Taking a Break

Week three of the knee replacement surgery and it has been harder than I thought with pain levels high despite more mobility. There is a phrase, “knocked the stuffing out of me” and that is how I feel.

I thought I would be having more time to hand sew things and read but it didn’t turn out that way. The knee was bent before surgery and had to be manipulated to be stright for the new appliance to be attached so bruising went the full length of my leg from crotch to ankle. Only now have the huge purple painful splotches slowly faded but sleeping in a bed at night is almost impossible with both side of the much swollen knee refusing to rest quietly. During the exercises, I had more bleeding and a change of bandage before the staples were removed.

Sadly, I have no new sewing to share with you but Mr. Mole has completed most of the veggie planting and I was able to wander outside to get a few photos for you.

The view from my sewing/recovery room window:

Raspberry plants in back and volunteer sunflowers in front along with bird feeders:

The rose arch and shaded lower level we call “the dell”.

Ever returning poppies and pyracantha bushes in flower:

Tomato and pepper plants:

Radishes, onions and red leaf lettuce:

Bush beans in front and asparagus in back:

Swiss chard and spinach:

44 strawberry plants, half new this year and half transplanted:

So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things get better and my sewing mojo returns next month. One thing I have learned is that when someone who has had this surgery before tells me that on week four I will be walking 10 blocks around the neighborhood…to take it with a grain of salt. Everyone’s recovery is different and we have to listen to our bodies and not push too hard.

Thank you all for following along and I look forward to more sewing adventures soon!

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Change of Pace

Not much sewing going on this week as I have a knee replacement scheduled in two days. After putting it off for 12 years while I was busy with brides and the up and down positions required for hemming and pinning, the knee has finally said, “Enough!”

I’m sure many of you have been through this surgery and you know what it entails for the next couple months in recovery. Mr. Mole will be my British butler/nurse and of course chafffeur as there will be no driving for 6 weeks.

In preparation for this time of recovery and lots of physical therapy, I have been tidying up my two sewing rooms in the hopes I will feel like doing some pinning and basting and maybe even machine sewing while I am on strong pain pills. So glad I managed to cut all the sewing kits for our local Community Sewing projects for the next 3 months!

I have helped a little in the garden while Mr. Mole has been doing all of the veggie planting. We have a new bed for the strawberries along with little plastic platforms that raise up as the plants grow heavy with fruit.

Onions and Swiss chard are doing well and they will be joined by tomatoes and peppers.

The raspberry plants have popped up after the Winter.

And the ever present necessity for the Summer months…a fly bag filled with water and a fly attractant. Soon it will be filled with flies having a party but like in the song “Hotel California”…you can check in but you can never leave.

Nadine is taking full advantage of the Spring weather by hunting down skinks and catching them to play with. Here she is with a good sized one in her mouth with the tail and legs hanging out. We managed to release the poor critter and let it run away to be caught later in the future.

Another critter in the garden is the Oregon alligator lizard

The other activity in the garden is nest building…here is the robin gathering twigs. While Nadine is shedding her winter coat I have been collecting wads of cat fur to put outside for the birds to use.

So there we are…planning for a bountiful summer of vegetables and fruit along with the fruit trees which all all in blossom and me practicing walking with a walker frame for the next month.

If you were dropping in to see some sewing projects, sorry to disappoint you. Hoping next time to have more to share. Happy sewing everyone!

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Adding Another Year

Last year we had the best escape to peace and quiet in a rented house in Olympia, Washington State for my birthday: https://fitforaqueen.wordpress.com/2022/04/13/returning-refreshed/

So this year, we did the same thing but the weather was so severe and wintery, we didn’t leave the house during the week except to venture out for one meal.

When we arrived, it was snowing and raining on the lake

and the only brave soul was a river otter eating a fish:

The next day the deer family arrived to hang around and hope for handfuls of dried corn:

The mother deer was brave enough to come up on the deck and eat out of my hand and Mr. Mole got a video of that.

There were also groups of ducks and geese having a meeting on the lawn near the water’s edge along with squirrels scampering up and down the huge trees bordering the property.

Maybe some of you might think that we stayed in a rustic log cabin type of place but it was a proper house with all the latest facilities.

And a place to set up the laptops:

We spent lots of time reading and napping and just doing lots of nothing as we had brought all the food we needed from home. The 6 hour trip home was the complete opposite with horrendous rain and sleet and traffic jams and rerouting and splash-back from the trucks and flooding and hydroplaning cars passing us going 80 mph like it was a dry summer day.

Being back home we are catching up on our work and my sewing projects. Nadine, our kitty, had a cat sitter who was super and she sent us photos every day of the two of them playing and snuggling which eased our conscience for leaving her.

Next time I’ll have photos of the progress on the Chanel jacket but I discovered a way to hold printed out recipes while cooking. If you have one of those vertical paper towel holders, you can slide the recipe under the lever and it stays ready to read!

Hope all your religious celebrations were filled with good food and happy egg hunting children! Now it is almost time to think about Spring veggie planting after the last day of frost in our valley. Mr. Mole is ready with his asparagus and strawberry plants and I have the red onion sets and a mini pepper plant in the small greenhouse waiting to be planted out…now we just need Mother Nature to smile on us and send some warm temps!

Happy sewing everyone!

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Moving On

Coming to the end of Nancy’s jacket, I thought I would add a few details that are not in the pattern’s instruction sheet.

When you have front bands that include the lining as well, the only thing holding them together is the very front edge seam. The second seam that attaches them to the lining and rest of the jacket front is not attached to anything and it can droop and shift and bunch up.

So, by first hand basting those two seams together, the bands will act as one unit. Machine stitching will follow.

Then there is understitching, this keeps the seam flat and lying in the one direction you want it to remain. The front band that you see has been understitched to the back/under band for stabilization. Once that is done, and steam pressed flat, the top stitching can be used for decorative purposes before the big snaps are sewn on.

The male snaps on the overlap band are only sewn to the facing and not through to the front of the jacket. The female snaps have been sewn all the way through to the back side of the band for strength.

On the back neck facing the label is sewn on and centered.

I think the mark of a well sewn garment is the sleeve cap. So I use loosely woven wool for rug making cut into bias strips to pad out the very top of the sleeve cap. Normally I cut 2.5 inch strips on bias and then fold over 1 inch to be placed next to the sleeve itself while the longer side is used to be the top cover over the short side. Here are some samples of a supplier:

https://greenmountainhookedrugs.com/collections/bolt-wool?page=3 and another Etsy supplier

Some folks use the strips for easing in the cap before attaching to the armhole while basting, I use mine to attach by hand after the sleeves are already eased unto the bodice. For this sleeve, I narrowed the strip to 1.5 inches as the fabric is crisp and didn’t need the full width to puff up the cap.

The result is a smooth cap with just enough “puff”.

With this pattern, we have a back waist seam that can flip up or down and knowing that eventually a dry cleaner will have their way with pressing, I decided to top stitch the seam flat and up. I changed thread colors to blend in with the lighter and darker fabrics. The hem has been serged and folded up and top stitched one inch from the bottom hemline.

Shoulder pads have been covered and curved and snaps applied to make them removeable when dry cleaning. I make a tuck on the underside (red circle) and take in enough fabric by hand to mimic the necessary curve of the shoulder.

Just before the final stitching of the sleeves by hand, I noticed that after pinning the sleeve to the armhole after already hemming the lining to the sleeve hem…something was not hanging right. Can you see the drag lines and red arrows? What’s wrong?

I blame it on the iHop House of Pancakes.

Obviously after consuming strawberry crepes, I was on a sugar high and didn’t notice that each sleeve lining was attached to the wrong sleeve. Now what?

Yes, I had to remove the lining at the sleeve hem edge and transfer the correct lining to the other sleeves(s). Now the right ones are pinned on and that is the last thing to do before I hand it over to Nancy.

Here are the correct linings hanging down nicely and curving the correct direction…jeez! With the lining sewn quite near the hem edge, Nancy can roll her sleeve up to reveal the lining for added pizazz!












So what’s next? Well, now that Nancy’s jacket is done, I can return to the Chanel jacket for myself but there is also the Community Sew projects for the local ASG. We will be making kid’s blankets for Foster Parents program.

There is always a need to keep our seniors warm and cosy so we make fleece wraps and here are more 12 kits waiting to be sewn.

Spring has turned out to be a real disappointment as snow is still falling and the main interstate highway is closed today. Notice no vehicles in any direction!!!

Stay warm and safe and happy sewing everyone!

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Slow Going

Not all projects go smoothly and sometimes there is a real “bump in the road”.

Working on Nancy’s jacket should have been an easy project, right? The muslin and early try-on went well but then the party came to a halt.

Can you see what happens down near the hem? Why are straight of grain bands flaring out? Has this ever happened to you?

After checking all the seams and the paper pattern over and over, I went back to the cutting room and checked the leftover selvedge pieces to see why the fronts were stretching like that.

And here is what I found:

Have you ever had fabric stretch on the straight of grain? I sure have never come across such an animal and this explains why the the sections attached to the bands are growing.

So what can be done? I raised the panels below the waist seam about 3/8 inch to counterbalance the angle. So now it is slightly better but I would have never known as all the other large pieces stayed in place and did not stretch but that “L” shaped piece just had nothing else to grab unto.

Here is the inside ready to attach the bands.

You can see the bands are attached with only a slight flare at the bottom and I have marked the location of the hidden snaps on the right side.

Because only the front bands are interfaced with fusible tricot, the lining bands needed some beefing up to hold the one inch snaps so they get their own circles of tricot. The edges are pinked to not show on the right side after pressing.

The wild silk lining and the finished bands…just need the lined sleeves and hem. The bands will be sewn together on the inside seams for stability and also topstitched along the outer edge.

What you can’t see is the fact that I have added triangles of silk near the hem at the side seams because this silk fabric is from the 60’s when fabric came in 35 inch widths.

  You know how Facebook sends you reminders of past photos…well this popped up this week from 22 years ago when we arrived from Liverpool with two suitcases, two sets of cutlery and nothing else. We started from scratch in a vacant house with two camping chairs and a TV bought from the local Walmart. We used the cardboard box as a table and had all the energy of 50 year olds to repaint all the rooms as we waited months for our shipping container to arrive from England. We rented a bed and acquired a microwave for meals and spent every day up and down ladders stripping wallpaper and painting over bright red and navy blue walls.

Now we can and should hire workers to do any jobs we need and we avoid doing stupid things on ladders…well, most of the time anyway.

The most daring thing I do now is bake Basque burnt cheesecakes.

The one on the left was made in a 6 inch springform pan with no parchment paper and the one on the right I used parchment paper all on the inside so it did not get at burnt on top but the tops are divine! They taste smoky and a little crunchy and the inside is custard-like and when made with monkfruit granules instead of 1.5 cups of white sugar…so low carb! All the ingredients are whizzed in the food processor and then poured into the pans…so easy peasy!

Hoping all your sewing projects go smoothly this week with no bumps in the road!!!!

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Making Progress

Here we have the basted version of Nancy’s jacket on the mannequin.


How about the jacket on a real body?

The shoulders need some tweaking and thicker shoulder pads and the hem has pins all around to mark the final level.

The silk lining is a surprise and the sleeves can be rolled up to have fancy cuffs.

There will be 4 huge snaps hidden in the front darker bands in order to keep the smooth lines. Right now all the pieces have been hand basted for the try-on.

In the other room, I have my own jacket in pieces. I wanted to get to grips with the sleeve portions as they all have had the linings hand basted and rolled up to attach to each other and have all that extra wide seam allowances that can be trimmed away and the linings closed up by hand. 

I also opened up the center back seam to lay each side of the bodice flat and compare the thread traced seam lines before attaching the sleeves.

Here is the inside with all the lining pieces hand sewn flat to each other. I cheated and serged all the raw edges of the remaining silk lining as the more I handled it, the more it frayed and created a “beard” of random threads.

It’s a good weekend to stay inside and sew with snow falling and Nadine on guard in the front window:

With 1 foot of snow falling in Portland overnight, our freeways have been closed going North and South so I hope any drivers will be careful!

Stay warm and dry and sending you best wishes for sucessful sewing projects!

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Jacket Taking Shape for Nancy

Nancy has returned to town to try on her latest jacket Butterick 6421.

After all the alterations from the last time you can see there are still a few tweaks to do to make it fit better. The front view looks ok and the neckline will be lowered one inch and the shoulder seam nearest the neck will be snugged up and a shoulder pad added. Even though the sleeve was moved in, it could stand to be moved a little more.

The side view shows the drag lines ponting towards the upper back so you all know what that means don’t you? Yes, we are in for some slashing and adding some horizontal patch of gingham. Shoulder pads will also help. The length is now jacket length instead of coat length.

Considering this is the “before” photo with pins everywhere the result is closer to fitting below:

The added gingham wedges give her just the right amount of ease to sit down without grabbing. Even though the muslin fabric is crispy, the eventual wool fabric will flatter her and hang nicely.

Maybe you are wondering what my own Chanel jacket looks like…well, I will give you a sneak peak into the beginnings of laying out the fabric and lining and using the deconstructed muslin as the pattern in class. Here are the muslin pieces placed right side up and cut as singles, no folds. The sleeves will be cut out later. Every seam allowance has has 1.5 inches added.

A blurry photo of the lining also cut using the wool and muslin as the template.

Every night I took my pieces back to my hotel room to hand sew them together for the next day. There was so much thread tracing and diagonal hand stitching to keep the lining attached to the wool on every section. We used Japanese basting thread in different colors.

Back in the classroom the next day with the lining hand attached and also machine quilted ready to have the sleeves pinned on.

Here are the sleeves lined by hand and curving nicely. The grainlines were tweaked to give that curve.

You can see the new green grainlines and the dotted quilting lines for the upper sleeves.

Thank you for following along with this project. Next time more tweaking of the bodice and steaming out excess fabric. It truly was an adventure for 6 days of 9-5 working and learning.

Mr. Mole survived without me and mastered the washing machine and dryer while Nadine went into a deep cat depression and stuck to him at all times in his lap.


It’s so good to be back home and able to work on my jacket in the peace and quiet.

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Ready for Class

After many weeks of making multiple alterations to the paper pattern and so many traced copies of every version of the pieces and tweaking the muslins, the result is …I have a class-ready sloper/toile with added seam allowances.

Here is the inside with the extended seam allowances. All seams are pressed away from center and the shoulder seams are pressed to the back. With the added seam allowances at the neck, it does not sit flat right now until fabric is trimmed away and snipped.

Not too much exciting about the flat back and I did not make the neck darts but just drew them in along with all the stitching lines for the quilting phase.Right side out and you can see all the vertical stitching lines and horizontal balancing lines at the front yoke, bust and waist. Again, all the thick seams are pressed away from the front. My muslin fabric is so crispy that is shows up any little highs and lows but so glad I added the roundness where the side fronts join the front section at the bust. Now the dreaded drag lines are from bulky seam allowances and not the bulky seamstress.

Side view and back show that I could use another sway back alteration but I won’t mess with that back waistline until I get to class. Considering how bulky all the seams are and add to the circumference, I think it turned out pretty well. Trying to coax thick stiff muslin fabric into delicate curves and side seam gathers was a real challenge. Looking forward to feeling the softness of wool fabric which should conform better. Once the sleeves are attached in class all those drag lines will hang properly and disappear.


And the 3-piece sleeves were made in the same way:


Just in case…I made sleeves with regular seam allowances. Sleeves will be attached in class later.

Sad news concerning my two basic sewing machines…the Elna 720 and Janome 11000. Both of them have started causing me fits…the Elna will not make long basting stitches and has a grinding sound and the feed dogs sometime seize up and refuse to draw fabric through.

The Janome won’t even start without turning it on and off with the needle up or needle down over 25 times and even then refuses to do some stitches and doesn’t know how to embroider or recognize commands. My dear repairman has tried his best to fix these problems but I think they will reoccur and I want a machine(s) that I can trust.

My friends tell me that after 20 punishing years of bridal sewing, they are probably just plain tired of cranking out 80-100 dresses a year and want to stop.

So with my sewing money saved up, I asked my local dealer to special order a Janome 14000 as they do not normally carry it. It arrived Dec 24 and so far so good. The manual has 170 pages and I have read through it to get acquainted. Lots of the functions are similar to the 11000 but with way more options like a pull out over table light and a “quiet mode”. Janomes are pretty quiet normally but with this setting, all you hear or feel is the needle hitting the fabric…no motor sounds!

This should be the year to get creative and get back into embroidery and have some fun!

Our weather on the West Coast has been scary with 65 mph winds and rain and flooding. Our fabric netted veggie cages were totally blown away and lots of trees were flattened in the back yard along with branches of trees from neighbors’ yards flying into ours. Neighbors on both sides of us had their wooden fences blown completely flat along with many many other folks in the valley so the fencing companies will be busy for a while! Mother Nature sure can hurl some crazy weather!

Thank you for following along and I hope this blog gives you confidence (and permission) to slash your patterns and slopers to get a perfect fit!

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Drag Lines

People ask me how to pick a pattern that will not need a lot of tweaking, since most patterns are made for a “B” cup…if that is not you, then you will have to make adjustments.

All along I have been trying to show you how patterns have very short front lengths which cause bust drag lines. I hate them and love them because they show me exactly where I need more fabric and length. It makes me wonder when these Indie and Big 4 companies release their latest and greatest designs…are they ever tried out on a real body or even a busty mannequin or just drawn out as a flat pattern and no shape.

Why do pattern companies just make the circumference wider and wider and the sleeves longer and longer when that is not where we need the extra fabric and ease?

I have copied some recent patterns from the Big 4 and more to show what to avoid if you don’t want drag lines right out of the envelope. If the envelope photo already has drag lines before it is even made up in fabric…what chance do you have to make it fit right? And of course, these models have the back of the garments all clamped tight (like bridal models) and have their hands either in their pockets to hold the front sections flat or their arm is across their tummy.

This poor man…even without breasts he has bust drag lines!!!

The pink shirt rides up in the center and screams, “Help, I just got pulled out of the dirty laundry basket.”


What hope is there if they cannot even make a knit fabric hang well?

The yellow one is particularly horrible in the side view.

Can the red knit have any more room for more bust drag lines?


For those who think making a “big shirt” is a good alternative to proper fit…how about these big old drag lines? Those blue sleeves are just so sad and droopy and the white blouse says “I’m hiding my baby bump.” Both have deep drag lines pointing to the bust…why? Where are the fitting darts?


Dresses and tunics don’t look any better unless you want even longer drag lines all the way down to the hem…gross! Again…where do the drag lines point to?


Trying to look stylish in fake leather or a traditional camp shirt? Even these “B” cup models have deep draglines pointing to the bust. Does this bother anyone in the pattern making department? I guess not as these keep appearing over and over.

Want to impress folks with a nice suit…drag lines to the bust and sleeves with too short of a sleeve cap will not get you that new job.

Next time I have all the pattern corrections done and a final sloper to share.

Maybe some of you are wondering why I choose this particular jacket pattern. It is a Claire Schaeffer pattern used in her Chanel Jacket classes and is Vogue 8804. I will attending her next seminar so the sloper had to be made before class and even though my muslin/sloper fit like I wanted, before the class we have to add 1.5 to 2 inches of extra fabric to all the seam allowances for adjusting.

For the last two days I have been doing that and transferring every single line and notch and dart marking on the traced off copy of the paper pattern to the new wider muslin pieces.

So, until next time, I wish you a great start to 2023 sewing projects!

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More Tweaking

Moving along in this challenge, I still am not happy with the way the front horizontal lines arch upwards. The red lines are parallel with the floor so adding about one inch would make them level….but do I dare slash across the bust line? Funny how when I work with Nancy and her patterns, I just have no problem just whacking away but this requires more thinking time.

The left side is the same and it reminds me of so many Indie patterns that have drag lines up the wazoo while the popular designers fail to accept the problems staring them in the face on their websites.

I don’t have to name names but you can take an educated look at the fronts of jackets and blouses and tunics and recognize that the front lengths are too short and cause these dreaded drag lines. Maybe they are considered fashionable but they only point to the problems.

Here I have taken the muslin apart to work with the pinned out sections like this armhole dart. On paper it will be removed for a smoother result and no gapping. This side section will also be extended in a rounded shape close to the bust points to look like a proper princess line.

Can you see the rounded extension? As the dart closes, it opens a little wedge. Of course this will add more vertical length where it is needed and when sewn back to the front panels will cause the need for lots of easing won’t it? Well, not exactly if you follow Kathleen Fasanella at Fashion Incubator website.

Here is the pinned seam of the front section on top and side section underneath to be slashed and lengthened to accomodate the new rounded extension without massive easing and puckering.

Getting brave and just slashing and letting the fabric seek its own level:

Right side view with edges taped together for an idea of what has to be added to the paper.

Pretty dramatic? I’ll be adding one inch all the way across the front panels graduating to zero on the side front panels.

What next? Adding 1/4 inch gingham strip of course!!!

Do you know that song by the Pointer Sisters? “I’m So Excited”?

Well, that’s me today…see why…

Starting with the left side, looks like it should and now for the right side:

So glad that I added the extra curve to the side front section and all the lines are correct, even that pesky skinny side panel is doing a good job. Next time I will go over what happens to the actual paper pattern and make another and final muslin/sloper.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mole has been battling the flu/chest infection with constant coughing. It seems that this recent outbreak in our valley has caused a real shortage of cough medicines. The shelves of the drug stores and grocery stores are completely empty and with these infections lingering 3 weeks or more, we have to just be patient. My 97 yr. old mother has Covid and has been prescribed a drug to keep it from getting worse so really looking forward to a healthy 2023!!!

Stay warm and healthy and if you are still up and walking around…appreciate it!

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