Author Archives: Cathy


Those are my measurements.

Some other ones:

  • Height: 5’5″
  • Weight: 170-ish
  • Upper arm: 14″
  • Calf: 16.5″

What this means, practically, is that I can’t fit into knee-high boots (even some of the wide calf ones aren’t wide enough). My legs won’t fit into skinny jeans.

My arms won’t fit into most tailored shirts. I wear a 38B bra, so things that fit my arms are a giant sack everywhere else.

According to this list, I’m a plus-size sewist. I routinely cut out a 12 shoulder, and grade up to an 18 waist. I don’t consider myself plus size, because my body image is still of the 20 year old, 110lb college me. I was happy buying size 10 jeans 2 years ago, but last year, I had to buy new jeans every month because I was gaining weight (thanks, escitalopram!) and now I hove between a 12-14. I’m muscular, except around my middle (again, thanks, escitalopram!!). I love my legs- 20 years of dancing, along with soccer, bicycling, and swimming have made me strong. Lately, I’ve started rowing and my arms and shoulders and back are becoming stronger. I’d love to lose the 20lbs I gained this year, but dancing and exercising 3-5 times a week has only kept me stable. There was a cold snap in January, where it got down to the single digits, and I had no pants that would fit. I wore skirts and fleece tights for a week until I was able to buy new clothes that fit. I’m not used to my current body.

This was made painfully obvious when I cut out a pattern based on my “old” measurements and expected it to magically fit. And it wouldn’t button.

Instead of making clothes for my ideal body, I should be making ideal clothes for my body.


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Start of the green frankencardi

fiber collage


It started as a challenge on Ravelry: spin a pound (or more) of fiber for a big project. I have more than a pound of  fiber (lots more) but I don’t have a pound+ of one dyelot. Then I saw this sweater, and the possibilities for color mixing became endless. I don’t like sharp color blocks, but a gradual shift between tones, or a similar palette is perfect.  I started with 6 4oz bumps (24 oz/1.5lb) of BFL or BFL/Silk fiber:  Foliage from Hello Yarn, Green with Envy from Frabjous Fibers, Balsam from Frabjous Fibers, April 2013 Luminosity Club from Pigeonroof Studios, Rolling Stone from Pigeonroof Studios, Mimsy from Pigeonroof Studios.


I spun each bump as singles on my Ashford Joy at the 12:1 ratio.  (Mimsy, Rolling Stone, Luminosity | Foliage, Green with Envy, Balsam).



I used various groupings of singles to make a 3ply yarn, plying at 12:1   It came out to 1,048 yards of dk/worsted/ish yarn.


  • Yarn Weight: DK (?)
  • Yards per pound: 693
  • WPI: 10
  • Plies: 3
  • Twist Direction Singles: Z
  • Twist Direction Plies: S
  • Twist Angle: 25º

This is my yarn made using Ravelry’s new fiber and handspun stash tools.  The tools are so useful- there are still a few bugs, it’s still in beta (or swatch) stage, and it’s a really, really, really long overdue addition to the site.

The plan is to knit this into Vanadium, but that will involve a lot of pattern math. Vanadium, in my size, calls for 1,240 yds of fingering.  Whatever I end up knitting, the plan is to do a gradual shading from light to dark using the color shifting technique from Less is More.  This will be a frankenpattern, but it will be an awesome, green frankenpattern!


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Age of Brass and Steam



I started this in July while at camp, and finished it while house sitting. The pattern was so easy to pick up and put down, such a no pressure knit. The garter eyelet made it just interesting enough.

The yarn is a handspun, hand-dyed superwash wool that I got in a swap on Ravelry. It’s multicolored, but it reads as pink.

shawl close up


I blocked it with a steam iron. It seemed appropriate to the pattern, and it was much easier and quicker than wet-pinning it to my bed. It also means I don’t have to share my bed with a damp shawl.

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GTD Weekend

I accomplished stuff this weekend!

Between camp and dogsitting, I haven’t been home since early July, and my time at home has been devoted to laundry, grocery shopping, and the mundane parts of life.

This weekend, however, I had nothing planned. No need to leave the house (but I did) or get out of PJs.

  • knit 2″ on the Rosy Raglan (must photo)
  • cut out and sewed the tan Lotus Tunic
  • added bias binding to the armholes of the gray Hawthorn
  • hand-hemmed the gray Hawthorn – all it needs now are buttons & buttonholes
  • finished spinning the singles for the green BFL Vanadiam
  • started plying the yarn for the green BFL Vanadium
  • traced the pattern pieces for the Darling Ranges Dress
  • reshaped the sleeves on Darling Ranges for full upper arms
  • went to Joann’s and got this amazing perfect owl print fabric

owl fabric



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Toast and Jam

I feel rather late to the party, but I just found out about the Sewcialists, and the Sewcialbee challenge on Flickr. This month’s challenge was to make a garment inspired by food, or food inspired by a garment. I chose the latter. I was already planning to make another Lotus Tunic this weekend, anyway, and since it fit in with the challenge timeframe, why not?


  • Pattern: Amy Butler Lotus Tunic & Cami
  • Fabric: Modern Meadow Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit Westminster Fibers Dogwood
  • Modifications: I cut out a straight Large. The back is cut on the fold, so the zipper is eliminated.  No lining- I didn’t want to sew an entire second dress! The arm and neck is faced with 1/2″ double fold bias tape.

I’ve made this dress at least 2 times before, but with the linings, so that makes 4 dresses. I know how this pattern goes together, and from cutting out  to hemming, it took 4 hours.  This has to be the quickest dress I’ve made. It felt so *good* to be able to start and finish something this weekend, and to not have any fit or construction problems. I didn’t curse my sewing machine, the pattern, the designer, or myself once!

I love the shape of this dress, but I was worried that it would look like a paper bag on- the tan is really grocery bag brown. My roommate suggested a white belt, but when I went to Target, they didn’t have any I liked, so I got yellow.


It looks so much less like a paper bag when I’m wearing it- which is a huge relief.

Now, for the sewcialbee challenge. The colors, and the floral blotches remind me so much of jam on toast. So here- wheat toast with blueberry jam.


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Organizing the sewing stash

I wish there was a sewing equivalent of Ravelry, especially for stash & pattern management. Since there isn’t, I’ve improvised my own. It’s not too improvised, since I have 10 years of librarian experience.  I’m using two online tools- Flickr for the fabric stash, and Google Docs for the pattern stash.

I created a set on Flickr called “fabric stash” and took a photo of each piece over 1/2 yd in my stash.



The title  is what’s in the selvedge, and the yardage, width, content, and intended project are in the description.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 9.42.12 PM


It took two hours to photograph, upload and describe my stash. It’s small- only 28 cuts of fabric, and there’s about 5 of those I’ll never use, and are on their way to the trade/donate pile. It’s great to be able to see what I have for fabric, and also to be able to access it from my phone, in case I’m out shopping and want to match something.


For the pattern stash, I created a Google Docs spreadsheet, with one tab for print patterns, and one for PDFs. Simple, easy, and accessible from multiple computers.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 9.34.33 PM



After 30 years of sewing half-assed, I’m finally taking it seriously- or at least as seriously as I take knitting. If I’m going to take the time to make a thing, I want to do it to the best of my ability. Part of that is knowing what I have at my disposal.

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What’s next?

Here’s my sewing queue.

This brown and pink cotton will become another Amy Butler Lotus Tunic. I’ve made a few before, and it’s one of my favorite patterns.

tan floral cotton

This tulip knit will become a Tiramisu.

tulip knit

I’ve never sewn with knits before, other than some t-shirt deconstruction/reconstruction, so this will be challenging. I think the large tulips will make awesome striped chevrons.  I’ve printed out the pattern- I’m going to tape it and cut it out this week, and maybe do some practice sewing this weekend. I have 4.5 yds of the tulip print, enough to play around with before sewing the dress. 

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