Nancy’s Sheer Jacket Pattern

Many of you have asked about the sheer jackets that I have made for my client, Nancy.

While the pattern is out-of-print, Vogue 2779, you can still make your own, using a basic shirt or jacket pattern you have already. It has no darts or facings and if you can take your measurements, add some ease, you can do it.



This is the front pattern piece so you can see with the straight-of-grain vertical arrows that it just follows a curve toward the side seams that droop down. The main volume and flare comes below the hips on the side seams but you can vary that anywhere you would like. The large horizontal fold is because Nancy is shorter waisted than the pattern but you can see where her hips are and where the curve begins. Now you can become the designer…want it longer or shorter…draw this out on a piece of paper with your original pattern on top. If you cut it too long, after the shoulders and side seams are pinned or basted together…you can cut off the excess but what you cannot do is add in more volume at the side seams later, so be generous! Remember my mantra: CLTL…cut large, trim later.


Let’s check out the back. Do you find it amazing that the measurements are the same for bust and hips…I don’t…this is not rocket science but again you can add like crazy to make more flare and fullness where YOU want it. The center back is on the fold but wouldn’t it be nice to pull the pattern away from the folded fabric and add flare in the center? Wouldn’t those soft folds drape nicely over your butt and hips? I may try this next time. There is a 3/4 inch rounded back alteration (one straight strip across at the yoke area).

You can see this jacket was in 2 lengths 35 and 45 inches long. Nancy has me keep hers at 26 where the fold is…again she is the designer and this is all possible.


By now you all know that I like to add to the cap of sleeves and then trim it away if I don’t need it but this time since I added to both the shoulder height both front and back this was necessary. I also added to the underarm seams as I did the same on the bodices. Nancy likes 3/4 length sleeves, so you can see the folded under paper…it is your choice.


So let’s add up what we have in total: Bust 50 inches and Hips 64 inches. Remembering that chiffon drapes like crazy and this jacket is worn over a t-shirt/shell this would fit a size 18-20 and not be too snug.

Here is one I have cut out for myself using silk fabric that Nancy gave to me:P1200087

Since this poor pattern has been used and folded so many time, I pinned it to graphed fabric called Pellon Tru-grid. You can see where I have enlarged it and also moved the center back 2 inches away from the fold for more volume. The waistline fold was opened and flattened to gain 3 inches in length front and back. Since I had enough fabric to make the longer version, I thought…just do it.


So what do I do first? Pin the side seams WST to make French seams. The side seams take the most abuse so they are done that way. The shoulder seams are just sewn RST and serged together and flipped to the back. Then all the edges which are now one huge circle are narrow hemmed like chiffon. Turn under 1/4 inch or so and stitch right on the very edge with a short stitch like 2.0. Once that is done, flip it to the right side and trim close to the stitching. Press a little and then fold the stitched edge to the inside and stitch again.

All that is left are the sleeves. I first French seam them, hem them and then run a basting stitch for some easing into the armhole although there is very little to ease. Once basted and happy, I machine stitch RST and serge the edges…and you are finished…2-3 hours of work and a gorgeous drapey feminine jacket you can wear all year long over other tops and dresses.

P1200109P1200110 The back length is 39 inches

Want to see more…the Pinterest page has many others to drool over. Wouldn’t this be a quick project for a present for someone who has everything? All you need is 2 yards of 60 inch wide polyester chiffon and with sales and coupons, it might just cost under $15.

Before I go, just a quick photo of the backyard yesterday after a little dusting of snow:


Can you see that tiny creature in the red circle? That is our resident Anna’s hummingbird breed that stays in our frozen valley all winter when all the other breeds head to Mexico. We make sure there are feeders full for them all over the yard and under the eaves.annas_hummingbird_wickipedia


Three brides to go before Jan 2016….I can see the end of the tunnel!

Happy Sewing everyone and thank you for dropping by!


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Patio Plans

For the past 14 years, we have endured a cracked and mossy concrete patio poured by the original contractor over 20 years ago. No matter how many times I pressure washed the surface, it grew moss like crazy and always looked grubby.


Mr. Mole and I would sit on our patio about 10 months of the year to celebrate the end of our working day (cocktails and peanuts) and always the topic was the same, “Someday we will replace this cracked patio slab with a deck”.

I could sit and imagine the beauty of wood railings and steps and then I would look over at my neighbor’s wood patio and dread the maintenance he has to do just to keep it from aging and decaying. We never thought we could afford a real concrete one let alone replace all the broken brick pathways leading to the side breezeways and veggie patch. Then I called a few contractors and found out differently. While the price quotes were very reasonable to outrageous, we settled on a nice family-run business to do the work.

Then the Moles got to work removing the existing gazebo, barbecue, chairs and planters. You can see that the existing patio never did go all the way up to the house and the chairs (while flipped forward in case of rain) always sat in gravel. What a cluttered mess!P1040418-2

With most of the planters removed, chairs and barbecue Mr. Mole can get to work disassembling the rusting metal framework of the gazebo.


Once the railings were cut in half and stacked in the trash can, the walls could be saved for other uses in the garden.


When I lived in England I loved watching Bob Flowerdew recycle so many things for his garden so I asked Mr. Mole if we could save the walls for later for climbing plants like clematis and roses…luckily he agreed and stacked them down in the lower level of the garden which we call “the Dell”.P1040447-2

Now, what about that patch of gravel?

All of a sudden, I heard myself volunteering to scoop it up and move it to the lower level of the garden pathways leading to the Dell…little did I realize it took over 12 wheelbarrow trips to just level it. Do you know how heavy one shovelful of gravel and stones is? My outfit is appropriate…cut-off sweat pants, a music t-shirt from 1998, rubber gardening clogs and a baseball cap.


Here I am rolling the gravel down to the Dell:

P1040433-2    P1040434-2

In the end, after about 4 solid hours, we had this to show for our work:P1040451-2

It is ready for the contractor to bring in the jackhammer to remove everything else and pour a new concrete patio slab and side pathways!!!

A week later, the old patio and paths were removed, new wooded forms erected and concrete poured and smoothed. Diagonal lines were drawn and stamping was used to give a granite-like appearance.P1200006 All that is left is the sealing and we are ready to party!

Here is the final photo on a rainy day. The puddles are where the stamping and staining was done to resemble granite texture. The diagonal lines and darker border break up the expanse of grey. There are plastic pipes exposed for the sprinklers that were re-located and for the electrical wires that will run the pump for the fountain.


The 2 sets of windows to the left of the door are my sewing room and the sewing annex. My clients comment that it must be wonderful to just sit and watch all the birds in the fountain and on feeders but you know I rarely have time to just sit with wedding gowns stacking up!

Just so you have a little sewing treat this week, a follower sent me these photos of a skirt she had made for a friend (photos have been over-lightened to show details):

One of my best friends was having a hard time finding RTW clothes that fit and a couple of years ago I made her a couple of skirts which we fitted over Skype. Then she proceeded to lose some pounds and then some more and everything had to be taken in about 2 inches everywhere.
To spare me the trouble, she very proudly said that she would alter the black one.
When I visited her this summer, she said she would really like me to fix the lining on the black one and put it in my luggage and when I came home I discovered this!
The lining had been altered without ease. It was totally stretched and torn and then, I didn’t dare ask, mauled by a rabid dog or I suppose, cut with an office shredder.
She must have been pretty desperate for a black skirt to wear it like this for this long.
I replaced the lining with stretch lining, which as you all know, takes longer than making a new skirt.
Despite the hack job, she is still my friend…


Amazing isn’t it? She is very lucky to have a kind friend who will fix this mess!

As preparations for the Holiday season approach, I hope you all can find a little time to sit with a loved one and count your blessings for this year. I have so much to be thankful for…it is a very long list!


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Shark Attack

Yes, that is how the man described his son’s football jersey. It seems the son was playing the game for his high school team and was hit unconscious so the paramedics were called in.

Obviously, none of the scissor-wielding EMTs had any experience in the sewing field and decided to cut right up the center front of the shirt, across both front sleeves, into and through the elastic cuffs and halfway down the back instead of slicing up the side seams to remove it.

I have outlined the openings in green so you can see the damage….my job, if I wanted it, was to restore all the knit fabrics back to the original.


Then I asked when they needed it finished…now you all know the answer don’t you?

Yes, today,  this afternoon in fact as there is a big game tonight and the son must participate in it even if it is only sitting on the team bench while recovering from a concussion. So first things first…make the raw ragged edges meet and slap down some strips of fusible tricot interfacing, press with the iron and flip over to the right side and stitch down the middle.


All the excess fusible tricot interfacing was trimmed away:


After an hour of fusing the tears and jagged edges together and stitching using a variable zigzag stitch we have the finished project…Hooray!

I have blurred out the name of the team above the number 1.

Here is the front:P1200077

You can see the color of the stitching on the white numbers was changed from red to white and the original open hole on the back was meant to be left open…a badge of courage according to the dad. This is the back:


But not all in the sewing room is repairs…this week I got something done for me with the new Portland fabrics...yes I did!

Behold, two of the poly chiffons have now been made into sheer “Nancy jackets” and elongated in the back and a red slinky knit top added under one of them. Nancy likes hers to drape softly and remain open but I will probably attach a small black snap to the center front at the bust line to keep it closed as that suits my nature. Front and back views of the Monet fabric:P1190185P1200081

and the animal print with a red knit shell underneath:P1200082

The street sweeper truck came this morning to gather up all the remaining leaves in our cul-de-sac and snow flurries are predicted for this afternoon…a good day to stay in for sure. Happy Sewing everyone!

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Shopping Adventure

This month, after planning all summer to visit fabric stores in Portland, Nancy and I finally found 3 days to escape.

We shared the driving and on the first day we hit 2 stores- Josephine’s and Bolt.

Nancy has bought fabric from Josephine’s in the past and it seemed right to visit the most expensive and exclusive one first. Besides the most luscious wools and silks they also have the ubiquitous Liberty cottons displayed like this on wooden cutting boards:


At $36-45 a yard and mostly teeny tiny prints, I was not tempted. Nancy bought some gorgeous brownish/burgundy wool for pants and some very cool solids for jackets.

Next we moved unto Bolt situated in the funky Albert Street neighborhood filled with cool shops and restaurants. Nancy found some silk for blouses and I bought 2 remnants of cotton. Now, I know some of you will just say, “Hey Mrs. Mole, those are just ordinary quilting cottons” but I rarely get out of my sewing room to shop so these caught my eye and they were on sale in the remnant bin…always treasures in those bins!fabric-1 There were lots of more Liberty cottons and natural fabrics and quilting cottons. We decided that what they need is a mirror in the main section of the store with better lighting for people who want to see the colors next to their skin.

For dinner we dined at Nostrana and Nancy introduced me to a Budino, a rich little concoction like a creme brulee but with a salted caramel layer. I was assured that if eaten after the Meatball Monday special, it would not add to my hips.

Day 2, we visited Fabric Depot in the morning and found they were having a 25% off everything sale. I found some lovely poly chiffons to make some sheer jackets/blouses. Nancy found some things as well and by the time we got them cut and priced, the check-out line was very long at the cash registers.

That’s when I remembered that you can pay for fabrics around the back of the store where they do the special ordering and mail order. We left the line and skipped around to the back desk and were out in no time.


Lunch was delicious at Pho Van and if you click on the link you can see over 100 photos of the location and the food. Stuffed to the gills, we left to find a Starbucks for a hot mocha before we set out to find the next fabric store.

If you have never been to Mill End Store, you owe yourself a visit if you are ever in the Portland area. This place is HUGE! Everything is laid out well and it is clean and bright and the clerks are super helpful. Nancy found some of the most unusual fabrics for jackets and a wool blend fabric for a long cozy robe. The prices were very good and if you are a senior, they have discounts every Tuesday morning from 9-11 am. Since we were there in the late afternoon, we missed out but the prices were so low anyway it didn’t matter.

I found another poly chiffon in these colors and it will look nice over a black tank top as the other one abovefabric-3

Day 3, we started the day with a morning walk to a darling little coffee house called Twenty Six. It was raining that morning and it would have been nice to sit inside to stay warm and toasty but as with so many coffee bars…it was filled with old coots/retired grandpas and their laptops. There were no tables open inside so we had to sit in the un-heated back patio. We thought they might have patio heaters but no such luck. We enjoyed our coffees and a blueberry scone while chatting with her daughter-in-law who lives next door.

Nancy wanted me to experience Helser’s on Alberta Street for a hearty brunch, so while waiting for a table we walked down to another fabric store/Bernina dealer called Modern Domestic. They have classes and lots of cotton fabrics and of course, Liberty fabrics. While being a light and airy store, we didn’t find anything that had to go home with us, so we browsed shops along the street before heading out for another Starbucks. You may wonder why we keep sipping coffee…are we caffeine deprived…well, no, but since I had no cell phone or internet connection, I needed their WiFi to download my email and daily edition of the UK newspaper The Daily Mail, my favorite read for gossip and politics.

Our last port of call was Cool Cottons on Hawthorne. slide_imageIt was in a darling pink house packed to the rafters with gorgeous fabrics. Nancy found some of the softest flannel for a night gown and I found a companion piece for my first purchase, the black cotton with blue circles.



Before dinner we wandered through a delightful garden shop called Garden Fever.  They had the most unusual  collection of things for the home and garden and it will certainly be a place to re-visit next time. There were so many things to touch and think about.

Dinner that night was next door at Lucca’s on NE 24th Street. We had a small pizza covered with fennel sausage and a Caesar salad.

In the morning, we packed and headed home with our delicious new fabrics. Soon you will see what garments are created with Nancy’s fabrics. Mine will take a little longer as there are brides to finish before Jan 1.

Hope you are all catching up with raking leaves and getting the garden ready for the winter…I know Mr Mole has been very busy with his leaf blowing and leaf collecting for next year’s compost bins.


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It’s not every day that someone brings in a flag for repair but one of my regular clients asked if there was anything I could do for this sad item. It seems that while it was flying so proudly, it got caught on the roof and snagged and tore open one of the seams on the stripes

Since it was sewn as a flat-felled seam, I had to open it a bit wider to get in to see what damage had been done.P1200007

After opening the seam and basting the 2 layers back together, you can see how much of the white fabric has been frayed away. In order to be able to catch this properly in the new seam, I will fold over more and baste it down by hand first.


Then let’s flip the new folded edge down and pin to sew flat with white thread in the top and red in the bobbin using 2 rows.


Here you can see the red side and no one will ever be able to tell that a repair was done. many of the hem stitching lines were frayed away so I stitched over them as well.


I have heard so many stories about US flags being made in China and it is nice to see this was sewn at home. My only criticism of this flag is that the thread used was almost like a very thin Wooly Nylon used on sergers and will not hold up too much stress and weather. Maybe I should write to them and ask about it?


Another flag of sorts showed up, a red one this time for a bride. She bought this dress out of town and thought is might work but the more she tried it on, she realized that her grandparents might have a heart attack with so much of her (and a small back tattoo) being exposed:


So she headed for a salon in town and bought this one that she felt covered her up better. She added a simple satin ribbon for a belt and no bustle or train. So she went from hoochie mama to demure bride and felt more covered up (tattoo blurred out).


For those who like to follow the veggie patch photos…here are some November harvests:


Wishing you all peaceful and thoughtful times for sewing in the light of the recent Paris tragedy.

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What happens when you combine the bodice of this dress:

and the skirt of this dress:

You get a Monster! P1190379

The front


The back and train.

The bride custom ordered this from Lazaro and had it custom made but you know what is coming don’t you? Alterations to make it fit…yes indeed. You would think that if a salon charged you over $6000 for a custom made dress it might fit and be the right length?

Let’s start at the top, mostly see-through, no real lining, except for the flower petals and strips of boning.P1190714

First, remove all the beads and flowers so we can take in the bodice zipper 1.5 inches on each side…total of 3 inches…is this custom? Hand baste the invisible zipper and sheer backing and hope it is enough.


On the outside you can see that every flower petal and motif was sewn by hand one at a time:


Here are the leftovers from the bodice:P1190861and the leftovers from the over-skirt:P1190860

Moving down to the satin layer hem with horsehair braid:P1190381

This hem has to be shortened at least 5 inches, maybe more, along with 4 more layers of netting and a lining and a layer of super gathered netting ruffles…all 5 inches shorter.


What about the top layer with rows and rows of bias cut polyester organza ruffles stitched from 1/2 inch to 1 inch apart?P1190380

See the back side of the top layer…beautiful, no? I told the bride that she could wear this skirt inside out as it is a work of art. Every row is stitched in a chevron pattern.


How does one shorten this? Once the hem length is determined, each layer of ruffles will have to be removed until there is just one layer hanging down to cover the hemmed organza base…well, that is the plan anyway. You can’t just cut it off and fold a hem under can you? You can’t toss it in the serger and make a rolled hem can you?P1190742

I planned on not cutting off any of the 5+ inches of the hem and hand sewing that edge up on the wrong side in case this dress was ever sold or given to a taller girl. All of the removed bias ruffles were saved as well so they could be attached as well…so in a way, a versatile skirt.P1190854

First, I tried making 3 over-bustle points for the satin layer below. They were OK, but by making the same points as under-layer bustle points that satin will lay flatter before the ruffled over-skirt falls over it.



Here is the result below, soft folds that can be flattened and way easier to sit on for the meal. You do have to think about the whole event and not just the walking down the aisle or photo sessions. You don’t want your bride to be sitting on her own “tuffet” the whole day.

The bride preferred the ruffled over-skirt to also be bustled under. (The straps in the photo are just to hold this heavy dress on the mannequin). I know, it looks weird…and I preferred the over bustle as the chevrons looked prettier but it is not my dress.


Here is an insider’s view of how I shorten all those lace petticoat layers. I make deep horizontal pleats all around using a long machine basting stitch. If the bride ever sells or gives her dress to a taller girl, these can all be let down.


The red thread basted line below is the new hem edge of the satin layer. The green thread line is the horsehair attachment line. The horsehair braid is attached with a 1/4 inch stitching line down the unmarked edge and flipped to the wrong side and everything trimmed off.


P1190838 P1190839

Quilters will recognize the 1/4 inch foot above…it sure does come in handy!


Here you can see the 1/4 inch folded edge and now after trimming off all the excess beyond the horsehair braid edge, it will be hand sewn to the lining.


On the final day for her fitting, the front was a perfect length, the bodice was tight enough to hold up her bust and no one will know what was done to this custom gown. (Tattoos have been photo-shopped away)P1190863-2

This dress was the most expensive I have ever worked on…was I nervous, overwhelmed, scared shit-less? YOU BET! But with lots of thinking time and working backwards, the puzzle was solved and the bride gave me a tip…that makes 3 this year and I appreciate that!

So, is the bridal season over yet?….ha ha…is it 2016 yet?

More on the horizon and already 8 brides are booked in for next year from one salon.

Thanks for visiting and spending time reading through all this…happy sewing everyone! Hope you still have some leftover Halloween candy!


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Got My Belt, Bustle, and Real Shoes

Last week, I left the sewing room to fly across the country to meet up with relatives traveling from the UK but had this recent post to share:

Another form-fitting dress that needs hemming, a belt and bustling but this lace is special. To feel it you might think it is burnout velvet.


But is was stitched on organza with a flocked fluffy thread to add some weight to it.


Besides looking lovely on the outside, you have to see what I see when lifting the skirt for the first time…this mass of wrinkles and nastiness is the netting and petticoat layers. Most dresses come into my sewing room like this.

Lord knows how they can sell a dress without having steamed or pressed the netting which, as I explain to my brides, is the main structure holding the shape of your dress.

The netting is all balled up and it takes about 30 minutes of hot steam from my new generator iron to get every layer to lie flat and thus do its job. Then we can go about deciding on how many points are needed to hike the train up off the ground for dancing.


Since all the satin layer lower points will be attached along a line at the top, here is the mapping. I use buttons and loops but they could easily be done with ribbons. So, I think 5 or more points for the satin will work. Notice the lovely wrinkles fresh from the salon.


The lace layer also gets 5 points and will attach the same way but the buttons will be satin covered metal backed ones. The lace layer has 2 or 3 other tulle layers and one organza layer with a rolled narrow hem all sandwiched together.


We ended up using 7 satin bustle points as it was way more evenly spaced and pretty and really makes a nice sturdy structure base for the lace.


Like most brides, this one added a blinged-out type belt with lace edges and I sewed it to the dress by hand and cut off the tails and attached it on either side of the zipper.


Satin bustle buttons in place and belt attached with vertical buttons sewn back over the top left edge.


The front hems were done with rolled hem for the organza, scissor trimmed for the tulle and scissor trimmed for the lace as it had a raw edge. This was the before photo.


And what does this gorgeous bride and her dress have under it on her feet…OMG…cowboy boots?… won’t believe it….real shoes…Jimmy Choos!  They are perfect for walking through tall grass and twigs without getting heels stuck in the mud but the price is almost more than the dress!


The wedding season is far from over with Thanksgiving November brides coming for appointments and December and January brides calling so the posts continue. Soon my client, Nancy, and I will do a buying trip to purchase new fabrics for her upcoming wardrobe now that we have identified her with a Type 2,   summer,   color palette.

Hope all the ghouls and goblins visiting your door this Saturday are friendly little ones…Happy Halloween, everyone!




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