Sewing with Sonya

August 4, 2021

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  • Wow!! This is really SO (SEW) inspiring!!! I really must take the plunge. So fun to read about your adventure!!!

  • Love this! Creative and looks so FUN!

  • The dresses look great! And now I know what to use for a kimono—a faded duvet cover I’m too lazy to seam again.

    You are right about first projects—sometimes you just have to accept them as a learning and skill-buildings experience. (Says the person working on her first adult-sized sweater since March.)

    “Measure twice cut once” is the sewing version of “swatching” 🙂

  • Jen, these dresses look SOOO great! I would add a couple of patch pockets to the front;) Who can resist a pocket

  • Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement! Headed out to look for fabric that makes me happy and I can wear with joy!

  • Love this! Might just have to go out and buy a sewing machine to go with Sonya’s book. Thanks for the inspiration Jen.

    • Absolutely beautiful! Jen, you have inspired me yet again!

  • Sonya’s book is da bomb! One hint I found though – I too was using my dear departed mother-in-law’s pins, but I just chucked them all and got new ones. What a revelation! Pins that actually go into fabric easily! Turns out they get dull over 50 years, even though they look brand new.

    • I’ve been sewing since age 9-60 years. I never knew they got dull; I thought I was just getting weak in my old age! Time to try new pins.

  • I recommend making a “muslin,” or a test garment, out of cheaper fabric. It’s the swatching of sewing. It’s great practice for new sewers and a good idea for anyone making a new pattern for the first time.

    • Said by someone who made all those mistakes at the age of 14 or so. I was lucky enough to have sewing class in junior high.

      • In the Paleozoic era.

        • Yes, Nina, in the Paleozoic era! And when we were sewers, not sewists. In my NYC public school, we had to sew our 8th grade white graduation dresses. En masse, we were very pretty. (I still remember my lopsided neck facing.) Sonya is inspiring and Jen did a fabulous job.

    • Yes to a making a muslin mock up for fit!
      Sometimes called ‘a cloth.’
      Especially for something more fitted in design.

      • Yes. Make it in muslin first. Make all of your modifications–cut, pin, sew, tape, glue–whatever works for you. Then use the modified muslin pieces to cut new muslin pattern pieces that are specific to you. Sounds like extra effort, but you only have to do it once. Good fit and the right proportions make a real difference. And it is much easier to see what works if you can try the garment on. Plus, you have made a trial garment. You can see how everything goes together before cutting into special fabric.

  • Terrific! I, too, was inspired, bought her book, but have yet to take the plunge. This may be the little reminder I need to repurpose some fabric. Thanks:)

  • “I saw it in the window and I just had to have it.”

    • Ha!

  • Me, too. Bought Sonya’s book, bought muslin and have not set up the sewing machine — yet. I was at IKEA just yesterday and they have a small (but nice) selection of fabric on the bolt — heavy, 100% cotton and inexpensive.

  • You have inspired me to start sewing again – just as soon as I clean up my yarn room ! Your duvet reminded me a lot of some Marimekko fabric I used for a dress when I was young – big yellow flowers. Thanks!

  • Butcher paper – from a huge roll cheap at Costco – is great for patterns.

    Keep sewing – the intricacy of designs is so much fun. It’s interesting to me as someone who has been sewing forever to see a resurgence w these simple designs.

    • And also, at JoAnn, in the wedding department! A one hundred yard roll of non-woven white (like tyvek) that is used as an aisle runner, a lifetime supply, lol. I think I paid about $30, but I sew a lot.
      Not as cheap as butcher paper, way cheaper than parchment, but, it doesn’t tear!

  • I love the fabric stashing idea – so many pretty prints out there. But I’m not sure yet about the sewing part…

  • Your dresses look great. I’m impressed that you knew where to line up the skirt and top to have the waistline hit right. I’d love to know the source for that striped fabric. I’ve bought the book but been chicken to cut. Now you’ve made me ready.

    • Hi! The striped fabric is from Kaffe Fassett!

  • “Fabric can be stashed like yarn” — exactly, which is why I am REALLY trying to avoid having my yarn stash compete with the fabric stash. I, too, learned to sew from Mrs. Walsh in 8th grade in another era–thank heavens! (We also learned how to bathe baby dolls and apply mascara correctly.)

  • Love this. There was a big trend in the 70s for making things with patterned sheets. They certainly provided the most yardage for the money and came in a range of styles— from Marimekko to Ralph Lauren. Almost everyone sewed at least some of their clothes then, and patterns were quite complicated. One of many late lamented NYC haunts: the entire floor of Macy’s that was devoted to fabric.

    • I know what you mean about department stores. I learned to sew by machine in the 70s through a couple of Sears classes. Mom paid $10 apiece for each class—not cheap—which consisted of several sessions. Every Saturday I’d show up early so I could hang out in the fabric and pattern section of the store. I soon discovered other department stores also had extensive fabric sections. Wow!

    • I love this – that sounds like a dream!

  • I already bought the book, because not only is it inspiring, but it’s a great bargain. One “Hundred Acts of Sewing” pattern costs about $20, and the book gives you four! I love a good deal!

  • I loved reading about your dress sewing adventure Jen. I haven’t made my own clothes in years, but, I am inspired to make a skirt again.
    I used light weight non woven material to transfer the patterns & make any adjustments by taping on further strips if needed. When I was happy with the results I would transfer it onto freezer paper. Cut out the freezer paper pattern & iron the waxy side directly to my fabric, No pins needed. You can remove & reuse the freezer paper again until the waxy surface no longer adheres to your fabric.
    Happy sewing!

  • Sonya’s book is wonderful! I’ve been sewing forever (big girl issues) but her book is great for beginners & more advanced alike! Your dresses are beautiful! You are so right about just keep on trying. It will get better & easier.

    My tips & tricks are to use Dr. exam room table paper for tracing. It’s relatively inexpensive & if you have a connection, you may be able to buy it from your Dr. -ask, the worst they can say is no.

    As for bias tape, iron it in a curve before you try to sew it. It really helps!

  • Thanks for the inspiration! Now to remove the book from its display position…

  • Good for you!
    I have a maxim that I try to follow: no cutting anything after dinner. That means no seam trimming, no cutting out of clothing pieces, no quilt piece cutting. I can undo any number of stitches, but I can’t undo cutting.
    Sew on!

    • Good advice!

  • A friend gave me an Amazon GC and the first thing I did was order The Act of Sewing from my Wishlist. I’ve already made three of her Dress #3 and two of her Tunic #1 and I’m raring to go now!

  • I’m so inspired by this article nd Sonya’s book. I’m just about to try sewing my own top from one of Sonya’s patterns. But am I the only one who’s worried about what’s covering Jen’s duvet now?

    • HA! I ended up keeping the queen-sized duvet cover on our bed and then purchased another twin-sized one for my dress (because it was only $15.) 😉