the sewing post

Finally. I've been hinting at sewing for weeks and now I have some photos to share. Sewing patterns make me feel pretty dumb. Even the easy ones leave me wondering, what the heck does that mean. I'm someone who likes to learn by DOing, which means that the seam ripper is my good friend. But I'm slowly getting there. Learning things like the fact that sizes mean nothing with sewing patterns (go with the measurements), those pages and pages of "how to sew" in sewing books really are helpful and pinking sheers are a wonderful invention. I've also learned that it's a good idea to watch where you step when you have a pin cushion on the floor and to pay attention to where you're standing when taking off a garment that you're trying on (beware of ceiling fans... yes, we have low ceilings).

But on to the sewing! First I have to say that I've become addicted to Simplicity 3835, a Built by Wendy pattern I picked up ages ago after being inspired by this blog post (2 years ago!). It's sadly out of print (otherwise I'd be telling all of you to go out and buy it!) and I'm not the only one who loves it as you can see if you google it.

I used a green and white seersucker that I bought during the winter after watching all of Downton Abbey (I was smitten by Daisy's stripes. Crazy that with all of the gorgeous costuming, I get inspired by a kitchen maid's blouse). Once I understood the pattern, it was really easy to do and the resulting top was light and comfy to wear. I like how the neckline looks in the back, too.

I immediately wanted to sew another and used a piece of voile from my stash to make a slightly longer version. Unfortunately, when I turned the top right side out I noticed that a flaw in the fabric (which I had forgotten about) ended up front and center, just above my belly button. Ugh. After thinking about it for a bit, I decided to try some smocking at the waist to disguise the black splotch.

I'm not in love with it, but it's better than having what looks like a stain in the middle of my top.

Next up was a top I'd been planning for well over a year. Simplicity 3750. This one was a little daunting to me with the gathering and the sleeves with cuffs and buttonholes. How would I ever understand the pattern?

Although I did make a few mistakes, this one was pretty easy to follow. I love how the sleeves turned out and am proud of myself for figuring them out (I even made covered buttons to match the contrasting tie!). I learned a lot with this pattern.

Including how not to match a print (the fabric is from Amy Butler's Belle line). I need more practice. Or rather, what I needed was an understanding of how to do it, taking into account seam allowance and laying of the pattern pieces and the asymmetrical fabric design, etc. I brought home a basic sewing book from the library and after reading the section about cutting out patterns I understood it a lot better. My next Built by Wendy top put this new understanding into practice.

Improvement! I love how this one turned out. The fabric is from Amy Butler's Lark line. It seems a bit heavier than her other quilting cottons and it was much easier to iron.

It's soft and light and comfortable and pretty, too.

I finished this burst of clothing sewing with another version of the Built by Wendy pattern. This one a dress in a linen blend.

I LOVE how this dress turned out. It was a bit of an experiment because although the pattern does include two dress options they have yokes and zippers and different sleeves. After spending some time looking through the google results for Simplicity 3835, I decided that I wouldn't be crazy to try to sew a dress using the top pattern with the dress length (lots of other people have done the very same thing). I also modified the pockets to be bigger and lower. The result is a super comfy dress.

I want to sew a whole bunch more of these in some fun colors with slight modifications and possible embellishments. But not now. Now I'm packing up my sewing machine and prepping my studio to paint. The walls, that is. I still haven't decided which of my three paint colors I'll be using, but I'm hoping that after priming everything except the paint samples I'll have a clearer idea.

Oh, and Charlie doesn't want me to forget to tell you something.

All the photos in this post were taken by Matthias. Thanks, Charlie, for making sure that credit goes where credit is due. And thanks, Matthias, for taking photos of my sewing for me. And thank YOU for reading my blog. Wishing you a Joyful week (and happy August!).


  1. Awesome! You did a great job!!!

  2. As in knitting, YOU are the boss of your sewing - it is not the boss of you! I love the brown linen dress - love them all!

  3. *** squealing in delight *** Beautiful! All of them!

  4. Love that top with the contrasting band. Super flattering and great fabric choice!

  5. Dagg! You are a woman of a billion talents. Your new clothes look so good. Before long won't need to ever think about shopping for clothes (although shopping for clothes is so much fun). I love every single piece. Very much indeed. I don't understand patterns much myself. I usually just start looking at them then get unnerved and start cutting away with only a general idea whether I am doing it right or not. So the seam ripper, yeh, i love its abilities too! I am so happy to see all your projects and how they have come out. And the tops and dress look so beautiful on you. Gorgeous!!!

  6. Wow is all I can say. That and I'm super envious. I have a drawer full of patterns that I get totally confused over. I end up sticking to simple tank tops and use a store bought one for the pattern. You've done a terrific job here Anne! You make a pretty model as well. I have to say all of these look great on your figure. My favorite is the orange and aqua print with the bow in back. It has such a beautiful neck line, it looks like you bought it from a high end store. You almost got the pattern to line up :) Great job!!

  7. Love the detail of the covered button on the sleeve. An Anne signature. Nice job all around.
    Great photos Matthias and good boy Charlie.

  8. I have only one thing to say, Anne - you are amazing!!!
    Love these tops and the dress and you make a great model!

  9. Anne, you are an accomplished seamstress! I would wear those tops and definitely the dress too! Well done Matthias on his photography skills.

  10. Wow! As a person who's only comfortable sewing straight lines (pillows, napkins, tablecloth) - I'm really impressed! I love that orange/turquoise top with the bow and your solution to the stain via smocking. What a great wardrobe you've created for the summer/fall season :)

  11. Wow! What a great job you've made of it all! I'd love to be able to sew like that! I LOVE that orange and blue top and the dress is gorgeous!

  12. That's just unbelievable how productive you've been! - makes me want to go back to sewing my own stuff. They're all so pretty and I love the Amy Butler facric as always. Just been scanning your posts and I must say congrats on the Dottie Angel book - isn't it a treat!!? Got it too and I'm smitten with it. Can't wait for her new book collaboration.
    Love from Greece,

  13. I am in awe :0
    Taking orders?!

  14. Hi Anne!!!
    You really did a good job! I like all of them, especially the brown dress and your idea to cover the flaw!!
    I like trying sewing sometimes, but I'm not really good, and become stressed with it! Your sewing made me feeling the will to train and train it again!!

  15. Thank you ALL for the kind comments! It's funny because I want to urge you not to be impressed. And tell everyone that if I can do it, you can do it. I want to say "It's EASY" forgetting about all the swearing I was doing when things didn't work out right. Haha.

    But really, I appreciate all the comments and all the compliments. I love my new clothes (flaws and all) and have lots more planned!

  16. Anne here's a quote from the closing page of the current Threads magazine (Aug/Sept 2012)"...sewing is not about the correct way to do anything, but about creating something with my hands and refining what I already know, building on a solid base of knowledge." You're obviously gaining both experience and skill, creating useful, beautiful, fun wearables and I hope having fun in the process.

  17. You are so clever! They all look stunning! I bought a Japanese sewing book (thankfully it is in English) - I can't wait to make some frocks once this winter weather departs!

  18. Beautiful. I love the designs. Doesn't Amy Butler design beautiful fabrics. I've always been an admirer of her work.


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