Puns N Needles

Dispatches from my adventures: sewing, knitting, and otherwise.

Leave a comment

Second contest entry

I am not terribly competitive. I do like winning (who doesn’t?) and enjoy a good challenge, but when it comes down to it for most things, I’m in it for the experience. So I was kind of surprised with myself and my motivation for this contest.

I decided on the buffalo plaid from Switzerland, and a skirt pattern called A-Frame. It’s one of a few patterns designed by a young woman who lives near my hometown, and I thought it would complement this fabric very nicely. It has center front and rear triangular (A-frame) shaped panels, and my plan was to put these on the bias. But I had to be sure of two things: that it would fit nicely, and that I would have enough fabric.
Test skirt in denim
So I cut a cheap piece of denim the same size as my plaid fabric and set to cutting the skirt pieces out with the same orientation (some bias, some straight-grain). OK. It worked. I did it. Phew. Then I sewed the skirt together, (a pretty quick project) and was pleasantly surprised that it fit. I had enough fabric. Phew—another sigh of relief.  But would I be able to match the plaid? In sewing, pattern or plaid matching is when the creator lines things up nicely across seams. This usually takes a bit more fabric, and sewing patterns often note that yardage requirements are increased when using plaids.
And what else uses up more fabric? Cutting a pattern on the bias.  I found myself with a double-whammy, bias and plaid, AND since I was using special fabric that my in-laws got me in Switzerland, all I had was one piece, so there was no fixing any mistakes by re-cutting anything.


I traced each piece before cutting anything, drawing lines on my paper pattern pieces so I would have the plaid “stripes” lining up correctly. I wanted the triangular sections to have a chevron effect, and I wanted the plaid to line up nicely on each of the side pieces. I stressed a bit over this because I’ve never been very good at plaid matching. It’s difficult to wrap my head around how to do it well. But this time, it feels like I knocked the ball out of the park.

Deadline was Tuesday at midnight, and my review was in well before the deadline. I’ll be judged on these criteria:

1. Follows all contest rules. Failure will result in disqualification and entry will not be judged.
2. Sewing Quality.
3. Comprehensive review with pertinent details; outlines steps taken; explains how modifications helped achieve result.
4. Good quality photos; Can envision the project as if viewing in person
5. Project incorporates one or more creative elements.
6. Fit – how well the item fits body.
7. Overall Impression

I had some good news as I started writing this post: the winners will be announced tomorrow. It’s good news because I had been thinking I would have to wait another several days to learn if I advance to the next round. Out of 56 entries this time, 25 will be advancing, and I hope to be one of them.


I told my photographer that if he took pictures for me, I’d pose wherever he wanted. That’s his truck behind me.






Leave a comment

On to Round 2

I was selected, based on my review of my new favorite shorts, to move on to the second round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee.  I got pretty excited when I found out yesterday… and now that the challenge for Round 2 has been posted, I’m a little bit nervous.  I tend to get nervous, so that’s no surprise really. And, I admittedly have a hard time making decisions. So, I have to decide what to make, and how to approach it in a way that makes me a winner—if I want to move on to the next round.

The rules state:

You will have one week (starting 9/14/2016) to cut, sew and photograph a garment made using fabric cut on the bias (45 degree angle). See rules below.

1. Sew a garment using fabric cut on the bias grain.

2. The garment may be made from any woven fabric. Knit fabrics and stretch woven fabrics are not allowed in this round.

3. The entry must be intended for an adult. It can be for a man or a woman; it can be for yourself, members of your family, friends, acquaintances or charity – basically, any adult! As always, items intended for sale are disallowed in this contest.

There are other rules that deal with constructing the review and how we’ll all be judged.  Since the first round, I’ve learned that creativity counts, and the judges have reminded us to post good clear photos (showing details of the garment) in our reviews.

Right now I’ve got three ideas for patterns—two different blouses that I’ve made before, but which I should do some fitting adjustments with, or a skirt that I have’t tried before, but which is a pattern that was already on my “want to make” list.

I don’t want to give too much away, but these are the fabrics that I’m considering. A heavy cotton check, a lightweight linen stripe, and a mystery slippery, crinkly crazy-print floral. Stay tuned to find out what I’m making.57838


Leave a comment

It’s the waiting game.

I entered a contest, along with about 90 other people, and we all sewed shorts or capri pants. This is the third time PatternReview.com has held a contest like this, and I was apparently one of 19~ people who were entering their first contest. There were various rules that everyone had to follow, and the entries had to be made (via a pattern review at the website) by midnight on September 7. Winners will be announced tomorrow. These are the shorts I entered:


I hadn’t worn shorts during most of my adult life. I just hadn’t (and if you are thinking my legs look so white that they may have been covered up for years, you might guess one reason why I hadn’t). I did make a couple pairs in the past 6 years as practice garments in my quest for a good pants pattern and they’re not really around any more. One never fit very well and has a fatal hole in the back side (I should probably salvage the zipper and throw out the rest of them) and one was made from lousy fabric, eventually wearing out. After several Virginia summers, and after discovering this pattern, It’s safe to say that I’m into shorts again.

These are made with a lovely soft brushed twill, bought at full price several years ago—making it very dear to me. I made pants from the fabric a few months ago, and I cut these shorts from the leftovers. A large scrap, if you will. I was determined, and besides putting a seam in the waistband, I didn’t have to do any magic to make the pattern pieces fit on the cloth. Check out my last post if you want to see how little was left after cutting the shorts out.


But then about halfway into the process, I realized I had cut the front of the shorts incorrectly. See, earlier in the summer, I used the same pattern for denim shorts, but I made the version with a side zipper (not the sailor version). Because I used the pattern piece for the other version of the shorts…

Denim Endeavour shorts

…I just cut the same pattern piece for the green shorts. That was a mistake! The actual pattern piece I needed was about 1 1/2″ longer than what I had cut, sewed, pressed, and topstitched. The corner you see in the photo above—it should have been quite a bit taller, because it lines up with a waistband. I started to feel defeated. I felt there was no way I would take it apart, I didn’t have any extra material, but I did have a machinist husband with clever ideas. He knew I had added length to the shorts legs, and suggested I lower and re-cut the front seam curved edge. I took a few deep breaths and did that — and it worked.

I do really like the shorts and hope I have as much success when I make the long pants from this pattern. I hope I progress to the next round of the sewing contest, but if I don’t, I have plenty of other projects to work on.

1 Comment

It’s back

National Sewing Month. Every September since 1982, when  Ronald Reagan made the proclamation “In recognition of the importance of home sewing to our Nation.”

national sewing month
In the online sewing community, the month is observed with contests and challenges in the blog-world and Instagram. Sometimes there are prizes, but mostly these activities offer us a chance to work a little harder at our technique, creativity, and blogging practice. This year, I entered a competition for the FabricMart Fabricista challenge. I was not chosen as one of the six competitors, but will be following along to see what they come up with. There’s another competition going on at PatternReview.com, and so far, 84 people have thrown in their hat. There are eliminations each week, so we’ll see how this goes.

Remains after cutting shorts from a scrap. "Cutting it close"

Remains after cutting shorts from a scrap. “Cutting it close”

The first challenge is to sew shorts or capri pants, and I’m making shorts from a pattern I made in denim last month. I cut the fabric out of a large scrap of brushed twill, with some quilt cotton for facings and pockets. They will have grey topstitching and a sailor-style button front. Wish me luck!

Shorts status after one evening

Shorts in the morning sun – progress after one evening