Back – again! This Time With Beads!

It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you.

So, let’s catch up shall we? Since my last post, I’ve only done very little sewing (one skirt to be exact) and I’m still working on my French jacket, but mostly I’ve been just taking it easy, enjoying my summer and dabbling in jewelry.

As you know, I get obsessed with something and then go all in. Here’s my newest obsession: waistbeads (the sun was playing peekaboo, but I did the best I could with the pics.)


I made some from rose quartz and amethyst a few years ago, but the clasp came off so they were buried in my jewelry box. Recently I became interested in repairing them. Then I started wanting more. Then I went on Etsy and bought new beads to mix with the beads I already had and I’ve been making new sets ever since.

You can find waistbeads made from plastic or glass beads fairly easily, but I knew I wanted mine to have gemstones because of their healing properties (I’m about that “good energy” life). I also wanted certain colors.

So after I restrung my first set (and while I was waiting for my Etsy order), I made these from glass seed beads and some amber-colored beads I bought at Michaels:


These are turquoise chip and green glass beads. I might redo this one. IDK, I feel like it’s too green:


I made these from citrine beads I got from Etsy, with glass beads, and seed beads I had on hand:



These are jade, tiger’s eye, garnet and brass:


I have a hank of those yellowish glass beads so I’m going to experiment with multistrands next.

I also got a lot of work done on my black Alabama Chanin skirt. It’s still not finished, but at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As for the only skirt I sewed over the summer, I have to take pictures of that tomorrow when the sun returns.

That’s all for now, but since summer’s over, I plan on visiting with you more often. So, do tell, what have you been up to?


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Adjusting Sleeve Lift on My French Jacket

So in my last post I talked about finally finishing my French jacket (or my Faux-nel jacket as I call it). I really tried not to nitpick, but, well, I just can’t let some things go. I keep pinning and marking it up because every time I fix one thing, I see something else. It’s been a struggle to get it to fit the way I want. The main problem areas are the shoulders and sleeves.

First, the shoulder seam is too long. It was about an inch past where it should’ve ended. So that had to be adjusted. That was the easy part.

The sleeves have been giving me the blues since the beginning. I have NO idea why the Big 4 pattern companies make armscyes large enough to hold a toddler, but that’s also my problem with V8804, the Claire Shaeffer pattern I’m using. Not only is the entire underarm baggy, I couldn’t lift my arm at the shoulder without the entire jacket moving. I could only raise my forearms comfortably and it made me feel like a T-Rex.

Enter Threads Magazine. (If you don’t have a subscription, you need one. Seriously.) They always have a bunch of sewing articles that I read and say “Interesting, but when is that ever going to come in handy?” Well finally that day came. I recently read an article about sleeve lift (basically the amount of mobility your sleeve allows when you lift your arm), but I couldn’t remember which issue it was in. Luckily the Google machine works 24/7 so I tracked it down.

My friend-in-my-head Kenneth King wrote a pretty detailed article about how to adjust a pattern or muslin to make the sleeve fit better. It’s counterintuitive, but to make the sleeve fit better, it needs to have LESS room, not more.

For whatever reason I can’t embed his video, but here’s the link explaining the theory behind making the armscye smaller.

He offers three solutions: 1. Add ease throughout (lower the armhole and extend the biceps line of the sleeve); 2. Reduce the sleeve cap height; or 3. Raise the armhole.

I chose number 3 because it seems like the best solution for the silhouette of this jacket. And according to KK, it results in a “Chanel-like sleeve with a high underarm and a relatively slim sleeve with maximum lift” which is exactly what I wanted.

So that’s the alteration I’m doing now. There’s a side panel instead of a side seam so I taped the pieces together so I could just draw one curve.


I added about 2-1/2 inches to the side panel (number 8) and tapered the line off to the other two pattern pieces. The red ink is to fix a line that wasn’t curvy enough.


Here are the finished pieces with seam allowance added to the side front and side back.


The other adjustment I’m working on is lengthening the sleeves because I’m just not a fan of bracelet length. Even when I was trying on the muslin, I just couldn’t get past how odd they look. So I added 5 inches so that the finished sleeve will end at my knuckles. And I’m going to flare them out a so they look like the ones from Tracey’s jacket below (the picture is from A Challenging Sew’s blog. Read the entire post here. Actually, go read the whole blog; she’s pretty amazing.)

I’ll be making yet another muslin tomorrow to fine tune the sleeves. Hopefully it’ll be my last and I can start cutting it out soon.


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Return of the French Jacket

Like most seamstresses, I have a stash of fabric I’ve been amassing for years. Everything from knits to silk to $1/yard cotton prints. Yet I can never find something I like when I want to sew.

The situation became more acute since I decided to stop buying fabric until I use what I have. (Okay, I did buy some fabric a couple months ago but it was on impulse. I got some orange ponte for $3/yard. Don’t judge me. What was I supposed to do? It was ponte. At $3/yard. Don’t look at me like that; you’d have done the same thing.) So now I feel stuck between using fabric that doesn’t inspire me or breaking my “no buy” promise.

My solution is to dig deep and pretend I have no options; that I have to sew my way to freedom. I haven’t been sewing much because, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been deep in my coding obsession (I’ll be writing about that in a separate blog so you won’t have to read about it here.)

To get back on track, I’m revisiting old projects that I’d put aside because a) this is, after all, a blog about making stuff; and b) it’s spring and I don’t have any spring clothes.

My first project is my super-overdue French jacket (Vogue 8804). The one I’ve been talking about since 2014. Yes, 2014!!!! I was waiting until I reached my goal weight, but you know what? I’m close enough AND I can buy more fabric for another one later. I found my old muslin and I’ve been tweaking it a bit, especially the sleeves, which are giving me agita.


I know the sleeve isn’t set in properly, but I’m over it at this point.



See those markings at the bottom? I got that idea from A Challenging Sew. Apparently adding length to the center back visually elongates the torso. Go read the entire post because her finished jacket is so beautiful, it’ll make your eyes well up.

Most of the adjustments I had to make are ones I usually do anyway, but some of them were just baffling. For example, when I made up the muslin, I had a HUGE bubble in the middle of my back.  I know I always need to make a swayback adjustment, but this one was extreme. In the pic below, the black thread is the original seam and the red one is the new seam. At the widest distance, the two threads are about 1″ apart.


I’m going to do a couple more fittings then I’ll be ready to take the muslin apart and start cutting the fabric.

And for anyone who still remembers the bra underwire saga, I finally got my underwires in the mail (yay!).

That’s my less ambitious (and hopefully more realistic) plan for this week.

So, are there any projects you’ve been working on (or planning to work on) for 2+ years? Share your pain the in comments; I’m here for you.


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Life Changes

I have a confession. I wrote this post last week, but the topic frightened me so much that I couldn’t publish it.

For the last few months, I’ve been thinking about making some major changes.  I’ve been reading quite a few books like What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life by James Hollis and most recently Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion by Gregg Levoy. I’ve also been hopscotching across the internet machine and reading lots of blog posts by and about other people wrestling with the same issue (like this one).

Every time I found a new book, post or magazine article, it reminded me of a long ago promise I made to myself that I’d never allow myself to stagnate. When I read Walden at 12 or 13 years old, one of the quotes that pierced my heart was “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” At that age, I didn’t know exactly what it meant, but I had a good idea. Most of the adults around me were not unhappy, but they weren’t happy either. They just existed. Work, home, work, home, maybe a vacation once in a while, otherwise rinse and repeat year after year. And I knew that I never wanted to be like that. I wanted to be able to look back and know that I lived well and fully.

Over time, I’ve been able to create more passion and adventure in my day to day life, but I still feel like I’m limiting myself in some ways and I want to change that. I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of lifestyle I want and what I need to do to get it.

What does all this have to do with my unpublished post? Well what scared me was the finality of putting my decisions out into the world. It’s one thing to tell your plans to family and a few friends, but somehow writing it here made it feel like I was crossing the Rubicon – and that completely freaked me out.

So here’s what I decided: 1) to leave New York; and 2) to switch careers, all within the next two years. I’m still processing my decisions because of the enormity of those changes; particularly leaving the city I call home.

I never thought I’d ever even consider leaving NY. But I feel a dissatisfaction – a restlessness – that’s like a low grade fever. Overall, I have a great life here and most days I wake up thrilled to live in such an amazing, wonderful city. But I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I could be just as thrilled waking up somewhere else.

First I have to decide where I’d like to live. Right now, I’m considering five cities – some overseas – but I need to narrow it down to three so I can start researching the details. I only have two three requirements for my new home: it has to be in a warmish climate and it has to be near water and it has to have or at least be near a fast internet connection.

The career change is a little less intimidating because I’ve done it a few times before. I currently work as a film/video editor, but I’m studying to become a web or mobile developer. Coding has always been interesting to me because I love puzzles, but it always seemed so difficult that I never got far. This time, though, I’ve found some great books and online resources. Now that I understand more, I’m obsessed with it. Like seriously obsessed. As a result, I’ve been spending a ton of time doing tutorials, reading code or reading about code. I actually took a book on Javascript with me when I went to the park.

And maybe the word “change” is too strong; it’s more like adding another tool to my toolbox. Emilie Wapnick did a TEDx talk –  “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling” – which finally gave a name to what I am: a multipotentialite.  When I heard her talk, it was like the skies parted and suddenly things made sense. All my life, I’ve been told I had to choose one skill or career, but I found it impossible because I have so many interests and whenever I find something I like, I completely immerse myself in it – at least until I find the next big thing.

Anyhow, whenever I have to work through something serious, I try to spend as much time as I can in nature because that’s where I do my best thinking. Last week, we had two unseasonably warm days so I took full advantage. On the second day, I went to one of my favorite places, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.




I sat under this tree and listened to music, read, and did some writing. Afterwards, I felt so much clearer about what I need to do.

I might not have all the answers yet, but I’m willing to take the first step and for right now, that’s enough.


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Miette Cardigan

The last few weeks have been really busy with work, so sadly I haven’t been making much. But, I did manage to finish Miette. I just need to block her this weekend and I can finally have a win!

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I have a lot more to share with you about what’s been happening in DinWorld. I was going to put it in this post, but I need to untangle my thoughts. Until then, go do something creative and I’ll see you next week!


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