Sunday, March 22, 2015

a basic to get back in the swing of things

Has it really been since DECEMBER since I posted?!?! Oh well, I'm working on finding more time for me-sewing, not just Filbert & Maggie sewing.  Here is a Renfew I sewed up recently, nothing too exciting but it's something! It's a fairly light-weight sweater-knit, so I made it to be a casual basic in my wardrobe.

The sleeves are SOOOOO long, but can be scrunched up, and I totally puckered up the un-even hemline trying to shorten it after the fact, BUT LOOK AT THAT PERFECT NECKBINDING! I may have to re-do the bottom hem somehow, since the rest of the top came out so nice, even with the super stretchy, wiggly fabric.

I also attempted a plaid pencil skirt from a BurdaStyle US Magazine, but the fit was all funky. Any suggestions on a great, go-to pencil skirt pattern for a girl with a little bit of tummy?  Next up I think is another pair of Elle Pants in black....  not terribly exciting to read about but great basics for me! I'll try to think of something fabulous to make and post soon, maybe some of those Ginger Jeans that everyone is making right now, because who doesn't need a perfect-fitting pair of jeans?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 review

Where to even being? Oh yes, there is the "where have you been?" "why I've haven't blogged this month..." blah blah blah!  But lets just dive into the accomplishments of the year! Here are all the clothing items I made in 2014 in order (and click on the thumbnail if you want to learn more about each item!):


Not too bad for a year that also started my new line of hand-printed and sewn housewares,,, where I started back to school and working again at the university, and a summer mostly filled with personal loss. Some of my favorite makes this year are my not-a-Christmas-party dress, my ikat Taylor shorts, and the Marie jacket, which my sister wears all the time. While I intentionally made the feather-print, jersey maxi-dress for her (and another really lovely, teal, modal jersey version for my sister-in-law), the Marie jacket was supposed to be for me. She also ended up with my black-and-white graphic-print Elle top, and the black polar-fleece jacket fit my mother-in-law perfectly. Damn tall people.... 

I can't look back at 2014 without looking at the launch of my new line hand-designed, hand-printed, and hand-sewn table linens and other items for the home. I'm really proud of myself, and looking forward to what 2015 will bring for Filbert & Maggie Handmade.

Posted one year ago, here were my 5 goals for 2014:

#1 - Pants - Success!

While the khakis haven't quite made it into regular wardrobe rotation, my black, Elle pants were a big success and worn often when I was filling-in for a a few months as an Activities Director as an assisted living facility. 


#2 - Swimsuit -

I had a good start on it before my personal life put sewing to the back-seat this summer. 

#3 - Underwear - Made.... but not really worn.

I have on a couple of occasions worn my high-waist Ohhh Lulu undies, but I could definitely improve in the home-made underwear department. I think if I could nail down a  everyday-wear pattern, making undies could be a great, simple project for me in-between all my other commitments right now!  

#4 - Coat/Jacket - two lightweight jackets made, but I kept neither. They both came out really great, if only they fit me better. They are getting a lot of use from my sister and mother-in-law.

#5 - Teaching...

Yeah, not so much. I have been helping many of my studio-mates at Running with Scissors with screenprinting, but not yet teaching for pay. 

As for goals for 2015... I'm going to keep it simple this year: see where Filbert and Maggie takes me, and find the time and inspiration to sew garments for me again. And on that note, have a very happy New Year and see you in 2015!

Friday, October 24, 2014

what's rachel been sewing lately?

Hello sewing blog friends! I know it's been a while, but now I can show you what I've been up to and why you haven't seen me on sew rachel! Today I launched my online shop of hand-printed, hand-sewn table linens:! The shop opens today with 7 designs of cotton cloth napkins (there were 8 designs, but one already sold out!). New items will be added in the next few weeks, including tote-bags, zipper pouches, place mats, and a new fabric design currently in the works! I want to thank Katie Wilber for the product photography and I look forward doing more work with her in the future. I hope you can check it out, and know I will be back to regularly-programmed sewing soon!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

and the bunnies go to....


Thank you, Mr. Sew Rachel, for drawing a name before you scoot off to work! Sarah, I will be in touch shortly!

Friday, August 1, 2014

filbert & maggie giveaway!

Here is anther peek at my new project launching this fall, Filbert & Maggie Handmade, and a chance to own one of the first sets of 2 hand-printed and hand-sewn Maggie May napkins! Just leave a comment below by August 4th at 8AM (EST) if you are interested in the goldenrod Maggie May-print napkins seen here to be entered, and in return I just ask for you to use ‘em, wash ‘em, and let me know how they do. Open worldwide, so thank you in advance and good luck!

Fork not included :)

Note: Giveaway is also open at, but there will only be ONE winner. The names from both sites will be entered into one drawing, but commenting on both sites WILL count as two entries!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

fun summer shorts!

I actually made these a few weeks ago and have just gotten around to photographing them. Aren't they cute?! Inspired by Oonapalooza I decided to work on the things in my "to-sew" queue that involved a fun, bright print, and so it bumped these fun shorts up to the top of the list! You know how sometimes you have so many sewing projects swirling around in your head that you can't pick and none of them get made? A project like Oonapalozza is great for those times as it gives you some criteria to help you get over that what-to-sew-next hump! I'm so glad, too, because they are really comfortable to wear, and just plan fun.

I used a PDF pattern by GreenStyle Creations called the Taylor Shorts, and some fun, bottom-weight fabric from the Joann's clearance rack with just a tiny bit of stretch. The pattern was purchased through a Bundle Up Sale hosted by Pattern Revolution. It was very easy to print and tape together, and the whole thing took an afternoon to make from pattern-printing to wearing!

I made a size 4 with the 2" inseam with no pattern alterations.... and they fit! Even in the butt! The only thing I would change next time is to take out probably an inch and a half from the front rise, but for this pair it's no big deal.

I ALMOST had the pattern matched perfectly!

The fly instructions seemed very clear... until I realized I had sewn everything only to one side of the opening... so they wouldn't close. I started to wing it at that point and ended up sewing the whole thing to both sides... so then it couldn't open! Third time I got it, and overall with very little unpicking. I used a couple of flap trouser hooks-and-eyes and a recycled zipper taken from the ankle opening of a pair of pants I shortened.

Overall, a great pattern that I would totally recommend to anyone wanting shorts! It comes in three inseams with nice pockets, and the instructions are great! (as I suspect if I had paid more attention the fly instructions would have worked out perfectly the first time...)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

best. sister. ever.

That's me.... BEST SISTER EVER... in case you didn't know. Why? Because I made my little sister this for her 26th birthday:

A cotton jersey, peacock feather, maxi-dress! With a racer-back!

The fabric is from This was my first experience with them. Their fabric is very affordable and the service is excellent. You can get up to four swatches free, just ask. The pattern is McCalls 6744. What's great about sewing for my sister is that I usually don't have to make any pattern adjustments. She is a perfectly proportioned for the most Big-4 patterns, and even the design height at 5'7". Despite out different heights and body shapes, we have about the same bust-waist-hip measurements, so I can make her dress right out of the envelope, try it on me and know what I'll need to adjust when I make a version for myself (navy with polka-dots maybe?). 

This dress is very easy, and you can get a maxi-dress out of just 2 yards of 60-wide fabric. The whole dress took me 3 hours, including cutting out the 4 pieces. The neck and arm holes are finished with a simple narrow hem; a breeze on stable, cotton jersey. I didn't measure, press or pin before stitching, just eye-balled it as I sewed and it came out pretty good!

My serger needs a new cutting blade, otherwise I totally would have done the side seams on it. Instead I did two lines of narrow zig-zag stitching then clipped my seam allowance close. 

I'm quite pleased and hope she is too! I suspect a cool cotton jersey maxidress will get a lot of wear when the days get hot in Philadelphia. And given the timing... would Oona approve of this make?