Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review...Kind Of

Friends it is hard to believe that it has only been a little over three and half months since I started this blog!  Some of you already feel like old friends that I have known forever.  In my short bloggy career here, there have been over 6500 hits on my site.  What wut?  I would have never dreamed that would be the case back when I launched in September.

I was sewing long before I was blogging.  The idea of showing my clothes on my body was a little intimidating.  But as I read posts by other plus size bloggers, I felt like there might be something that I could add to the conversation.

My name is Alicia BTW.  Yet, this blog is called Pandora Sews.  Who is this Pandora person?  Friends, I have an Etsy shop called Pandora's Vault, it's kind of a long story and no, there isn't much for sale there right now.  When I first started this blog I was planning to blog more about refashioning and vintage clothing, than my sewing endeavors.  However, the name stuck with me, and here we are.

Enough of that.  We are here to review 2014.

First, a shout out to my favorite bloggers this year:

Photo stolen from

The lovely Mrs. Hughes (or Tanya as it may be) over at has had an epic year.  From sewing an amazing evening gown, to finding her perfect sweater pattern, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Tanya's sewing journey as she has really come in to her own style wise.

Photo stolen from sewingfantatic.blogspot,com

Then there is the always sophisticated Carolyn over at  Carolyn's Tri-Color Ponte Dress is the stuff that sewing dreams are made of.  Then there is the Leather and Ponte Sweater she made...perfect use of mixed media.  If only I had half the sewing knowledge and skill that Carolyn has!

Next up, my favorite me made pieces of 2014.

Of course the Red Dress that was a winner in the Curvy Sewing Collective Wrap Along (this is the last time I will mention it...promise).

And then there is my latest make...a grey and black textured knit Centerfield Raglan.  I am loving this shirt, and it gets so many compliments!  I am starting to really think I have a problem with textured knits, and raglan shirts!

This brings me to my pattern of the year for 2014!  The Green Style Creations Centerfield Raglan T, has become a go to pattern for me, and this dotty one is a favorite.  It took a little bit of tweaking, but now I have got this baby set for TNT status.  There may or may not be a few of these that I have not shared on here, as I fear you may think I have gone stark raving raglan mad!

Friends, these are my favorite things of 2014 as far as this crazy sewing thing goes.  I have to know, what was your pattern of the year?  Which sewing blogs do you love?  What was your most enjoyable sew of the year?

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Christmas Gift for the Mr. - McCalls M6803

Back in my post on Great Hand Sewn Gifts for the Man in Your Life I mentioned McCalls M6803 as a pattern for making a cardigan for your man.  That was because I was making one for my husband.

Because the weather has been a bit rainy and cold it took some time to get some pictures taken, but I am very happy with how the cardigan turned out.

He seems to really like it.  The mister is six foot four inches tall, and it is rare that he has clothing that is well fitting.  Sleeves with a little slack in them are a real rarity.

I really like the style of it.  It has a little bit of a hipster vibe, but is still perfectly acceptable for him to wear on casual Friday.

McCalls M6803 was a really great pattern.  The instructions were clear and concise.  The only changes that I had to make were to add two inches of length to the body of the cardigan and to the sleeves.  However, after adding the two inches to the sleeves I ended up removing them.  My husband has a 37 inch sleeve length, so if I were sewing this for an average height man, I am sure there would be quite a bit of length coming out of the pattern sleeve.  This is an unisex pattern, so for women there would also be quite a bit of excess sleeve length.

I sewed the cardigan primarily on the serger but had to use my regular machine for button holes and top stitching.  My top stitches ended up kind of blending in to the fabric.  I ended up making view D of the pattern which included a drifter style collar and single welt pockets.  I was happy with how the welt pockets turned out.

I didn't realize that I hadn't quite gotten all the chalk off the front of the button band.  Funny how the camera can pick up things that you just don't see with the naked eye.

I felt like the contrasting navy banding was just perfect for breaking the marled fabric up a bit.  I don't think that I would have been nearly as happy with the cardigan had I not gone with contrasting trim pieces.  Were I making this again I would take about ten percent of the length out of the lower band so as to create a little bit of a stretchy band effect like on the bottom of a bomber jacket.

In truth the cardigan needed one more good ironing.  There were still marks from the clapper where I pressed the welts, and some of the seams had not been pressed at all.  But all and all I am really happy with how this turned out, and my husband is really happy with it as well, which is what is really important.

***I want to say a big Thank You to the Taxman Brewing Co. in Bargersville for allowing us to use their facade for these pictures.  If you live in or around Indy or Columbus, or even Brown County for that matter, you should make the trek to Bargersville to see what this new brewery has to offer.  From classic Gastro Pub eats like Burgers and Belgian Fries (with beer cheese for dipping) to a Sunday brunch with items like Catfish and Grits and Steak Benedict, they have something for everyone.  Their beers range from a light Farmhouse Ale to a very dark (yet not too bitter) Quadrupel style beer.  These beers are complex, and worth the drive for a taste.  If you haven't made your New Year's Eve plans, I hear they still have a few tickets left for their bash.***

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pattern Addiction...Another Green Style Centerfield Raglan

Friends, I do believe that I am addicted to the Green Style Creations Centerfield Raglan!  This one is my favorite one that I have made so far.

I love this textured/quilted knit that I made it out of.  I can't remember if I bought it at Joann or Hancock, but I am positive that it was bought at one of those two places.

Ill fitting skirt made for a lumpy bumpy mid-section

I changed it up a bit with the cuffs.  I like the contrast of it, and it helped me get the sleeves to my perfect length.  

My husband gave me the ultimate compliment when I finished it last night when he said that it looked like something you would buy in a store.

The neckline went in like a dream on this particular one.  It was truly a joy to sew, and went together quickly.

I love the way that it looks from behind as well.  It smooths out all the lumps and bumps.

I serged off the lower hem of the shirt and then used a twin needle to hem it under.

The Centerfield Raglan has quickly become one of my go to patterns.  It works well with my plus size body, it is easily manipulated to change it up, and it only has four pattern pieces. I am able to lay out the body pieces on a 60 inch wide one yard long piece of knit, and then I can use 1/2 yard for the sleeves.  I have never had a shirt pattern that only required 1 1/2 yards of fabric before.  I am able to cut and sew this shirt in about an hour with my rotary cutter and serger.

Friends, if you haven't given the Centerfield Raglan a try and are looking for a good plus size raglan pattern, give it a try.  With a few minor tweaks (widening the neck band), it sews up like a dream.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Smuggler's Daughter Package

A few weeks ago, I finally decided to use my Smuggler's Daughter gift card that I won from the CSC Wrap Along.  It was so hard to make a decision that it took me a while, but finally I decided what I wanted.  Yesterday, the door bell rang and I figured it was more Christmas gifts to wrap.  Then I saw the label on the box and I did a little happy dance.  It was my Smuggler's Daughter order.

When I opened the box, this is what I saw:

This is my first order from Smuggler's Daughter, and let me tell you...I am quite impressed.  Wanna see what was inside this pattern paper with a red bow?

Both of these great fabrics are still available.  The knit fabric is called Lucky Lavender Knit.  It feels dreamy.  Perfect mid weight knit, and the is really a grey purple.  I just LURVE it!

Photo from

The wool plaid is an Italian 50% virgin wool and 50% cotton blend.  It is called Lake Lavanda Plaid.  I didn't realize that it was a textured wool, but I really like it.  It matches the knit really well.  It has a nice drape and is not as stiff as some wool fabrics.  It is almost like a really thick flannel.

Photo from
There will be a shirt and skirt combo in the new year.  Count on that!  Now I just have to figure out what kind of a skirt to make.  So many possibilities...decisions, decisions!!!

What type of skirt do you all think I should make?  A half circle?  A maxi length skirt?  A pencil skirt?  I just am not sure where I will be headed with this, but I am excited to get there.

What is your favorite skirt pattern that would work with this great plaid wool?  Talk to me friends, because I need some creative inspiration here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Polka Dot Raglan: Green Style Centerfield Raglan Part 2

Friends, I know that I haven't posted many me mades of late.  Part of that is because you can't post sewn gifts for people who read your blog, and part of that is because the weather has been terrible for blog photos of late.

This afternoon while looking through my blog roll, I found that Andie over at Sew Pretty in Pink had just posted about a Dotty Parisian Top she had recently made and lo and behold, she used the same fabric for the base of that top, as I did for my most recent make.  So, I threw on a wee bit of makeup and ran a brush through my hair, inspired to get a few pics for the blog before we lost daylight.

Yes, it is another Green Style Centerfield Raglan.  This time I made it with sweatshirt material for the sleeves.  The material that Andie and I both used is a nice knit from the juvenile fabric collection at JoAnn.  It is from the Doodles Collection and is called a reversible sweater knit.  It almost has a wooly texture on the dotty side of the fabric.

I have been able to work out most of the kinks with the neckline on this raglan by making a wider neck band.  Despite the sweatshirt fabric having no stretch, I still cut the same size sleeves and they worked fine, though I think if I had sized up a bit to compensate for the lack of stretch, I would probably not have the fabric pooling at the elbows.

Winter makes my hair go flat!

This is my very first derriere pic.  I am quite gifted in the behind.  My Great-Grandmother used to tell me that when God was handing out behinds I asked for a double dose!  I had to throw this picture in though, because I was quite impressed with how well I was able to center the dots down both the front and the back of this shirt.

Mischievous smile courtesy of cameraman being crude.

Green Style is quickly becoming one of my favorite Indie pattern companies.  Their pdfs go together like a dream, and if they will continue adding plus size patterns to their line, I will be a happy girl, because they just fit me really well.

What are you sewing right now?  Do you ever find yourself oogling the juvenile fabric section, or is that just me?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sewing on the Cheap: Estate Sale Finds

Good Morning, Friends!  I hope it is warmer where you are than it is here in Indy.  I may be complaining about the cold for the next six months so please forgive me.

Today I want to talk about how I keep my sewing habit in check money wise.  In case you haven't noticed, this sewing, can get pretty expensive.

This weekend my husband and I stopped in to an estate sale, about 30 minutes before they were closing up.  I offered $10 for all the sewing stuff on the table, and they happily took haggling.  Here is what I brought home from the sale:

Pre-sort:  Three totes and 2 large boxes.  That is a Zayre bag...who remembers Zayre?

I truly had no idea what I was buying, but at $10 I was willing to take a risk on the whole lot of it.  We did a swoop and scoop and got it all home.  I was sure there was going to be a good bit of quilting fabric and what have you that I wouldn't be interested in, but I knew there was also some decent cuts of fabric, and I would be happy to share my bounty with some ladies I know who quilt for the local children's hospital.

In addition to fabric, there were notions, patterns, electric sheers, a clapper, all sorts of interfacing, two finished dresses, and 15 WIPs.  How sad is that?  Fifteen fully cut out and interfaced projects that just needed some thread.  If they had been my size I would have finished them (there were three great wool skirt and jacket sets cut out), but I am donating them to the local girls club that has a sewing program. 

I ended up with over 60 yards of fashion fabric, not including the interfacing.  Here is some of it sorted (I stopped taking pictures after 40 yards):

Sea foam green double knit, and black wool crepe

Check out that beautiful piece of tartan, and that corduroy!

I am a sucker for seer sucker, and that top piece is silk.

Something warm WILL be made from all that great large wale grey corduroy.
Figuring there was 60 yards of fabric at $10, I paid roughly 17 cents per yard, and got the clapper and electric sheers (don't know if I will actually use these) for free.  The notions, stuffing/filler, and interfacing I am also counting as free.

I donated a black trash bag full of quilting and home decor fabrics (there were over 20 yards of home decor fabric), and a box full of WIPs that I hope will give some young girls some great sewing experience.

I should note that these fabrics were well kept.  No smoke or dustiness, and the wool pieces were 100% moth hole free.  I have skipped on deals before because of smokiness or strange smells, and pet fur.  Please don't think this is an exceptional score either.  I have a hoard collection of vintage zippers in all shapes, sizes, colors and materials that I paid less than a penny for each zipper.  I have more bias tape, hem lace, piping and other notions that were again less than a penny each.  I find great sewing deals at estate sales, garage sales, and thrift shops.  I end up donating a lot of stuff, and I feel good about that, but I also keep some amazing treasures for myself.

So get out there, do some digging, and become a thrifty sewer.

What do you do to keep your sewing spending in check?  Have you ever had a great thrifted sewing find?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Five Great Hand Sewn Gift Patterns for the Man in Your Life - Christmas 2014

Here we are less than three weeks from Christmas, and I have not sewn a single gift.  Life has been hectic to say the least, but I am trying to slow down and get my sewing and shopping under control so that I can avoid spending Christmas Eve in the Sewing Room enjoy the holidays with friends and family.

I have compiled a little list of patterns for hand sewn gifts for the man in your life.  Be it your Lovey, your Dad, your Brother or just a male friend I think there is something here for everyone.

1.  The Cooper Bag by Collette Patterns.  It makes in to a messenger bag, backpack, or satchel.  You may even decide that you want to make one for yourself.  While you are browsing at Collette, you should also check out the Albion Jacket and Negroni Shirt which would also make great gifts for your fella!

Photo from www.collettepatterns,com

2.  The Flat Cap pattern (FREE!!!) from Urbandon.  This is a basic simple newsboy cap, that would even make a great scrap busting pattern.  Make your hubby a hat to match that great wool skirt you made yourself a few months ago.  Urbandon also has more free patterns/tutorials here including fingerless mittens and a combat cap...again great scrap busters.

Photo from

3.  The free tutorial for a Toiletry Case at would make a great men's toiletry bag.  Just use canvas or duck in your guy's favorite color or colors instead of the girly fabric it is shown in.  If you are feeling really ambitious you could even make it out of leather or pleather.

Photo from
4.  From Allisa Jacobs, a very basic, beginner friendly Men's Wallet tutorial.  Seriously, anyone could make this.  It would even be a great pattern for a young sewist to make for Daddy or Grandpa.  Bonus goodness, she uses upcycled fabric from a favorite shirt of her man to make the wallet.

Photo from

5.  A Men's Cardigan using McCalls M6803.  With elbow patches and a drifter collar, I especially like the masculinity of view C.  Throw on some great leather buttons, and I think this could be a really nice gift that any man would love.

Photo from

These are my top 5 picks for hand sewn men's Christmas gifts this year.  There is a bit of sentimentality in the cardigan and newsboy hat.  So tell me friends, are you sewing anything for any of the men in your life?  Are there any other patterns that you would suggest?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bound Buttonholes

Are you a fan of the PBS series It's Sew Easy?  If you aren't familiar it is an informative show on sewing, quilting and embroidery hosted by different industry experts, as well as bloggers and writers.  Gertie of Blog for Better Sewing fame and Angela Wolf pattern designer (though not plus friendly) are two of my favorites to watch when they are on an episode.  I try to catch the show when I can on TV, but also like to watch the episodes online.  Each week a different episode is available for viewing online.  If they are totally quilt related, I will usually skip them because I am not a quilter.

This weeks episode is only available through Friday at Noon.  You can view it at  The first lesson was Angela Wolf embellishing a woven jacket with applique.  For me it was a snooze fest, but if that is your thing by all means go watch it.  The second lesson was by Marie Zinno who was doing embroidery on a sweat or yoga jacket.  Again, it was a bit of a snooze fest for me.  I don't have an embroidery machine, and honestly if I were going to embroider an item, I would do it by hand, as I enjoy the tediousness of hand embroidery.

The best lesson started at 18:10 in to the video.  

Screenshot taken from

In this lesson Janet Pray (just click on her name to read her Craftsy instructor profile) demonstrates proper technique for making a bound buttonhole.  I don't know about you, but bound button holes are one of those things that confound me at times.  My brain often can't compute the idea of sewing something on the right side of a garment and then turning it in to the wrong side.  I thought that Janet's demonstration of the technique was concise, and not confusing at all.  It was the way my grandmother would have been taught to do it instead of some of the shortcut ways that are in tutorials all over the internet.

You have about 24 hours to go catch this video before it is on to a new episode.  If you have some coat making in your future, the 12 minute investment of time is well worth the knowledge gained!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Back to Normal

Hi friends!  I know it has been a minute.  Though I wish I could blame it on the Holidays and all that jazz, well the truth is a bit more sad.

We lost my husband's 97 year old grandfather the week before Thanksgiving.  We knew his time was near, and thank the Heavens that my Mother-in-law was able to spend some quality time with him right before the end.  He was a man that wore cardigans and newsboy hats, and had two bourbon and sodas every night before dinner, just after a good shave and a splash of aftershave.  A member of the Greatest generation, he served his country well and though his military career was short he received many commendations, and left the army a Lieutenant Colonel.

He was truly someone I idolized, and I didn't think of him as my husband's grandfather, but rather of him as my own.  He treated me like I was his own.  We danced together at my wedding, and he said some very sweet words that I will always remember, and gave me some good marital advice.  He was one of the greatest.  Bobo is what we called him, and he is dearly missed!

Now coming back from all of this, there are a few things that I want to focus on.  In preparation for this sad event, I realized that my wardrobe is severely lacking in proper clothing for such events.  I had to stop and get some RTW clothes in route because my closet had nothing, and I do mean no thing, that was appropriate to wear.  I managed to throw together a sleeveless knit black maxi dress with a long sleeve undershirt and a cardigan to wear to the church, and some ponte leggings with a sweater to wear to the viewing.  My jeans and t-shirts Mommy lifestyle has left some gaps in my wardrobe for sure.  When I was a working girl my closet would have been full of ill fitting black trousers and muted twin sets that would have been perfectly fine for such an occasion.

So, I am going to work on sewing more practical things for a bit.  Clothing that is a little nicer than Mommy clothes, that can work in a number of circumstances.  I am going to bite the bullet and work on pants, because I need them and RTW has nothing for me.

So dear friends, I am back.  I am sure I will be posting slowly but surely as we move through December, because it is still cold, and I still have nothing to wear.  Tomorrow...the December sewing plan.