If it’s free, maybe it’s NOT for me

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links, as noted. If you make a purchase using one of my affiliate links, it will cost you nothing extra, but will send a little “cha-ching!” my way. 🙂

I was SO EXCITED when I heard that Phee Fabrics (aff) was stocking bra-making supplies! I have always had a hard time finding ready-to-wear bras. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, and my breasts are far from being firm and perky. Plus I’m now 45 and have had a child that I breast-fed for over a year, so…

Anyway…I thought, now that I have been sewing for myself for a few years, why not try making my own bra? I thought that I would start with something simple…a bralette..and a free one at that! I picked the Barrett Bralette from Madalynne Intimates. This free download comes in sizes XS-3XL, and it states in the pattern that it’s “generally intended for smaller sizes – cup sizes AA-C”.

I was excited to get started, and selected my supplies from Phee!


Affiliate links to supplies:

Note: You can also just buy a convenient Bra Kit (aff) and get everything you need!! (P.S. I ended up not using the hook and eye fastener.)

I had downloaded this pattern a while ago, and thought it so cute! I really should have paid attention to the fact that it looked cute on a mannequin that had pretty much no boobage.

I’m not even sure what size I am in ready-to-wear bras, as the last time I bought them (which was when I finally ditched my nursing bras 12 years ago), I ended up with some that were for a “range” of sizes. I wear the XS, which equates to a 32A-C, I think. Based on my measurements, I printed the size L in the Barrett. I cut out my pieces and got ready to get started.

Once I had the front/side cups and band sewn together, before adding any elastics, I tried it on, and thought it was a bit big through the back band. I thought maybe adding the elastics would tighten it up, so I just forged ahead. I should have gone with my instincts at that point, which were telling me to redo the back band and take out some of the excess, but, not being experienced in bra-making at all, I didn’t.

On to the elastic. Here is where the pattern failed me. There are no measurements given for the lengths, which was fine for the front neck and the little cut-out in the front, as they apparently should be 1-1. However, all the instructions say about the underarm/back elastic is that you should stretch it, but then in states “I didn’t use any calculation, and have developed a “feel” for how much to stretch, which you will too with practice ;)”. Um…thanks?

So, I was really just winging it from this point. I started pinning/clipping my elastic, stretching as I went, and hoped for the best. Sewing it was a nightmare…things kept shifting, and then weren’t caught with my zigzag, so I had to unpick and redo…multiple times.

Then came the underbust/band elastic. Again, no measurements given, so I went with 2″ less than my underbust measurement. Once I got it sewn, I tried it on, and wow…SO BIG. At this point, I was not going to take all the elastic off and redo the back band…I had already unpicked way too many times, so I went to my trusty serger and just serged off about 3″ on the back.

That was the only way to somewhat salvage this, but to be honest, this bralette is pretty much unwearable for me. There isn’t any real support, despite using the powernet for my lining layer, and it’s really hard to get on and off over my shoulders. I don’t think a bralette is for me. I need more support, so maybe I just need to find another pattern and try again. In this instance, “if it’s free, it’s for me!” was not the case!!

Here are the results…and I’m only smiling because my husband made me laugh commenting on my previous “grumpy face”. Which was caused by making this bra.


Some good points about this bralette – the seams are all fully-encased, which is nice, and the instructions are pretty good, except for adding the elastics. She recommends using a spray adhesive for the front cups, which I didn’t have, but used a glue stick. I would also either baste or glue the side cups/back band AFTER attaching them, as they really tried to shift on me while adding the elastics. Not fun.

In conclusion, I would NOT recommend this pattern for a beginner. Not unless you are prepared to start with scrap fabrics and maybe sacrifice some elastic as you go. I know I will not be making this pattern again. The fit and style are just not right for me. The only thing that made this project somewhat bearable was the amazing supplies from Phee! The lace and elastics are so comfortable, and I’m sorry now that I wasted them on this pattern. Oh, well. After a break, I hope to try another bra…but not until I’ve had a chance to recover from this one.




Lace All Day, Every Day!

When I think of lace, I tend to think of special occasions or intimate apparel, but you can use lace to add pretty details to your every day wear!

I love the patterns from Sew House Seven, so when they came out with the Merlo Field Tee, I knew I had to have it. “Casual, comfortable, and sporty knit tee”…”a slightly tomboyish vibe”…”wide, oversized body”…add all that together, and it sounds like the perfect shirt for me. In addition, the drop shoulder sleeves are usually flattering for my wide shoulders, and I don’t have to worry about making any adjustments.

The pattern comes with cute sleeve and shoulder insets, which makes for easy color-blocking and lets you use up some pretty scraps of fabric as accent pieces. They also recommend you use a drapey knit, so I knew that the Rayon Spandex from Phee Fabrics would be absolutely perfect. Phee also carries high quality lace fabrics as well, and I thought it would be fun to use the lace as my accent fabric.

I selected this gorgeous burgundy rayon spandex and mauve stretch lace.


The stretch lace is 9″ wide, so I was able to fit both pattern pieces on one foldover. You need to cut 2 mirrored of each pattern piece – one will be the shoulder inset, and one will be the sleeve inset.


As you can see in the picture, I had my pieces right up to the edge on top, as I wanted to save that bottom scallop. I decided I wanted to use that for my neckline. That meant I didn’t need to cut the neckband double width, as you usually do, but only about half. So I just took that leftover part, which was about 1″ wide, and cut it to the length of the neckband piece.


Because I was using the lace instead of fabric, I wanted to make sure that my seam allowances wouldn’t show through. Therefore, when the pattern instructed me to press the SA towards the insets and then top-stitch, I did the opposite. I pressed all my SA to the fabric side and then top-stitched so that it wouldn’t “flip up” and show through the lace.

Tip: A walking foot is really helpful when top-stitching drapey fabrics like rayon spandex!

For the neckband, I just took my 1″ wide piece of lace, stitched the short sides together to make a band, and then attached it to the neck opening as you would usually do. However, I did take a bit bigger seam allowance when attaching the neckband – about 1/2″ instead of the normal 3/8″ as called for in the pattern.

And that’s it! I love the scalloped neckline detail, and it was so easy to do! As for the pattern itself, I used the wider neckline option and the 3/4 sleeve. The only other change I made to the pattern was to add about 2″ to the length because I prefer a little more length to my tops (helps cover up any squishy bits).

I definitely see more of these tops in my future! I’m thinking I’ll try the short-sleeve version next as I dream of warmer days…

Happy Sewing!

Re”sew”lutions, anyone?

It’s that time of year again…a new year, a new start! I know that I’ve made resolutions in the past and started out gung-ho, only to burn out and quit by about mid-February or so. I have learned over the years to not be quite so ambitious. I think in my 20’s, my list of New Year’s resolutions looked something like this:

  • Lose 20 lbs
  • Run a marathon
  • Meditate 1 hour every day
  • Declutter my house and keep it clean every day
  • End world hunger
  • (you get the idea…)

Now that I’m in my 40’s, my list is a little more manageable:

  • Don’t gain more than 5 lbs
  • Don’t kill anyone

Whatever your resolutions may be, I know I always try to make staying active and eating healthy a priority. I work out 5-6 days a week, which usually involves 3 days of small group training, 1 day of 1-on-1 with my personal trainer, and the rest is for running.

(I don’t really like running, but my 81 year old father still does a 5K every month, and he likes to have someone come along to cheer for him when he wins his award. Seriously…he beats me every time…along with people 20+ years younger than him. #goals)

Anyway…I obviously need a LOT of workout clothes, and I just love that I can now make my own! I get all my athletic fabrics from Phee Fabrics. Not only are the prices excellent, the quality and customer service can’t be beat. (Check out this blog post to learn more about Phee and the testing process fabrics go through before they are even offered for sale.)

Some of my favorite fabrics are the Circular Knits. These are a nylon or poly and spandex blend that has 4-way stretch and is both moisture wicking and antimicrobial. Perfect for keeping you cool even during a really tough workout.

One of my favorite makes with circular knit is the SoLo Tank from Greenstyle Creations. I love this tank and the low armholes. I sometimes find tanks/tops can be restrictive in the armscye, but I don’t have to worry about any adjustments with this pattern. Also, I’ve featured this super fun cut file that shows my love of all things kettlebell!!



You can get the awesome Kettlebell Love cut file here.

If you have never worked with kettlebells, you can learn more about them at this site. Definitely start light! When I started, I used from 15-25lbs for everything, but I can now use the crazy big ones…in fact, my trainer had me swinging the 70 pounder the other day.

This is a workout from Women’s Health that I pinned ages ago, which is great for when I want to get in something quick and full-body.


A more in-depth version of this workout that includes video demonstrations of most of these moves can be found here.

So, what are your resolutions for the new year? Whether they are big or small (or none at all), I wish you well and hope you have a happy and healthy 2019!


Note: This blog post offers fitness information for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. The use of any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk.

I’m Dreaming of a Phee Christmas…

It’s that time of year again, but it seems hard to get into the holiday spirit this year.  Life has been crazy, and we haven’t had time to really breathe, let alone prepare for a holiday! It feels like I was just putting together a Halloween costume for my son, and now Christmas is right around the corner.

I am happy to say that I have my holiday dress complete. I used the gorgeous Emerald Rayon Spandex from Phee Fabrics to make the Wanda Wrap Dress from Wardrobe By Me.IMG_9017

I had never made this pattern before, and I will say that there were some challenging moments. However, the results are worth it! This dress is very flattering, and would look great on all body types.

The dress is not a true wrap dress, in that the skirt is fully finished, and only the top wraps closed, which is perfect for ensuring there will be no wardrobe malfunctions with your skirt flying open! The bodice hugs the chest, but since it is a wrap style, you can adjust the neckline to suit your taste – making it more or less modest as needed. The skirt is six-gored, and has a wonderful swing to it. There are four sleeve lengths (long, 3/4, elbow, and short) and even a sleeveless option.

Other pattern features include:

  • Layers for printing sizes
  • Body and Finished Garment measurements in imperial and metric increments
  • Fully illustrated instructions
  • Letter and A4 formats
  • A0 print shop format included
  • 1/4″ seam allowance included

The recommended fabrics are those with great drape, so of course, the rayon spandex from Phee was the perfect choice! You will need from 3 – 3.5 yards of 60″ fabric for this dress.

The most challenging part I encountered, was when I attached the bodice to the skirt. I thought I was being careful to match up and put the correct side on “top”, but after I had serged it all together, I found that was not the case! 😦 It matters, as I previously created a “hole” in the bodice that the wrap tie for the side on the “bottom” would fit through, and now my hole was on the wrong side!

After a few tense moments…I realized that it would be easier to unpick the topstitching on the bodice “hole,” close the seam, and then open a hole on the opposite side than it would be to remove and re-attach the bodice. So, crises averted in about 10 minutes of work! Yay!

All in all, I would say this is an intermediate pattern…you definitely need experience with some more challenging projects in order to tackle this one. However, that being said, I think an adventurous beginner who is willing to go slow and take it step-by-step could easily make this dress!

I didn’t make any adjustments to the dress at all. I am 5’7″ (pattern is drafted for 5’6″) and my measurements placed me into a size 6. I used the 3/4 sleeve.


What are you making for the holidays? I know I still have some sewing to get done, but at least I know what I’ll be wearing, and that alleviates some stress!

Soon it will be time to start baking and wrapping and all that other holiday fun. One of my favorite cookie recipes comes from my husband’s grandmother. She made them every year, and I think she and I were the only ones who ate them. I think she kept making them just for me. She was so happy when I asked for the recipe, so now I’ll share it with you and maybe it will find some new fans!

Happy Holidays!!

Gram’s Christmas Cookies

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 generous cup Crisco
2 cups light brown sugar
6 tablespoons evaporated milk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped candied cherries and pineapple (about 1/2 cup of each)

Chop the fruits finely. Cream the sugar and shortening. Add the evaporated milk. Add the eggs. Mix together the dry ingredients. Add half the dry mixture. Add the fruits and nuts. Add remaining dry mixture. Dough will be very stiff!

Roll the dough into 3 rolls. Chill overnight in the fridge.

Slice the dough thinly (about 1/2″ thick) and bake at 375-400 F for 8-10 minutes.

Notes: This makes a lot of cookies, but the dough freezes really well.

Adding Zippers to Polartec (or any knit fabric)

Zippers!! A lot of people are afraid to tackle a zipper, but don’t be! They definitely take some practice, but they really aren’t that hard to do. This tutorial will help walk you through the process with some tips and tricks for getting the perfect zipper. Some of the instructions and photos may vary based on your type of sewing machine, so definitely consult your manual as needed, but the basic steps still apply for sewing zippers onto Polartec or any kind of knit fabric.

My son lives in t-shirts and hoodies year round, so I wanted to make him a new hoodie from the gorgeous new Heathered Gray Polartec PowerStretch from Phee Fabrics. I chose the Ziggi Zipper Hoodie from Wardrobe By Me, and went with one size bigger than his measurements so that he had some room to grow.

Let’s get started!

When adding a zipper to knit fabrics, I always use stabilizer to keep the fabric from stretching out of shape while sewing the zipper in place. You are working with a non-stretch material (the zipper tape) and trying to make it fit a stretch material…trust me, stabilizer is your best friend here!

You will need something that is suitable for knit fabrics. My go-to stabilizer is Shape-Flex, a.k.a. SF101, from Pellon.


After you have cut out your garment pieces, you will apply the stabilizer to the edges of the fabric that will be attached to the zipper. For my hoodie, that means I attached a small strip of interfacing to the wrong side of the front center pieces and also to the front center edge of the facing pieces (also on the wrong side). You don’t need a lot of stabilizer here…just a strip about .5″ – .75″ wide and as long as the fabric (minus the SA if desired).

Be careful when fusing the stabilizer! Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions and that you are not going to “melt” your fabric. I like to take a scrap of the fabric and a scrap of stabilizer and test it first before trying with my “real” fabric. For the Polartec PowerStretch, I definitely needed to use a pressing cloth so that the high heat and steam needed to adhere the stabilizer wouldn’t damage my fabric.


Once you have your stabilizer attached to the necessary pieces, follow the instructions to assemble your garment up until adding the zipper.

I HIGHLY recommend basting your zipper before stitching – especially if you are working with a facing as well. My hoodie also has kangaroo pockets that I wanted to make sure were lined up correctly.

Take your zipper and place it face down on the right side of your fabric. Here I’ve used clips to hold it in place.


I’ve also marked the top of my zipper outside of the SA. Since I’m using a longer zipper, I will have to shorten it, but I always wait until after I have added the zipper to do so. Also, since I’m using a metal zipper, I need to be extra careful that I’m keeping the zipper teeth out of the SA. Stitching or serging over a metal zipper could damage your machine! I’ve marked my zipper about .5″ down from the top of the front piece, as this pattern has a .25″ SA.


When sewing your zipper, you are going to use a straight stitch. For basting, you don’t even need to switch to your zipper foot yet. I have a narrow teflon foot that I use 90% of the time, and it’s small enough that I usually don’t bother with my zipper foot unless I’m using a zipper with 1″ zipper tape. Then the zipper foot is handy. I also use Microtex needles, which are super sharp and help get through the zipper tape.

For basting, just choose a long straight stitch. I set mine to about 5.


Now, baste the zipper to the first side of your hoodie. Make sure you stay within the SA. In other words, the SA for my zipper is .25″, so I basted at about 1/8″.



Once you have that side basted, unzip the zipper and place it face down on the right side of the other front edge.


Again, you want to mark the top edge the same amount as the other side. Now, while it’s still clipped, you can zip the zipper up and check the alignment. As you can see in the following pic, my bottom hem and the pockets were not aligned.


To fix that, I take my ruler and line it up with the seams on each side and then make a mark on the zipper tape where the seams need to be on the un-basted side.

Now unzip the zipper again, and line those marks up with the corresponding seams and reclip the zipper to the fabric.


Baste the zipper to the second side in the same way as you did the first. Once it’s basted, zip it up and check that everything is still lining up. Perfect!


If things are still not aligned, you can easily take out the basting stitches and shift things around. Once you have everything where you want it, it’s time to sew it in place.

Now is the time to change over to your zipper foot and also set your stitch length shorter – about 2.5-3. My pattern calls for facings, so here I have lined up my facing on top of the zipper before sewing.


Stitch through all the layers to sew the zipper to the garment.

When sewing the side with the zipper pull attached, you may need to move the zipper pull out of the way in order to manoeuver around it. To move the zipper pull, make sure the needle is DOWN and in the fabric, then raise the presser foot, shift the garment, and slide the zipper pull out of the way of your stitching.


Once you have moved the zipper pull, shift the fabric back into place, lower the presser foot, and finish sewing.

And there you have it – your zipper is installed! Easy peasy! 🙂


I hope you have found this helpful, and I look forward to seeing what you make with all of the awesome Polartec fabric from Phee Fabrics!

A Practical Halloween – Steampunk Style

I LOVE fall! The cooler days and crisp nights, the changing leaves, cozy sweaters and jeans – these are all things I love. Not only that, my two favorite holidays take place in the fall: Thanksgiving and Halloween!

I have always loved to dress up for Halloween ever since I was little. My birthday falls close to Halloween, so I remember having Halloween parties instead of a birthday party growing up. I also may or may not go a little overboard with the decorations.


Since my son was born, I’ve concentrated on his costume every year, and haven’t dressed up myself in a long time. This year, I accepted the challenge of coming up with a “practical” Halloween costume–something made up of separates that could then be used for every day. One of the first things that popped into my mind was that I had always thought the pleated back version of the Sundance Jacket from Greenstyle Creations had a sort of “Victorian” look to it, so I thought I could use that to make myself a Steampunk outfit.

Now that I had the idea, time to come up with the rest of it. I thought a black skirt would pair nicely with the jacket and would definitely be something I would wear again and again. Choosing the fabric for the skirt was a no-brainer: the gorgeous Rayon Spandex in Black from Phee Fabrics was the perfect choice. For the skirt pattern, I chose the Women’s Maya Skirt from Petite Stitchery & Co.

For the Sundance Jacket, I wasn’t sure which fabric to use. The pattern says that Supplex is a good option, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted the regular Supplex or the Brushed Supplex, so I ordered both. Once they arrived, it was still a hard choice, as both fabrics are amazing, but I felt the Brushed Supplex was a better choice for a jacket. (And now I have the regular supplex to use for some leggings!)

I made my Sundance with the pleated back and stand-up collar so it would work not only for my costume, but would also be the perfect jacket for cooler weather biking and hiking.

And I was right to choose the Brushed Supplex! This jacket is so soft and warm! It has great stretch, but was still a dream to work with. The only thing I would do differently next time, would be to use a thinner fabric for my pockets to reduce the bulk a bit, but overall, I’m super pleased with how it turned out.

My skirt in the gorgeous Black Rayon Spandex also turned out just how I imagined. Flowy and soft, this will be the perfect skirt that can be dressed up or down depending on top and accessories. Here I’ve paired it with an oversized tee made from white RS.


Putting the skirt and jacket together with a few accessories, like the hat (Amazon) and wig (previous costume), I get my Steampunk outfit! I also used a bit of Ultra Wide Black Lace Trim that I tied around my neck. Once Halloween is over, I can use that to make some new “unmentionables”. 😉

With a bit of imagination, you too can have a “practical” Halloween!