Monthly Archives: April 2014

Butterick 5218 makes a great shirt dress

Spring is in the air, and soon enough cool and breezy cotton dresses will replace sweaters and warm pants. My DD requested this tailored shirt dress ages ago, and it has even been finished for quite some time. Why has it been hanging in my sewing studio closet instead of her clothes closet?

Shirt dress from Butterick 5218 by Sew Maris

See that look? It is the “I can’t believe it took you so long, Mom” look. I get it a lot. My reputation for lots of promises and late delivery precedes me. It is the sewist’s equivalent of having eyes bigger than one’s stomach at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Whatever. How many dresses has she made ME? 😉

Shirt dress from Butterick 5218 by Sew Maris

We bought the blue chambray shirting and red & white babycord fabric in Portland, I think at Mill Direct fabrics, tho I can’t swear to that. She wanted a classic shirt dress with side slits, a few buttons down the front, and roll-up sleeves. I already had Butterick 5218, so we just extended it to dress-length and I cut it narrower to suit her preference for a slimmer silhouette.

Shirt dress from Butterick 5218 by Sew Maris

I had to do a fair bit of fiddling with the front facing piece to get the red & white baby cord visible as the facing. The original pattern was one gigunda pattern piece that folded to the underside, so I had to cut that whole thing apart, add seam allowances, blah, blah. But I love the red accents! And of course I couldn’t stop with just the facing. A little trim on the pockets. Tabs on the sleeves. Accents on the belt.

The belt! It was made by Pat’s Custom Buttons and Belts—a fantastically talented woman in Lodi, California. You send her a bit of fabric, and she sends you back a fabulous belt, exactly to your specifications. No, she doesn’t have a web site or email. You can call her at (209) 369-5410 to get a catalogue. Did I mention she might be in her 80’s?

Shirt dress from Butterick 5218 by Sew Maris

Ooops! My favorite little photo-bomber wanted to get in on the fun, but refused to model the skirt I actually DID make her. Maybe I can encourage her to play dress up for Nana soon. It’s always dicey whether you will get photo-cooperation from a toddler. At least Mommy has a new spring dress she actually wants to wear!

Happy sewing!


A common thread connects ruffles, skulls, florals, & geometrics

The variety of fabrics, styling, and pattern design that young sewists combine to make a garment always blows me away. They put so much of themselves into their creations—you really get a little glimpse into their hearts.

This week two sets of sisters and friends came for a mini sew camp, and their project-of-choice was aprons. Mix one pattern, McCalls 5720, four creative spirits, a huge variety of fabric and trims, add 4 sewing machines, and you will get something like this!

Four girls at Sew Maris Kids Sew Camp made aprons

There was a really wide skill level in this class, but zero shortage of enthusiasm and persistance. I say it all the time, and see it all the time too—kids learn so much more than sewing skills around here. It is really rewarding to watch them grapple with challenges.

And also have fun posing for a camera shot! 😉

Ruffles, florals, skulls and geometric aprons form 4 gals in Sew Maris sew camp

I wonder what they will be cooking up in the kitchen now with their new aprons? I bet the food choices will be as varied as the aprons, and as they are!

Happy sewing!


Quick Tip Tuesday: Good needling

Change your needles often! Some sewists replace their sewing machine needles every time they start a new garment, others do so every other garment. Some don’t bother changing a needle unless it breaks. A good general rule is to change sewing machine needles at least every 6-8 hours of sewing time. If the fabric you are using is prone to dulling needles (e.g. polar fleece or silk) you should change your needle even more frequently. Why risk damaging your fabric with a dull needle?

Stripey Oliver + S Playtime Dress and Leggings

You might think that I have been sewing non-stop for my only grand-daughter since she was born. Well, you would be wrong. I have made her a few things, but I am not that enthralled with making baby clothes. They grow so quickly that you can barely get something off the sewing machine before it no longer fits. IMHO, buying used clothes from a consignment store is a much better way to dress little ones. Especially ones who go to daycare and return home almost unrecognizable they are so dirty.

Oliver + S Playtime Dress made up by Sew Maris

But now that my DGD is almost 2 1/2, I am starting to get a little more enthusiastic about spending my sewing time on her clothes. Plus I have been waiting to jump on the Oliver + S bandwagon, so I started with the Playtime Dress and Leggings in a soft, navy and pale grey striped knit. I am not sure of the fiber content as a friend gifted me with this fabric.  I thought little red ladybug buttons were a great embellishment, and decided to use the  “wrong” side of my coverstitch for hemming the skirt and sleeves. My DGD is a sporty, playful little gal, and this dress suits her down to a T.

Toddler wearing Playtime dress by Sew Maris and sitting in toddler chair

There was enough fabric to also make a pair of leggings, which she LOVES wearing. At least today. She is a toddler, after all, so tomorrow could be different. 😉

Toddler wearing Oliver and S Playtime dress by Sew Maris and checking out the pockets

Ohhh, pockets! Someone LOVES pockets!

Back view of toddler wearing Oliver + S Playtime dress by Sew Maris

This dress is soft and comfy, Nana!It is really fun to stroll around in it!

Toddler running wearing Oliver + S Playtime Dress and Leggings by Sew Maris

And if I put on my favorite boots I can RUN in my striped dress and leggings!

Toddler playing around wearing Oliver + S Playtime Dress by Sew Maris

Hey! There’s something on my tummy! Can you guess what it is?

Toddler playing around wearing Oliver + S Playtime Dress by Sew Maris

Hehe! I bet you wish you had an elephant tattoo on YOUR tummy!

This little outfit sewed up quickly, and is adorable. Of course the model is even more adorable, but I am really happy with this Oliver + S pattern for my DGD. She really couldn’t get any cuter, but I love the playful, comfortable vibe of this fun little dress.

Have you made up any Oliver + S patterns? What did you think? I am a fan!

Happy sewing!












The Liebster Award – Me?

Well, color me surprised! And super appreciative! Thanks Deanna, (of the awesome blog, SewMcCool), for nominating me for a Liebster award. You have probably heard of this award- it is handed out to new bloggers and/or those who have a small following. So here’s your chance to follow me and show me some reader love! I will reciprocate with loads of pithy, entertaining, and hopefully useful blogging posts about sewing. And occasionally other topics. But almost exclusively sewing. Deal?

Liebster-Award_3 liebster-award1 liebster_2

I get to answer a few of Deanna’s questions, and then nominate other “new” or “new-ish” bloggers for Liebsters to pass on the love. Here we go!

1. When  did you begin sewing, and why?

Oh my goodness, I started sewing Barbie doll clothes by hand very young. Maybe 7 or 8? I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but by mother, grandmother, and both my aunts were all excellent seamstresses so I was around fabric, sewing machines, and sewing projects from day 1. I started sewing clothes for myself with my mom in the sixth grade. Home economics was required in the seventh grade and was an elective in the eighth grade. Because my mom was such a great sewist, my skills were way beyond most of the other girls, and by 8th grade I was able to make whatever I wanted in class. I loved the process of combining fabric and patterns to create unique clothing for myself. Also keep in mind it rains A LOT in Seattle, so having a fun, creative activity that you can do inside is a plus. 🙂

2. When did you decide to “take up” sewing professionally? What was the catalyst?

I dreamed of having some kind of sewing business my whole life, but I “fell into” working as a computer programmer and then a program manager soon after college. The real catalyst was getting laid off from a part-time job I had accepted right after leaving Microsoft. I thought, “this is my chance to see if I can do something with sewing”. I really was not sure where a sewing business would take me, but I had an idea that private sewing lessons might be appealing to already-over-scheduled-women.

Soooo, with my husband’s blessing and support, I filed for a business license, created a web site promoting private sewing lessons, and began teaching group lessons at a nearby fabric store. Business was very slow at the beginning, but I was learning and trying new things as I went along. Two years ago one of my students encouraged me to try a sewing camp for kids, and I am pretty sure I had as much fun as the girls did that first session. I have totally realized my passion – imparting the love of sewing to other people!

3. Which is more important to you – if you could have only one or the other – color or design? Why?

Tough question, because I do love color. But design would be my first choice because beautiful color will not overcome poor design, but black or white + great design = art.

4. If you could sew for any person, living or historical, who would it be, and why?

I would LOVE to sew for Michelle Obama because she has such a great sense of style and has fun with her clothes. Grace Kelly would be an awesome person to dress/sew for too – such a classic beauty and wonderful taste in clothes.

5. Share 5 things about yourself that most people don’t know.

  1. I am afraid of heights AND snakes.
  2. I took voice lessons even though my mother told me I was tone deaf (and I’m not, BTW).
  3. Despite my fear of heights, I went paragliding in Mexico, zip-lining in Hawaii, and walked across the Capilano Suspension Bridge in British Columbia.
  4. My head circumference is too big to wear most hats. Those “one size fits all” hats should state “except Maris”.
  5. I was born in France while my dad was serving in the Air Force.

Alrighty now, my questions are:

  1. What is your favorite period in fashion, and why?
  2. What do you most like to sew, and why?
  3. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
  4. What are you most afraid of?
  5. What makes you want to jump out of bed every morning?
  6. What were your favorite 3 activities when you were a child?
  7. Which is more important to you – if you could have only one or the other – color or design? Why?
  8. Share 5 things about yourself that most people don’t know.
  9. What is the best book you have read recently?
  10. What quality in a friend is most important to you, and why?

And MY nominees for the Liebster Award are….drum roll please!

Crafted by Carrie – what a busy gal she is! Trying to finish up a PhD in Biological Engineering and still she makes time to sew. Beautifully, I might add!

Make It Yourself Mom’s Diary – I can’t believe Laura has time to sew at all. A busy mom of 4! Great artistic & fashion sense!

Core Couture – Ruth is amazing! She blazed ahead in our Ziggi sewalong and finished a killer leather Ziggi.

Happy sewing!







The results are in for Kids Sew Camp

Fun was had by all, and will you check out the ADORABLE dresses made by these girls in the Beginning Knits class. The pattern we used was McCalls 6787, and all the girls made view B with lace or sheer sleeves. I love how they are all so unique, and everyone was super happy with the outcome. Leggings or jeans underneath and they are styled for the day. Cuteness! I know you can’t see any detail, but the divine Miss M. also made a darling clutch bag during “free sew”, complete with lace trim, a button, and buttonhole. She is ready to go out!


Level 1 kiddos had a great time embellishing cuffs and a water bottle cozy. I love the “I hate having my picture taken” look on Miss L’s face.


I have a new respect for photographers who shoot pix of children. How in the world do you get them all to look cute and do what you want at the same time? Herding cats would be easier.  Anyway, drawstring backpacks!


Can you see the backpacks better in this shot? The girls any better? I gotta go practice shooting kid pictures. It’s hard!


In Level 1 we also made pillowcases, but managed to miss getting a picture of those competed projects. Next time!

If you are thinking about signing up your son or daughter for sew camp fun this summer, some of the sessions are already filled. Don’t delay if you want to get in on the fun too!

Happy sewing!


Changing the world….one girl at a time

Learning to sew is a life-changing experience for some girls. Not because it is another excuse for shopping, or wearing pink, or filling their time with a “feminine domestic arts”. But because sewing is empowering. You will learn how to solve problems. You will learn to persevere even when things go wrong. You will learn to apply critical thinking skills to a construction project. You will learn to operate, and master, a power tool.

Don’t believe me? Well, just take a look. You will see concentration. Focus. Perseverance. Joy. Pride. Empowerment. And much more.








Tomorrow you will see some final projects from this week’s Kids Sew Camp attendees. But watching the process is what rocks my world.

Happy sewing!


Quick Tip Tuesday: Before you send those scissors out to be sharpened…

…you might try a clean and polish at home first. Jim Peterson, Seattle area Sales Manager for Kai Scissors suggest cleaning your sewing scissors with rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth to remove textile fibers. Sometimes even just rubbing the blades with a chamois or a soft cleaning cloth alone will do the trick. Be sure you do not use water which might cause rust. Rubbing alcohol will totally evaporate so it is the best choice for quick scissor clean-up. It works for mine!


Happy sewing!



The construction lowdown on Style Arc’s Romy Anorak

I loved the Romy Anorak as soon as I saw it on the Style Arc site. Big dramatic collar, practical raglan sleeves for comfort, long enough to actually keep dry in a rainstorm, what’s not to love? The casual vibe totally suits my lifestyle and the Pacific Northwest, and with our rainy climate it is not possible to have too many jackets. Not.Possible.I.Tell You.

So of course I ordered it, and started dreaming about my fabric options. Despite the practicality of black or grey in my wardrobe – bleah. We need some color in the grey NW. Blue, teal or purple were on my mind. Sandwashed silk was my preferred fabrication. I even bought some. And some apple green lining.


But the periwinkle silk refused to become Romy. Instead, it demanded to become Georgia. OK, OK. Georgia you will be. But that is for another post.

Instead, the purple Silkara I bought from Seattle Fabrics maybe 10 years ago started screaming from it’s storage drawer to become Romy. It was one of my original color choices, and had the added advantage of a DWR finish. Bonus points in Seattle. I cut out the pattern pieces, and the jacket. I decided against lining, so I also added 1/4 inch to every vertical seam allowance so I could flat-fell all the seams.


I assembled the entire jacket shell first, including sleeves, flat-felling each seam. Since my fabric did not press well, I had to stitch the 5/8” SA, trim one side, then press the remaining full seam allowance for the felling/topstitching step, and immediately run to the sewing machine to stitch it down before I lost the press mark. Time consuming, but totally worth it. No ravel-y threads inside for me! Of course the only down side is the extra time required for double-stitching every seam, but a small price to pay for a clean finish.

I didn’t bother with the pocket construction at this point, tho the instruction sheet did specify constructing these before assembling the jacket. Whatever. I usually just give a casual nod to the Style Arc instructions. As usual, I found that all of the Romy pattern pieces fit together beautifully. Love their notch clipping/marking system, and the <for the most part> superb drafting. Still all smiles about my project.

Next up was attaching the collar. I stitched the outer collar to the inner collar along the top edge, leaving the neck edge and the 2 short ends open. I decided to try the “burrito” method of attaching the body of the jacket to the collar. Right sides together, I pinned the outer collar to the jacket, and then rolled up the jacket as tightly as possible and wrapped the inner collar around the jacket and was able to pin it to the neckline edge (1/4″ SA!!). It was a tight fit to roll the entire jacket inside the 2 collar sections, but I was going for a clean finish using machine stitching as much as possible. If you are not familiar with the burrito construction process, read this burrito pillowcase tutorial and think of the collar as the pillowcase cuff, and the jacket as the pillowcase body. Still all smiles.

Front plackets, zipper, and facings were next on the docket. I stitched both short ends of both plackets. I looked at the technical drawing and saw that the zipper teeth were aligned close to the front placket seam, so I basted the zipper to the left jacket front. Then I placed one of the front plackets on the left jacket front edge on top of the zipper, and this is when  I realized I should not have stitched the inner collar all the way to the jacket front edge. So ripped a few inches back on the inner collar. I continued assembling the jacket front/zipper/placket/facing sandwich, and turned the inner collar and hem allowance over to the front. Time to stitch. Ruh roh. A couple of things were not assembled in the proper order, so ripping and re-stitching ensued. Still sort of smiling.

Oops. Still some hems and other things were not quite right, so more ripping and stitching. Maybe a little swearing and mild snarling happened. Turns out the third time was the charm. Left front placket in place correctly and all edges finished off cleanly. Happiness. Of course since I had learned a few things on the left front placket, the right front placket and zipper went in correctly the first time. Big smiles again.

Until I zipped up the jacket. MAJOR swearing. HUGE snarling. With both sides of the zipper set into the front placket seam allowance the right front placket was almost completely on top of the left front JACKET instead of directly on top of the left placket. I went back to the placket pattern piece, and noticed that center front was marked on the FOLD line of the placket piece. WAH-aatt the what? The two folds are supposed to butt together? Seems like an obvious pattern marking error to me – where would the zipper end up? SHEESH almighty!

I went back to the technical drawing. It still looked like the zipper was set into the seam allowance to me. The H with it. I ripped off the right placket and moved the zipper tape as far out of the seam allowance as I could and still catch it in the stitching. Right side done. I ripped the left placket off again (yes, third time ripping!), and zipped the left side of the zipper to the right side. I aligned the plackets so the right placket completely covered the left placket, and marked where the edge of the zipper tape should be to keep my best-i-can-do-in-the-situation alignment happy. I stitched the left placket back together without the zipper in the seam, and topstitched the left side of the zipper to the left placket. Aren’t I totally au courant with half an exposed zipper tape? It was either that or burn the damn jacket. 😉

Full Monty of the zipper exposure:


Normal zipper look when the plackets are not pinned back:


The pockets, belt and belt loops were easy peasy – just lots of double stitching. I pressed and stitched the pleats into the outer pockets, and then cut out a lining piece of grey silk organza so the inside of the pockets didn’t ravel either. Stitched in the pleats in the bottom, and hemmed the bottom and the sleeves. Not sure how many hours later I had a jacket I love. The color, shaping, and detail is perfect for me. I need to attach some snaps or velcro at the collar and on the pockets, but that is all. Except for the front placket issue it was a dream to sew. I especially love the shape of the jacket on the body – it manages to avoid the dreaded teddy-bear-tied-in-the-middle look. Yay! Maybe I will even make a matching rain hat!

A closeup of some pocket topstitching loveliness:


And isn’t that inside view purty?

RomyInside AnorakFront

Yep, the plackets kicked my butt, but I am still super happy I made Romy. See how happy I look?

If you decide to make a Romy for yourself, below is my cheater suggestion of how to assemble the plackets. These instructions assume you have stitched both short ends of both plackets. I think the correct solution is to re-draft the front plackets so the zipper insertion in the seam allowance keeps the plackets/actual center front aligned, but if you don’t want to do that this technique will get a reasonable result.

Right side placket:

  1. Place the RS of the placket on the RS of the right jacket front.
  2. Place the RS of the right zipper on top of the placket, aligning it so the zipper tape will be caught in the stitching – but just barely.
  3. Fold the inner collar over the placket, and turn up the inner collar hem allowance at the neck edge.
  4. Fold the bottom hem allowance over the placket, turning the hem “turndown” under.
  5. Place the facing on top of everything, and stitch, backstitching at both ends.

Left side placket:

  1. Place the RS of the placket on the RS of the right jacket front.
  2. Fold the inner collar over the placket, and turn up the inner collar hem allowance at the neck edge.
  3. Fold the bottom hem allowance over the placket, turning the hem “turndown” under.
  4. Place the facing on top of everything, and stitch, backstitching at both ends.
  5. Zip the zipper together, and mark where the zipper tape should be positioned to enable the right placket to lay completely over the left placket.
  6. Stitch the zipper down to the left placket only, using 2 long rows of stitching to secure the tape.

Happy sewing!






Lazy Sunday reading

How crazy is it that right after StacySews and I finished up our Ziggi Sew-along, I came across a blog post about how to style edgy garments like biker jackets? If you are not familiar with YLF, it might just might become a new favorite style site for you. Angie, the face of YLF, is every bit as sweet in person as she sounds in her writing.

Boy, some days I really need a little inspiration, and a reminder that despite all of the hard work and focus required to own your own business, my passion for getting as many people as possible excited about sewing is totally the right path for me. If you have passion you are so much more likely to be happy and successful! My favorite quote from this article on why passion is so important is  Nelson Mandela’s. Which one is your favorite?

If only I had more time, I would be baking these crazy delicious looking whoopie pies. I hope my husband doesn’t see this and start nagging me to bake him something yummy! These are definitely not Easter-specific eggs, but totally made me giggle.

If I went back to school tomorrow, I would either study textile manufacturing, or if I couldn’t take all the science required for that degree, art and design. Who knew that geckos could inspire fabric innovation!

Do you have a best girlfriend? I love how quickly women with a shared interest can connect. I wish I had been at Marcy’s Artbarn to drool over her luscious fabrics and talk about sewing and design with this talented group. And if I ever find myself in Denmark I bet Line and I would find loads to share about teaching sewing.

Do you use a writing tool to help you blog? I am trying out Scrivener, and think it is really going to be helpful. Read more about how it might help you organize your own blog posts.

Hope you have a great week! I will be busy having fun with Kids Sew Camps.

Happy sewing!