Make Nine 2019 Plans

My wardrobe is in a dire need of a refresh. It’s been a year or so since I’ve sewn much, due to a lot of major things going on behind the scenes, and I’m not a prolific shopper, so some of my favorite pieces are starting to wear out. I have identified a handful of basics to form my core wardrobe.mosaicd16acbd72562cdd658fa7e8495fde0f2a57ba824I’ll be making jeans, tees, leggings, work trousers, and a button down shirt. For fun, I’d like to make that cute New Look 6000 dress…maybe even in red, as pictured. I also want to tailor a traditional jacket. I can use a well fitting jacket for work, so it’s not just a garment that will take up space in my closet like the Marie Antoinette gown.

Finally, because I love to knit, I’ve added two knitting projects to my queue: a traditional tam and a “So Faded” sweater which I’ll knit out of some gorgeous yarn I bought from Asylum Fibers.

I will not be restricting myself to any particular patterns because I don’t know if they’ll work for me until I start messing around with them. For a case in point, take the Grainline Lark T-shirt pictured above. After I taped all the PDF pattern sheets together, I could immediately see it wasn’t going to work for me. It appears to be designed for someone who has an angular rather than a curvy shape and their upper torso is significantly longer than mine. I could have made some extensive alterations to make it work for me, but that didn’t seem like much fun, especially when I have two t-shirt patterns that I know work for me, the old Ottobre t-shirt from 2009 or so and the Deer and Doe Plantain.


Here’s my first version of the Ottobre t-shirt this year. I used up some stash fabric, which is another goal of mine.

For the striped t-shirt, I used the long sleeve pattern from Deer and Doe, but altered the sleeve cap to fit it onto the Ottobre t-shirt body.

I also added a cat for decoration.


Next up: button down blouses!

Happy new year!

Miss Maggie’s Handbag

I’m so completely chuffed. I made a handbag! I didn’t think I had it in me to sew through thick layers of finicky materials like vinyl and foam stabilizer. I’m notoriously bad with a hammer and screwdriver. But I did it and I don’t think it looks too shabby…


Pattern Description:

“Miss Maggie’s Handbag is a great starting point for any beginner to advanced bag maker. It starts out as a simple handbag that allows you to use several styles of our Emmaline Strap Anchors, and after you personalize it with your own style, it will become one of your favourite bags. ”

Pattern Sizing:

11″ wide x 10″ high x 4″ deep.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?


Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes, the instructions were excellent even for this bag-sewing neophyte. There is a typo in the instructions which caused me a problem. As noted on the emmaline bags website, “The cutting chart lists the measurement for the Foam Stabilizer at 17″ x 34″, but the correct measurement is in the cutting list and materials list. The cutting chart is not correct.” I didn’t see that before I cut out the foam and had to buy another piece.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like how simple and elegant it is. The bag is just the right size to carry all my odds and ends when I commute to work. It’s not too large so I don’t end up carrying too much. I like the short handles because I don’t wear purses over my shoulder; however, my daughter thinks any bag without a cross-body strap is a sad, sad thing. If you’re like her, you’ll either want to add a longer strap or look at a different pattern.

Fabric Used:

I used some vinyl with a flocked filigree design that I found at Joann’s for the body. I used some quilter’s cotton (a gold-flecked cork print) for the lining.


The bag also required fusible interfacing, heavy interfacing such as Timtex for the base and foam stabilizer. Hardware included handle anchors, rivets, bag feet, a magnetic clasp, a tassel clasp, and a “handmade” label. I sourced most of these from emmaline bags. I found the magnetic clasp at my local fabric store. I found a large lot of rivets on Amazon, which was good because I’m terrible at inserting these and destroyed more than a few before getting them attached securely.


I used a lot of E-6000 glue. I also used a few bits of thin quilter’s batting to cover up the backs of the hardware so they didn’t poke holes in the lining.

I tried to use heavy duty thread (upholstery) for the top-stitching, but even with a leather needle and a top-stitching needle, it frayed and I was unable to continue.

When folding the material for the handbag over on itself a couple of times, I resorted to double-sided fashion tape to hold the layers together. It worked like a charm.

I needed an awl to poke holes through the material and a hammer for the rivets.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

The pattern suggested adding heavy duty snaps on the sides to cinch in the top of the bag to give it a nice shape. I opted not to do that for two reasons: (1) I would never use the snaps because I like to fill up my bags to the brim and the snaps would reduce the bag’s capacity; (2) the material was thick and didn’t looked a bit messy when pleated.

I made the tassel following this tutorial: Tassel Tutorial

Note: You really do need a tiny screwdriver to do this. I started out trying to use a fork. No good. I then used the screwdriver included with my serger. Too large. Finally, like Goldilocks, I bought a tiny screwdriver set at Lowes for $5. One of those suckers worked perfectly.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Yes, sure!


I LOVE this bag. It looks so snazzy with all the shiny bits. I carry it around with pride.

Sewing Fine Gathers

Last summer, I started sewing a pretty wrap top, Butterick B5328, but got distracted by other things and never finished it.

I just unearthed the pieces and started working on it again. As is usual for me, I got hung up on the way my gathers were turning out. No matter how much I tried to distribute the fabric evenly and sew carefully, I always ended up with uneven gathers, which, in some places, looked more like pleats. Gathering fabric should be a piece of cake! But it’s not–at least not the way it’s traditionally done, i.e. sew two rows of basting stitches in the seam allowance and tug on a pair of threads until the fabric is bunched up the right amount.

In fact, the poor results I had been getting when gathering fabric prompted me to go out and buy a specialty sewing foot for that purpose. It works, but requires finesse. If you don’t use it often, you won’t develop the necessary finesse (unless you’re one of those perfect people I love to hate who does everything perfectly.) You may imagine how excited I was yesterday when I found a solution to my gathering woes, which involves no expensive gadgets and requires minimal finesse. All it requires is a few simple adjustments to your machine.

Look at the difference between my old technique using two rows of basting stitches (the right side of the blouse) and Susan Wigley’s technique using two rows of short stitches (14-16 stitches per inch or about 2.0mm; find a stitch length conversion chart here) and tension set to 0 (left side of the blouse):


The old method produces what looks like uneven pleats; the new method produces very fine and even gathers.

Step 1: Loosen the tension to 0-1 on the dial.

Step 2: Adjust your stitch length to 14-16 stitches per inch (small stitches produce small gathers).

Step 3: Sew 2 rows of stitching 1/4″ apart along the seam line at the top of the skirt, making certain that you back-tack at one end to securely anchor the stitches.

Step 4: To gather, pull on the Bobbin threads until the skirt fits the bodice. It should gather easily, if it doesn’t you’ll want to loosen the tension a little more next time, so it is loose. Tie the ends off securely.

Step 5: Adjust the gathers by hand to distribute them evenly around the skirt. Then to “fine tune” the gathers, drag a large needle or an awl across the stitches. I know it sounds strange, but try it. It works!