mama whose curiosity knows no bounds

Archive for November, 2014

Easy peasy leggings

My daughter S is in the 7th grade. In her PE class, girls are divided into groups, they decide on movements they use in 5 minutes, choreograph a dance using only those movements. They also get to choose a costume. S’s group chose “80’s style” and each girl will wear different color of shirt, leggings, and tutu. S is assigned “light blue”. S, a frugal girl, chose to wear a blue printed t-shirt inside-out. Still she needs tutu and leggings. 

We at first looked for one on wal-mart but there wasn’t. So we decided to make and headed for JoAnn. We found a nice leggings and jacket pattern from McCall’s, but I knew  on Dec 4, McCall’s pattern will go on sale. So we bought swimsuit fabric, tulle and elastic a and went home.

Then I started searching for a pattern and came across this wonderful page!

This page provides YouTube video to explain how to measure for leggings, an Excel spreadsheet to automatically calculate numbers needed for drafting based on each person’s measurement, and how to draft a pattern. So I took advantage of it and draft a pattern.


 Then I set to sew. I was so lazy that I didn’t want to cover stitch the hem. The conversion between the regular overlock and cover stitch is so cumbersome. Without hem, I sewed crotch and inseam, adding a stay tape in the crotch. 

Wow, it fits perfectly! Of course the fact that I used swimsuit fabric helped a bit. But how few those passage of seams and I’m almost done! But because it is so tight fitting, she refused to pose for photo.

I installed an elastic by zigzag and that’s it. For costume, that’s good enough. And I think she will be able to use that as a warm-up during gymnastics practice. I even made a matching hairband.  I see lots of stretch jersey headband recently.

I’m not sure if I will wear leggings, but I don’t have to buy a pattern! I’m impressed how easy it was to draft.






Pant that fit and Craftsy sale

This Thanksgiving break, I’m making pants and top by Sandra Betzina based on her pant-fitting class.  I am AMAZED how the pant fit at the first muslin.  All I needed was to add a 1/4″ in the front princess seam to balance my prominent thigh.  Now I’m a firm believer of European style slopers, which she used to design her pants. Front crotch is much shorter and back crotch is much longer than usual American patterns and that really makes a difference.  I think I can finally move on to make my jeans, the reason for all these pattern making and fitting journey was for.

Now I’m waiting for online fabric sale to buy some ponte knit or wool crepe to actually make one!

Meanwhile, I’m working on her another pattern that featured a leggings and long knit top.  I’m now feel really comfortable using her pattern.  Her way of presentation in her class is kind of haphazard, but boy, it does do the job!

I can’t wait until tomorrow for the biggest sale of the year…I have a LOT in the wishlist….I’m eyeing on Grading class , industry sewing technique class , quilted bag class, and some cooking classes for my daughter…

Check it out from this link!



One Day Craftsy Sale!

Well, I found another big deal opportunity at Craftsy I can’t resist sharing it.  I confess–I want to get further discount by making this post. But this is one day only.


Tailored Shirt class–this is what I’ve been waiting for it be on sale! Yay!

Perfect fitting class

Industry sewing skill class

One pattern many looks pants class–I already have this class and I enjoyed it!

my failed attempt to draft a pattern

I fell in love when I saw this coat on the cover of a tailoring textbook in

So I asked my husband last summer to buy this book. I’ve always wanted a long coat. Especially the nasty winter last time. And longer version of this coat looked perfect.

This book comes with the actual size pattern. BUT I’m “super-sized” when Japanese pattern making is concerned.  My bust is 4″ bigger than the Large of the attached pattern.

However, kindly, this book comes with how to draft the pattern from scratch. First, we draft the “Bunka-style sloper”. 

In Japan, there are two major schools of pattern drafting -“Bunka-style” or “Dre-me (short for ‘dressmaking’)-style”. This book is published by the Bunka-style design. The sloper used is an old version, which use only bust and back length measurement to draft the sloper. The current version is a lot more complicated but that was not the version used in this book.

Ever a computer lover, and I had a good experience with some drawing software (Now defunct Micrografix Designer and Adobe illustrator), I wanted to draw on computer. But of course Adobe illustrator is way too expensive for just trying out drafting pattern. I found an iPad app, iDesign. This is a reasonably good app. It can have layers (big plus!), can export to jpeg or PDF or illustrator format. Although it didn’t have the sophistication of illustrator, it did the job. I successfully draw my sloper.


Then I had to to a rather complicated manipulation so I wanted to deal with front and back in separate file.

Only then I realized that iDesign’s maximum EXPORTABLE board size is smaller than the board I created. I think it’s a sort of bug that allowed me to create that big board I needed for sloper. And this app doesn’t allow me to hop between two separate files, copy and paste as we usually do on any apps on PC.  At this point, it really doesn’t make sense to keep going with this route. I might try getting the illustrator later on, though.

Then the next thing I tried was Microsoft Publisher, which I have used a lot for poster making. The problem with this is that I cannot tell where the printer splits the big drawing so I can place a registration marks for future matching. Besides, it doesn’t allow to make LAYERS. Layers are a MUST for any drawing software.

So until I learn the AutoCAD (I am lucky that I have access to free educational edition), I should stick with paper and pencil.  I have done that about 25 years ago, only my size has changed drastically.

I had a freezer paper taped to have enough space. Then I had to face the inevitable – my rulers are in INCHES, not in metric! Converting centimeters to inches are not too hard, thanks to the online unit converter. I also installed a fraction calculator app on my iPhone. This was great. The only problem is that I no longer have the ability to understand  22 175/192 inches is close enough in sixteenth (or eighth) of an inch.  I was very irritated that I don’t have that sense. It used to be automatic to find the nearest sixteenth. This is what ageing means. Sigh. Still, after a lots of hair-pulling, I managed to draw the real size sloper.

Since the actual drafting of the coat is in centimeters, I had a few options: buy all rulers in metric; or calculate very patiently; wait until I am fluent enough in AutoCAD.  I chose none. I chose BUYING A PATTERN. I need a coat for THIS winter. All forecasts say that this winter is as bad as the last one. I don’t want to survive in LL Bean parka, the warmest coat I have. It had been great until last, awful winter.

Thankfully, I found something that look good at Burda though it is tailored and therefore a bit difficult. Well, I’m ready for that challenge. I’ve taken enough Craftsy courses! And I can knit an accompanying infinit scarf.

I don’t know how Americans can design or draft a pattern. They must be a genius in fractions. Seriously, I hope Americans will adopt metric system soon that I can get all rulers in metric by default. I still hasn’t given up with that coat. So classy, isn’t it?  I might make in jacket length.




What a difference a tiny Synthroid dose change makes!

For the last 6 months or so, maybe since menopause, I felt more tired.  I blamed it for my lupus and menopause or age or stress. There are so many things to blame in my case.

I also noticed that I was constipated more often than before.  Again, I blamed for lack of activity and lack of fiber.  So I added Benefiber  to my menu and they helped indeed. And also I was keenly aware of my weight gain.  I’ve gained about 15 pounds since January and regardless of my diet or exercise, I couldn’t lose any more than 2 pounds or so and it comes back right away when I eat a bit more sweets. I felt bloated and felt my belly distended.  When I saw my gynecologist in September, I asked about these problems.  She told me that that must be a GI problem and I should ask my primary care physician because she was an expert when it comes to diet.  Well, if a veganism preacher makes a doctor a GI expert, yes.  Since I started seeing her, she’s been urging me to be a vegan.  She even shared her own story that how dairy products caused her headache and giving up all animal products cleared her of all pain.  Well, that’s an anecdote that I hates to hear.  I would be more open if there is a large study that vegan diet helps with pain. I’m a happy pescatarian.

Still, I like her and see her because she doesn’t blame ME for my pain.  She rightfully blames my illness, lupus and fibromyalgia, not my situation (that I have an autistic son recently placed in a group home).  And she prescribes medications accordingly for my insomnia and pain while other doctors back off immediately from prescribing any scheduled medications.  In short, she makes me feel my pain legitimate and not faking.

Even my current rheumatologist backs off from pain medication and she always seems to be afraid. As a result, she blames ME for faking the pain, asking for pills. Hell, no.  I do have pain.  Anyway, when I saw her, she ordered TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test along with other basic blood tests.  Thank goodness.

After some fiasco, my PCP, who practice locally, was able to get the test result, and she herself called me that my TSH was normal.  “Normal” that I don’t trust.  I asked value. She said I had 3.0 or something close.  Lightbulb moment in my head.  NOW I KNEW IT. IT WAS THYROID!  I told her that my former endocrinologist recommended to keep my TSH level between 1 and 2 as a post-total thyroidectomy patient.  I’ve been stable for years at 137 micrograms of Synthroid but somehow, maybe menopause or diet or whatever, tipped off the balance to hypothyroid side.  I asked to increase the dosage.  And she agreed.

But there was a problem.  She ordered “levothyroxicine 150 mcg” that is a generic form of Synthroid, thyroid hormone replacement.  Since I had a horrible experience with generic levothyroxicine in the past, I always asked for Dispense As Written prescription when it comes to Synthroid and paid exorbitant copay for my choice.  My mail order company caught the difference.  And they canceled the order, despite I had my PCP send a corrected prescription.  After that, I had to call again my PCP to prescribe a new DAW prescription.  It went through.  But it took so much wait, about a week, to arrive.  So I did what I shouldn’t.  I chopped an old Synthroid tablet into about eight pieces and took one on top of my regular dose.  If I did perfectly, it should equate 153 mcg of Synthroid. Close enough for a week of waiting period.

WOW. My bowel is suddenly happily moving.  I feel more energy!   But apparently, this causes my joint pain worse.  I really don’t know why.

So the moral of the story is that when you have multiple conditions causing the same or similar symptoms, you have to have all of them checked!

For now, I’m waiting to see if my weight would decrease to past level. I think it should if I don’t eat too much and fortunately, I don’t have much change in appetite. And I’m positive I can exercise more with current energy level.  Until then, my plan to measure myself and make fitting form has to wait.


Craftsy flash sale!

I found this Craftsy sale opportunities and couldn’t resist sharing it.

I’m gonna buy this jacket fitting class, as her Jacket making techniques class was awesome.

But you need to hurry as this sale ends on November 9 midnight.

Happy crafting and learning!


lapped seam

I was making an Anna costume from Frozen for my friend’s daughter. The pattern has two inset corners and instruction says to reinforce the corner of the inside cut (e.g., skirt center front) reinforced and clip almost to the point, then sew to the point and pivot. Well, I tried but it really didn’t work.  I couldn’t get the sharp point that makes the dress princess-y.

For another corner, on yoke front pointing to the front bodice center, I tried a different method I found online. It worked pretty well, I think.

1) stitch the seam line of the front yoke point.

2) turn at the seam line of the point and press (well the steam holes was a bit dirty in my case…another reminder to use a press cloth).

3) apply basting tape along the seam allowance of the bodice center front.  I used Wonder Tape here. But the video used Steam-A-Seam 2 . For some reason, I can no longer find locally and I ran out of mine a couple projects ago. But Wonder Tape worked.

4) peel the covering tape and apply the yoke, machine seamed line. Then edge-stitched.

Now I got a nice-looking pointed seam!


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