Monday, April 27, 2015

Sewing Room Relocation and Sewing on the Cheap with Estate Sale Finds

Friends, I decided a few weeks back to relocate my sewing room from the huge room in the basement to a smaller room on the main level of our house.

New Sewing Room Location

I know it might seem a bit strange to move in to a smaller space, but I made the decision that I did not want to sew in the basement anymore.  See, every time I go down in the basement, I come up stuffy and when I spend a lot of time down there, it feels like I am getting bronchitis again.  I don't know if it is all in my head or if something is making me feel that way, but I decided to relocate.  The light in this room of the house is amazing!  This is an early morning picture and that is a North facing window, but still tons of light floods in to this room.  Also the room is in the very front of the house across the foyer from the dining room, so it makes it easy to head over there when I need to cut something large out.

Fabric Stash

My fabrics have now been put mostly in to totes.  All the ones that are out of the totes are ones that I have ideas floating around in my head for.  I ordered these sterilite containers online from Wal-Mart.  I am not a big fan of Wally World, but these were cheaper than any others that I found, and will fit well in to the shelves I have planned for them.  They are the 50 qt size, if you are interested.

Sewing Works in Progress

Inspired by Andie over at Sew Pretty in Pink I had a few binge cutting days so that I can get down to the business of creating.  I even used time sitting at the school to pick my kiddo up for cutting out new patterns.  It was great.  Pattern cutting is my LEAST favorite part of sewing, but doing it in the car during this time helped to make me feel productive during what is normally a dull 45 minutes sitting at the school!

Serger Desk

This is my serger desk in progress.  My husband picked this vanity up for a couple bucks at a yard sale last year.  The drawers hold my serger cones, machine manuals, sketching materials, assorted closures and elastic, as well as a whole drawer slam packed with vintage zippers.  The plan for this desk is to paint it white and then glaze it with a french green that will pick up all the details.  It should look pretty awesome, I just need the weather to get a little warmer to take her out in the garage and get my paint on.

Sewing Machine Desk

This is my sewing machine desk.  She was a freebie on Craigslist a few years ago.  She was very ugly and stinky when we got her, but I could see the pretty in her.  A coat of primer and a few coats of paints later, and the cigarette smell has been neutralized and she is as pretty as I could ever hope a free sewing desk to be! She holds my needles and thread, as well as various notions and button inside.

Comfee Sewing Chair

To carry on the theme of Sewing on the Cheap, meet some of my latest estate sale finds.  Here we have a Comfee sewing chair.  This is a link to the model that I have except mine is vintage with slightly different casters.  MSRP is $349.99 and that site is selling it for $284.95.  I paid $3, talking the estate sale dealer down from $5.  I never thought a sewing chair would be revolutionary, but in the short time I have had this baby, my back is feeling so much better!  It is fantastic, and knowing what I know now, I would have bought one of these at full price a long time ago, but I am glad I didn't since I got this baby for a steal!

I also picked up these great items for $5 total (I never pay full price even if it is cheap).  The bag on the left is a bag full of assorted pressing cloths.  There is everything in there from organza and canvas to twill, and one of those netted scorch protectors.  In the middle is a bag full of cover yourself buttons.  There are assorted sizes and shapes in here.  Over 100 buttons total.  The bag on the right is a full of cheesecloth and a set of ironing board cover fasteners.  The little box of push pins is a pound of push pins but honestly, I am not sure how useful they are going to be for me.  When I opened them up, they are pretty large gauge.  Not sure exactly what fabric I would use them with.  Maybe I am just being picky because I have gotten so used to using fine pins!

StyleArc Response and Fabric

One last order of business.  I got my package in the mail from StyleArc in record time (they sprang for expedited shipping).  I have to give them so many kuddos.  They sent a pattern that is sized directly to my dimensions, along with a hand written note.  I don't know about you all, but with this digital age we live in, a hand written note goes a long way and earns a lot of respect from me.  The replacement fabric they sent is two yards of a very nice black stretch bengaline.  Not the cheap stuff you find in the big box stores, this is comparable to what you find in fine department store RTW items.  It's got about 30 percent stretch in the warp and zero stretch in the weft.  It will be fantastic for making the Jennifer City Shorts again, and I have a Liberty of London knit purchased from that I think will make a phenomenal top to go with them.  They also sent me two StyleArc tags, which I love.  So, Chloe and the girls at StyleArc, if you read this I want you all to know that you have gone above and beyond my expectations!  Thank you so much for FANTASTIC customer service!

So friends, tell me do you sew on the cheap?  What tips do you have to keep this hobby from emptying the coffers?  Also, let's not forget to pour a little bit more love on StyleArc for going above and beyond.

***I do not get paid for linking to any product or other blog so please know that my opinions here are genuine, if I start getting paid you will be the first to know! ;)***

Friday, April 17, 2015

Response From StyleArc

Hello Friends, and Happy Friday!  I have been out enjoying the lovely weather today, and visiting a GREAT local fabric shop (more on that next week) but you can get a peak at that on my instagram.

I posted a review of the StyleArc Jennifer City Shorts last week, and I wanted to quickly let you all know that I received a response from StyleArc and here is what they said verbatim:

Hi Alicia, 

Firstly please accept our apologies for this late reply but we have been checking this pattern over and over again.
It seems you are right,  the sizing is a about 1 1/2 sizes too small when we get to the size 30.  This is a mistake, thank you for pointing it out to us. 
I'm sorry you are disappointed and sorry you went to the trouble of making this short only to find it too small.
We have now re-graded it and we are sending you another print out for your to look at and maybe remake?   
We are also sending you a length of fabric.

We realize this doesn't make up for your loss of time and fabric but we hope it will go toward making amends.

 Also attached are grade sheets for basic tops and pants.

We will put a parcel in the mail to you today.
Chloe, Lyn and Liz

In case you are wondering, the grade sheets that they are referring to were just sheets showing me how to grade the pattern based on my largest measurement overage.  It didn't take in to account that my size varies...but I digress.

I responded back that I would try the pattern again when it comes in the mail, and bluntly asked if I should be concerned that there may be discrepancies with the other patterns that I purchased from them.  I received a reply back that detailed the amount of positive ease or negative ease in each pattern and that the patterns do fit according to the chart.

StyleArc is back in my good graces for now, but we will see what happens when the pattern and the fabric get here.  What do you think friends, did StyleArc handle this well?

Hope the weather where ever you are is an beautiful as the weather here is, and that you all have a great weekend.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pattern Review: StyleArc Jennifer City Shorts...The Plus Size Edition

A while back I ordered a few patterns from StyleArc.  One of which was the Jennifer City Shorts.  I had planned to make them for my cruise in February, but because the mail was running slow I was not able to get them made.  Now, I am glad that I didn't waste my pre-cruise sewing time!

The front of the shorts

The back of the shorts

They do look like the drawing on the pattern (albeit a much wider version)!  You might be wondering why I am not wearing them in these pictures, and we will get to that shortly.

Photo from

My current measurements are 52-52-64.  The size 30 from StyleArc is supposed to fit a waist of 50.5 inches and hips up to 61 inches.

Size Chart information from

In light of this size discrepancy, I added four inches total to the hips, and went ahead with two inches at the waist, because an extra half inch at the waist ain't gonna hurt nobody.  Is it weird that I now have Kid N' Play songs running through my head?

Anyway, when I was cutting the pattern out, the pattern pieces seemed small to me, but I was thinking they were going to be short from the waist to the crotch, not too narrow.  Lo and behold I get enough of the shorts together to pull them on, and they won't go over my thighs.  Wah, wah, wahhhhhhhhh!

I laid them out flat and measured them, and with my four inches added at the hips the shorts were still only 60 inches at the hips.  Had I not added in the extra width, they would have only been 56 inches ya'll!  That is five inches of negative ease in a pattern made specifically for wovens.  

I contacted StyleArc to find out if maybe the pattern had printed wrong, or to at least give them a chance to explain the discrepancy, but as of the date of this publishing I have not heard back.  If I do hear back, I will update you all with the information.

As a curvy diva on the high end of most plus size patterns, I was stoked to see that all of StyleArc's patterns are offered up to a size 30.  Now, I am left wondering if the other patterns that I ordered are even going to fit.  I will definitely measure the pattern dimensions before cutting in to my fabric next time.

But the pattern did have some cute details so let's highlight a few of those.

Here we have a great slit at the bottom of each of the legs on the outter thigh.  I really like this detail and will use it in other patterns that I make.  It is really a simple detail to create, but it gives the shorts that little extra bit of something.

I bias bound the waist facing with a contrasting blue to match another detail I will show in a minute.  This was a fantastic fly zipper insertion.  Instead of following anyone's tutorial (they were all making my head spin), I kind of reverse engineered it, and I am pleased as punch with how it turned out.

The slash pockets were lined with a cotton from my stash that was a great match for the twill, and I thought the addition of the royal blue polka dots made for a cute detail!  This was why I chose to use the royal blue bias binding on the waist facing.  I had a cute royal blue button to match too, but I was so mad about the fit, that I decided to throw on a shell button and save the royal one.  

On a side note, the metal zipper, bias binding, and button I had planned to use were all from my stash of vintage notions.

This has to be one of the best button holes my machine has produced thus far!  Drats!!!  I did not sew the waist facing down in the manner suggested.  Instead I tacked it at the side seams and at the fly.

For those of you who have not sewn with StyleArc patterns before, one thing you need to be aware of (aside from the fit issue); StyleArc patterns do not come with a lot of directions.  There are directions, they are just very vague.  If you are a newbie, this might be a bit intimidating.  I found it refreshing to not have my hand held and actually have to think about how the pattern went together and figure some things out on my own.  I would even go as far as to say I like this style of directions.  I actually had to use my brain.

If I were to make these shorts again, I would add faux welt pockets to the back of the shorts.  With the yoke waist in the back there is a whole lot of real estate back there that needs a little something to break things up...if you know what I mean!

I am going to hold on to these shorts, as my size tends to float around a bit.  Maybe by June or July they will fit, and I won't feel like all is lost.

This is how I rate the pattern:

Size Range:  4 - Though they did not fit according to the size chart, there is still a large range of size here, better than most pattern companies.  You should note though that StyleArc patterns are one size on the page.
Instructions:  2 - As noted earlier, the instructions are very basic.  This was great for me, but for a beginner or someone who has only sewn from the Big 4, I think this would cause a lot of confusion.
Construction Process:  4 - The shorts went together fairly easily, and there were not a ton of pieces to deal with.  It took me around 3 hours to sew this pattern and another hour to cut it out.
Final Fit:  0 - I have to give it a zero since the shorts would not even pull on.
Overall:  2.5 
So tell me friends, have any of you sewn a plus size StyleArc pattern before?  If so, what were your results?  One other little thing, I am on Instagram now...follow me @pandorasews