I love to use Pinterest as my virtual bulletin board. As you might guess many of my pins are sewing related. Click here to see what fun stuff I've found and pinned to different sewing boards.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Fall Fundamentals: Tunic Tee for Thanksgiving

Where's that Pattern? Out of Print Butterick 3383
Many Available Still on the Web
Classic Tee Shirt Pattern
Every Sewist Needs a New Outfit for Thanksgiving 

No Matter How Little Sewing Time S/He Has!

This minimal Rayon-Lycra (3%) knit found inexpensively at "Fabrix" in San Francisco - A Discount Fabric Store - Kind of place that has what it has - has 
Fun stuff - Good Low Princes

It feels good on - Breezy

I added bust darts and also front tucks - which I stitched by hand once I saw how the shirt draped on me

Extended the sleeves from 1/4 to 3/4

Lycra Knit a little tricky
Despite doing a stretched neckband I still had some gap - So I stitched on a strip of black elastic underneath -  just in the front 

Original pattern was a basic tee. I lengthened and added side vents to make it more tunic like

Goes well with the basic black cropped pants in my last posting

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall Fundamentals: Black Elastic Waist Twill - Cropped Pants

Yup - they already work great with a number of shirts I have.
Very quick to sew.
I used 3" wide elastic for the waistband
Sewed onto the waist area  with two lines of stitching- not run through a channel
No pockets - Saves sewing time, improves fit, decreases issues involved in setting the pockets neatly into the side seams
Why else do I not sew pockets? When I used to sew pants pockets they would develop holes in the bottom (because I put heavy things in them) - I used to lose my keys (- cell phone - money).
I used to do all kinds of reinforcing with heavier material  - but then I just kept putting the heavy stuff in and losing it.

I still like sewing pockets in shirts.

These pants fit nicely - because I made them to fit me and work on my figure. That is the pleasure of sewing my own.
They are some kind of black twill material. Yup I found it in my fabric inventory.

Out of print - Many similar can be found

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ench-By-Sew 57: Summer of Love - Denimocracy - Retro Sewing Inspiration Field Trip

Click on this link in iTunes   to download the 57'th, and other, episodes of the Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast

Or listen directly on the web by clicking on


This month I’m taking you along on a denim-embellished sewing inspiration field trip to the San Franciso de Young Museum’s
 50’th anniversary of the Summer of Love – it’s at the de Young museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, about 4 miles away from the Polo Fields where the Summer of Love’s Human Be In was celebrated.

So just step on in to your time portal of choice and …. Let it all hang out….

- We’ll start with…Pensamientos Primeros: Hey, had you realized that this summer marks the 50’th anniversy of the Summer of Love in San Franciso? Wow – Far Out Sister!

- Entonces  Un excursion / Then a field trip - Join me for a short field trip to the Summer of Love !

- Y en Pensamientos Finales/And in Final Thoughts : A Perpetual Summer  

* * Resources * *

Summer of Love Exhibit, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Xilocuatla - Nahuatl


Friday, June 30, 2017

EnchBySew-56: Enchanted By Silk

Click on this link in iTunes   to download the 56'th, and other, episodes of the Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast

Or listen directly on the web by clicking on

I'm enchanted by silk.

* Pensamientos Primeros/First Thoughts: What is silk and where might it come from? Exploring an historic Japanese Minka Folk House.

* Technicos/Techniques – Furoshiki: A no-stitch creation from silk - Marriage of ancient Japanese practicality and art

* Pensamientos Finales/Final Thoughts – Dreaming of a Superfluity of Silks in the Alcaiceria Bazaar of Granda Spain - home to the Alhambra Palace 

~ ~ ~ Resources !~ ~ ~

What was the fibula reference?

1)  Pensamientos Primeros/First Thoughts - Links

Silk was one of the Animal Fibers in this exhibit, which I loved, at the Met


     PUSH THE PLUS BUTTON to get more details

       ALL OBJECTS shows pictures and text for all items in the exhibit
       Other Two Parts of the "Secret Life..." Exhibit



Peace Silk/No Kill/Cruelty Free - I have not studied this. Feel free to post what you know


~ ~ ~
Continuado  - The Minka House at Kew Gardens, England near Richmond, Easy Day trip from London

2) Furoshiki Sampling


Furoshiki: A folded bag


3) Pensamientos Finales - A Superfluity of Silks - The Alcaiceria, Granada Spain:

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tools of the Trade - 2400 years back

Tijerras/ Scissors
Celtiberian town of Uxama in Osma/Soria

Third cent B.C.

I wonder.... did her husband ever borrowed these good sewing scissors to cut paper?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Summer Basics: Toile Mobile Pocket Bag

A five inch zipper.

A remnant from an old lined curtain reworked.

An hour and a half's work from first cut to final stitch.

No pattern - sized as I sewed.

Sized to hold cell phone, iPod and a coin/credit card purse. 

Included a mini pocket inside to hold a subway or train pass.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

EnchBySew-55: A Pocket for Sukey (Pattern Work)

Click on this link in iTunes   to download the 55'th, and other, episodes of the Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast

Or listen directly on the web by clicking on

I’ve become more and more enchanted with altering patterns not only to make them fit me well, but also to add I-am-my-own-designer details to what I sew. A patch pocket a very basic pattern alteration project that doesn't take long and adds a lot to the garment I'm sewing. 

Patch pocket alteration is also great for  a first time pattern alteration project, or someone who’s returning to sewing and wants to feel they are adding their own touch to a commercial pattern. 

This month show I talk about how I altered and created a unique patch pocket for my Sukey blouse.

Pensamientos Primeros/First Thoughts: Blue Sky Sewing. How I might use a patch pocket to feel more like my own pattern designer or simply add practicality to my wardrobe and other things I sew and use. 

Technicos/Techniques: How I altered the patch pocket I made for my Sukey Shirt (I expect to blog and cast more about Sukey in the future)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Pattern Work: Fabric Choice for a Test Garment - Who's Sukey?

I'm altering a new-to-me shirt pattern and making a test garment for the pattern from this pretty "Mums and Marigolds Birds and Berries" fabric. I've named my newest shirt creation "Sukey" in honor of the fabric's designer, Susan Winget. I love that Susan nickname. It's rather old-fashioned like the fabric itself.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Pattern Work: Altering a Patch Pocket for Sukey

I'll trim the top of the actual pocket, so those stitches won't show. How bout that little tuck? I like the 3-d effect it gives the pocket, and it makes a little more inside space as well.

I like learning to alter major aspects of patterns, but nothing beats quick and easy pattern changes.Changing a patch pocket's shape and depth is a very straightforward alteration. No fitting required! 

Altering a patch pocket is great for first timers, and easy timers too. You can play with pockets on aprons, shirts, jackets, or .... ?

Here I traced the rectangular pocket pattern.

Entonces/Then I rounded the bottom corner.

I graded the pocket out a little above the point where the rounded corner comes in, so that I could take a little 3-d tuck in the middle of the pocket.
~ ~ ~
I'm making this pocket for a shirt I call 'Sukey', in honor of the bird and berries fabric's designer.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

EnchBySew-54: A Postcard from the Mother of the Bride (MOB)

Modernized Downton Abbey
MOB: Lace Overblouse/Lace Jacket

Click on this link in iTunes   to download the 53'rd, and other, episodes of the Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast

Or listen directly on the web by clicking on

Part three of my series about my 3-piece Mother-Of-The-Bride (MOB) outfit.
Wrapping up my MOB sewing project -sharing  my experiences working on this ensemble.
It’s about- Planning, Patterns, Prick stitching , Perturbation, and Patience.

All 3 garment pieces have involved  pattern creation or alteration.

Snapshot of This Month’s Show

- Pensamientos Primeros – Planning and Patterns
        Recapping the history of my mob ensemble
        a. Camisole slip - See my previous podcast - "A Camisole for the Mother of the Bride"

b. Modified Dirndl skirt

i. Modified dirndl is not the Heidi style traditional alpine look
It's NOT http://www.kaffeeundkuchen.co/home/guide-to-buying-and-wearing-a-dirndl
ii. It's NOT any of these fun skirts! http://vintagedancer.com/1940s/1940s-skirts/
iii. Back in the 80’s I remember a number of the suit patterns I sewed called the style of skirt I just made
a ‘modified dirndl’ – but I can’t find a link quickly. I’ll describe it
iv. What IS a modified dirndl?
1. Somewhat straight skirt
2. Not so straight that walking is inhibited
a. No slits or kick pleats needed
3. Wth a little gathered ease
4. Attached to a waistband

c. Lace over blouse
i. Kept under garments as narrow as possible. Lace blouse loose fit
ii. Downton Abbey inspired lace overblouse
1. Not straight hobbled skirt of Edwardian era

iv. Slightly below waist
v. Loose
vi. Scalloped lace ¾ sleeves and down the open front of blouse
vii. Hem of blouse maybe 3 inches higher than knee length skirt

- Technicos
    - Pick Stitch and A hand-sewn zipper

- Pensamientos Finales  -Perturbation and Patience

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mother of the Bride Lace Choice (MOB)

I've been working on my April podcast, which is about completing the work on my Mother of the Bride outfit. It includes a beautiful lace blouse-jacket from this lace.

The fabric.com sample swatch for this gold lace looks white in the picture from their web site.

In fact it is much more yellow-gold - which was what I wanted. 

Glad I sent for a sample!


Click on this link in iTunes   to download  episodes of the Enchanted by Sewing Audio/Podcast

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Before Safety Pins there were Fibulas

I'd like to travel back and visit with the happy Greek Gal
Who fastened her peplos or chiton with this beauty
Before there were safety pins
There were fibulas

Monday, April 10, 2017

MOB - Hand Sewing Zipper

On the left ..... I've unzipped the  hand-sewn zipper only part way on my Mother of the Bride (MOB) skirt. You really don't see the prick stitches with this dupioni fabric. The slubs in the fabric look more like stitches than the stitches. 

I don't bother to baste when I hand sew a zipper. You catch any errors as you sew, unlike on the machine. I think I spend less time doing this task by hand than on the machine, and it looks much cleaner too.

On the right  ..... the back side of the zip. The prick stitches are much more secure than a running stitch.
~ ~ ~
How To Sew a Prick Stitch?  - You can't beat Craftsy!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Historical Shirring Example - Bronte Sisters PBS


Yup, look at the shirring at the top of the sleeve on the middle dress in this photo from PBS's "Walk Invisible" about the Bronte sisters. Isn't that gorgeous shirring? Doesn't it make you want to cut out a very full sleeve and start experimenting.,

And we don't have to even travel back in time!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

EnchBySew-53: Spring Shirring (MOB)

Click on this link in iTunes   to download the 53'rd, and other, episodes of the Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast

Or listen directly on the web by clicking on http://traffic.libsyn.com/enchantedbysewing/castFINALSpringShirring.mp3

This podcast is an extension of my regular sewing blog - http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com
~ ~ ~
In this show I'm continue to share with you, some of my experiences working on my Mother-Of-The-Bride ensemble.

All 3 garment pieces involve  pattern creation or alteration.

Snapshot of This Month’s Show 
1) Pensamientos Primeros/First Thougths 
Shirring? Are we talking sheep? Thoughts on scissors,  shears, and the sewing technique known as ‘shirring’.

To shirr is to gather a piece of fabric, or garment piece,, using drawn or elastic thread in close rows.

The knife center.com ….The Difference Between Scissors & Shears www.knifecenter.com/shop/scissors

2) Entonces inspiración para fruncir/Inspiration for Shirring  
Museum portrait and wardrobe shopping

Fruncir means “ to gather”. If you’re practicing your Spanish you might also use the word ‘fruncir’ in reference to frowning or knitting your brows, or puckering up your lips! 

3) Y finalmente, Technicos /And finally 
Techniques that I’ve used for shirring

Give Fabric Elasticity with These Shirring Tips for Beginners - Craftsy


1 Cached
Nov 12, 2014 - Shirring is a magical technique for sewing texture that takes a regular piece of fabric and shrinks it up, giving it elasticity. It's great for skirt waists, shirt hems and even entire bodices! But shirring for the first time is no walk in the park.

Shirring Fabric - Sewing Tutorial - YouTube

Note: Within the Inspiration Section, and at the end of the ‘cast,  I included travel notes for places I like to visit in San Francisco Golden Gate Park for fellow sewists who may be visiting, or to prompt other local sewists to share their own thoughts on this locale.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mother of the Bride-Shirring Inspiration: De Young Museum

My mother of the bride outfit also has a loose sheer blouse
And I'm quite partial to hip yoke shirring
De Young Museum, San Francisco, Golden Gate Park

Thursday, March 2, 2017

MOB: Lessons in Lace: Which Scissors? (Mother of the Bride)

Tried both my Stagg and Gingher Scissors for cutting out my lace over-bodice. The Stagg worked better for this gorgeous lace. The Gingher often work better on smooth cottons.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

MOB Camisole Straps - How I sew them (Using String - Not Bodkin)

Find an Audio Description in the February podcast 'A Camisole for the Mother of the Bride'.

When it comes to creating a shoulder strap - bodkins work for many folks - but not for me. Plus, I always misplace them!

I use an encased-string method. I think I may have read about this in an old edition of Threads magazine.

1) Fold tube in half  (right sides together)- I use a 3" wide strip for a somewhat wide strap
2) Slip String into the fold STRING NEEDS TO HANG OUT ON EITHER END - SO CUT IT LONGER than the fashion fabric strip
3) Pin fold down
4-6) When sewing down long side of strap, make sure to catch the string at just one end of the tube. Sew several times back and forth so it can't pull through when you tug.
7 - 9) Work the fabric over the string, by pulling on the end of the string you did NOT sew down

10) Eventually you've turned the strap all the way inside out - the inside being the side you want to see

11 -12) cut off the end of the tube where you throughly sewed the string across

Then pull the other end of the string out, turn your seam so it runs up the middle in the back of the strap and press the strap flat.

EnchBySew-52: Audio/PODCAST - A Camisole for the Mother of the Bride (MOB)

Click on this link in iTunes   to download the 52'nd, and other, episodes of the Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast

Or listen directly on the web by clicking on http://traffic.libsyn.com/enchantedbysewing/castfFINALCamisoleMOB_LAURELSHIMERENCHANTEDBYSEWING.mp3

This podcast is an extension of my regular sewing blog - http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com
~ ~ ~
The camisole I talk about in this show, is Part one of my 3-piece Mother-Of-The-Bride outfit. I'm also working on a lace over-blouse and a skirt.

In this show I'm begining to share with you, some of my experiences working on this ensemble.
All 3 garment pieces have involved  pattern creation or alteration.

Snapshot of This Month’s Show 

- Pensamientos Primeros/First Thoughts - short sewing history to date of my MOBride ensemble
Fabric is from fabric.com  

- Technicos/Techniques

I used the Jan Bones Lingerie Secrets book, to create the camisole pattern, based on my own measurements.

Original pattern was designed for knits. I made this garment from a woven golden dupioni fabric from fabric.com, so I cut the pattern on the bias.

I added 1 inch seam allowances to be on the safe side, since I was converting from a knit to a bias fabric.

Adding Darts....Darts and Natural Dart Placement

-Shoulder straps
         - sewing
        - placement

- Pensamientos Finales/Final Thoughts  - is it worth the trouble?

Friday, February 17, 2017

MOB: Lessons in Lace - Lining up the Scallops

There's a lot to think about as I'm working with this scalloped lace. 
I triple checked to make sure that my sleeve pattern edges/underarm seam were exactly the right length. 
Also I was really careful that the armscye on the sleeve edge matched up just right, so the right length  came out the same on both ends.

 Also the lace slips and moves around a lot, and almost acts like a stretchy fabric. So more pins is always better.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

MOB: Lessons in Lace - Right Over Left - (Mother of the Bride, Technicos/Techniques)

Lace Fabric Source - fabric.com - Pattern B6095
The right side of the lace is showing here. I quadruple check each piece to make sure that the right  and left sides are  laid out with the right side of the lace on top

 1) Traced another tissue version of the pattern I've been altering - Made two copies (I kept original copy for future patterns of course)
2) There is a scallop edge on only one side - Women's patterns are usually right-over-left. So I first laid out one of my tissues underneath (on the wrong side) with the scallop edge going down the middle
3) Then I carefully placed the left tissue underneath the lace and quintuple check that the right side of the lace will come out right for the entire bodice!

Why Two Tissues? - I will baste right through the tissue pieces to get the darts positioned right. Then rip the paper off. I don't see a better way to mark them properly. You can also thread or tape baste, but you'll still have to position the pattern very cautiously . Lace moves around a lot too.

Constantly checking which is right and wrong side when I work with two different front pieces. 
 I want the right side of the lace to show for both bodice pieces. When I don't cut them at the same time, it's easy to mess up and put the pattern the wrong way.

Monday, January 30, 2017

MOB: Lessons in Lace (Mother of the Bride, Technicos/Techniques)

I have been fussing all month over the pattern work I've been doing for my Mother of the Bride (MOB) outfit. I don't even want to start fussing about where I've gotten to with it!

But I will enjoy showing some of the experiments I've made, learning to sew with the lace I'll be using for my MOB outfit.

This is sample lace I had in my inventory, not the real deal I'll be using for my MOB ensemble.
I chose stitch 22 on my machine to experiment with edging the lace.
Haven't decided yet how much I'll be stitching onto tissue paper, then peeling the paper away. It works  OK for some of the  parts, but in other cases I can't get all the paper off  - particularly once I gather the lace.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

EnchBySew-51: Betsey Johnson - Following a Vintage Alley Cat

Click on this link in iTunes    to download the 51'st episode of the Enchanted by Sewing Audio Podcast,  produced in January of 2017.

Or listen directly on the web by clicking on http://traffic.libsyn.com/enchantedbysewing/FINALcastBetseyJohnsonAlleyCat_LAURELSHIMER.mp3

Not long after I finished up my front pleated, mid-weight,  denim trousers. Suddenly hit … that
I was taking my sewing inspiration from trousers I’d sewn in high school – which for me was quite some time ago.

And that inspiration came from fashion designer Betsey Johnson.

What will you hear in this month’s show?

1) Vintage Alley Cat – The Original Betsey Johnson
– In which Laurel is whisked away on a time travel jaunt, reminding her that not all of her sewing projects come from the pages of the here and now.

2) Betsey Briefly – A Timeline
a. Including  a bit about how Betsey’s designs iinfluenced my own coming of age sewing

Great article about Betsey in Vogue - lots of interviews with folks who have known her for a long time


Betsey is still going strong ! http://www.betseyjohnson.com

3) -Trousers Inspired by an Alley Cat
In which  A woman draws inspiration from her teenaged sewing self. Talk about time travel!

a. The original Betsey Johnson pattern  - way back when - was B3289

b. Further ideas for sewing inspired by Betsey Johnson. The Jamie M pattern, I mentioned in this section, - way back when - was B6533 Here's a posting I did showing a little bit of what I talked about in the 'cast. http://meencantacoser.blogspot.com/2017/01/laced-up-empire-alley-cat-more-betsey.html

c. Different kinds of pockets - https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/02/kinds-of-pockets/

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Laced Up Empire - Alley Cat - More Betsey Johnson Inspiration

Since I fashioned my Alley Cat trousers from a modern pattern, I'm thinking about recreating another vintage Betsey Johnson Alley Cat style. If I use modern fabrics, it's not going to be obviously vintage. But you could recreate a vintage look if you change the material.
An empire style emerges once a peasant blouse pattern is secured below the bust line.  I like the crossover look to form a more fitted torso. Either this tunic or a dress - maybe knee length - would work for my modern stylings. A basic peasant blouse pattern (examples belowwith judiciously arranged loops or rings as guides for the cord  would be my guess for recreating the sense of this. I'd cut my pattern a good bit longer because that cord is going to pull it up. I'm partial to the hairstyle in the middle too. I wore my (long thick) hair like the model in the short dress back in the 1970's ! I used little barrettes. It was not attractive! 

 Some ideas for a basic peasant blouse that could be converted into an Alley Cat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Vintage Flared Trousers - Alley Cat Inspired - Betsey Johnson - Mid Weight Denim

Back in the early 70's - We sewed  flared trousers with front pleats and high waists.
Designer Betsy Johnson's Alley Cat label exemplified this look. I was in high school then, and I sewed a lot of  Alley Cat patterns.

McCalls 6403 - May be out of print, but several online vendors still sell this pattern
It's really fun to recreate this now vintage look, by altering a favorite trouser pattern, I've used for five or six pair of long pants and shorts. Back in August I created my first flared leg version - Floribunda Bouquet's black linen  pants. I found myself reaching into the armoire for those cropped - ankle  pants again and again in the late summer and fall. In my Enchanted by Sewing audio podcast  for August, in the techniques/technicos section, I talked about how I added the flares. You can listen to this 'cast directly on the web, or download it from iTunes.

McCalls 6403 - Pleated Front Trousers
Made up in mid-weight denim  -  Full length - Flare added at both inseam and side seam
(Yes - I hope to take a bigger photo and update this posting)