Author Archives: Stitch It Again

Jersey Little Black Dress

I had some soft black cotton jersey left over from this top.

I followed through with my plan to make a very simple LBD, or little black dress, a style popularized by Coco Chanel in the 1920s.

From the article: Everything About Little Black Dresses – “A little black dress symbolizes effortless elegance, simplicity, and style. It is essential for every woman because it is iconic, versatile and timeless. Wear it as it is, or accessorize with shoes or jewelry”.

I need this wardrobe magic!

I knew I wanted a dress like a long tee shirt with short sleeves, a v-neck, and an optional sash. I used view A of New Look 6461 as the bones of my pattern, and also based the dress on a v-neck nightshirt I often wear, measuring to get the same amount of ease in the hips.

This came together very easily.  I used clear elastic on the wrong side in the seam allowance for the neckline, then folded it over, and stitched it down.  I had to piece together fabric for the long sash.  Due to a lack of fabric, I was afraid the front would be too short and applied a fabric facing.

I tried wearing it several different ways: with jewelry, scarves, belted and unbelted, flat and heeled sandals. I considered adding an elastic waist, but decided against it.  I wanted to keep the dress simple, and I didn’t want anything binding. I like the sash tied for waist definition, and it is supremely comfortable.

I’m feeling tres chic in my little black dress!



Stretch Woven Pull-on Jeans #2

I ordered gray cotton stretch twill to make another pair of Itch to Stitch Mountain View pull-on jeans.  The idea being that on my second go-round I would have the advantage of learning from my mistakes from the first pair.  My two main problems were cutting the fabric with the stretch up and down instead of across the body, and twisting legs.  Despite these mistakes I have worn the olive green pants lots, and the only thing that bothers me about them is that they slip down a bit. To fix that problem I am making the second pair with a higher rise, and with tighter elastic.

So how did I do this time around? Will this be mistakes part 2?

I cut the pant pieces very carefully, measuring to keep the grainlines straight, with the stretch in the right direction, and in a single layer.

I did this in an effort to eliminate twisting of the legs. I believe the twisting was caused by the back and front outer seams being different lengths causing me to twist the legs as I sewed them. But the extra steps couldn’t hurt.

I also referred to this pattern review post and especially the diagram about balanced pants.

I had to piece the pockets to cut all the pattern pieces from 2 yards of fabric, and topstitched a simple design that well with the seam. I used a lighter gray all-purpose thread for the topstitching.


Straight legs!

I like this pants pattern because instead of having a bunchy elastic waist they are smooth and flat, and hold my stomach in while being comfortable. I also enjoy the actual sewing of the pattern; the instructions are good and making them is just complex enough to be satisfying, and easy enough for me to sew well.

Fake fly but real pockets

And this time I decided to change the back waist to knit ribbing, and used the navy I had on hand.

Um, no.

This time I couldn’t pull up my pants!!

I learned the number one thing to know about working with stretch woven fabric: test the stretch percentage.

I ordered fabric with the same description from the same vendor as my olive green fabric, but while the olive has 30-40% stretch, the gray has only 10%. When I received the gray twill, I thought it felt different, but ignored the sewing “red flags”.  The pattern states the fabric needs to have between 20% and 30% stretch. I used the Megan Neilsen guide  for calculating the stretch.

After I added the waistband, the pants couldn’t get over my hips.  I thought about adding panels to the side waist, but then realized the length of the waistband has to stay roughly the same to sew onto the pants. The stretchy knit ribbing I used for the back waistband worked, to my relief. I don’t wear my shirts tucked in, so it doesn’t show. Luckily, the pants legs are slim but not skinny tight, so I can move in them, although they’re not as comfy as my stretchier pair.

I plan to make a shorts version for the summer, and a denim version eventually.

For me, there is a lot of problem solving in sewing.  I’m able to get through projects faster now that I’m better at figuring out solutions. Do you find that you are always having to solve problems in your sewing or in your craft ?


Day To Night Drape Top

After sewing several simple tops from repurposed extra large tee shirts, I was more than ready to buy a yard of new knit fabric to make my next top. I found a gorgeous coral feather print; a cotton knit with a little spandex.

My plan was to make the Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top which is a pdf pattern from my make nine list for this year.

My bust put me at a size XL, while my waist and hips were within the L size.  I opted to cut the XL. The pattern has a choice of sIeeve lengths.  I cut short sleeves, but added 2 to 3 inches to the length.

When I read the instructions I noticed that a rayon knit was recommended, and I was working with a less drapey cotton knit.  Trouble ahead? The soft folds of the neckline is dependent on a fabric that is light and fluid.  The elongated top of the bodice folds to the inside to form a lining for the draped cowl.

The  back neck uses clear elastic as the facing. The elastic is enclosed by the fabric. I liked this finish, and think it’s a little dressier than a banded tee shirt.  I will use this technique again.

After sewing the seams, I wasn’t comfortable with the neckline, as it was a little too low. I didn’t want to end up with a top that wouldn’t get worn. I googled for solutions, and found this “cowl raising” post from 2013 by Samina of Sew Everything blog.  I had even commented on the post at the time, but time passes and memory fades.  It was too late to change the pattern piece so I needed to improvise and figure out a quick fix.  I  unpicked the seams and cut 1/2 inch from the edge of the cowl on each side.  It worked really well.

The sleeves were a breeze to do, as they were sewn in flat.  I sewed the cowl lining into the sleeve seams.

To finish, I needed to hem the bottom and sleeves. I’d already broken all my double needles, and I had been unsatisfied with the amount of raised tunneling that had resulted, so that method was out.

I liked the way 60 Something Teacher had finished her Nora top with topstitching, so I followed suit. I did two lines of topstitching with a narrow zigzag, and I like the result.  It was quick, easy, and lies flat.

The top is quite form fitting for an XL. It fits me more like a medium in ready-to-wear. One big difference between sewing patterns from independent companies and patterns from the Big 4 is sizing.  If I chose a size based on my measurements from McCalls or Simplicity, the item of clothing would be too big. With whatever pattern I’m using I measure the pattern piece if I can’t find finished garment measurements.

Thank you, sewing friends and bloggers for sharing your knowledge and experience!  And thank you, dear readers and friends for following my sewing and making adventures!

Knitting: The Second Round

A cold, rainy winter provided all the inspiration I needed to get out my knitting needles.

I stopped knitting for awhile after I had problems with my hands and was diagnosed with carpel tunnel syndrome in January 2011.  Gradually, I began knitting again but only garter stitch strips.  I was concentrating on learning to sew, and my creative energies were elsewhere.  Maybe I didn’t want to be too interested in something I was trying to avoid doing.

Now I want to add knitting back into the mix. I am inspired anew, and thinking about what I would like to make.

To start the year, I knitted a cowl completing  #6 on my “Make Nine List” to hand knit an accessory.

It was knit in garter stitch in navy, gray, and off white with random stripes and then seamed to form the join.

When I was cleaning out a closet I found a foot of a scarf with the needles removed and the stitches saved intact on a length of waste yarn.  I estimate I started it about 10 years ago! I was able to find the pattern, the Dayflower Lace Scarf, put it back on the needles and count to find the row I should start on.  I finished this scarf too.

I wrote out the lace pattern on an index card, and then used a paper clip to keep track of the row I was working on.

I have three reasons for wanting to continue to knit.

The process of knitting itself:

I want the soothing rhythm of creating with just my circular needles, to experience the yarn, watch the fabric I’m making, and to play with colors and patterns.  Some of the techniques I haven’t done that interest me are gradient color changes, an Icelandic circular yoke with a color design, and double knitting.

To use my stash:

Knitting can be a bit expensive as compared to sewing. Nice yarn can cost between $50 and $120 for a sweater’s worth.  I already have yarn for at least 4 sweaters, so I would be knitting for “free”.

To have some sweaters and accessories to wear:

hand knitted socks and dog sweater worn this winter

After enjoying the process of knitting, I’ll have some pretty and unique things to put on when the weather turns cold.


The following is my account of my experience with carpal tunnel syndrome:

I used to be a daily knitter. My hand symptoms started when I had trouble turning off my alarm clock in the mornings because my hands had gone numb.  Then my numb hands would cause me to wake up at night.  When these symptoms progressed to the point that I was waking up several times a night, and the numbness was also continuing into the daytime I became concerned and went to the doctor.

I was given these gloves to wear.

I removed the metal insert from one glove to show the curved shape. The metal keeps the wrist from bending and provides support. I wore them every night and stopped knitting.  My hands would still go numb when I held the phone for too long or when holding other objects.  Now, for the most part, I only wear the right glove occasionally, usually in the winter, and vary my hand activities.  I also use a computer mouse with my right hand, but I don’t spend nearly as much time on a desktop computer as I did between the years 2000 – 2010. My keyboard and mouse usage could have contributed to my carpal tunnel symptoms. I used to also have forearm pain after many hours of mouse clicking. Remember the ball inside the mouse? My left hand does everything else, and two of my joints have signs of arthritis from wear and tear.

Knitting and other hand crafts can contribute to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, arthritis, and repetitive stress injuries. My advice is if you experience pain or numbness, don’t ignore your symptoms.  Slow down, consult a doctor, and make modifications as needed.

Have you experienced hand, wrist, or arm pain or injuries from crafting? Did you make changes as a result?


Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull on Jeans

The subtitle for this post is :  Mistakes in Sewing a Stretch Woven Fabric.

I finished an item from my “Make Nine List”, the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull on Jeans. They are elastic waist stretch pants with real front pockets, a fake fly, a seam down the center back leg, jeans topstitching, and a wide waistband.

This was my first time sewing with a woven cotton fabric with a small amount of spandex giving a two way stretch to the fabric.

My first change to the pattern was to take 5 to 7 inches off the length of the legs.  Yes, I’m short! There are 2 different lengthen and shorten lines, and I removed length from both places.  The other change I made to the pattern was to add 1 and 1/2 inches to the length of the rise of the back pieces.

Because this fabric is wider than non-stretch wovens, I got confused about which sides were the selvedges, and folded the fabric the wrong way and cut out my pieces on the crosswise grain instead of the lengthwise.  This means I cut the pieces with the stretch going up and down instead of horizontally around the body.  Oops!

With three yards to work with, I was able to recut the fronts and the waistband.  I didn’t have enough fabric to recut the 4 back pieces (the legs have a seam down the back).  I was worried about the pants fitting, as they are designed with negative ease at the hip.  The size 8 are designed for a hip measurement of 40 inches with a finished garment measurement of 36 and 7/8 inches.  Although my measurements put me at a size 8, I made a size roughly between a 8 and a 10, to give myself a little wiggle room.

The instructions for the front pockets were good and they went in easily.

I should have sewed the 2 backs together with a triple stretch stitch or a slight zigzag to compensate for the lengthwise stretch, but I sewed them with a regular straight stitch, which makes the stitches more prone to pop. I had trouble with rippling seams, although a good pressing took care of that problem.

After I sewed the inseams, I noticed the legs were skewed with the inseam twisting to the front.

I had a long session with Google researching about the reasons for this problem, and pondered what to do.

The most obvious possible reason is the pant pieces were cut off grain, but it’s not always as simple as that.  I also read about the weave of the fabric, the direction the legs should be cut, and that the inseams should be eased between the knee and crotch.  I sewed down the leg and the pant bottoms didn’t match up.  I also had a mix of crosswise and lengthwise grains.

There is no easy fix.  I wanted to get on with my sewing, so I opened the inseam from bottom up several inches and resewed with 1/2 inch overlap of the back pants on the seam, removing some back width.  I think it helped a little bit, and it’s not too noticeable as the seam isn’t topstitched. The inseam is at my ankle bone.  I read about instances of ready to wear skinny jeans with the inseam twisting to the center front, so mine aren’t as bad.  I hope I can do better the next time.

The elastic is zigzagged stitched down in the seam allowance.  The pattern calls for 1/2 inch elastic, but I only had 1/4 inch and 3/4 inch. I didn’t want to rip the stretch triple sewn waistband seam to sew a deeper seam, so I went with the 1/4 inch.  Next time I will use a wider elastic for more stability and strength to prevent the pants slipping down.

Topstitching with a contrasting thread is what makes the pants look like jeans, but I didn’t use a lighter thread color until I worked on the back pockets.  Next time, I will take the time to change the thread, because visible topstitching will improve the look of the fly and front pocket area.

I read a tutorial on the blog Diana’s Sewing Lessons: Designing a Jeans Back Pocket.    Topstitching thread is thicker than all purpose thread. I followed her tips and used 2 standard threads together and a longer stitch length.

I found a back pants design I liked, made my own template to fit the pocket size, traced the design on tissue paper, and sewed over the tissue.

The finished pocket:

Although the pockets could be left plain, I enjoyed the process of finding a design and topstitching them.  I had some trouble with my stitches being loose when I ripped off the tissue paper.  I had better results when I carefully removed the paper using tweezers.  I also learned I need to turn up the tension on the machine  to combat this problem.

I don’t like the back view and had a problem with the yoke piece bunching up and bagging out. Ugh! In the future, I will make the waistband narrower and the tops of the pants higher because I don’t like where the horizontal seam hits me. I have excess fabric in the back thigh that could have been reduced if I had basted all the seams first, taken the pants apart, and altered the pieces.

The bottom line is the pants are done, and I’m wearing them.

Whew! A long post with tedious details doesn’t make for good reading, but I wanted to document all the mistakes and things I learned while sewing these pants.


I’m adding links about preventing inseam twist for your reference and my future reference:

Closet Case Patterns – Cutting and Prepping

Sweet Shop Sewing – Leg Twist

Fashion Incubator Leg Twist

Pattern Review Forum – Leg Twist


A Look Back and Make Nine 2019

First a look back at 2018:

I completed 5 items from my 2018 Make Nine List: summer pants, raglan tee, embroidered kitchen towels, refashion from stash (3 refashions), and Christmas sewing.

Embroidered blouse, crochet yoke tee, basket quilt with (previously) embroidered center, and collared button shirt were not finished (or started).  Will anything carry over?  Let’s see.

The Make Nine Challenge was started by Lucky Lucille, and the photo collages are popular on Instagram.

Last year my make nine was just nine hand written notes. This year I am being less vague, and I’m showing either the pattern or fabric I will be using.

2019 Make Nine

  1. Embroidered Blouse – Using the Folkwear pattern “Old Mexico Dress”, the yoke will be hand embroidered.
  2. Crochet yoke tee – with the pictured crochet thread.
  3. Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull on Jeans –  for comfort and because they have real pockets.  I was planning on using a stretch denim I already had but didn’t have enough fabric.
  4. Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape Top –  I don’t have the fabric yet.
  5. Autumn Twilight Cross Stitch Picture – I have never stitched a full size picture for framing before and I like this flying geese scene.  This is a kit with 16 count aida.  It will be challenging, but it’s doable.
  6. Hand knit accessory –   a scarf knitted with the pictured navy and gray yarn.
  7. Stretch Denim Shorts – this is the fabric I wanted to make the pants with.  I might use the same pattern for the shorts.
  8. Knit Fabric Dress – I could use a basic dress, and notice I have never liked wearing traditional dresses with zippers.  I’m not sure if I will use a pattern, or just make an elongated tee.
  9. Spring Jacket – McCalls 7333 –  I am planning to use a linen blend fabric I already have.

The list contains a variety of most everything I know how to do: sewing, freehand embroidery, cross stitch, knitting, and crochet.  So much creativity – at least in my mind and on paper, ha!

I have actually started 3 of these projects already!  I love making lists, do you?

Finishing up the last day of 2018

It’s the last day of the year!  Anything I didn’t get done will just have to wait.

I finished the year with some Christmas crafting.  I am using some of the Christmas fabric I got for free from the closing of my neighborhood thrift store a few years back.

I made a wall hanging from this Santa panel.  I got the idea to add fiberfill as I machine quilted, to pad out parts of Santa’s body.

That turned out to be not the best idea because the quilt wouldn’t hang straight.  The bells at the bottom were not enough to weigh it down.  I should probably put in a bottom sleeve with a dowel, that might just do the trick.  Maybe next year.

I used two different fabrics for the binding. So pretty!

I ended up using a hanger with clips to display the wall quilt.

I may have messed up on a simple project, but, hey, it’s still Santa, and seven dalmatian puppies!  Can you spot them all?

I also went old school, and made some decorations with just paper and scissors.  Snowflakes! The fun part is unfolding them. I ironed the snowflakes, and put some on a string for display.

Wishing you many happy hours making, creating, and crafting in the New Year, 2019!