Category Archives: Sewing

Polka Dot Burlap & Hand Dyed!

Guess what I’m working on????  The elements are a great pattern, Teal Polka Dot burlap and some fabulous fabric hand dyed from my own hands and aged to proper vintage stature!

The hand dyed first— so gorgeous!

The rest of the elements look like this:

There’s covered piping, a whole lotta Timtex and some heavy machine needles—- toss in a monogram and what do you have? I bet the Timtex gave it away!

I can’t wait to share it with you!!! :)

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Another Devon: Trend Black & White Continues

With a new pair of white capris it was time to make a great black and white top. The black and white trend continues for spring and it’s always a classic.

LOVE! I added 2 inches to the length for a long lean look and instead of the ‘traditional’ drawstring neckline this version of the Devon has the ‘mock’ drawstring, aka- elastic.  I left the v-notch open and stitched the elastic back into the channel after trying it on for the best  look.

I’ll forever call this my Gone With The Wind Tunic— not because it was sewn in the South, or because it’s twirly, but because the fabric was from a couple of CURTAIN PANELS I made a few years ago for the studio. After a wash and a press, there was no reason not to be Gone With The Wind Fabulous! :)

Over the weekend I finished a sweet tunic for youknowwho, from the pattern that had been altered for batwing arms. I’ll bring you deets later!

Have an amazing Monday and a great week ahead!

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Sewing: Vintage Baby Jacket & Vintage Baby Patterns

Sweet- Sweet- Sweet!  The cutest little baby jacket ever! Sewn with cream colored Doctor’s Flannel, a light weight wool blanketing that has the hand of traditional flannel but looks ‘firmer and flatter’. Because it’s wool and normally 62″ wide it is a bit more difficult to source and definitely more expensive than ‘regular’ flannel. The deeper ecru lace trim on the bottom of the jacket is vintage and the quilty piece edge and pocket is from one of my family ‘cutter quilts’ from the 1940′s.

The pattern was traced from an antique pattern and shortened just a bit.  There are two small vintage pearl buttons sewn to the front although the jacket really closes using small snaps sewn underneath the flap.

Love the pocket—-

After making a standard lined pocket (turned inside out and cleanly finished) I didn’t like the ‘hunk’ of it….. so used a very soft green thread and serged around the sides of the pocket, dabbing a bit of fray check on the threads to stop them from unraveling. Then I stitched the pocked to the jacket and added another vintage pearl button.

The back is dressed up with a small strip of the quilt:

Lucky LUCKY baby I say! Using vintage patterns and materials makes me happy all the way around!

Queing up for inspiration are 3 baby patterns and a piece of vintage yellow trim. I have been hoarding this Coquette double trim in this buttery yellow, the price on the package was .08! The trim will need a gentle bath in some Soak but will work up beautifully! The patterns are (from the top) a vintage Simplicity pattern #2342—- note the .25 cent price! The pattern on the bottom is Simplicity 2900- FIFTEEN DOLLARS purchased on sale 5 for $10, still a huge price explosion! The pattern numbers are different but the styling is very similar, even marked as a vintage pattern. The pattern in the middle is a vintage McCalls, # 1618, marked .35 cents!

As an embroiderer I love that the ‘reissue’ of the vintage baby layette pattern also comes with instructions to complete dainty embroidered details on the wee pieces!

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Finishing one Baby Project + Adding Another + SEWING!

The Aran Baby sweater is just waiting to have the sleeves inserted and the side seams closed. And those buttons which escape me.

I’m re-drafting a couple of tunic patterns for perfect fit. Mine needs booty room (ahem) and the other needs room for large upper arms and narrow shoulders. That’s the difficult mod, to make arm room that doesn’t totally affect the bodice fit, lower sleeve enormousness and shoulder sag. Once the patterns are complete I’m ready to start Spring Sewing! Stay tuned.

The fit is great with the use of the princess seams and it gives a few more gentle pattern alteration opportunities to have more seams to spread out changes. I’ll be making the version in the photo without the braid detail (for the first one anyway).

I’ve cast on for the amazing Creativebug (love love love the website)— and Maggie Pace’s adorable Owl Baby Hat.  Linen stitch….. not my favorite but it creates a lovely fabric. Definitely takes a bit of concentration to keep it going.

Don’t you love the soft pink and the gray together???? The contrasty parts and areas of definition will have a dark charcoal.

The arrival of some great springlike weather has gotten me out of bed early, working on projects late and getting work in general in gear so I can not only create with renewed energy but get out on my bike and enjoy it! Working a big wedding show this weekend will slow me down a little for sure!



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McCalls 6607: Can’t Wait to Make Another!!

Loved everything about McCalls 6607! It was a breeze to cut out (although a fabric hog in the mullet version) with the rotary cutter fitted with the zig zag blade. The fabric was crushed navy velvet knit and a booger….. but because the pattern is streamlined with pattern pieces and shapes it really wasn’t a problem with lots of pins and a steam iron! The fit is lovely, the drape and sweep fun without being Cruella DeVille dramatic. Can’t wait to make another one, this time I want to make the version that is straight across the bottom, tunic style. I’ve chosen a couple great ponte knits but haven’t pressed “send” yet– you know you always think the next click will bring something better!

Love the draped cowl neckline!

Because finishing the armhole edge and the hem are both non facing applications but simple turn unders I used one inch wide featherweight Stitch Witchery and steam then topstitched. That edge finish was softer and less noticeable on the crushed velvet knit when using a zigzag somewhat narrowed and a bit lengthened.

I think it will look great dressed up or down— mostly for my coastal location I think a pair of skinny black jeans and a black mockneck t might do the job. Can’t wait to wear it! We’re having last blast of summer and it’s supposed to be in the upper 80′s tomorrow flirting with 90 so I don’t think velvet in any application will work!

The sew fest continues as I cut out Vogue 8793 in a python patterned black and gray knit for Miss Thang. There will be fine tuning and modifications for large upper arms, my fingers are crossed that it’ll be a snap. I love just about any Marcy Tilton or Katherine Tilton pattern so I have high hopes for a top that is casual but nice looking. Stay tuned!

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Finished Tunic {finally!}

J’ai terminé!

Finally.  With a couple bumps in the road. After all, what would a sewing project be without a bump in the road????  Hmmmm? The previous version of the Schoolhouse Tunic was a little roomy. This one I cut right on the mark. Now, why do this? I mean, you cut it large and take in what you don’t need after a baste, right? Makes too much sense I think.  The tunic was, sadly, too tight in the tuckus! And I knew I would never wear it with it pulling…….. not even once.

So I did what any self respecting person would do. I gusseted that booger.

Wham Bam Fits Ya’ Ma’am.

I opened up the side seams to the waist, measured that. Knew I needed 3 inches so cut a tapered ‘triangle’ the length times 3 1/2″. Inserted that (with a careful wiggle at the top where everything meets at the waist). Then I refinished the seams and hemmed.


I’ve discovered a delicious new tea…. new to me anyway. It’s going to keep me company for some time to come!

Brewing in my favorite mug.

Isn’t she a charmer????  ;)

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In the Studio—- Sewing No Less!

It’s been on the rainy side and work is caught up so it’s been a perfect time to be in the studio. {Such a happy place!}

I finished Butterick 5925 in a very lightweight and softly slubbed knit fabric. LOVE the pattern, although the photo is beyond horrible, it truly has little hanger appeal.

Notice how much nicer it looks on a skinny  model!  ;)


The fabric was not a joy to work with but I adore the drapy-ness and it will be wonderful to wear in the southern winter! My only mod was to make the neckline a classic bound neck finish and take up under the arms tapering to the waist a bit. While I like the twisty finish on the pattern original I thought in this lightweight knit it might just look waddy and icky. Good grief we absolutely can’t have waddy and icky!  It looks GREAT on, just the right drape in all the right places.

Moving on, I cleaned up my space— a novel concept as we all know it’s much more fun just to let projects pile up until you have a wretched mess!

This old dog has learned new tricks indeed! Not only cleaning up after every project but I’ve finally embraced rotary cutting of garment pieces. I’m always late to the party!!! :)  It was my long held view that using a rotary cutter on fabric with the patterns pinned atop would be difficult/inaccurate/slow. Boy was I stupid because it is none of the above!

After purchasing (with a 40% off coupon and free shipping) a giant rotary cutting mat that almost fits my cutting table  and having worked with the mooooshy knit I was inspired to try on my new project.

I’m making another version of a favorite pattern, the Schoolhouse Tunic from Sew Liberated. It’s last incarnation was made in a fabulous babywale corduroy and it not only looks great but is quick to come together. {You can see it HERE if you like} I needed a new white tunic and I wanted it out of a midweight fabric, with some stretch and a nice drape. Of course, none was available locally (so irritating) but I did find a great piece of white stretch poplin at It arrived quickly and after a pre-wash the fabric will be wonderful. The stability of the fabric was a perfect chance to try the rotary cutting experiment!

My pattern cover is an old one and frankly, I think it is a lot more flattering than the current photo on the Sew Liberated website.

Photo of Sew Liberated Schoolhouse Tunic sewing pattern for women.

N’est-ce pas?

I did decide to shake things up a little bit and fitted my rotary cutter (old and tired) with a pinking blade. Just because! The result?

I could not be happier!

The finish was fantastic……. just so neat and clean! It was easy peasy to use the rotary cutter on pattern pieces, I do see that a complex shape might be tricksy but that is not usually my case. The cutting out of the tunic FLEW and I only used my shears to snip little markings as needed.

Even the small facing piece was accurate, fast & easy.

I don’t know what took me so long and I hang my head in shame!

I was in the mood to cut out and get projects ready for the machine (unlike me as previously cutting out was the least appealing part of the process) and after a quick clearing of the poplin I readied another garment for the pile.

McCalls 6607, in a navy stretch crushed panne velvet I’ve had in the stash for awhile from Fashion Fabrics Club  I remember the days when the warehouse was open to the public at Fashion Fabrics Club and I LOVED that, living in St. Louis at the time. The warehouse has long closed to customers and they’re online only. Yes, it is scary to purchase fabric online with only a little snipped on the screen to be your guide. I can honestly say that I have NEVER been disappointed with fabric I’ve purchased from them and even received some really fantastic pieces in my orders.

So after gently patting this somewhat misbehaving fabric into shape on the cutting table I did have my fears. Not necessary as it turned out, cutting out this stretch fabric with the pinking blade was easy as pie. The perk was that the easily fraying fabric won’t go anywhere until it’s constructed. The downside were the tiny bits and fuzzies of the velvet which blew everywhere under the ceiling fans!


This will be perfect to layer for fall and winter and looks like it will be a breeze to construct.

I’ll be in the studio stitching away this week…. can’t wait!

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Schoolhouse Tunic Love




Sleeves that are set in FLAT.

I mean, what’s not to love.

This baby went together in 2 hours and that was working in between.  It will always have a tee underneath but the neck slit could come up about 4 inches.

Only mod was to use only one center pleat, the corduroy bugged me to have all of the pleats called for. In a lighter weight, this one will be stitched as directed. Can’t wait to wear it with a pair of skinny(ish) black jeans and a black t or turtle. Will look great with jeans too and a big chunky necklace.

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Dear Bernina, I Love You!

My Bernina needs a tune up yet still she plugs on.  Maybe the week after next when I’ll be away from sewing for a week. Time for her to go to the Spa!

I’m sewing…. and for MYSELF! {insert squeal here}.  It’s no secret that I HATE HATE HATE the fabric selection locally, big box bland and yuk. I do LOVE every piece of fabric I purchased from Fashion Fabrics! I had an enormous amount of fear purchasing fabric online totally blind— no swatches, nothing! I’d been to the warehouse way back a bazillion years ago when they had a store front, you can’t do that anymore.  Of course I had my eye on some fabric from Marci Tilton, and still do— don’t get me wrong. But I needed basics, I needed ‘em NOW and I had a limited budget. So I shopped online carefully and when it came time to purchase I was more than a little apprehensive.  Turns out no need to be! The quality was VERY good, I was impressed.

I threw everything into the washing machine (even those knits labeled dry clean) and into the dryer. Excellent. Folded, they’re now waiting to be cut. They will never see the inside of the dryer again. Ever.

All for tops to wear with jeans, my skinny black pants with the ankle zip and my brown and black python leggings. (yes, really).

First up was my only frustration, a teal piece of lightweight, smooshy knit. I don’t know how they cut this but two people couldn’t make it like flat to cut it.  ARGH.  I moved on to a floaty drapey piece of chocolate brown knit, very lightweight as well. Cut like a dream, sewed like a double dream!  Pattern is Vogue #1261, alice + olivia. Do NOT like the raw edges so I didn’t use that technique except at the bottom. I used my rotary cutter to get the smoothest line possible and used a double needle threaded with black to stitch a line 1/2″ from the bottom edge. Sleeves were finished as I like to shove my sleeves up 3/4 length and I knew a raw edge would only give me problems. While I like the wider scoop neck, for following versions (in the teal if I can get it to behave and in a brushed gray knit) I will likely alter the neckline a bit closer.  LOVE the top, very floaty, simple, fresh……. a great pattern and fast to make, a definite plus.I need to add the finish to the neckline and it will be all set.

On the machine now is the coolest Japanese soft babywale corduroy in a great pattern. I’m making The Schoolhouse Tunic from Sew Liberated. I’ve seen it made in a couple different fabrications and it always looks really nice, clean and polished.

Next planned is the black on black python print knit (a heavier knit with less stretch) and to be honest I can’t decide if I want to make a tunic or the French Housewife Dress (Vogue 8813) from Marci Tilton. I suspect by the time I get to this (hopefully super soon) it will tell me what it wants to be. This is one AWESOME piece of fabric, the photo just doesn’t do it justice. V 8813 might just be made from a purple knit, who knows?

Lastly is a length of a smoky navy blue crushed velvet knit. Love this piece too!  I want to make McCalls 6607, in view C, a sleeveless, drapey cowl neck tunic (not the high-low version). I have a couple really great belts that will look wonderful.

For those of you in the sewing mood…… rush on over to McCalls website….. (also the home of Butterick and Vogue) where they are having a not to be missed sale. I never EVER purchase patterns at the store but always buy them when McCalls has them on sale. Right now they are lowest price ever, $2.99 for McCalls and $2.88 (yes you read that right) for a Vogue pattern. Stock up. Go crazy. I bought 4 Vogue patterns and 1 McCalls for less than I’d pay for a pattern locally.

Back to my regularly scheduled sewing. I’m playing games with myself…….. do a task from the list labeled WORK…… and you get to sew for a half hour. Bits and pieces on we go!



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One we go at Casita Contessa

Very true, “and on we go”. Normally January is slower, more relaxed. Work has slowed down to an off season pace and things are easier to grasp. This January has proven to be nothing like that. We’re building a ‘sister company’ which has a lot to do with it. Running one company is daunting but two? (actually three but who’s counting?)  Well, it’s crazy and I have had to lay down some new rules for living.

  • Work as much as possible from home in pajamas
  • Make new pajamas
  • Schedule and follow with vigilance time to play in the creative zone
  • Play for 30 minutes longer than originally scheduled
  • Be easy on yourself, you can’t do it all!
  • Make notes and notes on top of notes and organize by file folder
  • perhaps color code the folders?
  • Eat well
  • get some exercise maybe?

The new jammie bottoms are above. A pair in pink and orange with fun polka dot cuffs, and some pink skulls. Kind of fun. Remind me to pick up some t shirts to wear on top that don’t have holes or all stretched out.

Some women plan their work wardrobes with Elle or Vogue or Marie Claire. I plan my work wardrobe with fun flannel and cheapie t shirts! I did actually leave the house last night shockingly enough! Dinner OUT, wearing real clothes and eating food that didn’t come from a container. It was lovely to be honest! I will admit to some difficulty pulling together an OUTFIT, I think it’s been too long! :)

The play time has yielded some knitting! My cardigan in progress, Lorna Suzanne, is taking a brief rest while I cast on for the sleeves. Then they’ll both join back up and get finished all as one sweater body. Knitting sleeves is kind of boring, super thankless. I hate hate hate magic loop or I’d do them both at once. I would have knit the sleeves first but I was so anxious to see the lace border on the sides of the sweater I just couldn’t!

I’m also reading a lot (can you say insomnia?). I just finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King which was amazing, and I’ve begun “The Next Always” from Nora Roberts. My more serious reading has gone by the wayside in lieu of lighter fare.

What are you doing to keep on track?


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