Monthly Archives: August 2011

Total obsession

If you are have my Singer 500 Rocketeer, puh-leeze contact me so I can arrange to come get her IMMEDIATELY! And yes, I do want all her beautiful accessories – especially the ruffler and buttonholer because they are so awesome.  I won’t be mad if you scratched or scraped her a bit while you were using her, but if you broke anything, there will be some serious consequences. Very serious. 

It is OK to contact me anytime of day or night with to let me know where she is and how I can get her. I am not sleeping anyway, so never mind the time. Just let me know where she is, and when I can come pick her up. If she is in good condition, all will be forgiven. A reward of up to $200 will be offered for her safe return.

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

Butterick Fall 2011 pattern collection

I think we have another winner, ladies and gentlemen! The Butterick Fall pattern collection is darn good, IMHO, and there are definitely several patterns that I am considering adding to my considerable pattern stash.

This is my absolute favorite dress in the whole collection – hands down. Chic, feminine, with a slight retro vibe. What’s not to like? The fact that it is a knit (aka simple and fast to construct) is a double bonus.


I bought some thoroughly gorgeous red wool coating last year and just may make it up in this beauty. I love big, dramatic  collars on coats, and Butterick 5685 nailed it with this one.


Capes are big for fall, and I think View CF (shown in pink) in 5684 is darling.


Here is another knit dress that I think has terrific design lines, Butterick 5676 by Muse. Depending on the fabric this one could definitely be casual or more sophisticated.



What do you think about this collection? Find any “must make” favorites?

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen




Stitch up a quick project


Sewing student profile
Mary Beth sews for the kitchen













Meet one of my favorite sewing students, Mary Beth. She has been taking sewing lessons for a few weeks, and recently completed a fun (and useful!) apron to ward off a few of the kitchen grease splatters. I like the simple lines of the pattern she selected, Simplicity 2555, and in keeping with her style she chose a classic and feminine color combination. Super cute!!

The basic shape and construction process was straightforward. Cut out an elongated rectangle with straight-sided shaping at the top for the armhole and top. Double-fold and stitch down the sides and bottom of the apron. Cut out two packets. Apply trim and attach. Make a re-e-e-a-l-l-y long strap for the neckband and ties. Now here comes the part that was both poorly drafted and not well-explained in the instructions (<insert> rant about frequency of terrible instructions in patterns </end rant>).

The pattern had you cut out and apply facings to the armhole (well, not exactly a hole, but the under the arm area). OK so far. But they also instructed you to turn under the raw edge of the facing, and stitch that to the apron front to create a tube for the neckband/ties to pass thru. The combination of the ribbon trim application, and the facing application instructions created multiple stitching lines as well as a very small tolerance to get the strap inserted without bunching, not to mention a lot of fiddling to press under the edges of the facing  (<insert second > rant about frequency of terrible instructions in patterns </end second rant>).  We decided instead to finish the long edge of the facing with a serged edge finish, and apply the trim prior to stitching the facing in place to create the tube. We also changed the way we applied the trim so that it was in one long, continuous piece. Easier and looked better. Mary Beth’s apron turned out cute and definitely wearable – good job MB!.

Apron sewing project
Finished apron front




REMEMBER: The technical writers for patterns are not gods. Some of them are not even that smart.  They write the instructions in a way that is easy for them to describe, and to include simple illustrations. They do not always write the instructions in a manner that is best for you, the sewist, nor in a way that is best for the garment. What should you do about this conundrum? Read lots of books about sewing. Take classes. Make lots of different projects from different pattern companies. Think about what you are doing before blithely following along with the printed instructions. It is just some ink on paper – feel free to ignore. As you continue to sew and practice, you will develop your own techniques for doing things, and become more comfortable ignoring the pattern-maker-technical-writer gods.

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen

A simple repair

When I was a kid, my mom used to darn socks. I HATED wearing socks with the little patch of mending because it always felt funny against  my foot. While I would never mend a sock, I do try to repair clothing that is it still wearable.  I am not exactly cheerful about the process, because I consider it kind of “grunt work” sewing, but I do like keeping usable graments out of the landfill. (Exception: My DH’s old work clothes; the landfill is too good for some of those! 😉 )

Here’s a shot of a quick repair I did to one of my brother’s shirts. He loves this shirt, and the collar was beginning to show some signs of wear. I love it when I am challenged with figuring out a  quick and easy process for me, that still looks professional and like it may be part of the garment design.

Mended shirt collar
Decorative stitch applied across frayed shirt collar
What do you think of my mending job? Do you ever mend clothing? Do you have a different idea for mending shirt collars? I’d love to hear your thoughts!!
Happy sewing!
Maris Olsen