Vogue 8952 and the Day and Night Dress Challenge

img_0890Hi all! It’s 20 degrees here in Portland, indoor photo weather of course, but also the perfect weather for sewing. There’s nothing like a cold day to drive you to your sewing room.

Sometimes, after the intensity of the holiday season, I find it challenging to re-focus my energies and to get my sew-jo going. But this year, The Day and Night Dress Challenge, hosted by Elizabeth Made This, has given my sewing a ‘jump-start’. The challenge is to sew two dresses; a day dress and a Little Black Dress for evening wear. There’s a blog tour, (I’ll be hosting here on Wednesday January 11), and a community challenge with prizes and cool sponsers.

This lace top is the first stage of my ‘night dress’ planning.

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My concept for my night dress is an a-line ‘swing’ dress of black velvet and lace, using this pattern as the base by lengthening it to dress length.

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Vogue 8952 is a fun easy sew, with ragan sleeves, my favorite. For this trial version, I used  white lacey knit from Joann’s. I think the shape will be fine for my dress, so I’ll lengthen the bodice by about eight inches before cutting my velvet, then I’ll use black lace for the sleeves and at the hem.

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My day dress will be more fitted, but casual, sewn out of cotton and ponte knit. img_0855I’m making McCalls 7464, using a large plaid for the body of the dress, accenting the sides and sleeves with solid knit.  Both dresses will be finished and posted on Wednesday (fingers crossed). I haven’t tried my ‘day dress’ pattern before, so I hope it will work! Nothing like living dangerously.

The Day and Night Dress Challenge is a great way to start the new year. The community challenge has prizes and cool sponsors too. Come join us! There’s a fun group of bloggers participating in the blog tour, so check them out. The fun starts on Saturday, January 8th and I’ll be posting Wednesday, January 11th, here. For more details on how you can participate, check out the Elizabeth’s fabulous blog, Elizabeth Made This. She’s the brains behind this fun event, and her makes are always a source of inspiration for me.

I hope your new year is off to a great start with lots of sewing time. Will you be making dresses with us this January? I’d love to hear your plans!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

2016: Top Five Hits

1Hi All! It’s almost time to ring in the new year, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to review my top five makes of 2016.

Looking back at my sewing projects always makes me a little nervous, because I can’t bear to face the facts. Sometimes the makes that are the most fun to finish or the most time consuming, are not the ones I love to wear (sigh). They hang in my closet, lonely and ignored. Huh. But without further analysis, here they are….my top five of 2016.

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  1. This little coat:  This topper makes it into the top five because I wore it more than any other make this year! It was so versatile, more than I expected. I wore it constantly. The sewing pattern is great too….Butterick 5927, a new favorite.

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2. The linen and lace dress – – Well, of course I love it. It’s blue, it has statement sleeves and lace trim. This dress made me a fan of clothes with simple lines. I love to wear it.img_8499

3. This coat: OMG, it’s so warm! The stretch wool…the quilted collar…love. To make things even better, when I step into Anthropologie wearing it, the girls that work there swoon, the ultimate compliment. It was supposed to inspire me to rake leaves, but that didn’t happen.

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4. This blouse: Well, because it’s blue. Need I say more?

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5. This poncho: Okay, it had to make the list because wearing it makes me so happy. Yes, fringing it was a nightmare, but the end result made this poncho such a wardrobe stand- out. I have a ‘boho’ moment every time I put it on, something I sorely need.

Honorable mentions:

I was obsessed with denim this year too, so I just have to mention these ‘makes ‘. I didn’t wear them quite as much as I expected though (not sure why?), so I won’t give them ‘top five’ status.

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1. This button up denim skirt: What fun this was to make! The top stitching, the ‘jeans’ buttons up the front…my favorite things.

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2. This denim shirt dress: I love a good shirt dress, and I felt so great when I finished this one! I also learned about snaps. They look great, and you also get to pound them in…If you haven’t tried it, do!

There were a few misses in 2016, but who wants to talk about those? Overall, I had alot of fun at my sewing machine, which is the true test of success for me. I even made my first pair of jeans.

But the best part of 2016 was meeting all of you. I love our community and our conversations. You and your makes are a constant source of inspiration and joy for me. I want to thank you for visiting here and for being a part of my life.

Here’s to an even better 2017! And thanks to Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow for encouraging us to celebrate a fabulous year with our Top Five Makes.

Happy New Year, and thanks for stopping by!

A Missoni Inspired Boho Poncho

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Hi all! The weather outside is frightful but wearing a poncho is so delightful! With this cozy new make, I’m well prepared for the possiblity (fingers crossed…) of a white Christmas.

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Will it happen? I doubt it, but I’m glad I made this easy poncho. I loved laying out the pattern pieces so that the fabric’s cool weave would shine. What I didn’t like about this project? The Blanket Fringe. Yes, it looks easy, but OMG! The process went on forever. It took so many hours, I blew through my usual ‘sewing’ diet of old movies and binge worthy television series. So what did I watch? Old episodes of the Gilmore Girls. Remember that show? Such a  blast from the past, a show full of the optimism that comes from a fictional but perfect small town world. In spite of that cheery back drop, I was pretty cranky by the time this fringe was done. Still, I do love the look!

The inspiration for my poncho was a Missoni original that I’ve worshipped from afar. That makes my poncho worthy of Designin’ December, don’t you think?

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Besides the cool fringe, I love the Missoni version’s hood and contrast trim. In rainy Oregon, hoods are not optional, so I was quite pleased to add one.

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I trimmed my hood with fleece binding, and used wool yarn for the blanket fringe. Blanket fringe is pretty easy to do. There are lots of U-tube tutorials, but here’s a quick summary. You poke a hole in your fabric then you pull doubled strands of yarn through the hole with a crochet hook. It’s a breeze, really, but I truly underestimated how much time and yarn it would take to fringe this poncho (Slow death by fringe).

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The pattern I used is Butterick 5715, View D. The pattern is out of print, but available on Etsy.

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I used a wool blend from my stash. I thought the front yoke detail might make this pattern complicated, but it went together quickly. I trimmed the front opening with contrasting fleece, but left off the buttons, opting for a looser, less structured look to mimic the Missoni version.

img_0776I love my new poncho so much, we’re destined to be inseparable! This is the way I like to dress- – in warm layers that are comfortable, easy, but that have ‘a look’.  And I have to confess. I think the fringe makes it. So maybe it was worth the crazy hours I spent on it? Hmmm….but there must be an easier way. Have you fringed anything? Did you do it the way I did? Was it torture?

I love looking to the designer runways for inpiration, which is why I love Designin’ December. For more about it, visit Linda’s fabulous blog – –Nice Dress, Thanks I made it. And join in!

I hope your holidays are joyful! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A Velvet Kimono for the holidays

img_0670Hi All – -During, the holiday season, a sewing project has to meet certain critieria to make it onto my lengthy to-do list. It must be  1. easy and quick with little chance for frustration.  2. Gorgeous fabric must be involved. 3. It must provide a healthy dose of instant gratification. This festive kimono definitely earned high marks on all fronts.

Most holiday occassions here call for ‘casual holiday’ attire; something dress-y you can wear with pants/jeans. That’s because the weather has been less than cooperative with snow and freezing rain, which has left sidewalks and parking lots difficult to navigate in high heels and dresses. Given that scenario, I decided (the day before an event, ha!) to add a fun piece to my wardrobe that I could layer to dress things up a bit. Nothing like a last minute project in the midst of the holiday craze! Luckily, I had this lovely piece of ‘burn-out’ velvet in my stash, perfect for my project.

img_0543I love this drapey and shimmery velvet. To make the fabric texture more noticeable,  I decided to use black velvet for the contrasting sleeve bands and ruffle.

If I’d chosen a pattern that I’d made before, the project would have been an easy success. But, of course, I couldn’t make things simple. I had to try a new pattern…and that’s where the trouble started. Enter Simplicity 8172.

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I was attracted to this pattern because I was in a hurry and LOVED that the  sleeves are cut as part of the main bodice…so fast and easy!

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What I didn’t notice was that there isn’t a front band to finish the opening. Instead, the pattern has you finish it with seam binding.  My drapey, flimsy velvet did not like this at all. It wanted to roll constantly. Well, I could not wear it like that so I self-drafted a 4″ front band (thank goodness I had a bit of fabric left over), and stiffened it up with fusible interfacing. Yes, this complication added quite a bit to my simple project, but now, the front opening lies as it should. I am so much happier!

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Overall, I think I like this project. The pattern is fun and easy, and, because you don’t have to set in sleeves, it’s a quick and easy sew. I like the fit on this pattern and the options for adding a flounce. However, the pattern envelope recommends silky fabrics and velvet. As is, I don’t think those fabrics are the best choice for this pattern, since it lacks a front band, relying on seam binding for finish. To me, that works best with a crisper fabric with bit of body so that the seam binding can do its job. Still, I will likely make view C of this pattern in the near future because it allows you to mix patterns and fabrics. And, I’ll make just about anything if it has a high-lo hem!

img_0689Have you sewn with velvet? Did it have a tendency to roll? What did you use to stablize it?

I hope you’re enjoying the festive season and can still find a bit of time for some sewing fun. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

McCall’s 7476 (#2) in textured wool

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Hi All – – I’m back with another cardigan, this time in a nubby sweater knit. This fabulous wool came from the remnant section of Fabric Depot, a fabric I had longed for from afar, but didn’t purchase since it was really expensive. Then, one day, Lady Luck looked my way. When I was there to buy a zipper, I perused the remnant rack and found two small pieces of this wool for 50% off! How could I resist?

Okay, there was a small problem though. My two pieces were a scant yard and a half. This is where being a small person comes in handy. No, I cannot see the dirt on the top of the refrigerator, but I can make something out of two little remnants.

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Well, it took me an about an hour and a half to figure out how to cut this sleeveless cardigan out of my little pieces of fabric (LOL). It’s a good thing I was determined because it was not easy! This cardigan is my second version of my new favorite pattern, McCalls 7476.

I made another version here. The only change I made this time was to leave off the sleeves and to raise the front opening by two inches. I also used three buttons to fasten it instead of one as the pattern suggests. I LOVE this pattern. It’s easy but stylish and you can cut and sew it in only a couple of hours, (two episodes of my new binge watching obsession, The Crown). My nubby knit is a very loose weave though so  I did use my serger to finish the seams since the fabric wanted to fray with very little encouragement. Still I love this fabric. It’s warm and the texture makes it so unusual.

I was able to find a moment when it wasn’t raining to take a quick outdoor shot. This was a true test of this wool, and it held up to the brisk temperature.

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I’d say the only thing I’m a bit worried about with this sweater knit is snagging it. Not sure what to do if that happens? I know some of you would find fixing a snag an easy challenge, so please sure any tips you have, as I’m sure it will happen.

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My winter sewing plans are in full swing. I’m finishing a velvet and lace swing dress which I will post soon, and have plans for a cape and a coat. Yes, that’s a lot to take on when I also want to bake holiday cookies and shop for presents and sing in a few holiday concerts. I’ll be fine IF I stick to easy, simple projects  with tried and true patterns that don’t add unneeded stress to life. Then sewing is fast and fun without alot of unpicking to do.

I hope your holiday sewing is progressing nicely, and that you’re enjoying the season. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

Butterick 5789, Cropped Drape Front Jacket

 

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Hi All! ‘Tis the season for indoor photos here in Oregon. It’s also the season to sew a few layering pieces, wearables that you can wrap yourself up in when it’s damp and cold (most days here). That’s why this cropped drape front jacket grabbed my attention. The style is so versatile – you can wear it closed, or open.

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My inspiration for this cropped jacket was a Ellie Tahari drape front sweater I saw on a recent ready-to-wear shopping trip. I loved the drape front, but hated the price tag. Honestly, it was several hundreds of dollars, and when you compare that to the cost of a sewn garment, me-made wins easily!

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Nevertheless, it is a gorgeous sweater. It almost made me want to learn to knit (ha).

For my version, I used a sweater knit, a wool blend I picked up at Mill End Store. It has a moderate amount of cross wise stretch, just enough for a drapey jacket.My pattern is Butterick 5789.

This is a drape front vest or jacket and the front extends into the back collar. I made view D and cropped it significantly (six inches all the way around). In order to make the front closure, I added a  button hole at the bottom corner of the drape front, then put a button on the opposite shoulder so that I could pull the ends up, criss-cross style.

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It’s such a wearable jacket, I know I’ll put it to good use right away. Honestly, this was so easy too. From cut to finish it only took two hours. Of course, part of this is because the front drape isn’t finished with a facing. That means the wrong side of your fabric shows. That’s not usually a problem with a knit though, as both sides of the fabric are usually okay to look at. I wonder which look I’ll wear the most?

 

I hope you’re finding time at this busy time of year to sew a bit. I’m contemplating a few ‘sewn’ gifts this year, but thus far have done nothing but dream about it, and of course it is alot of effort at a busy time of year, which can take some of the fun out of it. What do you think?  Are you sewing gifts this year?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Butterick 5526- One pattern, three versions

There’s nothing like a sewing contest to inspire you to explore the long forgotten bins in your fabric stash! That’s where I found these cottons. They were perfect for my entry into Pattern Review’s ‘One Pattern, Many Ways’ contest. As I result, my stash is considerably smaller, and let me tell you, it feels great!

For my entry, I chose to make three versions of Butterick 5526, a button down shirt with variations. It’s a tried and true pattern for me (see it here).

In the past, making three frocks with button closures in four weeks would have driven me to drink. Why? Because I hate to sew buttons on by hand. Please, just shoot me instead.

Then, during a unplanned visit to Modern Domestic (Bernina and Fabric heaven, here in Portland), I discovered the Bernina button attachment (#18), a nifty gaget that does it for you in about five seconds (I am not exaggerating here). I begged Santa for it, and he delivered. Seriously, that attachment was a game changer. Bring on those buttons!

My shirt dress version was inspired by a Burberry shirt dress with a big bold plaid.

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No, I could not find that fabric anywhere, so I settled for this (Mill End Store).

img_0001To make my shirt into a dress, I just added seven inches to the length. Because the dress is very unstructured, I will wear it with a belt made from leftover pleather. I also added sleeve tabs so that I can roll up the sleeves when the weather is warm.

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Version two is a lacy top that I wanted to look a bit ‘boho’.

img_9921To make the top look less tailored and more relaxed, I eliminated the collar and cuffs, and added lace sleeves and trim. To add the lace to the bottom of the shirt, I cropped it at the waist, then added a swath of left over lace to the bottom, hemmed with a machine stitch.

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The fabric is embroidered linen (such a rare find around here), and it is so soft and comfortable to wear. I’ll likely pair this shirt this winter with a long cardi-vest. The linen was very fussy, and I was glad I had a serger to finish the frayed edges of this fabric. My only complaint about this version of the shirt is the pocket placement. It’s a bit high for me?

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My ‘kite’ version is just a straight version of view C. Nothing too challenging here, except for the linear pattern of the kites. They made the fabric layout surprisingly difficult, but they are worth it. Of course,  I LOVE this fabric. So many shades of  BLUE, and it was a joy to work with. There’s nothing like a crisp, cool cotton to make your sewing machine sing.

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So, that’s my quota of button down shirts for the next year. Because I’ve been a good girl and sewn three projects from my fabric stash, don’t you think I deserve to go fabric shopping? So far, I’m satisfied with my new stash elimination policy – – I must sew two projects from my stash for every new fabric purchase. I’m determined to make a dent in it!

I hope you’ll pop on over to Pattern Review to see all of the great makes in the contest. It’s so fun to see how you can take one pattern and make it something new. Do you have a favorite sewing pattern that you use over and over again?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

McCalls 7476-A cardigan for all seasons

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Hi All! Fall means cardigans because they are the perfect layer to throw over shirts and tee shirts when the weather begins to shift, so I’m always searching for new patterns. I was so pleased to find this new McCall’s option; a cardigan destined for ‘tried and true’ status. It’s easy and versatile with just the right amount of tapering for fit.

img_9071I like that it works with a collared shirt like this tie blouse, or over a collarless tee as well.

 

img_9707Because this sweater knit is pretty heavy with a bit of wool in the mix, I will likely wear it instead of a light-weight coat, so I made it really long. But I plan on making a shorter version with a shawl collar as soon as I can find another perfect knit!

The Details: My sweater knit is from Fabric Depot, a furry knit with lycra and wool in it, perfect for a cardigan jacket. The pattern is McCalls 7476, a cardigan with dropped shoulders, length options and collar variations.

m7476I love the fact that there are so many great options with this pattern. I cut my usual size small and didn’t have any fit issues. I wanted a snug fit when buttoned, but if you want a looser fit, you might want to jump up a size.

img_9692This pattern is super easy and fast to sew. I think from cut to finish it took me about three hours. I used a serger to finish my seams, but a zigzag would likely work.

It’s been a long while since I added a cardigan pattern to my pattern stash and this one has reminded me that I love them. If only I had a few more options to choose from. Do you have a favorite cardigan pattern? Let me know!

I hope your fall sewing is going splendidly. Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

McCall’s 7430- A sweater dress

 

img_9604As you all know, I am a big fan of sweater knits, so much so I tend to stash/horde every one I find. Yes, I have quite a few squirreled away in my sewing nook, so (fair warning here) this is only the beginning of my annual sweater knit obsession.

Here is why I love them so, so much.  Most sweater knits are easy to sew (even without a fancy serger, just use a zigzag stitch) and wonderful to wear. I’m talking about those moderate stretch wonders with just the right amount of lycra with a dense, cozy weave. This houndstooth sweater knit is a perfect example of why I’m obsessed. It’s the perfect mix of stretch and cozy…destined to become a fall/winter wardrobe staple.

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McCall’s 7430 is the perfect sweater dress.

I love the side panels, the neckline variations, and the front and back yoke. I also love the sleeve caps. You could really have fun with contrast and color blocking here. There’s so much you can do with this pattern to make it your own.

The only modifications I made to the dress were to add front patch pockets, each 6 inches by five inches (gotta keep those pinkies warm!). I added contrast sleeve bands to finish the cuffs as well, but this is so optional. You could easily hem them with your machine as the pattern suggests.

One note about fit. The side panels eliminate the usual side seams so it’s a bit harder to use them to modify fit. Yes, I’m a big fan of taking a dress in at the sides, and I hate making muslins on a knit pattern.  It’s not impossible to adjust this pattern that way. It’s just a bit more time consuming, and if you adjust those panels too much, you run the risk of changing the look of your lovely dress. So, I’m glad the sizing is pretty true on this pattern because I didn’t need to make any adjustments at all. Phew!

img_9581I guess my obsession with sweater knits isn’t likely to end in the near future :). I’ll probably make another dress from this pattern, out of a solid knit with a contrast, since it’s so comfy and versatile. I think it’s one of those patterns you can dress up or down, maybe even make as a tunic length to wear over leggings. Love these inspiring versions from Vince Camuto…

 

Hmmmm, so mamy options, so little time to sew! Curious if you all are as obsessed with sweater knits as I am? Pretty sure there’s a color blocked version of this dress in my very near future!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

Tie top and pleather skirt

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Hi All! This time, patience paid off! I was determined to take photos outside one more time before the leaves dropped, and finally, after surviving a week of rain, we’re enjoying a clear day. The temperature is mild too, and there’s very little wind. Moderate weather is perfect for pleather I think, because it isn’t the coziest fabric to wear. I paired my new pleather skirt with a tie top of azure and gold to celebrate the season.

Even though I wouldn’t call it cozy, I do love my new skirt, and, I’m pleased to say, this pleather project was a huge improvement over my last attempt.

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This pattern is Simplicity 1322, a mock wrap skirt in three lengths. I added a toggle closure on the mock wrap for fun (easy, you just machine stitch it in place). The skirt is a fun, easy sew. The challenge again was working with the stubborn fabric. Here are a few tricks I learned along the way.

  1. Use wonder tape liberally instead of pins when attaching things or holding seams in place.  Tape is great because you don’t have to use alot of pins.
  2. When I had to press the pleather, I used steam in my iron. It seemed to make pleather pliable quickly. I’m not sure if this would work with all pleather (there seems to be quite a variety of textures and thicknesses out there) so test before you steam. Who wants a melt down?
  3. Avoid hand sewing. I used wonder tape to hold the hem in place then machine stitched it. I tried to hand sew…it was a nightmare!  I just couldn’t get the needle through without injuring myself (Who knew sewing could be so dangerous, LOL?).

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The tie top pattern is a new one for me, Simplicity 8216. I have made other tie tops, but decided try this pattern because of the yoke and gathers that give it a softer look. I found this pattern on sale at Joann’s and I love it. simplicity-tops-vests-pattern-8216-envelope-front

There are several neck variations so you can modify it to get the look you want. It went together so easily, and the fit was spot on, first try! No adjustments at the shoulders for me.  I used a Cotton and Steel rayon (Fabric Depot), which is a lovely, silky fabric with an easy drape, so important for a pattern with gathers at the yoke and a tie.

I love this neckline! It’s fun all by itself, and it holds up well when paired with a cardigan or vest too. Here it is with the draped vest I made last winter.

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With the changing seasons, I’m contemplating a slight change in my color palate. I love the gold/mustard color in the cherries in this blouse, don’t you? I want more of that yummy color in my wardrobe. It almost matches the changing leaves in the tree behind me!

Have you ever tried to handsew with leather or pleather or suede? Have you ever used steam when pressing it? Pleather and Leather must be similar to sew with? I’m amazed at the pants and leggings some of you have made from the stuff. Would love to hear how you managed that :).

I hope your fall sewing is going well, and that you’re enjoying a bit of fall color where you are. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!