faux fur motorcycle vest

When I was making my dresses for The Day and Night Dress Challenge, I decided that a little jacket would be a great accessory piece to go with them.  Since my coffee dress has lovely little sleeve flounces,  I wanted to be able to show them off.  The style solution that came to mind was a vest.  This faux fur motorcycle vest has been a great little layering piece!

Faux fur motorcyle vest

faux fur motorcycle vest


Vests of all kinds are de rigeur in Colorado.  The wind picks up, and a chill comes in the air, and people here pull out their puffers, fleeces, quilted, faux furs and everything in between.  To be honest, I’ve eschewed the idea of a vest for years.  How is taking off the sleeves on a jacket keeping you warm?  Also, I kind of hate how wintery vests can be pretty boxy.

As I was thinking about making my own vest, I kept two things in mind: 1) It’s gotta be warm and 2)let’s reign in the poof. 

Fabric: not quite minky, definitely Muppet-like but with crop circles

faux fur motorcycle vest

For my faux fur motorcycle vest, I chose this pale aqua faux fur.  To say it’s my favorite color is an understatement!  I’ve used it before as accents on this cardigan, and as this hat.  It’s very warm, but it’s kind of hard to classify.  Upon feeling it, you’d think it felt a bit like minky, a bit like a super soft chenille, yet it has a good 1/2″ raised pile.  Picture someone’s head shaved with designs in it.

There’s a little bit of stretch in the fur, so I treated it as a knit, but for the most part, it’s rather stable.  To go with it, I added a matching rib knit from a thrifted sweater.  I previously used the body of the sweater for my colorblocked Lisbon cardigan.  There was ample ribbing leftover and it’s a good color match for the fur.

Pattern:  Ottobre 5-2014-3 knit motorcycle jacket

faux fur motorcycle vest


In keeping with my requirement that my vest be warm, I chose this knit motorcycle jacket from Ottobre.  I’ve made it before as this quilted jacket, and to date, it’s my most worn jacket.  It might be the only jacket that I’ve made an officially worn out.  The motorcycle style adds a tremendous amount of warmth to this jacket.  This is because the hood crosses over center front, thereby shielding your neck from the wind in a way that a standard hoodie does not.

I brought in the sides a bit so they’re more fitted.  It’s still boxier than a tailored jacket would be, but it’s a level of comfort I’m happy with.

Collar vs. hood

faux fur motorcycle vest

Because I wanted to incorporate the ribbing and did not have enough to make a full hood, I opted for a collar instead.  The collar is a simple rectangle the width of the ribbing that I had.  On the original sweater, it formed a huge cowl neck.

The ribbing also finishes the bottom of the jacket and the armholes since I took off the sleeves.

faux fur motorcycle vest

One thing I really like about this collar is that you can drape the ribbing for a slightly different scarf-like effect.

Hidden welts

faux fur motorcycle vest


There really are welt pockets in this vest though the fur obscures them!  Jackets without pockets are virtually unusable, so even though I was initially intimidated with putting in welt pockets in fur, I was going to do it to get the added functionality.

In the end, the welts went in really easily.  To make the welts more manageable, I did a couple things:

  • I added interfacing to the welts themselves.
  • There is interfacing in the pocket area with the rectangle to be sewn marked with a sharpie.  You should ALWAYS interface behind welt pockets, but the drawn rectangle is really helpful when working with a fabric that’s hard to see on like the fur.
  • I worked from the wrong side of the fur for better visibility.  The sharpie helped a lot, but the wrong side of the fabric was even better.

These went in so drama-free that I’m a little disappointed that the pile of the fur makes them hard to see.  Oh well.  I’ll enjoy the added warmth and place to stash my keys.

Separating zipper in faux fur


A separating zipper in theory could be the toughest part of this little jacket because of the fur.  There’s no good marking tool that will show up against the high pile, and there’s not a good way to baste the zipper in place.

To help with this, I drew a line on the backside of the fur and ran a simple line of basting right on the line.  Then, working from the right side, I lined up the edge of the zipper tape with the basting line.  You could remove the basting line if you wanted to, but I left it because it was invisible.  I finished the edge of the zipper tape with a tiny bit of the sweater knit.

Quick lining

faux fur motorcycle vest

Before I added the collar and the ribbing trim on the armholes, I made a quick lining from the same ivory sweater fleece I used for my yarn embroidered coat.  The combination of the fleece and the fur is extremely warm with little weight.  For a clean finish, I sandwiched the hem ribbing between the hem edge of the fur and the fleece.  The front edges are then stitched and turned towards the inside.

After that, I added the collar and the ribbing around the arms.

Lightning fast

All total, I spent about 2.5 hours on the whole jacket.  For a lined jacket with a zipper and welt pockets, I’m pretty pleased with that.  Who knew that sleeves took up so much extra time?

My new favorite wardrobe companion

faux fur motorcycle vest

This little vest has been changing my mind about vests in general.  It’s been nice to discover that with vests you get all the advantages of the warmth of a jacket, but with the added mobility that comes from the sleeveless style.  Around the house, I’m almost always wrapped in scarves in winter.  This is sometimes really a bad idea like when I’m cooking.  I may or may not have lit the fringe ends of my favorite cashmere scarf on fire on our gas stove!  Thank goodness wool is self-extinguishing!

With the vest, I can go sans scarf in the house and cook without lighting myself on fire.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that that’s a positive thing in any garment!


So what about you?  Are you pro-vest, or do you reach for the sweaters instead in the cold?


Welcome Maria of How Good Is That to The Day and Night Dress Challenge!  Maria is such a trooper having modeled her dresses while recovering from foot surgery!  Are all Australians this tough?  I’d love to know!  Prepare yourselves for a little piece of joy! 

The Day and Night Dress Challenge: How Good is That

Today’s my turn to show you what I came up with this year’s Day and Night dress challenge.


Last year I passed on #thelittlereddressproject.  It was wonderful to see all of the beautiful, festive red dresses popping up on Instagram this week last year, but I DON’T wear red!  Like ever.  I won’t get into a whine fest about the whole thing, but ultimately, I don’t think it suits me.  When I wear it, I don’t feel like I’m in my own skin.  Still, when Renata personally invited me to take on this challenge, I had to go for it.  She sent me so many pictures of women with similar coloring to mine in red dresses via Messenger to further convince me.  In the end, I decided that with a little (or a lot!) of makeup, I was going to make it work.

With the 10th Doctor suit taking up a lot of my last month, I’m super behind on writing up my projects.  If Instagram fuels your sewing plans at all, you will know that the #cosicardichallenge just finished up recently.  As it’s snowing where I am currently, cardigans are a much needed extra layer to fight the cold!  It was interesting to take stock and realize that I have several sweaters, but only a couple cardigans.  The cardigans that I do have are really just for Spring, which is not terribly helpful for adding warmth to a cold weather look!  Let’s get to the cardigans, starting with DG Patterns Lily cardigan.

DG Patterns Lily Cardigan

I was a tester for the Lily cardigan (affiliate link).  It has a big cozy hood and an option for 3/4 length slightly flared raglan sleeves or for a more fitted long sleeve.  The 3/4 length won out because I liked the look.  I wasn’t sure if I’d like that length for a warmer cardigan, but it’s perfect.  In cold weather I wear a lot of fingerless gloves which keep my hands warm and mobile for violin playing.  A flared, slightly shorter sleeve gives me enough ease for the glove to fit in my sleeve without feeling like a stuffed sausage.

When the call went up on Instagram for testers, I jumped on this train immediately for the hood.  I really, really loved the velvet trimmed cardigan I made for the Fabric Mart challenge last year, but the colors in that one are not my style.  A girl at church with a similar size to me is the happy owner of it now, but I’ve always missed that big cozy hood.


For the Lily cardigan, I chose one of the double faced jerseys I got from Fabric Mart a while back.  It is an athletic wear jersey they offered in one of the mailer’s for Julie’s picks.  Julie suggested it for an athleisure look, and I think that’s a perfect choice for this jersey.  It’s super soft with a lot of drape and bounce and recovery but not an outrageous amount of stretch.  While it has a white side, I chose to stick with the lilac because it’s too pretty and I didn’t like the contrast of the white + the lilac.  I also bought this in a seafoam green which I believe will become a knit dress.
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Hood lining

The Lily cardigan does not call for a lined hood, so I added my own per my preference.  I lined it with a heavy french terry leftover from my Lola dress.  Here’s how I did it.


I would say the only tricky bit with this cardigan are the buttonholes.  The button bands are pretty narrow and if your machine is anything like mine, you might run into some trouble.  I persevered mostly because I loved the cover buttons I made from this fabric too much.  There’s many of the holes I had to redo.

My buttonholer attachment is 100% against any kind of bulk.  Even if you trim away any of the bulk in the seam (I did), if there’s even a slight tilt on the foot because of the difference in the layer thickness between the seam and the band, my buttonholer falls on its sword in rather Shakespearean fashion.

Here’s some ways I thought about to make for better buttonholes on narrow bands like this:

  1. Install buttonholes before you sew on the bands.  This will keep the buttonhole attachment moving on a completely flat surface, so less chance of buttonholes you’ll have to rip out.
  2. Use snaps:  When in doubt, cheat, right?!  There’s a snap for every thickness of fabric.  For this jersey, spring snaps would be a good option.  I’ve used snap tape before when facing a similar problem.
  3. Use a water-soluble stabilizer:  Sometimes in can be hard to make buttonholes with knit fabrics even when they’ve been interfaced.  Cut a small square of water soluble stabilizer and fold it around each buttonhole area and sew right through it.  It’ll make for nice clean stitches and a buttonhole that’s more likely to stitch evenly.

Itch to Stitch Lisbon in lace bonded knit

My 2nd cardigan is a Itch to Stitch Lisbon, this time in a lace bonded knit from Colorado Fabrics.  It’s a really interesting fabric, having a lace right side and a sweater knit backing.  It has very little stretch, and yet it’s incredibly warm and it was SO easy to sew.  I didn’t appreciate how quick this pattern is to sew as my first Lisbon had a lot of embellishment.  I made this one in just over 51 minutes which included installing the pearl snaps.

Because the fabric has 2 sides, I used the sweater knit for the bands for a little contrast.  For the hem band and the cuffs, I used some leftover sweater knit I cut from the white cashmere blend sweater I used in the colorblocked Lisbon.

It’s icy out there people!

I’m surprised at how warm this cardigan is!  It was sleeting on the day I took the pictures, and I managed to stay relatively toasty with just a tee-shirt underneath the cardigan.  This will be a great winter addition to my wardrobe while still keeping with my favorite springy kinds of colors!

Featherweight Ottobre swing front cardigan

Do you ever have those days where you’ve sat on a fabric for a really long time, not knowing what to do with it, and then one day out of the blue, you MUST sew it up immediately?  That’s what happened with this featherweight knit from Stone Mountain and Daughter.  I bought it 2 years ago with a cardigan in mind, and then forgot about it.

In thinking about this challenge, I came across it again in my stash and picked up this loose swing front cardigan from Ottobre (Ottobre 5-2017-17).

I really prefer cardigans that close in some fashion (buttons, snaps, zips) because I’m cold so frequently.  If a cardigan style is open, it’s gotta have enough fabric in front to make up for the loss of warmth from not closing.  This pattern is nice because the fronts are big enough that they can completely wrap around you.

This was also a really fast sew.  I traced and made the whole cardigan on my serger and coverstitch in about 90 minutes.   It’s surprisingly warm given how lightweight this jersey is.  This won’t be my choice on snowy days, but this is a great extra layer around the house kind of cardigan.

All the quick sewing!

After the suit and my Rose Tyler jacket, these cardigans have been a nice brain detox from all of the long, focused work.

Did you participate in the Cosy Cardi Challenge?  What are the quick patterns you reach for after a long project or just to unwind?


I’ve been talking about it for a long time now, and today is the day I get to show off my husband’s 10th Doctor Suit.  For my first real ventures into cosplay, my Rose Tyler jacket and this suit have are really big undertakings.  Little tiny nothing projects and organization tasks in my sewing room have been my favored way to detox this week after all of the hard concentration these two projects have required.  But let’s get to talking about the 10th Doctor Suit already!  This is a really long post, so I’ll ask my question now:


What’s your favorite costume or your biggest costume project?

10th Doctor Suit pattern

The pattern for the 10th Doctor Suit is from Bad Wolf Costumes.  Alex and his wife, Kate are serious cosplayers and Doctor Who/Star Trek fans to the nth degree.  Not only that, they have some really serious patterns that take so much care into replicating the on-screen originals.  At the beginning, I noticed the pattern didn’t have an inventory of the pieces, so Alex kindly sent me one basically instantly.  This was my cut inventory that included 37 pieces to cut, some multiple times from multiple materials!:

How do you organize big #sewing projects? This is my chicken scratch list to help me with cutting my #doctorwho #cosplay suit for my husband. It took 2 days, but it’s ready to go now. #slowsewing

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I hesitated for months on buying the pattern because it’s $35 plus some not cheap shipping!  But in the end, it was absolutely worth the money.  The pattern itself is kind of a primer on tailoring.  There were excellent instructions on handling the hair canvas and padstitching and matching all of the pinstripes.  Plus, if I had decided to modify a pattern to match the onscreen details, it would have added a whole lot of guesswork and time into what was already a long project.

It took me 9 days to make the suit!  Tailors, you have my complete and utter respect.  Forever.  Some of those days were rather long, and I had to break it up so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.  The directions also help spur you along with funny bits like this from the tailoring fronts step:


Genetically-engineered superior pecs
Be careful not to overdo it, though – you don’t want to shape the roll line into much of a curve! (That is, unless you have awesome Ricardo Montalban pecs!)

I laughed long and hard over that one.



As I said, the pattern gave some really good directions for tailoring and linked to videos where appropriate.  This was my first go into padstitching, and after having some initial trouble, I found it kind of magical to watch all those tiny stitches start to add shape to the flat fabric.  I did choose to use some random wool for the undercollar instead of the undercollar felt recommended in the pattern.  I’m guessing that the undercollar felt is slightly less bulky than my felt-ish kind of wool coating.  In the end, I had to cut a pinstriped undercollar to cover over the wool just to make sure that the wool would not peek out on the underside of the collar.

Hair canvas


I have never worked with hair canvas before and I learned a lot about it in the process.  The fusible hair canvas from Fashion Sewing Supply was definitely worth the extra $1/yd for the time that it saved me in being able to fuse the fronts vs. hand baste them in.  I know there’s a way to shape everything with fusibles and without all of the padstitching, but I couldn’t find my speed tailoring video.  It’s sadly been missing since I bought it.

When cheaper is actually a lot better!

The other thing I learned about hair canvas is that the good stuff (like what Pam sells) is super wide.  Her fusible hair canvas is 68″ wide!  I had another yard of hair canvas from someone else and it was only 20″ wide, which is only useful if you’re going to be using it for an undercollar.

This suit required hair canvas for the fronts, undercollar, and bias strips in all of the hems.  1 yard of the 68″ wide stuff was more than sufficient.  I could probably get another jacket out of it.  The 22″ wide version did not fuse as well and I’d have to buy probably 4 yards because of the size of some of the pieces.  So even though initially $21.95/yd plus not cheap shipping seems steep, the 20″ wide version at $14/yd is by far much much pricier and not as good of a product.


So initially in my muslin, I had to add a little bit in the back shoulders for my husband’s slightly broad back.  He also has a very straight upper back that required a horizontal dart.  No wonder he doesn’t find suits comfortable–both of these issues are not something you can buy off the rack, leaving you with some tight, restrictive backs.

I did do myself a disservice on the pants muslin in that I eliminated the pockets.  The muslin process got rushed because of a business trip, so I skipped the hip pockets.  Since I was rushed, I didn’t notice the extra stress across the high hip that needed some extra width.  With the pockets in there, I would have seen it immediately when the pockets did the poof out thing that hip pockets do.  Do you know when I noticed that?  Yeah, when the pants were already done.  *insert many pots of tea with a side of seam ripper*

The trousers

Fixing the pants

To fix the fit issue on the pants, first the waistband came off.  Then I opened the side seams.  I cut strips from the selvedge edges and zigzagged them over the original serged edge of each side seam part.  Thankfully I had finished the front and the back seam edges separately.

With the extra fabric in the side seams, it was safe for me to move the seam line all the way to edge of the serged line without having to worry about the seams getting too stressed by the lack of fabric in the seam allowance.

Hip pockets = face palm

The other issue with the hip pockets was the tiny skinny facing.  Unless you have chicken legs, there’s like no chance that the inside of the pocket is not going to show on the final pants.  Sure enough, all I saw was the inside of the pocket initially.

You thought ripping out side seams to add width was a project?  Well, ripping out the entire pockets to take out the facings and add wider ones was a mountain.  One that was not fun to climb.  Still, sometimes struggle is just part of the process.  I set aside the pants for a couple of days which was enough time to get over the frustration of not getting it right the first time.

The prettiest waistband facing ever.

This is just lovely guts.  Lovely.  The pattern had you make the facing suggesting an upcycled men’s shirt because of the ease of finding a good stripe vs. finding yardage of the perfect fabric.  Ribbon is then suggested for the contrast stripes.  I used seam tape and maroon cotton bias tape that I made.


Pretty pockets

For all the struggle with the hip pockets, all of the other pockets worked out quite well.  There’s 2 double welts on the back of the pants, 2 double welts on the lining of the jacket, and 1 pleated pocket with a really handsome flap on the front of the jacket.


My favorite pockets dthough are the 2 hip pockets on the jacket.  They’re kind of their own category.  The construction is basically a single welt pocket, but the flap folds down not up to cover everything like a typical single welt would.  So it’s a faux flap pocket that opens from the top–interesting and very fun to sew.  Deep and cozy, with perfectly matched pinstripes, I’m really, really proud of these pockets.

Back waistband

The back waistband above the vents along with the front pockets are the really distinguishing details that set apart David Tennant’s 10th Doctor’s jacket from the other doctors.  If you took these details away, this pattern could easily become a regular suit pattern.  I could bore you with a lot of production shots of David Tennant’s jacket, but I’ll point you towards Alex’s excellent analysis of the whole costume.

Also, Nathan had too much fun with blipping everything with the sonic screwdriver.

Will I make another suit?

No.  Not today.  But probably.  Eventually.  A girl needs to recover from the experience!  The 10th Doctor also wears a brown suit, and no doubt my navy/white pinstripe is not as true to the original teal-ish navy with red pinstripes.

Now that I know exactly how much fabric I need for the whole project, I feel more confident searching around on Ebay for the right fabric.  I wish I had found this one first:

Baby Dalek

So to complete our Doctor Who themed Halloween, my husband and I collaborated on a Dalek costume for our daughter.  Daleks are probably the most iconic Doctor Who monsters and sworn enemy of The Doctor.  They are squishy squid like creatures with one eye and giant brain heads who live within the armor of a robot-like device.  They are bent on destruction of all life that’s not a Dalek.  Their tagline is “EXTERMINATE!!!!!”

Image result for dalek

Image result for dalek inside

So, basically, it’s totally appropriate for a little girl, right?

Costume part

Tentacle skirt

I found this tutorial which I more or less followed.  The idea of the tentacles being a big stuffed circle skirt I thought was smart.  I did add an elastic covered waistband to make it better in terms of an actual garment.  I used an coral/orange ponte and a pink pique.

It took a lot of coaxing to get baby girl to wear the tentacles.  She was convinced for a while that they were going to eat her.  Once she realized that she could fake attack people with them, she was entertained endlessly.  Also, Daleks like graham crackers.  And pretzels (note the bag).

Cyclops onesie

Since the Dalek’s eye is pretty much in the middle of their bodies, I thought a onesie would be the easiest way to put it on a costume.  I sewed the eye from layers of felt, ponte, and clear vinyl.  I stuffed it a little bit than hand stitched it to a basic long sleeve pink onesie.  This was easily my daughter’s favorite part of the costume.

Brain hat

To top off everything, I made a basic beanie from the ponte from SEWN Hats.  To add the brainy bits, I cut long tubes from the pique and made a kind of wide piping out of it.  As the piping was going through the machine, I stuffed it with polyfil to give it dimension.  Originally I tried adding parachute cord as stuffing, but it wasn’t dimensional enough.  I could have sewn the brain bits in place, but I grabbed a glue gun.  Fast and dirty sometimes does the trick!

Robot housing


My husband built the housing for the Dalek around our much loved, more used umbrella stroller that lost it’s umbrella years ago.  There’s cardboard, styrofoam, plungers, egg beater, pool noodles, rubber ball eye, and a lot of spray paint.  The Dalek can be closed (with baby inside!  What an odd game of peekaboo we had!) or opened in the center to show the Dalek.


more sonic-ing

The whole situation garnered a lot of attention on our block on Halloween and at the Trunk or Treat we went to at my son’s preschool.  My husband claims that he’s not at all creative, and yet, he comes up with some pretty amazing things like this when it comes to the kids kind of regularly.

My youngest son’s lion costume made an appearance with new pants that I sewed last minute, and I also donned my Rose Tyler jacket for some comedic attempts at recreating the scene from “Journey’s End”.

Image result for rose tyler journey's end

For people who don’t really get into Halloween too much aside from strolling our block, we kind of went all out this year.

This upholstery project is something like 11 years in the making. I’ve owned this 50s rocker since before I was married. My Mom and I found it at a sleepy antique store in eastern Colorado buried under linens.  It was just $35 and aside from the red vinyl in good shape.  I liked the clean minimal lines, the good solid bones, and the fact that it’s a rocker that doesn’t look like it was made for Whistler’s Mother.

Once we moved into our house, the red has always been out of place in our living room which is populated mostly with teals and aquas.  Through 8 years of kids, the vinyl which already wasn’t in the best state had now deteriorated.

I’m an admin in the Sew Much Talent group on Facebook and August’s monthly challenge was home dec.  I try to keep up with the challenges and this was the perfect chance to finally tackle a total redo of this chair.


I’ve dithered for so long on the fabric on this chair.  There are aqua samples of vinyl I carried around for years in my purse just waiting until I could muster up the nerve to take this thing apart.  I researched heavy duty machines so I could sew the vinyl.  I talked to my machine repair guy about my Singer 221 and could it handle vinyl (yes).  When it came down to it though, my Mom and I just went to JoAnn and I found this perfect teal velvet like fabric.

It’s a similar weight to my vinyl samples but it’s so so soft.  My 2nd son was with us and kept putting his cheek up against it in pure joy.  We’ve loved the red vinyl to pieces, but it’s never been cozy.  The teal was going to make for a cozy chair.

The breakdown

You know how demo day on HGTV is so fun?  So it is with upholstery.  There’s something fun about taking everything apart and uncovering the history of the chair.  Plus, inevitably, you find odd things INSIDE old pieces of furniture.  Where else can you find a tiny axe?

Upholstery detritus found inside of the chair. People, this is the best part of upholstery. What is with the tiny ax? 😂😂#whatlurksbeneath #upholstery #diyhomedecor #diyupholstery

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Pattern work

This was an interesting chair in that it didn’t have staples.  It was made with little nails and tacks.  I don’t know if that speaks to the era or this particular maker from Missouri.  After taking everything apart, I used the original pieces as pattern pieces which wasn’t difficult given that everything is a rectangle here.  I traced around everything with 2″ extra.  I should have added even more because there were definitely spots where we were pulling, heaving, tugging, and yanking to stretch the fabric enough to cover everything.


Under the vinyl there was a good layer of cotton padding.  On a more modern chair, there would be foam.  I was pretty relieved to find the cotton as old cotton doesn’t break down as hideously as old foam which yellows flakes off disturbingly.  The cotton was mostly just compressed.  To add some more cushion to the cotton and to cover the parts of the chair that had no padding at all, we decided to add Dacron under the outer fabric.

Dacron is a thick warm polyester upholstery wrap.  We had some leftover from my sewing room couch and it is awesome stuff.  It really makes for such a pretty final product.

The legs and arms were painted?

As the arms came off and I started sanding things down, I discovered that the arms were not indeed the light colored and stained wood I always assumed them to be.  Instead this unnamed maker from Missouri had painted this dark beautiful wood with a yellow beige paint.  It was definitely oil based and it was covered in several coats of varnish originally too.  Perhaps it was the style in that time, but my husband and I were totally puzzled as to why you would ever paint such nice wood.  And if you were going to paint nice wood, why on earth would you go for a yellow beige?

Stripping and staining the wood

Stripping the old paint off the arms was a nasty, slow, sticky, stinky process.  Over the course of a couple of weeks, I would hit the wood once or twice a day with CitriStrip, let it sit, and then scrape off the paint.  I used odorless mineral spirits to clean up everything when I got down to the bare wood.  Eventually, when I got down to the wood I started staining it with Minwax cherry, only to realize that I hadn’t stripped off enough paint.  So more time stripping the wood.  When I finally finished staining round 2, all the wood got several layers of polycrylic to protect the wood.


This fabric was so so easy to sew and there’s really not a lot of sewing on this chair.  I used a heavy #16 topstitching needle and upholstery thread.  The piping went in between the seams.  I did have to redo the seams on the vertical pieces so that they would extend down to the bottom of the chair and cover the side pieces.  The original notches on the vinyl were either not in the right place or the upholsterer had a lot more extra fabric that he was working with before it was trimmed away.  Unstitching upholstery thread is not fun work because the thread cannot be ripped or pulled out due to its strength.  I had to cut each thread one by one.  Still, there was only about 20″ on either side so it could have been worse.


My husband and I definitely did ourselves a solid when we got the pneumatic stapler.  It’s so fast and easy to staple all of the dacron and fabric down when all that air is propelling the each staple into the wood.  You know how in tornadoes you get weird things happening like pieces of straw being shot into wood fences?  It’s like that.  We’ve used hand staplers for our dining room chairs and an electric stapler for our kids’ Lego table and the difference is night and day in the ease of use and of the time needed.  Good tools really really help you.  It took us one night plus a couple of hours on Labor Day to finish putting it all together.

Upholstery is a hobby that my husband and I work on together.  For this chair, he really gets most of the credit for all of the nice clean edges.  Though he doesn’t work with fabric or sew in any capacity, he has a natural knack for knowing exactly how things need to be stapled and how we need to stretch the fabric to get a clean finish.

Back trim

The original chair had back nailhead tacks put in really not very well.  They weren’t terribly evenly spaced and there weren’t that many of them.  As I tried to put single tacks in myself, I quickly stopped criticizing the original upholsterer’s skill.  The tacks are so hard to put in straight and even.  I tried making a jig as in this post which did not work at. all.  In the end, I remembered that I had something like 10 yards of nailhead trim in my upholstery supplies.  This stuff is great.  The trim has faux nailheads and every few, there’s a hole for you to add a real tack.  We would have labored long and hard to get trim that ended up looking this nice.

Matching ottoman

We had an ottoman from the same era covered in a similar cherry vinyl.  As it turned out, I had enough of the teal fabric leftover to recover the ottoman as well.  When I went to break down the ottoman, I realized that the inside is covered in a layer of thick coir which is packed solid with sawdust.  There was no chance I was going to take that mess out of the protective vinyl that was keeping everything intact.  The sawdust made such a mess as it was.  Instead, I simply covered straight over the vinyl.

Overall, I’m glad we finally took the time to do this project right.  Our chair looks way more natural in our house and it’s become the cozy chair we always wanted it to be.

Have you ever upholstered anything?  How did it go?


DG Patterns Olvie Top

When #sleevefest2017 popped up on Instagram, I thought it was a great challenge.  The idea is simple.  Make, hack, draft, embellish etc. any sleeve on any garment and post it on IG, tagging the organizers ( and @valentine.and.stitch).  It’s a simple concept, but the sky is the limit.  And somehow I find myself waiting until 2 days from the August 31st deadline to post my project.  Hey, but better late than never, right?  Here’s my DG Patterns’ Olvie Top which absolutely qualifies with its dramatic tie sleeves.

DG Patterns Olvie Top

DG Patterns Olvie Top


You’ve already seen the Olvie in my latest hack where I swapped the sleeve for a frill on the sleeveless version.  There’s also a cutout sleeve, plain sleeve, and a tied petal sleeve, so there’s tons of options for fun sleeve fans.  The petal sleeve is what drew me to this pattern in the first place.
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DG Patterns Olvie Top

The top itself has an A-line shape and there’s the option of a dress length.  I don’t typically choose looser styles, but this one is not overly voluminous.  Thus far both of these tops have been doing a good job keeping me cool for this end of summer.DG Patterns Olvie Top



For this version, I’m using a Heather Ross cotton lawn that I bought at Hart’s Fabric when I was in Santa Cruz.  I love Heather Ross’ illustration style, and I couldn’t pass by the cute snails.

Because this fabric is quite sheer on its own, I lined it with cotton voile.  It’s the same voile I used for my Designer Stitch Jenny Dress, but I bleached it.  I was afraid that the yellow was going to change the color of the peach too much.  Plus, the lined sleeves partially display the lining when tied.  The softer yellow I got after bleaching is a much better match for this fabric.

Back neck opening

I noted it on the frill sleeve that there’s no directions in the pattern for a back neck closure.  You really need to have something because of the high fitting neckline.  Some options could be an invisible zipper, an exposed zipper, or a simple loop and button.  I wanted to do another exposed zipper, but the cotton lawn is too lightweight for a heavy metal zipper.  I opted for a bias loop and button.

Button options


A quick Instagram poll showed two clear favorites in my button options.  The larger “mustard” (it’s actually closer to cantaloupe) button and the small coral button were both ahead of the others.  I really love the striped button, but I have a couple of those, so I’ll save them for a project where I can display all of them.

DG Patterns Olvie Top

I was leaning toward the smaller coral button until I realized that my loop was far too big for the small button.  So cantaloupe it is!  It’s a little unconventional, but I do like the contrast against the rest of the fabric.

Tied petal sleeves

DG Patterns Olvie Top


These sleeves are just my favorite.  I love how airy they are and they add so much to a simple top.  They are easy to line, though I suppose you could choose to hem the edges with a baby hem.  Be sure to make sure that you overlap the tops of the caps by the 1″ allowed on the pattern the same way on both sides.  At first, I overlapped them opposite ways on each side.  I decided that I like the look of the back sleeve overlapping the front, so I unpicked those 2″ on the other sleeve and made the quick fix.

DG Patterns Olvie Top

Fall styling

DG Patterns Olvie Top

With summer on the wind down, I wanted to use this top as a transition piece.  I’m styling this with a wool pencil skirt I made ages ago, my favorite fall boots and an old coral Brass Plum necklace.


Sleeve Fest 2017

You still have until the 31st to get your sleeves in for Sleeve Fest.  Check out or @valentine.and.stitch on Instagram for more details.  There’s random drawings for participants from some pretty fantastic places!

Are you participating in Sleeve Fest?