And yet another flower! Simplicity 1601 – view G

Today’s flower is the easiest one yet – view G from Simplicity 1601, designed by Andrea Schewe.

Simplicity 1601 front

I used some light cotton fabric that was left over from the 1963 shift dress I made last summer.

The petals of this flower consist of five squares with rounded edges. Each square is folded in half, then you gather all five sections using one piece of thread.

2013-08-11 gathering petals

Gathering the petals was very easy. View A and D were a little more work because they involve gathering two or three sections of fabric, then all of those gathered chunks must be hand sewn together. View G was much less work because there was only the one layer of petals to gather.

2013-08-11 gathering all five petals

The petals have a lovely curve.


The next step is to gather a circle of fabric around a button for the flower center. This is the same as for views C and D, except the button is a little larger.


The final step is to sew the covered button to the gathered petals. This is pretty easy, but next time I’d tighten up the gathered petals first. I looked at them beforehand and felt they were pretty tight, but when I sewed the button to the petals there were a few places where I had to add extra stitches in order to hide all of the gathers underneath the button.

I still don’t have green felt, so there are no leaves on this flower…the black felt didn’t seem appropriate. I had planned on getting some during the week, but we had a little too much excitement – Maisie spent five nights at the vet and had surgery. She’s back home and recovering extremely quickly, but it was a long and stressful week for everyone.

Even without leaves, the flower is super cute!!!

2013-08-11 the finished flower!
Maisie was completely uninterested in flower-making, but she did want to play with her ball, which made us very, very happy after such a scary week. She’s in the background here, since Jasper stole the ball (she’s not yet allowed to play with it anyway).

2013-08-11 Maisie and Jasper

Simplicity 1601 – Tote bag with flowers

Since I made my Christmas tote bag last fall, I’ve been wanting to make another bag – but I wanted to add something decorative. Andrea’s flower pattern, Simplicity 1601, provided lots of fun flower choices. I loved the pink gingham flower I made a few weeks ago so I decided to go with that version. I had some cotton fabric I purchased last fall during my apron-making spree, and came up with a plan for the bag and three flowers to sew on the outside of the bag.

The pattern calls for not sewing the edge of the fabric on the bottom of the flower (the part that attaches to the felt base), but I decided to sew this for two reasons. First, because I thought rough edges might be too visible on a bag, and second because the gingham flower was wider than I wanted this time around (since I wanted to attach three flowers instead of just one).

I started off by sewing the edges of the flowers except for a small hole, then I turned them right-side out and pinned them in place. Because I was stitching the gather (which I did by hand…this time…), it wasn’t necessary to finish off the unstitched portion. After the gingham flower, pinning these together was super easy – which was good, because with three flowers I had to pin/gather six separate rosettes.

2013-07-28 pinned flower
Gathering the flower by hand turned out to be pretty easy. I did end up breaking the thread a few times, but it was pretty easy to recover from. I think you could avoid that by either using two gather threads instead of one, or by making larger stitches.

2013-07-28 gathering a flower

I didn’t follow a pattern for the bag, which could imply something about my skill level, but really indicates a complete lack of patience. I went back to see what measurements I’d used for my Christmas tote bag, then looked at that bag and decided it was taller and narrower than what I had envisioned for this version. I went with the following measurements.

main fabric

exterior and interior: 16″ x 17″ on the fold

contrast fabric

straps: 3″ x 27″
interior pocket: 6″ x 6″

I changed the size of the pocket at the last minute because I realized I’d changed the width of the bag (to roughly 9″) and the pocket I’d cut out was much too large.

2013-07-28 pocket

I didn’t realize I was going to change the depth of the bag until I eyeballed it when I went to sew the bottom seams. My last bag was 3″ deep, but this one is 5″ deep.

2013-07-28 sewing the base

This time I put a layer of interfacing on the inside of the bag to make it a little sturdier. Next time I’ll do the same for the straps – I didn’t think of doing that until I’d already sewn them.

I laid out the flowers on the bag to figure out how they should be arranged.

2013-07-28 before sewing flowers

Since I had three flowers to attach right next to one another, I decided to sew one large felt base instead of three separate bases.

2013-07-28 before sewing the felt base

Sewing the felt base on was not too much work.

2013-07-28 sewing felt base

However, sewing the base on meant that the flowers were secured together on the bottom – I needed to do extra stitching on the top to make sure they stayed close together.

2013-07-28 tightening up the flowers

Maisie kept me company.

2013-07-28 Maisie

I then sewed the flowers to the bag and was very happy! But as you can see, I made one tiny mistake…

2013-07-28 oops

Oops!!! Fortunately it was easily fixed.

2013-08-03 finished bag

And here’s a close up of the flowers. They turned out beautifully!

2013-08-03 flowers!!!

Simplicity 1601 – Pink and black flower

My latest flower for Andrea Schewe‘s pattern test is view D.

Simplicity 1601 front

This flower consists of three gathered strips sewn together. Gathering these was super easy – and this time I used my machine and that’s what the pattern instructions called for!

2013-07-19 flower pieces

The one thing I’ve found a little confusing so far is how many stitches to make when gathering. For view A, the illustration made it look like I was to sew one gathering stitch, but for view D it looked like I was supposed to sew two. So I did, and I’m going to assume that going by the illustration is the thing to do – but since I’m “testing” the pattern I’m trying to think about what might be unclear to someone else.

The most alarming thing about this flower was that it made it brutally obvious just how few fabric scraps I have. And here I’ve been thinking I had too many! I had to find four fabrics that went together well, and boy was that a challenge. Never again will I feel guilty about keeping a tiny scrap!

The three strips are of different widths and lengths. After they’re gathered, you sew them together to make the petals of the flower.

2013-07-19 flower petals

The center of the flower is a button with a tiny circle of fabric sewn over top. This was quite interesting. When I first looked at the pattern I assumed that this was a fabric-covered button. I don’t have any at the moment, and while I’ve got everything to cover buttons, I’ve never tried it – so I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do when I got to this point. It turns out that I had worried needlessly! Andrea’s pattern calls for you to wrap a circle of fabric around a button, then gather the fabric around the button.

2013-07-19 flower center

After camouflaging the button, you stitch it to the petals.

2013-07-20 flower petals and center

Next you add a base to the back of the flower, plus leaves. Both are felt. Apparently I never bought green felt during my Christmas holiday craft phase years ago (although I have a zillion jingle bells left), but I did have black (from my Halloween craft phase). Since this flower has so much black in it, I thought I’d give black leaves a try.

2013-07-20 leaves and base

The colors may be a bit non-traditional, but I quite like the black leaves.

2013-07-20 view D - complete!

The funny bulge in the pink petal section is because I didn’t sew that section to the other two petal pieces well. This part is all hand sewing, and you’re stitching through three layers of gathered fabric, so it’s easy to miss a chunk if you’re not careful. I think I was focusing more on the outer and inner petals, and missed a section of the middle. It’s stitched in now, but it would look better if I’d noticed this sooner.

The one thing I wasn’t sure how to do was fray the ends of the fabric. The pattern says to place the lower end of the pattern piece on the cross-grain torn edge of the fabric. I didn’t read this until I’d already started gathering – which is totally my fault, not Andrea’s. This instruction is in the right place – I just have a (bad!) tendency to jump around with pattern instructions, and I skipped over this one at first. Andrea shows how to do this correctly in her tutorial for views C and D.

I’d also like to try this in other fabrics. In Andrea’s tutorial she made some petals from burlap, and I really like how they turned out.

My next flower is view A again, but I’m going to do something a little different with it than last time. I’m excited – I really hope this turns out well!

The dogs were too sleepy to be in any photos today because we went on a long hike this morning, but as you can see they were very, very happy.

2013-07-20 hiking in the Flatirons

New Look 6155 – Blue Liberty of London skirt

My first experience with Liberty of London fabric was so wonderful I’m now having to fight the urge to buy more and more and more!

Fortunately it’s so pricey that I have yet to talk myself into spending the money…but it’s really just a matter of time before I cave.

I purchased this lovely print from last fall:

Liberty of London Tana Lawn Mauvey Blue

I had a coupon for 30% off. The (pre-coupon) list price was $32.98, which is low compared to what I’ve seen this fabric go for elsewhere. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for more coupons!!!

I was originally going to make a blouse, then got on a skirt kick and this fabric seemed perfect. Here’s the result.

Jasper and New Look 6155

Jasper has shown little interest in sewing, and is really only in the photo because he thought I had his squeaky tennis ball. Maisie has taken over the role of sewing companion, but she didn’t want to leave her shady spot under the table on the patio, so she missed out on today’s photo shoot.

I made version B of New Look 6155. I was going to add the decorative waistband loop the pattern calls for, then changed my mind and made it loop-free.

2013-07-06 New Look 6155 waistband

I only have two issues with this skirt. The first is that I must have made the hem shorter than the pattern called for, because this is what the slit in the back looks like:

2013-07-06 New Look 6155 back slit

It seems a bit…silly. I’m going to either lengthen the slit or remove it entirely, I haven’t decided which.

The second problem is that the skirt is too large. Conveniently, I’m a little large right now too, but at some point this is going to become a problem. I even went back and checked the pattern to see if I’d mistakenly cut out the wrong size, but I hadn’t. I had cut out a size 12, which the pattern claims has a waist measurement of 26 1/2″ and hips of 36″. Clearly this is not the case – I’m going to have to take in both the waist and hips by at least an inch. I do like the pattern, so I’m going to make another version in a size 10, and then adjust this skirt based on how well that goes.

I’ve been extra busy for the past few months – my goal was to finish the first draft of my current novel before doing much else. I’m close to two-thirds of the way through the first draft, but it’s going a little more slowly than I expected, so I’ve been doing a little more sewing lately. Which is probably what I should have done in the first place. Sewing is a fun – and productive! – break from writing. I’ve finished a few more sewing projects, but I’ll hold off on posting about them because I’m about to embark on something new and exciting…pattern testing!

I’m testing this fun pattern:

Simplicity 1601 front

It was developed by Andrea Schewe for Simplicity. Andrea has designed patterns for years, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to test out one of her patterns. She has posted tutorials on making these flowers on her blog.

Flower photos coming soon!

Jasper – my new sewing buddy

Losing Lucy, my furry little sewing buddy, hit me really hard. I actually put away all of my sewing things – except for the four sewing machines, since there’s nowhere for them to go. (Our house has a strange lack of closet space.) I figured taking a little bit of time off would be okay, and besides, it’s hard to sew when you’re crying.

We recently celebrated what would have been Lucy’s 7th birthday, and that night I dreamed about sewing, so I’m getting back in the groove. And I new have a new helper: Jasper!

2013-02-09 Sanitas

Jasper is the fluffy black and white guy – Maisie is behind him.

We adopted Jasper from the Nebraska Border Collie Rescue group. Not only were we sad and lonely without Lucy, our other dog Maisie was sad and lonely, so I looked around and found the little guy. My wonderful friend Kristin went with me on the journey to meet Jasper and bring him home. It was eight hours each way, through an awful lot of uninteresting scenery – unless you like looking at cornfields while your car is being buffeted by the wind. Jasper had been at a humane society for seven months, then in a foster home for about two months, so the poor little guy was without a real home for most of the last year. He’s smart and sweet and cuddly – and he loves lying next to me while I sew or write. He’d rather we played ball 24×7, but sewing is a good second choice for him.

I’m excited to be getting back in the swing of things, especially since I found a pattern I’ve been looking for since last spring:


Isn’t it fantastic? I fell in love with it when I first started looking at vintage patterns last year, and I put in a bid on eBay, but since it was my first eBay experience I didn’t know what I was doing and I lost it by a quarter. Even worse, I bid $2.25, the pattern went for $2.50, and after that I couldn’t find it for anything less than $60!!! A few weeks ago it popped up and I managed to get it for a whopping $5.50. Oh, happy day! I’m super excited about making it!

2013-01-29 Boulder Valley Ranch

I miss Lucy very much, but I’m glad to be back at it again, and I’m looking forward to many years of sewing with my fluffy new helper.


I finally finished sewing buttons on my dress, but I haven’t had the heart to post about it yet because we had to put Lucy, my sewing buddy, to sleep this month.

Lucy was recovering very nicely from elbow surgery, but unbeknownst to us she also had cancer. By the time we found out it was far too late to do anything. She was only six years old.

Lucy loved to lie by me when I was sewing, and this often turned into her lying on whatever I was sewing. Once I was hemming one leg of a pair of flannel pajamas when she laid down on the other leg…she looked so comfortable I moved on to another project and gave up on that one for the day. She was there for all of my photographs – if she wasn’t in them she was just off camera making me smile. We miss her very, very much.