to adjust the armscyes . . . I sewed the first sleeve in inside out. I unpicked that (boy do I hate ripping serged seams!) and then on the second try matched the sleeve seam to the princess seam rather than the side seam. I decided, before any tears could ensue, that it was time for a run.

Four miles and a shower later, I set myself to the task again, while my dear Lion made us a delicious soup for dinner. We listened to a Joseph Campbell lecture while we worked, and after another hour and a half or so, things were better!


There were several mishaps even in that phase, including running out of the matching thread and having to switch to serger thread that didn’t quite match. In the end, I used Steam a Seam to hem the sleeves and bodice, and to tack down the neckline facing that for some reason wasn’t large enough to stitch down in the back.

Looking a bit better!

I may go back and get more matching thread, and I may also embroider the neckline to add interest and to help with the initial front-and-center neckline wrinkle issue. But in the end, I still don’t think I like this top enough to make it worth either effort. I’ll wash it to get the Steam a Seam stiffness out and see if I can get some use out of it. If not, at least it’s in an OK state for donating to charity.

All in all, a bit of a rescue was possible, and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned.

1. Remember to use a 5/8 seam allowance when serging seams, if I want the garment to fit as described on the envelope, and also if I’m matching to anything sewn on the regular machine.

2. Even though I can’t sew over them with the serger, and it takes time, and Gertie apparently doesn’t do it, I’m enough of a beginner yet that I need to pin things. Hear that, Tiger? YOU NEED TO PIN THINGS!

3. Using matching thread in the needle of the serger is a super cool way to make things matchy-matchy, but I will probably need more than I expect if there are any mistakes. The one spool I had would have made it through for this project, I’m pretty sure, but with . . . over 5 serged seams that needed ripping, that little thing had no chance.

4. Though I still feel confused about what to do if I try things on along the way and they don’t look right, I must do it. As I’ve mentioned, the next thing I make will get the full muslin treatment, because this Tiger MUST start conquering her fears of fitting, but even if I don’t make a muslin, there are things I can do to save a pattern that doesn’t do what it says it will, so I should go ahead and try things on as I go.

5. It seems like there should be a number five. What is it? Well, honestly, I went for a four mile run in the middle of this project yesterday, and made it to the gym this morning, and I think the pics of me with those hips and belly had a little bit to do with it. So lesson #5 can be: Tiger, you really do feel and look better when you get out and prowl the jungle on the a regular basis.

Thanks for coming along on the journey of my fiasco, and partial fix!