Sleeves For Me – Rhapsody Blouse

My first make of 2021! I sewed the Rhapsody Blouse by Love Notions and chose the bias tie neckline and the bishop sleeve with an elasticized cuff.

I like the forward gathered shoulders and the close fit of the armhole.

I bought the fabric in two pieces totaling $2.50 several years ago at my little neighborhood thrift store run by a community church, and the pattern on sale for $5, so this is a thrifty make. Later, I found several holes in the fabric and hoped I had enough to work around. It is a lightweight, slippery fabric, and a perfect match for this pattern. It’s probably polyester, which I tend to avoid, but I love the print. I printed out a size medium, and I used the full bust piece. The comparison with the full bust piece on bottom and the regular piece on top:

The blouse is sewn with french seams. I used the serger to finish the armhole seams for a neat finish. I applied the bias tape binding differently than the instructions, first sewing it to the wrong side and then sewing it to the right side. Making and sewing the bias tape was the hardest part of working with this shifty fabric. I used starch to stabilize the fabric but I still had a few bad spots, but they aren’t too visible. I usually use bias tape as a facing, but this is exposed which is harder to sew. The size medium is a very good fit for me with just the right amount of ease. I only adjusted the body length and sleeve length for my short proportions.

I think it’s a lovely blouse. Peasant or bohemian blouses with dramatic sleeves have been the sewing rage for a few years, and I didn’t have anything like this in my wardrobe. I would like to made the pattern again in a floaty cotton, but change it up.

I wore it with another pair of Mountain View Pull-on Jeans by Itch to Stitch that I finished in December. I used the same stretch denim from Cali fabrics as I used last year, but this time I added more details including rivets, and topstitched back seams and pockets. It’s important to use a fabric with enough stretch for this pattern to be able to pull them over your hips. I wear the previous pair constantly at home and needed a backup.

I’m glad to check the Rhapsody pattern off my list and to have this blouse in my closet.

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2021 Make Nine

How did I do on last year’s Make Nine challenge?

I made 5. Not bad, because I sewed many other things.

For this year, I thought in more general terms. I’d like to sew 3 pairs of pants, 2 tees, 1 tank, 1 blouse, and a dress. I also want to make a second make of many of the patterns I have recently sewn.

But then I did come up with an official Make Nine.

1) Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts. I made view B of these shorts last year, but I intend to lengthen view C into pants with a zipper fly and add a partial elastic waistband.

2) New Look 6515. Wide leg pants with a partial elastic waist.

3) Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull-on Pants. Again. This time in stretch twill.

4) Rhapsody Blouse by Love Notions. I started to put the pattern together in December, so this will be my first make of the year.

5) Phoenix Blouse by Hey June Handmade. This was on my list last year but wasn’t made.

6) McCalls 7331- the cardigan. This is a Nancy Zeiman pattern. I’ve never sewn a cardigan, but frequently wear a ready-to-wear cardigan with a business logo. I also have another McCalls cardigan pattern, 6802. One thing I notice about all of the cardigan patterns I’m aware of is they don’t have any closure and I would prefer a few buttons.

7) Classic Tee by Love Notions. My most basic clothes are the ones I wear the most.

8) Laundry Day Tee by Love Notions. I already made this as a tank.

9) Bardon Dress by Peppermint Magazine and Elbe Textiles. This is a tiered, gathered dress with pockets, and looks like it would be a great everyday, summer dress. It’s a free pattern.

My sewing goals:

To use more of my printed patterns, mostly McCalls, Simplicity, and New Look. I own a large number of them, and most of them have never been unfolded.

To adapt more patterns for my preferences. I especially want to alter pants’ waistbands to have a combination of zipper fly and elastic for comfort and weight variability.

To work on a quilt. I sewed 20 star blocks a few years ago and I have a new plan to alternate them with plain squares of various fabrics.

To do projects to reduce my hoarded items. I come across things when I’m reorganizing that I’ve kept for a reason that wouldn’t be apparent to the average person. For example, I saved an old ripped quilt with the idea of making pillows from the good part. It’s great to be thrifty and reuse fabrics, but there comes a time to use or get rid of things.

Oddly enough, I’ve also had the thought to sew less. I’m not sure what I mean by that. Maybe to do some other needle arts, or to do other things entirely. I don’t need very many clothes, and I like to wear a small number of favorites 75% of the time. Last year, I felt very motivated to sew and really needed more summer clothes. Another reason I mainly sew is using a machine is easier on my hands than handwork. I have problems with carpal tunnel and arthritis in some fingers. So I’ll keep sewing, but I want to remember to stop, take a breath, and look around.

I also want to continue to:

Use my serger more.

Use stash fabric, especially for tops.

Sew Saturday afternoons. I started staying home on the weekends due to the pandemic, and look forward to this time set aside.

2020 was a great year to be a sewist. With stay at home orders, and dressing rooms closed, making my own clothes (and masks!) was not only a useful skill but a satisfying creative pursuit.

Here’s to a creative and better 2021!

A Look Back at 2020

I sewed clothes! To be precise I sewed 17 clothing items: 5 pairs of pants, 3 shorts, 7 tops, 1 dress, and 1 skirt. This is 3 more than last year, despite being sick in the winter and then needing to change my sewing plans to sew masks. I think nearly everyone with a sewing machine sewed masks this year, especially early on when they weren’t available at the store. I not only sewed masks but I spent a lot of time looking up mask patterns and reading how to make masks that were more protective. Sewing to survive, literally.

I knitted quite a bit less this year due to hand problems, only completing 1 hat. I didn’t finish any other needlework, although I did start a cross stitch project toward the end of the year.

Of the bottoms I made I wore the navy ponte knit pants, the pull-on jeans, and the denim shorts the most – 1, 3, and 4 in the photos. The traditional zipper fly jeans I made were nicely sewn but the waist didn’t fit right so I never wore them. The last 2 pairs of pants were just finished in December so I don’t know their frequency of wear yet.

The tops I wore the most are the tee shirt and swing tank, 3 and 5. With tops I’m able to use more diverse fabric sources: a refashion from my own closet, a thrift store refashion, fabric from an estate sale, and a garage sale sarong.

Of this group I wore the masks the most.

Some of my stand out outfits:

I sewed 5 items from my Make Nine list from last year:

My other sewing goals were:

To buy and learn how to use a serger – I did this toward the end of the year. I haven’t used it very much as of yet.

To match stashed fabric with patterns, especially for tops – I did this well.

To buy fabric wisely, especially to buy more bottomweight fabric for pants – I did well with this, I also bought some knit fabric as I had none in stash.

Techniques I want to learn are sewing a collar and welt pockets – I only sewed a collar without a stand and no welt pockets yet, so this one did not happen.

Next signpost ahead: 2021

Vogue 9246 Top and Ponte Pants

The 5 pattern pieces in Vogue 9246 are intended for woven fabric, but I sewed the top in a knit.

I used the yoke to change the direction of the stripes, and add some interest. I cut a yoke piece from another boxy dolman sleeved pattern, the Maya, for comparison. They are quite different.

I also compared the shoulder to armhole depth, and found the Vogue pattern to be too deep for me. I used the XS yoke piece with the M body so the top wouldn’t be too big across my small shoulders. I decided to add pockets to break up the lines and to add another detail.

This is the first thing I sewed mostly on my new serger. I had a yard of this synthetic fabric that I didn’t love, so thought it would be good to experiment with. The colors look like black and white, but they’re actually light gold and black with a narrow glittery bright gold stripe.

I’m thinking of using this pattern again with a blue and white cotton seersucker.

I also made a pair of black ponte pants just like the navy pair I made in January. Ponte is a thick double knit – I used one that’s rayon based instead of polyester. This a great basic winter pant, and will go with so many of my tops. Again I used the Patterns for Pirates Mama Bear Joggers with the waistband of the Itch to Stitch Mountain View pull on Jeans, and altered the pattern to have slimmer legs and a higher rise. The navy pair were my favorite thing to wear last winter.

I also made them mostly on the serger. I forgot to change the differential feed setting for knits, but still got good results. The seams are thick in areas of several layers, and I found it hard to get them to lie flat.

the wrong side

The end of the year is fast approaching and I wanted to make one more outfit, including the Rhapsody blouse, but it can wait.

I might just relax and recharge the last week of the year instead.

2020 has been a memorable year, a year of a worldwide pandemic leading to stay at home orders, shortages of household goods including toilet paper, closing of schools, mask wearing, financial hardships, and the loss of over 300,000 lives in the U.S. and over a million and a half worldwide. In the U.S. it has also been the year of an election that just won’t end, with a President feverishly working to tear down our democracy and overturn the people’s votes.

Those of us who are healthy, with adequate food and housing, are fortunate. Those of us who create, craft, knit, or sew are blessed with an additional way to cope with life’s ups and downs, and make things of practical use and beauty.

Let’s hope for a better 2021 for all of us!

Starting Out With a Serger

I started my sewing journey with a sewing machine I bought in 2010 for the very modest sum of $80. I started off slowly, but now I sew nearly all my clothes, although I still wear old ready-to-wear clothes. It is rewarding and feels amazing to have reached the point in my sewing where my favorite clothes are handmade.

I had mixed thoughts about whether I really needed a serger or overlocker. I had put learning to serge on my list of sewing goals for the year and hoped it would elevate my sewing, so I hit the order button.

The Brother 1034D is a popular and affordable option.

My first attempts at serging were with the 4 different colors the machine came threaded with:

I used the overlock type stitch on my sewing machine for pockets and some seams, but I often didn’t finish the waistbands because of impatience.

I read that sergers are noisy and hard to thread, but neither has been a problem for me. I was able to thread it from scratch fairly easily, but I did need good lighting and a magnifying glass.

I also serged my cross stitch fabric.

Since I sew on a oval table meant for eating and not at a sewing table, I had to find a comfortable set-up. I use an extension cord for the serger and then put it back on a book shelf when not in use. I also had to change my sewing habits of many years. Once I got over this initial awkwardness, I started to incorporate the serger into my sewing, and appreciate the quicker and neater finish on my seams.

I bought a book to learn more about what a serger can do and how to do it.

Next up: sewing knits – black ponte and a striped knit with a sparkly lurex.

Do I Need This Pattern?

This summer I tried to buy a pattern on sale on the Simplicity website, but it was no longer available.

I liked this pattern because it reminded me of the Rae pants from the book “Breaking the Pattern”. But the book is expensive and I find patterns hard to use from books, so I end up not making anything from them.

I like the partial elastic waist and I like the front slit, although I would probably make the conventional closed leg first as it’s more practical.

I bought the Simplicity pattern on EBay instead. I had a lot of fun with the bidding process when I joined EBay back in 2001, especially loving the excitement of last minute steals and the thrill of getting a bargain. Now bidders identities are hidden, and you can no longer check out their buying history. I know Etsy is also popular for patterns and fabric, but from habit I’m more likely to check EBay first. When I go shopping on the site, I usually find what I’m looking for and always find other things I like as well.

I ended up buying 3 more patterns.

The drawings looked so cute! Simplicity 2414 has drawstrings but no elastic for closure.

I already had Love Notions Allegro pattern.

So did I need more elastic waist or drawstring pants patterns?

Another example is the Hey June Handmade Willamette shirt, a cut-on sleeve, collared shirt with a back yoke which I own.

The Love Notions Melody pattern is another cut-on sleeve shirt, but without a back yoke. I saw it on sale for $5 for a pdf pattern.

The Closet Core patterns Kalle shirt is a very popular shirt with the same cut-on sleeve, although it does have several options that set it apart, including a curved faced hem. This pattern is also much more expensive at $16 for a pdf pattern.

But do I need another similar shirt pattern? In this case, no.

Besides the two pants patterns I also bought two top patterns on EBay.

New Look 6284 was selling at a low price, so I put in a bid. I lost it, but then that made me want it even more. I love the square neckline, and it looks ideal for hot weather without being too bare.

I also bought Simplicity 4122.

I liked the gathers instead of darts, and the curved yoke.

The point is I have enough patterns that I see many patterns that are similar to patterns I already own. I need to use and adapt more of the patterns I have instead of buying more. But I can’t resist the excitement and possibilities of a new pattern if I can get it at a good price.

Printed patterns are such perfect little packages in their envelopes, uncut, factory folded. I have so many, but often use a pdf pattern instead. I’m still trying to get over my fear of unfolding the tissue paper and then not being able to get it back in the envelope. This is especially a problem when there are several sheets of tissue paper. Well, I’ll just have to accept once I unfold the pattern sheets the perfect, flat pretty package won’t be the same, but I’ll be using the pattern for its intended purpose.

So, yes, I sometimes buy more patterns than I need just because I want them and they are on sale.


I just reached my 8 year anniversary blogging with WordPress. com. It was so easy starting the free blog, and I’ve never had any technical problems, or needed to have special knowledge. Then I logged on earlier this month and got an unwelcome change. WordPress changed the classic editor to a block editor, and I thought my blogging days were over. I couldn’t write a post and got the error messages “sorry, you’re not allowed to edit this post” and “this page not found” when I tried to preview a post. I troubleshooted, and here I am. I’m adapting, and I’m glad I can continue on with WordPress.

More Summer Sewing

I sewed a third pair of shorts, and a simple skirt.

The shorts are made with gray knit fabric, a cotton jersey.

I used the Patterns for Pirates Mama Bear  Joggers, modified with a higher rise and slimmed down hips and thighs, with the waistband from the Itch to Stitch Mountain View jeans, the same combination I used for my navy ponte pants in January.   It is a double waistband with the elastic stretched and sewn to the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch.  These shorts are so comfortable I could wear them to bed.

I topstitched a dense zigzag in a blue thread for a decorative look on the pockets and hems.

I had some of the tan cotton twill left over from my Angelia shorts, so decided to sew up the Love Notions Allegro Skirt.  This is the same pattern I used for my denim shorts.  It’s an a-line shape with an elastic waist.  I changed the pockets, but I made them too hard to get into.

My goal was to have a casual summer alternative to shorts. I don’t know if it’s the fabric or the pattern, but I don’t like the way it hangs on me.  I either need a fabric with more drape, a different color, or a different silhouette.  This make is a dud – I feel like I’m wearing a middle school uniform!

I achieved my goal for this summer with sewing 3 different pairs of shorts, 2 sleeveless tops, a dress, and a skirt.  The red top is an old Hanes tank and the yellow print top is a refashion from a few years ago.

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For future summer sewing, I could still use a casual dress with pockets and lightweight, loose cotton pants.

What’s next?  I don’t know, maybe I’ll take a breather and ponder the meaning of life, clean house, or take up a hobby. More likely I’ll reorganize my sewing stuff and keep on sewing!