Thursday, December 26, 2013

2014 Sewlutions

I've thought a lot about my sewing resolutions for 2014. I've been sewing for almost two years and have come to some important conclusions that I think will really improve my sewing in 2014.

Improve Sewing Skills
I just bought Underneath it All: Guide to Interfacings, Linings & Facings40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know and Sewing with Silks from Craftsy. As it turns out, all of the nitpicky techniques that sewists like to rush through are actually really important. I've learned a great deal with these classes and they're all 50% off right now. I also learned that I am a visual learner - things that I've only read about make so much more sense now that I'm seeing it through the classes. 

Always Make a Muslin
Grr. I really hate making muslins. I realize they are very important, and I know I should do them, but I just hate them. But, they are a necessary evil that prevent a wasted garment. I think Christine's post really sums up the importance of muslins. I won't repeat everything she said, but I've decided it's crucial to muslin new patterns so that I can then make them repeatedly more easily.

Buy Fabric When Needed
It is no shock that sewists have extensive stashes. I am making my cousin a Chardon skirt and we're trying to pick out a wool boucle. We found two swatches, and she likes them both. Thus is the plight of a sewist. We see a beautiful fabric that we love and we have to have it. We haven't even considered whether or not it's climate appropriate or whether we have a pattern suitable for it. I've committed to sewing through my current stash and what I'm finding is that I have many things I bought with no plans. Now I have to somehow match them to a current pattern and hope it works out. I've decided that in 2014 I'll buy fabric only when I have a specific project in mind. This will be hard, but I'm hoping it will save me money as well as time trying to match up things later. 

Take Your Time
Man I love a quick project. I've made 10 Laurels from Colette Patterns. They take 2 hours and 1 1/2 yards of 60" fabric. But occasionally you want to really tackle a more complex project, like a coat or blazer. I really want to take the time it takes to finish a very special project like a blazer, coat or even a lined dress. It requires patience to try new techniques as well as time to muslin and make proper adjustments. 

Be Realistic about Climate and Lifestyle
I live in Coastal Georgia, right near St. Simons Island in Brunswick. It's nearly 80 degrees as I type this. I work part-time as a tutor and am very involved in our church and local volunteerism. I have no need for a winter coat despite my strong desire to sew one this year. This also means I probably have little need for heavy wool fabric, despite finding several I'd love to have. Simple dress styles work best for our hot and humid summers and I wear jeans in the fall with sweaters. So, I'm going to try my best in 2014 to do some serious editing when it comes to which fabrics I'll actually be able to wear.

Sew What You Love
I made a list last night of my favorite patterns and I'm committed to sewing these in 2014. Many of them I've made multiple times and I love them. There are always new patterns coming out and sewists never lack options of what to sew. I feel like it's taken 2 years to fully grasp which styles I like wearing and what colors flatter me. Knowing what works and what doesn't is so important when you sew - otherwise you're just overwhelmed with options all the time. 

Sew with More Silk
I don't have any handmade silk garments. I've recently ordered swatches from Mood Fabrics, NY Fashion Center and Fantastic Fabrics, mostly of 4-ply silk crepe. Silk fabric is expensive. I've concluded that 4-ply is the way to go. The lighter varieties with require linings and if you tally the cost of the yardage plus the lining, the cost almost equals a yard of 4-ply silk crepe. Since silk is so expensive, I'm spending time swatching and narrowing down my color choices (there are SO MANY!) plus taking the Sewing with Silks class by Craftsy which is really helpful. Even though linen and cotton are more practical where I live, I really want some "everyday luxury" items. I'll let you know how my silk projects progress!

Focus on Fit
I read a lot of sewing blogs. I really admire a lot of bloggers for their technique, style and abilities. Others, though, post poorly fitted garments over and over again and never seem to realize how bad their garments look. I really want my handmade items to look better than anything I can buy RTW. This requires a lot of the aforementioned goals, but it also revolves around proper fit. And this requires muslins! Oh I love how everything is interconnected. 

RTW Fast
I've signed up for Sarah's RTW Fast Challenge for 2014. This means I cannot purchase any clothing other than shoes, underwear and socks. Eeek! This makes me nervous but this will be an interesting challenge. I don't shop too often anyway, but this will be a fun challenge!

I think that's all! It's exciting to write these all down and then have them on the blog to keep me accountable in 2014! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

FINISHED: Deer&Doe Chardon Skirt

For those of us with a bit of tummy, it's extremely hard to find skirts that are flattering. In the past year I've made the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt as well as Tilly's Miette skirt. There's just something about both of these styles that does NOT work for my shape, and I think it has to do with the fact that the fabric is flat immediately off the waistband. The Chardon, though, is extremely flattering! The pleats lie flat just long enough to smooth out a bit of a belly ponch and then open and flare out - super cute!

I've had this purple/grey/black plaid wool in my stash for over a year. I read this post from Sunni's blog and it really impacted how I think about my favorite fabrics. They sit and sit waiting for the *perfect* project. I hated the thought of never enjoying my most prized fabrics that I decided this fall to go ahead and start sewing them. 

This is the Chardon skirt from Deer&Doe, a lovely French pattern company. I omitted the bottom band, overlocked the bottom and turned under 1/2" for the hem. The length is around 18 1/2" from the waist. I have to admit this fabric is a tad thick for this pattern, and I probably should have used a thinner fabric for the waist facing. Oh well. 

I am so pleased with my plaid matching - which by the way isn't that difficult. There are so many things that I think scare sewists (plaid matching, bound buttonholes, linings, etc) but once you actually do them you realize they're no big deal. 

I made the largest size and added 1/8" to each side seam to equal my 34" waist. I really like the length and it looks super cute with tights and flats - I promise to get photos with it on!

Speaking of Sunni, you totally need to take her free mini-class on Craftsy. I watched this over the summer and my zippers have improved 300%. I especially like how she reinforces the seam allowances before inserting the zipper. They look so clean and professional now. 

A Few Stats:
Pattern: Deer&Doe Chardon
Fabric: 1.5 yds of 60" wool plaid
Time: under 2 hours
Adjustments: added 1/8" to each seam allowance; left off bottom contrast band; overlocked and turned for hem; slot seam zipper.

Overall, this is a perfect pattern for a beginner. It takes very little fabric, very little time to fit (simply measure and go), and is sewn up quickly. There area also options for variation and colorblocking. I bought my copy from Grey's Fabric in Boston, MA. I simply emailed Sarah and paid over the phone. I'm not sure it was cheaper, but I got them faster. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Kajero is the winner of a roll of tracing paper! Please send me your address via message and I'll get it in the mail!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

FINISHED: Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

I never wore culottes as a child, at least that I can remember, and frankly I worried that these weren't exactly "adult" enough. The peer pressure finally got to me after seeing so many wonderful makes of this pattern so I finally broke down and bought the PDF pattern from Megan's website. Compared to the printed version, $12 is really a steal considering there aren't too many pages to paste together. 

It took maybe 30 minutes to assemble the pattern and only two hours of so from cutting to hem to complete these. I used a plaid wool flannel from Denver Fabrics, a 7" regular zip due to the weight of the fabric, and Gutermann thread. Every blog I've read about these recommends that you let them hang overnight so I did. I didn't really notice any stretch on the curves and hemmed them with Megan's method of folding under twice. My one goof, though, is that I used grey thread for the construction and then forgot when I went to hem them, so the hem is black. Oh well. 

Of course none of that matters because look at that plaid matching! I'll openly admit that the other side doesn't look so great, but I'm still quite pleased with this side! I'll also admit that I was trying to finish these in time for our Thanksgiving trip to Knoxville, TN - which is why my waistband top stitching looks like crap. I'm convinced that sewing is 75% focus, 25% skill. 

I had a heck of a time keeping the front and back of the main pieces as well as the waistband straight. I'm going to blame my plaid fabric and NOT the fact that I was rushing to finish these. So, to remind myself, I included a little purple thread tack so I know which side is the back. All seams inside are serged. 

Overall, I really like this pattern. I made the straight size XL and these fit perfectly. I did go back after I made these and added 1 1/2" to the length. I have to say that these are really short. I didn't seem to mind since they are really shorts and I have no chance of indecently sharing myself with others, but still. The added length, I think, will help.

I promise to add some photos with these on. Just need to convince my hubby to take photos for me!

Have you made Tania before? What did you think?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things + GIVEAWAY!

When I started sewing almost two years ago, I was inundated with information. I found Vogue Sewing at a local bookstore and it was extremely overwhelming. I had no clue which tools I absolutely needed vs. which tools were just nice to have. I had no clue which thread to buy or which needles. So, for my first official post, I've put together a short list of my favorite sewing implements. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I've found that these are the most basic items that any beginner should have before they start their first project. 

Necessary Small Tools
From top to bottom: seam ripper, snips, Dritz seam gauge, soft thimble, hand sewing needles.
I like to call these the necessary small tools - seam ripper, small snips, a seam gauge, thimble and hand sewing needles. I have two seam rippers, one next to my machine and the other near the ironing board. I should really have multiple pairs of the snips - one day!

Pins & Pincushions
Clockwise from top: pearl head pins in a pin cushion, stainless steel pins in magnetic pin holder, fine silk pins, wrist pin cushion, fine glasshead pins in magnetic pin holder.
I love all of my pins, even though I don't use all of them! I'll admit the purple pin cushion is really just for decoration, but they're so pretty! I mainly go between the stainless steel, which are nice and colorful, and the glasshead which I can iron over.

Scissors, Shears & Rotary Cutters
From left to right: paper scissors, Mundial 8" Dressmaking shears, Fiskars pinking shears, Fiskars rotary cutter 45mm, Gingher 8" Dressmaking shears.
I just recently bought the Mundials as a back-up to my Ginghers when I eventually send them off to be sharpened. I have to admit though they don't come close to the Ginghers. I love my rotary cutter - and I've only had a few minor incidents. Amazon has a great deal on a 5-pack of blades for 45mm by the way.


I started off buying thread from JoAnn (the small spools) but then I found out you can purchase spools of Gutermann MARA 100 from Wawak (top few rows). Each spool has 1,094 yards and lasts a lifetime. Plus it's available in 400 colors! All of these colors make me happy! The MARA 100 is 25% off through December!

Pressing Tools
Clockwise: sleeve board, cotton pressing cloth, point turner, seam roll, pressing ham.

It's taken a full two years for me to appreciate and come to value proper pressing and the tools that help you accomplish this. I just recently bought the sleeve board (which is extremely useful) and the point turner, which really makes all the difference when creating collars and waistbands.

Marking Tools
From left to right: Allary Chalk Cartridge set, chalk sharpener with white chalk, Clover Chacopel fine pencils, Dritz tracing paper.
I love all of these marking tools, but use the Chacopel pencils and the tracing paper the most. I usually lay out my pattern pieces right sides up, then trace darts etc. onto the wrong side with the paper sandwiched in between. All of these can be purchased through 

Medical Paper for Tracing

I went through a terrible phase of cutting my new patterns and subsequently ruining them every time. Now I trace most patterns, although skirts I'll go ahead and cut out - I don't think my waist will change that much! I found this on Amazon for about $25 I think.

Now for the GIVEAWAY! 
I have so many rolls of tracing paper, so I'm giving some away! To enter:
1. Subscribe to my blog!
2. Leave a comment below!

I will randomly choose three readers to win a roll of tracing paper! Giveaway is open to all readers! Giveaway closes Tuesday, December 10, 2013 @ 12:00 am EST.

Just a note: I was not compensated by Wawak, I just really love their notions and find them to have the best prices on most things. Request a catalog and see for yourself!

What are your favorite sewing tools?

Sunday, December 1, 2013


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Welcome to A Modern Seamstress!

I am so thrilled to finally commit to a sewing blog. I started sewing in January 2012 and have completely fallen in love with the art of sewing garments. I feel like my skills are finally honed enough to show off my finished garments, and I think I've gotten less concerned about showcasing photos online! This will be where I log my finished projects as well as track my progress. Enjoy!