Party Dress Fever.

So… I was at work when I first discovered the book Party Dress by Mary Adams.  I lay down my credit card and took it home that day.  I loved reading about her experiences as an Oregon girl to being a dress maker in New York and then her process is astounding simple and clean and yet so sticky sweet and full of color saturation that I really just started making dresses… and now I cannot stop.  Every page is sooo inspiring.  It started with this skirt (recently sold to a girl in Ireland):

Then I started this quilted leather/wool/ silk strapless dress which is essentially done, just needs some hems and hand stitching)!

Then I got into the silk taffeta stuff which posted here in my last post.

NOW… it turns out that Mary Adams will be in Seattle at Nancy’s Sewing Basket (where i work)  for a book signing November 5th!  And to really get into the mood ALL of the employees are working on there own party dresses that will be on display during our annual sale in September and then we are going to wear them for the book signing in November.  It will be kinda of fun too because customers will be guessing whose dress belonged to which employee!  So I cannot divulge to much but I will tell you Analysis Paralysis has now sunk in completely for some of us because it is hard to decide!

FREE- pattern… pleated skirt with exposed zipper and grosgrain.

sailor skirt with pocket

I call this the math skirt.  This skirt is fun and easy with sweet detail like ribbons and lace.  It can be the perfect plaid school girl skirt or if its done in denim or corduroy yer cowgirl skirt. It could be a great summer skirt in an eyelet (lined, of course) or a winter wool staple with tights.  Any way you sew it- this little equation will be sure fire PROOF!


1 1/4 yard of fabric


Waist Measurement _____ + 40″ = __________ /2 = ___  (width)

(Example: Waist 32″ + 40″= 72″/2 = 36″).

Other Supplies:

18″ separating zip (I coordinate this with my fabric)

2 1/4 yards of 1/2″ ribbon

4 1/2 yards of 1″

waist + 4″ of wide single fold bias tape or 1″- 1 1/4″ wide grosgrain ribbon for waist facing

Zipper foot

Wash fabric, ribbon and lace if the skirt is going to be washed after it is sewn.


Cut two rectangles that are width measurement from above x 20″ long.


At the center point of the top edge of these rectangles, chalk a 4″ line on the back side of the fabric perpendicular to the grain line.  Measure 1″ to each side of this line and clip a notch in your fabric.  Line up your notches and stitch from notch to the end of your chalk line to create a hip dart. Press flat lining up center line with stitched line.


Mark center front and center back on each rectangle.  Find the mid point between dart and CF and notch. Pin and stitch a 1″ deep and 9″ long pleat at this notch.  Open and press this pleat flat aligning the notch and stitching to create a box pleat.  Find the midpoint between the dart and the pleat and notch.  Repeat the steps to create the box pleat.  Find the mid point between CF and your original pleat, clip, stitch and press another pleat here.  There should be three box pleats between the side dart and the center front on each of the rectangles.


Finish both CB with either a zigzag or a serger.  Stitch center backs together (careful to line up waistlines and hemlines) with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Measure 2″ in along waistband from the CB seam and notch.  From this notch measure another 3″ in and notch.  Continue measuring 3″ in toward the side dart until you have 5 notches.  Create a 1″ deep 9″ long box pleat using the method described above at each of the notches.  When you are finished there should be 10 pleats between the two side darts. Press all darts… again.

Note: Now is a good time to fit this garment to you.  Wrap it around yourself and adjust the fit at the center back and at the side darts if necessary.  Remember there is 1″ seam allowance at the center front.

Baste waist edge of skirt securing all pleats and darts.


Fold and press 1/4″ of the center front toward the wrong side of the fabric.  Fold another 1/2″  and stitch  first fold into place finishing the raw edge.  Pin zipped zipper on top of the hemmed center front of skirt aligning the top of the zipper tapes with the waist edges and the center front hemmed edges.  Hand baste the zipper to the skirt to ensure it won’t move while machine stitching.   Unzip zipper (make sure it glides smoothly with out catching your basting.)  Here you can experiment with stitches like using a zigzag or a feather stitch while you are machine stitching the zipper into place.   Continue stitching past the end of the zipper to the hemline.  Note- there is a plastic coated section of zipper tape at the end of the zipper teeth that I some times have to hand crank my needle through.  Remove hand basting after zipper is secure.


Waistline-  Stitch ribbon or bias tape on top of the waist edge at 1/2″ (wrong side of ribbon/tape to right side of skirt) leaving 1″ on each end.  Fold tape toward the back of the skirt and press this facing into place tucking in the ends of the ribbon under the facing trimming of necessary.  Stitch ribbon or bias tape to wrong side of skirt to secure the facing.

Hemline-  Finish bottom edge with a zigzag or serge.  Fold up 1″, press and stitch hem.  Stitch decorative ribbon over this hem stitching.  Using a long stitch on your sewing machine, gather the lace up enough to fit the bottom edge of the skirt. Edge stitch skirt hem on top of the gathering stitch on the lace to attach.


I did not use a pattern for the pocket.  I just started cutting into some scraps until I had the shape that I wanted (Yes, you can too!!)

Hey look… 3 more free apron patterns.

Seems like when it rains… it pours free patterns:

Nancy’s Sewing Basket (safe haven/ evil addiction employer) also put out a simple apron pattern they call the Manhattan Apron.  Here are PDF one  and PDF two.

-While I was surfing I found that Selvedge Magazine put out a cute little free PDF called Tie Your Own Apron Strings to promote the book Learn to Sew by Alison Reid

-Cool blogger Still Dottie  has a free how to for a Smock Apron with awesome graphic for pattern.

Free Apron pattern… because I LUV SUMMER.

Ice Tea Anyone?

Ice Tea Anyone?


½ —–yard of a base fabric (I used an Indian cotton voile).

¾  —–yard of a coordinating fabric (I used a Jay McCarroll printed cotton).

2 ¼ —–yards of ribbon (I used two grosgrain ribbons layered and stitch with a machine   embroidery stitch).

-Wash all fabric to clean and shrink.  All seams are ½”

-Cut from coordinating print:

1 Pocket- pattern PDF

1 Waistband- 6”x 22”

1 Bottom Band- 6”x 45”

2 Ties- 31” x 2 ½”

-Finish sides (selvedges) of base fabric and stitch two rows of basting (long machine stitches) at 3/8” and ½” from top.

-Stitch right side of bottom band to wrong side of base fabric (If using a directional print-it should be sew here upside-down). Press seam toward bottom band.  Fold bottom in half, right sides together, fold seam allowance back towards wrong side and stitch sides of bottom band.  Flip right sides out, press and top stitch long seam catching all raw edges in bottom band “sandwich”.  Center ribbon on bottom band and stitch both edges.


-Stitch darts in pocket and press.  Finish top edge.  Fold top of pocket at notch with right sides together. Stitch sides. Flip flap (he-he) right sides out.  Sew basting stitches centered at 1 ½” and gather pocket to 6 ½”.  Pin ribbon into place over gathers and stitch both edges.  Press raw edges of pocket to wrong side ½”.

– Position outside pocket corner 4” down from the top and six inches from the side of base (On the right side of the base if you are right handed and left side if you are left handed).  Pin and edge stitch pocket on to base.

big enough for several wood spoons- the cadillac of pockets!

big enough for several wood spoons- the cadillac of pockets!

-Fold ties in half right sides together and stitch down long raw edge and one short end.  Use a chop stick to push the right side out.  Make sure corners are carefully picked out.  Press flat.

-Gather top of base to 21”

-Sew right side of waistband to wrong side of the top of the base adjusting gathers evenly to fit within the seam allowance of the waistband.

-Baste ties to right side of waistband 2” up from the base with raw edges of ties lined up with raw side edges of waistband.  Fold waistband in half right sides together, fold seam allowance to wrong side and stitch the side catching the ties.  Flip right sides out, press seam allowance towards the waistband.  Top stitch long seam catching all raw edges in the “sandwich” of the waistband.

-You are now ready to cook!!

AND… this is just the beginning- you could add pockets, change pockets (there are a bazillion pocket shapes if you google images of vintage aprons), quilt the bands, use ribbon for the ties, add lace to the bottom, attach glitter and Christmas bells, add piping to the waistband and pocket, cross-stitch or embroidery, give it a theme for a friend, use ric- rac, appliqué fruits on there, you could bedazzle the crap out of it if you want.

Just like home.


Seattle is starting to look like Tahoe (where I spent my childhood) with its 6-12 inches of snow over the last two days.
In other news- I made nuts instead of going to work today. I made a sweet batch and a savory batch.

Sweet batch:
6 cup raw nut mix (I used three pecan and three almond)
3 egg whites
2 T. water
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1 T. ginger
1 T. all spice
2 t. clove
2 t. salt

Preheat oven to 300. Whisk egg white and water in large bowl, add nuts and mix to coat. In medium bowl mix well sugar and all the spices. Gently stir in to nut mixture. Grease two rimmed cookie sheets (I used spay olive oil).  Divide nuts evenly on the two cookie sheets. Bake for 25 minute stirring every eight to ten minutes. Remove from oven and store in air tight container for up to two weeks.

Savory Batch (kinda from a Martha Stewart Magazine):
3 cups capers (this gets expensive if you cannot buy in bulk)
6 cups assorted raw nuts (I used cashews and almonds)
1 quart canola oil
one medium lemon
2 t. black pepper

Drain and completely dry capers on paper towels patting occasionally (about one hr.) Heat oil in a wok to approx. 350 degrees.  Add capers to oil 1/4 cup at a time and fry until golden brown (approx. three minutes)- just like Martha to fry capers. Retrieve with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Reserve 3 T. oil. Discard oil (or use for salad dressing and other such things). Zest entire lemon (roughly 2T.) and juice entire lemon (3 T).   In a large bowl combined nuts, oil, 2 T lemon juice, and pepper. Divide between two rimmed cookie sheets. Bake for 20- 25 stirring every 8-10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes then add the fryed capers, the zest and the rest of the lemon juice. Toss and store in air tight container.  

Both recipes are D-BOMB!! The savory recipe is a great mix of flavors but I got to eat it with a spoon.  The sweet recipe is what I call a popper- you pop pieces in your mouth until all the sudden its gone.



Fantastic Ribbon Manipulation from a top researcher


MMM-MMM good! This is a shot from Orrapin, one of my favorite restaurants in Queen Anne, Seattle.  Orrapinis a very nice woman and the food is always delish.


The weekend before Halloween Nancy’s (day job) hosted their bi-annual Candace KlingRibbon Classes.  I have never been able to attend the class nor meet Candace but this time I got to hang out with her.  I walked her through how to blog so hopefully she will start giving us updates as to what she is doing when she is not teaching.


There is something to be said for people who painstakingly (down to sixteenth of inches) map out and plot out the past in order to keep these antique art forms alive.  Candace Kling does this type of work and it really kind of takes my breath away… you want to know what make them tick.  Like this or this but the pieces that I see in person are the best.  It reminds me of another historical researcher  Janet Arnold , a la Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d.  I am very thankful for people who see the merit in preserving this type of knowledge in a world that is moving to fast to care.  Candace published a book called The Artful Ribbon, that is no linger being printed but are still out there (like on Amazon).


Save a tree and make your own grocery bag- free pattern!!

Super simple!!

Super simple!!

The city of Seattle may be banning plastic bags soon.  Nancy Sewing Basket (my day job) made a little DIY PDF.  You can find it here and here.  Sorry for the two links but my boss made two PDFs so we could print (en mass) front and then back.  You can save a tree and print front, put it back in the printer (face up in my case) and then print the back.  I really want to try printing on canvas because I just got this book Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin.  Hand printed canvas would make a lovely grocery bag.  Also the new Selvedge Magazine (I heart this mag) has a great how to grocery tote.  Have lot o’ eco Fun!!