polka dots


It's really starting to warm up here. Today was one of those stupidly pretty days that makes you ride extra slow on your bike, wave at complete strangers and smile indulgently at screaming children in the supermarket. I had a dentist appointment today and even that couldn't dampen my spirits! And the icing on the cake has got to be all the jasmine thats blooming like crazy all over the place. The streets are heavy with their fragrance and I find myself taking detours on my ride home from work just to sniff them out.

Isn't springtime just the best?


I finished up this blouse, McCall's 6436, earlier this week and I can already see it becoming a transitional wardrobe staple. In fact, the outfit you see here is pretty much my uniform these days (which means I need to make myself some new button-up shirts stat!) The fabric is an airy fairy silk habotai that I dyed this pale minty shade and then hand-painted with purple polka dots. It sewed up beautifully into this shirt, and I only had to use my glue-stick trick once!

You may have seen this pattern earlier this week on the ever so lovely Miss Heather Lou. Isn't her version just fantastic? Totally classic. Her chic, classic white shirt is what I always envisioned I would make, until my impatience got the better of me and I decided not to wait and buy a classic solid silk crepe, but to take the plunge with the habotai I had in my stash. But having Heather go first gave me fair warning about some of the peculiarities with this pattern. Mainly - the sleeves. I ran into the same problem she had with the sleeve head being far too large for the armhole. I'm pretty certain this is a drafting error, and not a user error, since we both had the exact same issue. However, since she gave me the heads up I was more than prepared to gather my sleeves and give them a gentle "puff". I actually think the puff sleeve works really well stylistically with the irregular polka dot print, so it was a pleasant surprise. 


I ended up switching all the interfacing to silk organza, rather than the batiste I was originally going to use. Y'all were so kind giving me your thoughts on the matter and telling me you didn't notice any 'brightness issues' with the batiste interfacing, but, as many of you pointed out, if I thought it was going to bother me I had better go with the organza. In the end it didn't add too much extra time onto my sewing, and I am glad I made the switch. The color difference, though hardly noticeable before in the photos, is really non-existant with the organza. Plus, silk organza is just kind of nice in shirts like these, isn't it?


Lately I feel like there has been a lot of talk around the sewing blogland about perfection.  Sunni wrote an excellent post on her belief that 'perfect fit' is a myth. The post, and the comments that followed, were really interesting and totally worth a read (if you haven't already).  And I often hear fellow seamstresses talk about how they are willing to rip something out a million times until they get it perfect.  Now, I gave up on perfection in all areas of my life a long time ago, but all these conversations did get me thinking about what my standards are in sewing. How do I measure the success or failure, technically speaking, of a garment? 

The conclusion I came to is perhaps greatly influenced by the fact that I was raised in a family full of teachers, or maybe it's from my own past as a teacher, but I realized that what I look for most in my sewn garments is whether or not they show improvement

"Shows Improvement". Wasn't that such a downer when you saw that scribbled across an essay or in a note on your report card when you were a student? Usually accompanied by some distasteful letter grade like a "C" or "B-"? But the thing is, showing improvement is really the most important thing! It means you're paying attention, learning from your mistakes, and applying your knowledge on future projects. And continually learning is always my main goal in sewing. And in life, too.


I really felt like this shirt was an example of "shows improvement".  I've been sewing a lot of tricky narrow hems with silk recently, and I finally feel like I'm seeing progress - hems that are satisfactorily tiny with neat, even stitches. Even my edgestitching, while not 'perfect', is getting, well, edgier. And I recently used this technique (found through Gertie's blog post on the subject) to make my collar points, and I have to say, they are the sharpest, pointiest collar points I have ever made! So while this shirt is far from perfect, it is an accomplishment that I'm proud of.

Now I'm off to make about 3 billion more! Well, maybe not of this McCall's pattern, but do I spy an Archer in my future..? Yes. Yes I do.



dirty little secrets


We've all got our own little secrets, right? Things we're not necessarily proud of? I'm not talking about that time I got caught cheating on a science test in 6th grade (though I'm still pretty ashamed of that) or the fact that despite the persistent arguing from my rational self I am still watching the t.v. show Smash. And enjoying it...

No, I'm talking about our sewing secrets. Things we do (or don't do) that we wouldn't necessarily holler from the rooftops about. Well I'm here today to share one of mine:

I, Sallie Oleta, use glue to hold things in place when I sew.


I can't be the only person that does this, right? Right...?!? I mean, it's kind of genius, if I do say so myself. One of my favorite places to use glue is on patch pockets. It makes everything so  much easier! Rather than pressing all your edges in 1/4 of an inch and praying to Lady McCall the Goddess of Home Sewing that everything stays put while you tentatively edgestitch it in place (a nerve wracking experience in itself) I just swipe a bit of fabric glue along those turned in edges to hold them down and then dab a bit more glue on the corners of the pocket to tack it in place on the body of the garment I'm sewing. It's sticky enough to stay where I put it, but not so permanent that I can't peel it up and reposition it if need be.


I used glue when I sewed my jeans, and my husbands shirt, and I'm using it now as I work on my silk habotai shirt. I often say that sewing with silk habotai is like sewing with butterfly wings. And I'm not trying to be poetic. Seriously, the stuff has no weight and it flutters and shimmies around if you even sniff at it. This can make cutting it and sewing with it a bit of a hair-raising experience - not to mention trying to sew precise seams. Pinning it is useless because the pins are too heavy for it. Therefore - I glue. Don't judge me!! 

Please note, if you decide, like me, that this idea is pretty damn genius (and not crazy and sacrilegious) you shouldn't just grab for your nearest squeezy bottle of Elmers and go to town. They make glue sticks that are specifically for this purpose. The glue doesn't gunk up your needle (if used within reason) and it washes out. So no harm, no foul if you get a bit overzealous. Glue away, fools, glue away.


On another note - I've been happily plugging away on my shirt this weekend, but the action got stalled when I got ready to sew on my interfaced pieces.  After a bit of consideration I decided to interface my collar, collar stand, button placket and cuffs with cotton batiste because I like the sort of soft drape it gave. However I noticed (after painstakingly hand basting all my pieces together, of course) that the batiste made my fashion fabric brighter than the non-interfaced pieces. A mistake I should have been able to predict and avoid, but I think I ignored my senses and plowed ahead because I wanted to use what I had at hand. Now I'm wondering if the brightness issue will bother me too much and if I should just suck it up and buy some silk organza and go the traditional route. Or something fusible...

On the other hand, after looking at these pictures I wonder if I'm just being crazy...?


Mister Muscles was no help. What do you guys think? Plow ahead with the batiste, or go some other route? And what dirty little sewing secrets do you have?