Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Autism - a personal project

I have come back to a project very dear to me. I have worked with children with autism for many years now and am a picture schedule fanatic. I make my own picture schedules because I love them so much! I even give presentations on picture schedules, have written articles and have a power point if you are really interested. Really,  I have mastered reading, so I really make lists - same concept. The point is we all love our routines. OK, I'll adjust and step off my soap box...back to the sewing.

I have worked from time to time on a project I designed back in October of 2010 for soft, portable and stylish picture schedules, first/then charts, choice making boards, may or may not get my drift. I have pictures below that I will explain. Here is the situation I love my design. I love the back. The dang vinyl is killing me. My next attempt will incorporate a walking foot while sewing the vinyl. Does anyone have suggestions on how to tackle this project?

You may not be able to see it too clearly, but this is a fabric panel with five open top vinyl rows on it with slots where parents or teachers can slip cards in for their child to see. You can see my vinyl stretched as I sewed it and distorted.

A far off picture of the back.

These are pictures of the back of the picture schedule. It has an awesome pocket for keeping extra cards when not in use. It also has a tie to roll it up and carry it like a yoga mat, hang up on a door or over a car seat, etc.

This is the picture schedule rolled up and tied like a yoga mat.

If you know children or adults with autism, this is a great tool. I'd love to be able to provide them to parents and students, but that vinyl is holding me up. Does anyone have suggestions on how to adjust for the stretch of the vinyl?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Inspired Dress

Hello all! I am picking myself and brushing myself off. I can't let one bad experience hold me down.

I don't know if you have seen the new Vogue Summer patterns, but there are some really good ones. I found Vogue #1236, shown below, designed by DKNY and immediately was drawn to it (and a few others you will be seeing soon I'm sure). I like a loose fitting, cool dress I can belt in just the right place...

I ran right out to Hancock Fabrics because they had Vogue on sale this weekend and the new pattenrs weren't in yet. That gave me time to think I might like a similar style with sleeves. I love the drapey neckline, the belt, the stripes... I was flipping through new look and inspiration struck.

I found New Look 6803. I was immediately drawn to version B.
Drapey neckline? Check!
Sleeves? Check!
Stripes? Check!

I bought the seersucker on sale at Hancock Fabric. I read some reviewes at Pattern Review, and some creative seamsters cut the back piece on the fold to remove a seam from the back. Genius and a challenge! I have never adjusted like that. I taped back 5/8" from that back center piece and crossed my fingers. I laid the pattern out and realized I needed to do some creative cutting and folding to make that happen. I folded it with selvages together and a fold on either side and laid out my pieces as you can see below.

That gave me plenty of room and some leftover fabric, which is always nice because I have teacher friends that like my scraps for projects. I will keep you updated as the dress comes together.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

When Senchas Go Bad

The Sencha is done. It started as a muslin, and that may be what is stays. I was excited I did nice buttonholes, but the fit is just awful. I am a busty girl, and the chest is huge. Also, when I stretch my arms out I have a weird flying squirrel effect. This just went wrong, and I'm so disappointed because I wanted it to work out so bad.

This was my first time making real button holes. There was some miscommunication between me and the Singer. The Singer just beeped at me, and I beeped back at it until I gave up, downloaded the manual and was reminded I needed to pull the buttonhole thing down by the presser foot. This is my machine without it.
This is said button hole foot thing by the presser foot. There may be a more technical name for it, but why should there be?

This is my first try on of the final. As you can see very, very big.

This is the back, which looks awesome, except for the fit.

This was after I took the sides in an inch.

This is the back after I took in both back darts an inch.

This is how pretty it is just sitting there.
Final Thoughts: This was bad. From my fabric issues to my fitting issues this was bad. I definitely need to make a smaller size if I make this again. I'm pretty turned off by the whole experience, so I may not. Also, I usually like Colette directions, but this one called for catch slipping the sleeves, but didn't explain what that means. The technique I invented has me catching my pinkie finger in the stitching every time I put it on. Is that a sign I did it right or wrong?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sencha Sadness Part II: The Revenge

I just got this e-mail from I appreciate their customer support, but it looks like the icky muslin may have to become the real deal...Does anyone have any suggestions for removing the weird greasy stains I blogged about last time?

Hello Stacie ,
Thank you for placing an order with
Unfortunately, the following items are currently out of stock:

Cotton Shirting Swiss Dots White/Pink( DO-072 )

Although we do our best to provide accurate inventory levels on our website, there may be times when posted inventory levels do not match our actual in stock levels. In order to minimize the negative impact of this scenario, we are constantly striving to improve our quality processes, and will continue to work diligently to reduce the risk for inconsistent inventory levels.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
If the order total becomes less than $35.00 as a result of this shortage, we would like to offer you free shipping.

Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this shortage may have caused, and we look forward to speaking with you.

Thanks for shopping at

Best wishes, Customer Service
Customer Service

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sencha Sadness

I have been sitting in my Sencha pattern for awhile. I love the vintage look, but have not found the right material yet. I bought a couple of yards of $1.95 pink cotton with small white dots on to trigger the free shipping, and when I got it out of the box it spoke to me. The fabric said, "Make me Sencha version 2." I washed it. I dried it. I laid it all out and found greasy looking stains. I washed and dried it again, and they didn't come out.

I circled the marks with some disappearing marker.

I loved the look so much and bought matching buttons, so I ordered a couple more yards of the fabric which I will totally inspect before washing and drying. I did decide to make a muslin out of the icky stuff though just to get an idea for the fit. Obviously it is not done much beyond the darts, shoulders and half a side seam, but I'm loving it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hey, Hey I'm a Widlflower skirt

So in Houston we celebrate rodeo. For a couple of weeks the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is in full swing, and nearly everyone you know will go to at least one show. I made this skirt to attend the Miranda Lambert concert. Most people that go to the rodeo get fully decked out in Western gear. I do not really have any, so I decided to use a fabric I have been obsessing with from Michael Miller It looks just like the park by my house this time of year with all the wildflowers blooming. I must say, I got many compliments and didn't look like a poser cowgirl. Mission accomplished. I used Butterick 4461, which was very easy to put together. I made version A without the belt loops. It took about two hours, but I think if I make this skirt again, and I will make this skirt again, I could do it much faster.

 This is the front of the skirt. I made a 22, but it came out pretty large. I could have made it smaller. I also trimmed about 3 inches off the bottom and it came to my kneecaps. I'm a shorty.
 My first attempt at an invisible zipper is shown above. You can't see it very well...I guess that's a good thing since it is supposed to be invisible.
 The inside has an interfaced bit to help keep it in shape.
I used my awesome new rolled hem foot to make this hem. I have little patience for hemming, and this did make it go quicker. I think with a bit more practice I will be a hem rolling champion.

Final thoughts: This is a great, easy pattern that I will use again. A lightweight skirt and a tank or tee are basically my summer uniform. It's one of the major advantages of being a woman that we don't have to wear pants in 100 degree heat. I take full advantage. I also think this skirt would be very easy to line and I have a light yellow fabric in my stash I may try to make a lined skirt with. I will keep you updated.

Friday, March 18, 2011

In the beginning there was the Colette Crepe dress...

And it was good.

So, I am fairly new to sewing. I began in October of 2010 at Sew Crafty in Houston, which is sadly closed now. I cried on the way home from my last class and still miss the sense of community that came with the store.

As I persevere sewing and teaching myself new techniques I started reading other great sewing blogs. I believe it began with Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing. I learned there were other people out there creating and reviving a skill I thought had nearly died. By learning from these blogs, which I will mention when I have pulled inspiration from them, I again feel like a part of a community.

That being said I began my Crepe dress by Colette I decided to take the plunge. I felt I had created something beautiful enough to blog about and thus began Stacie Thinks She Can.

I love Colette patterns for so many reasons. I am curvy in some of the wrong places, and the patterns I have tried from Colette have been very flattering despite my figure flaws. Also, the instructions are written into an almost level 1 reader that comes in the pattern envelope. It has actual pages, large font, tips and excellent illustrations. Basically they were written for people that may not know it all.

I bought a cherry print cotton from Cali Gal Stitches for $4.25 for 60" fabric. When it arrived the fabric was exactly what I wanted but rather sheer. So I did some research on lining the dress and chose cheap white muslin as well as the red cotton belt material from Joann's. I found a fully lined, reversible Crepe on one blog I enjoy called

I do not have the capacity at this point to make a reversible dress, although I would love to. I did use her blog as inspiration to line my dress. I also followed her advice to skip the sleeve interfacing. I am very happy with the results.

This is the bodice. It was lined front and back pieces separately and joined at the shoulder and side seams. I also edge stitched around the sleeve and neck to keep them from shifting while wearing.
 A closer shot of the inside. Helpful hint I pinned itright sided together, lining darts up and interfacing on top before sewing. (The second time...the first time my interfacing was facing out like a strange collar.)
 Here is the finished dress. You may notice I switched up versions one and two of the pattern. I used the scoop neck from 1 with the contrasting belt from 2.
A view of the lining. I hand stitched the hole where the belt goes through to help keep it from coming out with the belt.
My finished Crepe inside out.

Final thoughts: This is my favorite dress. Ever. I can't wait to wear it. It fits perfectly and will be adorable for Spring and Summer. The only bad thing I can say is: will I ever stop hearing Warrant's Cherry Pie in my head after staring at cherries for a good nine hours? To be determined.