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Fabulous Flora

On March 22, 2014 I posted a photo to Instagram asking people to tell me which pattern to make next: The Mortmain or The Flora.  I went with the Mortmain (seen here) and made a muslin of Flora within a few weeks.

Wellll, it took 3 years, 2 month and about a week for me to get back to her. I needed to do a full bust adjustment and had no idea how to at the time so I just said to hell with it and used the skirt a bunch of times.

When I saw the Outback Wife line of Bark Cloth by Gertrude Made I thought it would work perfectly as Flora and set to work drafting my FBA! With 3 years of alterations under my belt it was easy peasy!

One of the first Indie patterns I ever made used Bark Cloth from Grey’s Fabric and I always look for it now so I was very excited when this collection was released. I first learned about it on the Village Haberdashery Instagram, but ordered mine from Red Thread Studios to avoid pesky customs charges. Side note: If you have a good source for Bark Cloth please send it my way for future projects!

I was tempted by the navy blue color way of this fabric, but have been drawn to warm colors lately and decided to go for the mustard. Without further ado, here is my Flora!

FullSizeRenderI made two modifications to the skirt. I used the Flora skirt pattern pieces, but gathered them instead of the pleats and I added pockets. I feel pretty strongly that all dresses and skirts should have pockets, it makes life so much easier!

A lovely dress deserves lovely insides so I lined this bodice with orchid colored stretch silk from Mood. Whenever someone complements me on the dress I say, “Wait until you feel the inside”. Luckily with the high neck, folding the top down slightly still leaves quite a bit to the imagination.

My best friends sister is getting married in October and I think this might be my dress for the special day. The mustard color will go perfectly with the turning leaves of NH in the fall. Plus, it’s great for twirling!

PS- I’ve made a second Flora since this one and somehow figured out how to bind the neck with bias binding instead of a lining while keeping the straps as written. Stay tuned for another post on that!


My 2017 #VintagePledge

During 2017, I, Carolanne Donovan, pledge to sew at least 3 garments from Vintage patterns and blog about them.

I participated in the pledge in 2015 and only made 3 of my pledged 6 items, whoops!

I decided to not make a pledge in 2016 and honestly ignored my vintage patterns. Why? Because some new thing came out that I just had to have. On the bright side I didn’t add to the collection.

This year I’m back at it! I’ve been posting about my makes less frequently so part of my pledge is to also document the garments with blog posts. Perhaps I will finally finish my swing coat or maybe I’ll end up making 3 of the same dress. We shall see. Here are a few of my favorite vintage patterns that will likely be making an appearance this year!




The Maker Movement

I was interviewed two weeks ago by Boston Chronicle about my sewing experiences and wanted to share the video clip here!

17424708_1289528097801474_7441091979689375043_nClick on the image to view the video or visit the WCVB website.

This piece of the episode also features Gather Here, which is a fabulous store I have shopped at many a times and taken classes at so be sure to watch and hear from Virginia, the store owner.

I didn’t even realize until I saw the episode, but my segment is very Cashmerette Harrison focused! I was wearing a Harrison dress, they shared a picture of me in my chambray version, I was sewing up a purple sleeveless version (that I’m wearing as I type this) and I was cutting out another sleeveless version during the filming. I’ll give you one guess what my current favorite pattern is 🙂

Exploring Bag Making

I’ve been following Noodlehead since I started quilting and it honestly never dawned on me to make one of her bags. It never dawned on me to make a bag period!

The hardware and lots of pieces intimidated me a bit. I toyed around with the idea of making some simple tote bags, but I have so many tote bags. Free bag with this purchase, free bag with that purchase, etc, etc. If I was going to make something it was going to be awesome and not even in the same realm as a free tote!

When I saw the Noodlehead Explorer tote I knew it was time to take the plunge. The pattern is very cute and although I made this version exactly as the pattern says it also has a lot of potential for hacking. I’m thinking magnetic snaps instead of a zipper, no front flap, extra pockets on the inside, the smaller version with the cross body strap; so many possibilities!

I had purchased some waxed canvas 2 years ago from Gather Here when I toyed with the idea of the tote bag so I decided to use what I had on hand and make the entire bag with it. This cut down my number of steps because I didn’t have to interface the main body of the bag. The lining fabric, Biology, is also from Gather Here.

I found conflicting information about whether waxed canvas can be ironed so I used a scrap to test it out. The test piece seemed fine and was much easier to handle post ironing. Once it cooled off though it was back to it’s rugged-ish texture. I decided to go ahead and iron all of the yardage.

My iron leaked a bit and left some discoloration on the bag, but it looks sort of cool. I think if you keep your iron to a no steam setting and don’t have a leaking iron like I do you’ll be fine to iron it. My piece of fabric had been folded in the closet for 2 years so getting those creases out of it before cutting was important to me. You can see the color “issues” here.


I used my walking foot for most of the construction and found it must easier when going over the bulky areas than with my regular foot. The walking foot also helped with the topstitching (and there’s quite a bit of top stitching!). Instead of following the directions for where to put the top stitching I just used different little bits and bobs of my walking foot and followed along. This made my life a lot easier and my top stitching is very even and straight.

I ordered a small turn lock, but I got sick of waiting for my order to arrive and decided to just go with the only turn lock they had at JoAnns. It matched the rivet I had used on the back pocket so I’m fine with it, but the one I ordered was cuter.

This was my first time installing hardware other than rivets and jean buttons! I won’t lie, I was intimidated. You have to cut a hole in your flap to install the turn lock so if it’s too big, you have to start over. Mine looks a little crooked, but not so much that I would redo it. I’ve ordered some more in various colors to keep on hand from Pacific Trimmings so I’ll be prepared for future bag making endeavors. Here I am pulling my lip balm out of the back pocket, with it’s lovely rivet!


The thing I liked the least about making this bag is also something about quilting that irks me. No pattern pieces! For this bag I drew the pieces onto my fabric and then cut them out, but since the waxed canvas yardage was so large it meant I couldn’t see the grid of my cutting mat which is something I pay very close attention to when cutting out pieces for quilting. I can use a ruler to get the right size, but the giant grid makes me feel better about lining everything up exactly right. Since I really like this bag I decided to make my life easier for future versions and cut the pieces out using poster board from the craft store.

Speaking of future versions, I already have one in the works. I found a seller on Etsy who hand waxes cotton, linen, denim and canvas so there are over 50 combinations available! For $10 I ordered swatches of all 50 so I can plan ahead.

And one last photo for you, the inside of my bag! I’ve only been using it for a few days, but of course it’s already filling up!


Special thanks to Derek from my work for taking these pictures while he had the camera setup to take head shots!


Top 5 Misses Of 2016

My misses don’t usually make it to the blog, so you’re in for a treat of sorts by seeing unblogged items!


Blue Moneta 

I was really excited for this dress. I already have 2 blue Moneta dresses, but one has sleeves and the other has a collar, so I was excited for a sleeveless naked neck version. The Andover jersey just doesn’t do it for me though. I’ve used it for shirts before and it’s good, but in this case it just shows every little lump and bump. Not flattering at all. I wore this dress to my work summer outing and it was a fun day despite the less than flattering dress!

Unfinished Feathers Quilt

I lost interest in the Feathers Quilt when I started my Icy Waters quilt and hope to revisit this at my quilt guilds’ spring retreat!


Baggy Armed Archer

This shirt is such a disaster. I started it in June 2014 to wear as a Halloween costume. The pockets looked bad so I decided to take them off and didn’t do that for like 3 months. Then the collar stretched out and I got pissed and threw the whole thing in my scrap bin. Upon cleaning it out last summer I decided to steam it back to shape and finish this sucker. The arms are way too big, but after everything I still wear this frequently, but never with the sleeves down. 


Turner Dress

I did a bit of pattern testing for Jenny at Cashmerette this year and my tester version of the Turner dress came out just meh. I’ve worn it a few times, but the fabric is very heavy and full skirt pulls everything down so the neckline is distorted and just overall doesn’t fit quite right. The Andover Jersey that failed me above would be perfect for this pattern! I have a scooped necklace version in Art Gallery Jersey ready to go for another go at this pattern!

Vintage Polka Dots

The bodice is a bit too small, but I have a lot of this fabric left so I’m convinced I can add some panels or cut out a new bodice and make it fit! After altering the paper pattern and making a muslin I got aggravated when this didn’t fit and haven’t touched it in a few months. Perhaps I will pick it up again at some point this year.