Category Archives: sewing plans

January sewing plans: better late than never

I drew this cardinal.

It’s January 22. What better time to sit down & share my January sewing plans? Especially since they’re going so well. My goal is to complete an average of ten items per month, & I’ve already finished…one. Yeah, at this rate, I’m going to have to churn out a finished item every day for the rest of the month to hit my goal, & that is simply not going to happen. I’ve been in various stages of having colds all month (current status: full-on 100% sick), & I feel guilty about every minute I spend sewing at my studio because I SHOULD be finishing up the remodel on my new studio. I’m only paying rent on one space, but I’m taking up two. There’s not even that much left to do: a little priming, painting three walls, & deciding what to do about the floor. I’m torn between just mopping it, or mopping it & then painting it white. (It’s cement.) But I resent every minute I spend working on the new space because I WANT to be sewing.

Anyway. Let’s just pretend that it’s early January, my studio space is in order, & I am in perfect health. What am I planning to sew this month?!


1) cream French terry embellished Jenna cardigan. This is the one project I’ve finished, & it wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye until a week & a half ago, when the first round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee was announced. But that’s the magic of making your to-do list after the fact. Feels good to get to cross something off right away!

challenges fulfilled: Pattern Review Sewing Bee round one, Sewalongs & Sewing Contests Inside Out Capsule Quartet


2) Ramona’s 2017 cross stitched birthday portrait. Yes, I am still doing these! I started the 2017 portrait (Ramona’s fifth birthday) in August & finished it shortly after the New Year. It still needs to be washed, pressed, & hooped before I will consider it officially done. Maybe I should take care of that today.

challenges fulfilled: Ramona portrait series


3) internal stitchdown work boots. These will be done before the end of the month because I am taking a four-day workshop in which I will be making them, starting on Thursday. (I hope this cold is gone by then!) I’m still unclear of the design specs, but I know I’ll be using black leather because th instructor is providing it. I might also bring some pink leather I have in my stash for a two-tone look. & I’d like to do some broguing or scalloping as well. We’ll see!

challenges fulfilled: #makenine2019, winter sudoku capsule

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 4.52.36 pm
4) pink linen True Bias Lander pants. I have a lot of concerns about the crotch fit on this pattern, but…it seems to work for me on a fabric that relaxes well. The medium-weight pink linen I’m using for this pair relaxes maybe a little TOO well. Cutting the pants out was a nightmare because it kept wiggling off-grain. These might be a hot mess, with leg twist all over the place. I hope not, because I definitely need some pink pants in my wardrobe, & I splashed out on some really special buttons for the fly.

challenges fulfilled: Sewalongs & Sewing Contests Inside Out Capsule Quartet, Let’s Sew Fancy Pants, #sew3unsewn (UFO), winter sudoku capsule, SWAP 2019

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 5.14.21 pm

5) Christmas pajamas for Ramona. I splashed out on some expensive cotton jersey from Spoonflower to make Christmas pajamas according to Ramona’s specification. She wanted Santas, presents, & reindeer in the print. Then I got deathly ill & didn’t get the pajamas done in time for the holiday. But she still asks for them every time I go to the studio, & the pattern I use is a really simple TNT, so I should just do it.

challenges fulfilled: Monthly Stitch Amnesty Day (Unselfish Sewing)


6) cat print Butterick 6344. This is a sundress pattern, with a tie-shoulder detail & a maxiskirt. Completely inappropriate for January. But I really want to use the fabric, & I had th idea to shirr the back for a closer fit (& so I can tell the back from the front). This is just one of those “I want to make it, so I’ll make it” projects.

challenges fulfilled: Monthly Stitch Seasonally Inappropriate, #sewtwistsandties

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 4.57.52 pm
7) corduroy Vogue 1411 pants. I’ve been wearing my original V1411 pants a ton lately, & decided I could really use another pair. I had this black stretch corduroy in my stash that I had been saving to use with a jeans pattern at some point, but…I used it for this instead. They’re almost done. I just had to complicate the matter by deciding to cross stitch the back pockets.

challenges fulfilled: Let’s Sew Fancy Pants, #sew3unsewn (fabric), winter sudoku capsule, SWAP 2019

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 5.06.10 pm

8) skirt with panel detail, from Stylish Skirts, a Japanese sewing book. I checked this book out of the library, so I should maybe try to make the skirt before I need to return it. I’m hoping I have enough yardage left over from those pink linen Lander pants to gt this skirt out of it. I know I just complained about how fiddly & wiggly the fabric is, but it has a really cool texture that would look great with this skirt. Otherwise, I’ll have to paw through my stash & see if I have something else that might work. I don’t have ANY pink skirts, & that needs to change!

challenges fulfilled: Sewalongs & Sewing Contests Inside Out Capsule Quartet, winter sudoku capsule, SWAP 2019, #sewjapaneseinjanuary

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 2.23.07 pm
9) self-drafted pink & white tights. I’m doing a personal challenge to try to make myself one self-drafted garment per month, & this month, it’s tights. I got some striped rib knit from, & it will go great with so much of my existing wardrobe. I made my first pair of self-drafted tights in August & I’ve been wearing them, but I need to fiddle with the draft a little. I made them too high-waisted & maybe a little too long (basically over-correcting for the issues I always have in RTW tights).

challenges fulfilled: personal self-drafting challenge, Sewalongs & Sewing Contests Inside Out Capsule Quartet, winter sudoku capsule, SWAP 2019

screen shot 2019-01-22 at 2.34.09 pm

10) WILD CARD! This will depend on whether or not I make it through to the second round of the Sewing Bee. If I do, that assignment will go here (if it’s something that can’t be fulfilled by any of my other plans). If I don’t…maybe the Sew House Seven Tabor Tee? I want to try it in some drape-y pink & white striped thermal knit I have that is too stretchy for my original plans for it (fitted henley top)…or maybe this gorgeous floral cotton jersey…

challenges fulfilled: ???

So, what do you think? Can I manage to stay up for the next ten days doing nothing but sewing & finish all these projects? Or am I once again being comically over-ambitious? & how are your January sewing plans coming along? Perhaps most importantly, what do you think of my fancy photo collages? I’d rather not discuss how long it took me to figure out how to make these…2019 is my 20th anniversary of blogging. Maybe I am finally starting to get the hang of it, kind of?

November sewing plans: too ambitious?

Hello, sewing friends, & others who persist in reading this blog even though it is almost 100% about sewing! Let’s talk sewing plans!

I’m setting myself a goal of completing ten projects this month. If I complete more–great! If I complete fewer–also great! But ten seems like a challenging but achievable goal given my available time & skill set.

1) black speckled French terry Hudson pants with pink trim. I actually finished these today! I saw this speckled French terry at the recently-deceased Fabric Depot when I was visiting Portland in March, before I moved here. I didn’t buy it, but I thought about it every day until I moved here. Two days after I arrived in town, I went to Fabric Depot & bought four yards. That was enough for a long-sleeved Lady Skater dress with a hood (completed last weekend) & these Hudson pants. I still have some left too. I might use it to finally try the Watson bralette. Eventually.





2) cats & roses print Swoon Nora doctor bag with black leather trim. I’ve been meaning to make this bag for literally a couple of years. I keep waffling on what fabric to use & that’s why it hasn’t happened yet. I like making bags because there’s no fitting, it’s just all about precision sewing, which I love. But I am also perhaps overly aware of the dangers of your bag clashing with your outfit. The easy solution would be to make a black bag, but…I can’t bring myself to be so boring. I think I have finally settled on this cotton/linen canvas I got from Hart’s Fabrics over the summer.

3) cats & roses print low-top sneakers. Yeah, I make shoes now! Well, I have made one pair of shoes. I should blog them, they turned out pretty great. I got this sneaker-making kit from the Chicago School of Shoemaking, & it appears that I have misplaced the included pattern, but once I find it, I’m going to make some low-top sneaks from the off-cuts of what I use for the Nora bag. Isn’t it some kind of fashion rule to match your shoes to your bag?



View this post on Instagram

More #shoemaking photos! I made my tights too. What a day. We patterned soles, designed & patterned the uppers, cut out the sole leather on this old-time crank lever cutter thing, cut our uppers from the leather of our choice, shaped our soles, fit the uppers (that was the hardest part for me, both because I have weird feet, but also because my design concept was pretty fussy), glued our soles to our heels, engineered the uppers & insole together & glued it all in place, skived the leather down, nailed the heels to the soles, glued & nailed the uppers to the sole, attached hardware, & then the teacher sanded & we beveled the insole. Oh, & embossed the insoles, just for fun. All told, it took like nine hours. & I might be forgetting some parts. But it was fun! I’d do it again. #sewcialists #memadeeveryday #imsotired

A post shared by Ciara Xyerra (@ciaraxyerra) on

4) black stretch corduroy Vogue 1411 pants. With the weather cooling down, I am reaching for pants more & more, especially first thing in the morning for the walk to Ramona’s bus stop. I have been wearing the stretch denim V1411 pants I made like four or five years ago A LOT. They’ve held up remarkably well considering that I made them before I fully understood that finishing your seams is actually not optional, especially on a ravel-ly fabric like denim. Probably because of all the topstitching. It’s a testament to the pattern-drafting that the project came together so well for me in my inexperience & the finished product has lasted as well as it has. I’m looking forward to having another pair in the rotation–with finished seams this time!

5) superhero pajamas for Ramona. She picked out this superhero fabric on the same Fabric Depot trip that I bought my French terry, & whipping up a pair of pajamas from my TNT pattern for her takes seriously an hour or two, start to finish. She is so patient with me.

6) black twill Pauline Alice Rosari skirt. This is a commission project for my friend Eva, who has also been remarkably patient with me. Pro-tip for anyone who commissions from me in the future: don’t tell me that there’s no deadline. Make one up. I will hate it, but I will meet it (as long as you act like it’s real & don’t tell me it’s just arbitrary).

7) speckled charcoal Sew House Seven Tabor tee. This is a new pattern for me, but it’s a knit tee, so I’m hoping that it will be pretty simple. It’s also Sew House Seven, so I am really looking forward to the construction. I’m going to make the long-sleeved curved hem version with the wide overlapped neckline, & I always enjoy the way Peggy handles those little details in her patterns. I’m really not an indie fangirl, I like to think I at least consider indies & Big 4 patterns pretty equally, but I have really enjoyed every Sew House Seven pattern I have made so far (several of which have never been blogged, even though they get worn constantly), & I’m hoping the Tabor tee will join the ranks of my TNTs! I’m less excited about the fabric. I bought it online, against my better judgment, because it’s a speckled Robert Kaufman jersey that LOOKS really cool but is kind of scratchy to wear. I used another colorway in the body of my “the future is female” baseball tee, & the difference between the rough, itchy speckled jersey & the cool, smooth blue solid drives me crazy. But the internet made me think it was charcoal with pink speckles &…I can’t resist anything pink. The actual fabric has a lot more lime green speckles, alas. So I’m really looking at this whole project as a wearable muslin, & probably more of a pajama or layering shirt than something that will get worn on its own much. But who knows! Maybe I’ll fall in love with it!

8) black Digital Pattern Library belted sweater. This pattern was just released in September, I spotted it when I was checking out new patterns for my “favorite new patterns from September” blog post, which never materialized. But if it HAD, this pattern would have been #1 with a bullet! I really don’t know how this sweater is going to work with the fabric I chose (a fairly lightweight cotton sweatshirting) or my body type (busty & thick through the waist), but I just HAVE to try it. I’m too obsessed to skip it.


9) pink taffeta Cashmerette Chilton trench coat. Whaaaaat. PINK TAFFETA? I know. Cashmerette was one of the sponsors I lined up for Indie Pattern Month on the Monthly Stitch, & I got to interview Jenny about this pattern for her Sponsor Spotlight piece. I have never in my life had the slightest desire to make, or even wear, a trench coat. So I went into the interview piece fairly dispassionate, recognizing the value of such a pattern for a significant portion of the home sewing world that has desired a utilitarian pattern like this that doesn’t skimp on any of the classic details or finishes. But then Jenny sent along some photos from her testers, & people had used some interesting fabrics. Not just boring ol’ camel or navy…possibly my two least favorite colors in the entire world. I started wondering how it would look in a large-scale floral or pink…& THEN IT HIT ME. You know who wore a trench coat in a very unusual color & looked damn good doing so? PRINCE, MOTHERFUCKERS. His classic “Purple Rain” purple trench! What if I re-interpreted that coat, but in pink, as that is MY signature color? I hit the Mill End store during their customer appreciation sale & just let my instincts lead me to this hot pink tafetta. I haven’t started cutting out the pattern yet, so I’m not sure what alterations I will make to make it more Prince. I might lengthen it & widen the lapels some. I will DEFINITELY be adding some pyramid stud detailing on one shoulder! But I also intend to make it an actual usable coat for Portland weather. Tafetta actually isn’t a bad choice for water-resistance, & if I underline it with flannel, it could be reasonable cozy.

prince jacket

(PS–Did this photo get you pregnant? Because I think it got me pregnant. Which is especially impressive, given that I no longer possess a uterus.)

10) yellow cable knit cardigan. This is a bit of a wild card because I don’t have the fabric yet. I ordered it, it’s in the mail, but not having touched or handled it, I’m not sure what the weight or drape is going to be like, & that’s going to be the deciding factor in what it becomes. I was just so thrilled to find real cable knit fabric for sale, & in a bright sunshine yellow to boot (one of my top four colors to wear, the others being black, gray, & pink), & 50% off on top of everything else?! I had to give it a chance. I initially thought I would use it to make a waist-length Muse Patterns Jenna cardigan, but the button bands on that pattern can be challenging if the fabric is too bulky. Then I started thinking about a closure-less circle cardigan, but…I kind of hate wearing a layer that doesn’t have some kind of closure. Now I’m thinking about a circle-style cardigan with a closure & a turn-back lapel/neckband…with some kind of hand detail. I don’t know if I want to embroider, bead, stone, or felt…It will ultimately depend on the fabric & the garment design & structure. If you have a pattern recommendation for me, I am all ears!

Just for fun, let’s look at the color/fabric palette I’m looking to sew for myself this month:




Only one real print for myself this month! Crazy!

As long as we’re here, let’s do a quick round-up of various theme months & challenges happening in the sewing community this month.

So we’ll see what all I get to this month, & how I feel about announcing all of these plans that may or may not ever see the light of the day…But hopefully ALL of them will & they will all be dutifully blogged here. What do you think? Am I being too ambitious? Not ambitious enough? Do you make sewing plans, & how is your follow-through?

August sewing plans

Time for a life update! Before you close your browser in disgust over the lack of the sweet, sweet sewing content you have come for, rest assured: this post is almost 100% about sewing, because I am almost 100% about sewing!

The biggest news: we live in Portland now! We used a moving pod companies, where you load all your possessions into a big metal box & a stranger drives it across the country for you on a giant truck with a bunch of other big metal boxes. We set our separately in the car—me, Jared, Ramona, & Catberry Butterton (the cat formerly known as Biscuit; Ramona changed her name). We thought that would be easier than renting a moving truck & towing the car.

The harness didn’t always work out as planned.

The drive from Lawrence to Portland was a lot easier than I’d anticipated. My family took a lot of road trip vacations when I was a kid, & I remember how awful it was for my parents to be driving with kids. We were loud, whiny, constantly asking to stop for food & bathroom breaks. I expected the same sort of behavior from Ramona, but she’s a great traveler! She amused herself with LEGO, toy cars, & stuffies, barely whined at all, & she LOVED staying at motels. I recommend her for all of your road-trip-with-children needs.

We got to Portland a day early because we made such good time, so move-in day was pretty relaxed. However, our new house is SMALL. Thank goodness I had the foresight to rent a studio for my sewing, because there’s no way my sewing stuff would fit in the house. My friend Alex, who has studio space in the same building, has a truck, & she came over soon after our pods arrived & helped me drive all my sewing stuff over to the new studio.

Me & my studio.

Fabric Depot, a big independent fabric store in SE Portland, hosted a “Block Party” event the day after we moved in. Ramona & I went to check it out…in large part because I decided I needed to replace all the mismatched, mis-sized curtains in the house (I think one of them is seriously a shower curtain) with proper self-sewn curtains. I let Ramona choose the fabric for her room. She fell in love with a comic book print, & because she scored a 60% off coupon when she spun Fabric Depot’s “Deal Wheel,” I also let her pick out a superhero print jersey knit for new pajamas.


I also stopped by Montavilla Sewing shop that operates out of Fabric Depot, ostensibly just to browse. I’ve found myself often wishing that I had an embroidery machine. I’ve had my eye on one from Amazon, but kept telling myself I couldn’t justify the expense. So…surprise! I bought one that cost more than twice as much from Montavilla Sewing. I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. But I’m really enjoying it! It has some fancypants features, like a low-bobbin indicator, & automatic threading. & my vast collection of presser feet (foots?) works with it without having to put on a whole new shank.Invisible zippers just got a whole lot easier!


My studio is not large–only 80 square feet, but it’s of course a dream to have a dedicated space for it. It’s a game changer to be able fully focus on my sewing without worrying about Ramona putting LEGO creations on my sewing table, or interrupting me to demand bowls of frozen mango or new episodes of “The Magic School Bus”. I’m hoping to be able to spend a lot more time there once Ramona starts kindergarten (this month! How is she already such a big kid?).

I have some exciting sewing plans lined up for August. Aside from the curtains, & the 87th pair of pajamas I’ve made for Ramona. The theme for the Monthly Stitch this month is Denim Never Dies, & I’m making a paid of railroad striped Lander shorts (in part because I am still in disbelief over the incredibly short crotch curve). The Monthly Stitch is undergoing an editorial transition, incidentally, & I’m one of the new folks that has come on-board. My role right now is coordinating & announcing the challenges. Go check out the post I wrote announcing the Denim Never Dies challenge! I put A LOT of work into brainstorming pattern ideas & coming up with unusual examples of denim yardage available for sale for folks that maybe need a little inspiration beyond your basic indigo. I truly love the Monthly Stitch project & am excited to be part of its future!

Curtains I have finished so far.

I have a few mending projects that need attention, & a few projects that are all done except for a bit of hand-stitching. But new projects are where the excitement is! I desperately need a new bag. I have everything I need to make both a new Noodlehead Supertote (my viewfinder print Supertote has been my daily bag for a couple of years now) & a Swoon Patterns Nora doctor bag. I will make them both eventually. I just can’t decide which should come first.

I’m also working on a commission for a friend who needs a dress to wear in a wedding party. She wants a black lagenlook style. We’re brainstorming patterns & we’re going to talk textiles this weekend. It’s going to be fun to sew something a little more dressy & dramatic than I would ordinarily sew for myself!

Though I’m overwhelmed with ideas for garments I want to sew for myself. A pair of black linen Astrid pants from Named patterns. A hooded Simplicity 8447 blouse from Cotton + Steel banana print lawn. Combining the Closet Case Jenny overalls with my go-to A-line skirt pattern to make a pinafore dress—black twill? With some elaborate embroidery or cross stitching? Definitely another paid of Cashmerette Ames jeans. A hooded sweatshirt dress from this great black speckled French terry I picked up at Fabric Depot. That’s probably going to have to be some kind of Frankenpattern. & I am actually in serious need of new pajamas.

In an effort to corral all these ideas, I’m doing Seamwork’s Design Your Wardrobe course for fall/winter. This necessitated becoming a Seamwork member–something I swore I would never do. But they found my weakness: drawn-out, prescriptive, unnecessarily navel-gazing methodologies for planning one’s sewing. I truly do love shit like that! & trust, I will be canceling my subscription as soon as the course is over.

But perhaps the thing I am MOST excited about this month: SHOEMAKING. I snagged the last spot in an upcoming sandal-making workshop with Rachel Corry of Rachel Snail Sees Shoes. I’ve already starting sketching out some design ideas. I can’t wait! (Jasika wrote a post about a shoemaking workshop she took with Rachel a couple of years ago.)

I think that’s all the news I have right now! Stay tuned for some finished project posts, thoughts on the Design Your Wardrobe challenge, a possible expose on the bizarre crotch curve on the True Bias Lander pants, my summer 10×10, SHOEMAKING, & more!