Calling All Sewcialists & Chicago Sewists

I am social media stupid. I kinda don’t get it, but sorta feel like I’m catching on? Perhaps I’ve watched too many 19th c. period movies. My mind just seems to be off in other eras a lot!

But, great things can come out of social media. Leila from the Three Dresses Project came up with the term #sewcialist for people who sew & do the whole twitter/social media thing. Fun, right?

Then, Another Sewing Scientist came up with the brilliant idea to make a google map of where we all live- no not our exact address, just general cities & neighborhoods. You can also add your favorite local fabric stores to the map.

Another Sewing Scientist

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Finally, a Chicago sewing blogger meetup! Yes! When I first started blogging I felt so isolated. I realized one of the blogs I had been following was run by a Chicagoan & I commented on her blog about how excited I was to hear about another Chicago sewing blogger as I hadn’t heard of any others. She never replied.

Since then I’ve met Rhonda, this past weekend meet up with Sally (more on that to come) & randomly met another blogger while we were both on our way back from Vogue. OK, maybe not so random, but in all my fabric store trips (& you know there have been too many to count) I’ve never started chatting with another person who both sewed & blogged.

So, this is a shout out to all Chicago area sewing bloggers (or just people who like to sew but don’t have blogs), talk to me! We’re looking at late March at the Vogue flagship store in Evanston for the meet up date. Come on out of the woodworks & I’ll cc you in on our long e-mail list for the meetup.Map the Sewists

One final note, this blog looks wonky! That’s because I’m switching servers. My fabulous, talented & professional friend Kim, who owns a web design company, is handling the switching. But, the templates I’ve been using were chock full of bugs & when she switched over to the server things went a bit cuckoo. Debugging that thing would take too much time away from building my new site. Yes, I’m getting a pretty new blog layout sometime in March or April!

None of these problems are Kim’s fault, just the fault of bad code in free templates. So, if you’re looking for a good web designer who has blog & WordPress experience, so talk to Kim.

One final note- an upcoming podcast will be on why & how we choose patterns. E-mail me at disparatedisciplinesATgmail with tip son how you choose patterns for your body type.


Noro Mitts

Heaven. Soft, fluffy heaven.

Noro Silk Garden Yarn in color 359
Noro Silk Garden Yarn in color 359

That’s the only way I can describe the Silk Garden Yarn from Noro. It really is a shame you can’t reach through the computer screen & touch these lovelies.

It was so hard narrowing down the gratuitous yarn photos to just these two.
It was so hard narrowing down the gratuitous yarn photos to just these two.

The colors are gorgeous. Whitish gray, light charcoal gray, a touch of brown, green & a hint of gold.
Noro Mitts

I made the pattern myself & will hopefully get around one day to translating my notes into a free pattern.

See the thumb shaping?
See the thumb shaping?

My hands have been uncommonly cold this winter & I felt it was about time for a new pair of fingerless mitts to wear at work- my last having been nice, but not nearly as warm as these. So I dove into using my one skein of luscious Noro & was pleasantly surprised to find I had a little left over.

They turned out to be just a little too thick & long for fast typing, but they're sooooo soft & luxurious feeling. It would be impossible to not wear them anyway.

They turned out to be just a tad too thick & long for fast typing, but they feel sooooo soft & luxurious. It would be impossible to not wear them anyway.At Foster Beach

I hear tell there’s some Noro Silk Garden sock yarn too. One of these days it will be mine! MINE!!!

Sewing Blogger Meetup

Leila was in town for a short visit when we recorded the podcast. And good blogger that she is, she already posted about our little get together. Now, we didn’t just gab about what we call ourselves as people who sew. We also hit up the Vogue Fabrics flagship store with her costuming friend Kate.

Kate, me & Leila post-podcast recording
Kate, me & Leila post-podcast recording. Since we were talking about indie pattern designers & giving away some Cake Patterns I thought I’d wear my Tiramisu t-shirt!

As you can see, there were a lot of pretty things that wanted to come home with us.

Oooo! Wool jersey!
Oooo! Wool jersey!

Sigh, I don’t know how I was so restrained. Actually, I don’t know how we were all so restrained. Our wallets largely remained intact. Kate didn’t even get anything- can you believe it?! I think I need some of that amazing fabric self-restraint.

Pom pom trim!!!
Pom pom trim!!!

Leila & I hope to do more podcasts together, but that’s all dependent on when she can next make it back to Chicago. In the meantime, what would you like to hear me talk about on the next episode of Stitches? How long do you like a podcast to be? Shorter like parts 1 & 2 of episode 1, Steam. Or longer like episode 2 with Leila?Podcasting with Leila

Are you a ‘sewer’ or a ‘sewist’? Podcast & Giveaway

Stitches Episode 2 Are you a Sewer or a SewistToday’s podcast features a very fun & special guest, Leila from the blog The Three Dresses Project.

Leila was so excited to be on the show she was aflame. And Mari was a burning ball of fiery enthusiasm to have Leila as a guest star. Much giggling occurred during this chat about what we call ourselves as people who like to sew.

This podcast is also available on PodOmatic.

Show notes:

  • It seems the most well known term among people sew & those who don’t is ‘sewer’. But when written out it looks like the ‘sewer’, as in those subterranean pipes that carry all manner of sludge & ickiness.
  • Because of that people- bloggers especially- started calling themselves ‘sewists’, but when seen as a cross between ‘sewer’ & ‘artist’ some people (Mari) think it’s pretentious.
  • Hobbyist’ can also rub people the wrong way if people use it demeaningly, as a way to say you’re not serious about your craft.
  • The worst term might be ‘Becky Home-ecky.’ How are we to be taken seriously about handmaking our clothes when Tim Gunn is freely using this term on Project Runway?
  • Dressmaker’ & ‘Seamstress’ seem less controversial but also imply that someone is making clothing for other people for a living. The word ‘dressmaker’ suggests someone who makes fancier & less practical things like fine dresses. ‘Seamstress’ implies someone who does more utility sewing- as in everyday clothing & mending.
  • Tailors’ are the male counterparts to ‘dressmakers’ & ‘seamstresses.’ Can a woman be a tailor? It seems nowadays there’s more cross-over when it comes to tailoring & gender roles.
  • Can calling yourself a ‘couture sewist’ be snooty or does it just describe the kind of sewing you do?
  • In the fashion industry the people who sew clothing are called ‘stitchers,’ a more gender neutral word. But, the industry delineates what each person does more specifically for the purposes of clarity. At home we do everything: we’re pattern makers, drapers, cutters, etc. Is calling yourself a ‘stitcher’ implying you only sew?
  • Historically we haven’t heard of anyone using special terms to label themselves as someone who sewed unless they were sewing for a living. Sewing was something you had to do because you were alive- it helped shelter your body from the weather.
  • Sewing was an everyday thing & an expectation. Brides were given a basket with basic sewing supplies to mend and make the clothes they had last longer.
  • As bloggers we’re taking on more roles as we branch out into business. What do we call ourselves when we’ve got a professional business, but didn’t go to fashion school or have an apprenticeship? What about when we only sew for ourselves & don’t do custom projects for clients, but own things like pattern companies or teach sewing classes?
  • For further thoughts on this topic, see this Sewaholic post.

Recent sewing bloggers turned home sewing pattern makers include Steph from 3HoursPast & Cake Patterns, Melissa from Fehr Trade, Amy from Cloth Habit, Maddie from Madalynne & Tilly from Tilly & the Buttons.

To celebrate all these emerging indie pattern designers Leila & I are having a giveaway of Steph’s patterns from Cake Patterns. Now, Leila works for Steph & Steph graciously offered to donate these patterns to the giveaway for free. But we’re the ones who will be sending you the patterns. Leila & I aren’t doing this as agents of Cake Patterns. We’re doing it because we just recorded a podcast & because we love indie pattern companies.

Comment to win the Pavlova pattern once it's been released.
Comment to win the Pavlova pattern once it’s been released.

So, comment here to win a copy of the Pavlova pattern– we’ll ship it to you once it’s been released. Hop on over to Leila’s blog & comment to win a copy of the Tiramisu pattern. The giveaway is open until February 27th.  International entries welcome. Here’s how to win:

  1. Leave me a comment saying what you call yourself as someone who sews. Please specify that you want to win & leave a way to contact you.
  2. Get an extra entry for mentioning in the same post that you have subscribed to my blog.

And just for fun- not extra entries- fill out this poll. What do you call yourself? If you choose ‘other’ write in what that ‘other’ is. 

How to Make a Lace Bandeau Video Tutorial

Lace Bandeau TutorialDear reader, I believe there is something we can agree upon. Neither of us wants my nipples to be flashed across the internet.

However, I have no compunction about exposing the lovely Esmeralda to the world. I’m not certain you’ve been formally introduced. This is Esmerelda, the dress form I received for Christmas. Esmerelda, this is everyone. Say hello to the lovely blog readers.

Now that introductions have been made, I have a Chinese New Year present for you.

A video tutorial! How to make a lace bandeau. Just in time for that ‘V’ word, that greeting card holiday I don’t like to celebrate even though I now have a significant other.

But you may be asking what lace bandeaus have to do with Chinese New Year. Recently, I was looking up ancient Chinese undergarments (ah sewing, how you make me interested in the most random things). And during the Tang Dynasty there were types of underwear called hezi & moxiong, which have apparently been updated to suit modern tastes. I had trouble finding the site again, but during my research I found a picture of a lace bandeau that was called a moxiong. So this could also be called a modern moxiong tutorial.

If you can’t watch the video because of low bandwidth or, cough cough, you’re at work here’s the skinny.


  • Wide 4-way stretch lace elastic the length of your bust measurement- as a C cup bra I like mine to be 6″ wide
  • Matching thread
  • Clear elastic 1-3/4 times the length of your lace
  • Pins
  • Rotary cutter & mat or scissors

Instructions– see my video for more detailed instructions

  1. Pin the lace around yourself- different laces stretch at different rates so I’m not going to tell you to cut a certain length minus your bust measurement. Walk around & adjust the tightness until it’s comfortable. Mark where you want your seam to fall.
  2. If using scalloped lace mark your seam to fall between two scallops & add the width of your seam allowance to the side. Cut there.
  3. Cut clear elastic the length of your lace.
  4. Starting with the clear elastic 1/2 – 1″ off the end of your lace, sew it along the bottom edge of the lace. Keep the clear elastic taut- not too tight & not loose.
  5. Cut clear elastic the length from your underarm to underarm going along your back. Sew to the top of the lace in the same manner as the other clear elastic.
  6. Sew up your side seams.
  7. Optional: serge or overcast the seam. You may want to check the fit of the bandeau before serging.
  8. Thread a tapestry needle with the tail end of the serger chain of thread & work that through the loops your serger formed on the edge of the seam. Repeat on other side.
  9. Snip all threads & you’re done!

Now I would love to hear your comments. Did you enjoy this tutorial? Will you make a lace bandeau or is it just not your style?

Luck of the Random Number Generator: Blogiversary Giveaway Winners


Yeah yeah, it is the year of the snake. But I’m a rabbit. So I’m posting a picture of a rabbit.

No, I didn’t lose my marbles. Today really is the first of a new year- Chinese New Year that is.

And finally, congratulations to the winners of my giveaway! And thank you to everyone for the very warm birthday wishes. I really did appreciate all your comments.

Giveaway winner #1

Giveaway winner #2

Giveaway winner #3

Giveaway winner #4

Giveaway winner #5

A red top for the new year

My first project of 2013 was conceived, cut & sewn all on New Year's Day.

McCall's 6288 raglan t-shirt

The pattern is McCall's 6288. I made it up once last year when I spent hours tweaking the fit to be smooth over my swayback.

Side of McCall's 6288

This was a good lesson in how fabric affects fit. My first version was done in 4-way stretch jersey (stretches horizontally & vertically). All my adjustments were based on using 4-way stretch fabric, This version is in 2-way stretch (stretches horizontally). Because the red fabric does not stretch vertically, the back does not lie as smoothly.

Back of MCCall's 6288

Speaking of the fabric, it is polyester with a touch of linen. While I usually try to buy fabrics mostly made of natural fibers, I was just too curious about using a jersey containing linen. It is surprisingly nice- not quite so wiggly & difficult to cut out as some thin jerseys can be. Most importantly it feels good on- i.e. not like I'm wearing a bunch of plastic.

Button detail on raglan t-shirt

Did you see the buttons? I stole the idea was inspired by Cation Designs' raglan T.


Why do women’s pants have laughably tiny pockets?

For a long time my boyfriend would deride the tiny pockets in my RTW jeans & I’d always snarkily reply. I did not like it implied that my pants were somehow not as good than his. Silly, no?

Unsurprisingly, I was jealous of his longer pockets & frustrated that the pockets in my jeans were almost useless. I was trying to convince myself that my pockets were perfectly fine. See! My phone fit in them, even if it was bursting out. And I could fit my ENTIRE hands in them, even if I had to curl them up into fists to do it.

I could concoct silly stories about why women’s pockets are so much shorter than men’s- like they make them shorter to force us to buy purses & become dependent on this capitalist system we love! Or it could just be due to it being cheaper so they don’t have to spend as much buying extra fabric for longer pocket bags & we’re already so used to it that we don’t complain, whereas indignant men would lead an uprising against the entire fashion industry if their pockets were suddenly & systematically shortened because you know men are inherently violent & women always & only want peace so they silently put up with such indignities as short pockets.

Because of you I had to give up wearing pants. No one shortens my pocket bags & gets away with it you long pocket bag hoarder!

But that would all be wildly gross speculation based on beliefs I do not espouse. Although, it would be fun to see a little video or comic of men around the country running after pattern makers & clothing manufacturers as they tore oak tag & rusted scissors while swinging at dress forms like they were pinatas. Oooo, someone should make a dress form pinata for their birthday!

Ahhhh sewing. Thank gosh I have you as a hobby. My first few pairs of pants didn’t call for pockets. But my first two pairs of jeans, those I bequeathed with wondrously long pocket bags.

But after having sewn jeans, I’m wondering if there’s not a purpose to the shorty short pockets in women’s pants. My jeans with the longer pockets have one failing- the french seam at the bottom of the pocket bag shows through my pants. This does not a happy Mari make. It falls right across one of my largest stretches of thigh.

But none of my RTW pocket bag seams show through. None of my boyfriend’s pocket bag seams show through.

RTW jeans to the left, my 1st pair of home sewn jeans in the middle, my 2nd pair of home sewn jeans to the right. Note that the pocket bags extend all the way to the bottom of the fabric. The curved stitching higher up on the fabric secures the pocket appliqué to the bag.
RTW jeans to the left, my 1st pair of home sewn jeans in the middle, my 2nd pair of home sewn jeans to the right. Note that the pocket bags extend all the way to the bottom of the fabric. The curved stitching higher up on the fabric secures the pocket appliqué to the bag.

Is it possible that pocket bags are shorter because a longer bag would show through our tighter cut jeans? The bag is so short it often ends right where our hips bend to meet our legs- a spot that tends to a have a little more ease than the thighs do.  Does that extra ease hide the pocket bag seam?

Men’s jeans do tend to be looser overall. Is that why they have luxuriously long pockets? When you’ve had to deal with teensy pockets for years & suddenly have usefully long ones, it feels luxurious, glorious even.

One thing I don’t know is where men’s skinny jeans fit in. One of the many reasons I’m with my boyfriend is that he doesn’t wear skinny jeans, so I can’t just go raid his closet for answers.

My jeans on the left, my boyfriend's jeans on the right.
My home sewn jeans on the left, my boyfriend’s jeans on the right.

Do men’s skinny jeans also have ridiculously short pockets? I no longer work in the part of downtown Chicago that’s home to most of our art schools (universities to you ladies across the sea), which means I’m no longer surrounded on a daily basis by skinny-jean-wearing-chain-smoking hipsters. And the most I can remember from that time is being appalled- like looking at a train wreck- of pants so tight that you can see every part of a boy’s anatomy. I wasn’t really paying attention to where their pockets might fall, only thinking with horror about how even I didn’t own pants THAT tight.

Do any of you have access to or have noticed the pockets on men’s skinny jeans? Do you agree with my theory on why women’s pocket bags might be shorter due to less ease in the leg of pants patterns? Will someone make me a dress form pinata & fill it with buttons, lace & silk thread?

The Perfect Sci-Fi Cap

Never before have I worn a hat that made me feel like so many things at once.

It’s probably the green color, but it feels more turban-like than the vaguely 20’s cloche it’s supposed to be. This disappointed me when I first tried it on. Then I realized it was the most awesome, perfect sci-fi cap.

While you’re supposed to wear the ruched part off to the side, I think if you put it to the front it gives off more of a Worf vibe- if his mother had been one of those green aliens.

And of course, because it is green, it makes me think of Yoda.

I don’t think Yoda appreciates my impression of him. See, my hands are supposed to be his ears.

The pattern is the Corrugated Cloche by Sara Morris from knit.wear spring 2012. It’s a fast & easy knit that can be finished in a day. The ruching- achieved by picking up stitches from rows below- helps keep things interesting. Just be sure to make the smaller size. Everyone on Ravelry is correct- the size small for a 20″ heads fits loosely on a 22″ head like mine.

I’m usually an overly cautious person, but it was so pretty on this freak 60F January day the I had to go play on the ice floes like a penguin.
Of course one of my feet went through the ice, but I was purposefully walking in a really shallow area so I was fine. Still, that seemed like a good excuse to stop pretending like I had flippers & insulating feathers.

Blogiversary Giveaway!

What a celebratory week for me! First, my birthday. Now, a couple days later my first blog anniversary. And this is my 100th post.

It’s been a very long year with lot’s of ups & downs that have made me incredibly grateful to be part of the online sewing & knitting communities. You all have been so supportive & such an inspiration. Thank you. I really appreciate everyone who reads this blog & every comment & like I receive.

I started this blog because I was part of the 1912 project– free patterns in exchange for blogging about them. Then I challenged myself to making one thing every single week. While it was hard it was also amazingly fun & rewarding. But then I had to move. Moving put a kink in my productivity & since no one played along with me for months after the first week I stopped Make It Mondays. After that, Frosting Fortnight came along & I put out (with the help of some guest bloggers) almost a post a day for two weeks. Shortly thereafter I met up with some truly wonderful bloggers. And now I’ve started a podcast. My listeners are few- I have only put out two episodes- but I have high hopes for this little project. To top it all off I was nominated by three different people for blog awards. And I have some super huge news. I hope to tell you all about it later this month. I’m really excited!

I thought there would be no better way to express my gratitude to all of you for reading my blog than by hosting a little giveaway.

First up is a real spool of thread in the color of your choice to go along with an earbud holder shaped like a spool of thread. I like a bit of surrealism so had to buy this for a giveaway when I saw it awhile ago. Actually, I bought it before I even though about making a podcast, but it goes pretty well with my Stitches podcast. If you’re a knitter & don’t sew I’ll send you some heel reinforcement yarn for sock darning instead of a real spool of thread.

Spool of thread in the color of your choice with a spool shaped earbud holder.
Spool of thread in the color of your choice with a spool shaped earbud holder.

Second is McCall’s 6331, a Palmer Pletsch dress & romper with a vaguely 50’s feel.

McCall's 6331

Third, McCall’s 6027, a dress with eight gores.

McCall's 6027

Fourth, a winter coat. I believe this one has been discontinued, so you can’t get it in stores any more.

Vogue 8465

And finally, fifth, Simplicity 2154. I think this one is about to be discontinued. It’s a retro pattern from the 60’s & includes a blouse, pencil skirt, cardigan & jacket. Simplicity 2154


  1. Leave me a comment below saying which of the giveaway lots you’d like to win, if it’s just one or all of them. Also say what you like about my blog & what you’d like to see more of. You could tell me you don’t like anything about my blog at all, but it is my birthday week. I think there’s some rule somewhere about having to be nice to people when it’s their birthday.
  2. For five extra entries you can also follow my blog, follow me on Pinterest, follow me on Twitter, tweet about this giveaway, or post about this giveaway on your blog. To get credit make sure you mention all the extra things you do in the same comment that lists the lot(s) you’re trying to win.

This giveaway is open until midnight CST next Friday, February 8th. And now I’ll leave you with what may be the best picture of all time. *update: it’s not my cat- I wish it were! It’s just some wonderfully amazing fashion designer feline in the making that my boyfriend saw on the internet.