Category Archives: Sewalongs

  A Bird Under the Wire


 It started with a beautiful piece of fabric, generously donated by the prttynpnk one and creatively named the Blue Cranes of Doom.    

See what Anne did with it at

I didn’t quite know how to do this preciousness justice, until the April challenge over at The Monthly Stitch.   

 Put A Bird On It?  Don’t mind if I do.  

So out of my stash jumped this pretty 

McCalls 6552, from the Fashion Star line.  I didn’t have enough fabric for that crazy length, so I knew I’d be doing some modifying, but I really ended up really running with it.  Kept the kimono sleeves, made the top a mock wrap rather than a deep V,  gave it a waist using some extra border material.  Fun fun.  Here I am narrow hemming, which I find strangely soothing.    


Looking like it’s going to fit.  It’s also the best pic I ended up taking of the arms.  One big blue crane per limb!!

Finished product, with gorgeous backdrop courtesy of some dear dear friends and their wonderful garden:

Casey the cat is totally smiling with me in this shot!

Ran out of poses, so I decided to hula (or something). 


What’s a sewing post without a little back fat? I love that there was enough of the bird repeat to get some on the front and the rear. 

What a fun project, that I hope to actually post on The Monthly Stitch soon, if I can get the particulars worked out.  It’s bad enough that I waited until the last minute to photo and blog (hence the Under the Wire title).  Sorry, Monthly Stitchers, you deserve better than my procrastination. 

In the meantime, Me-Made-May ’15 is starting as we speak.  So very exciting!!!  I won’t sleep for a month!

Happy Stitching and MMM-ing. 



I Pledge Allegiance To Me-Made-May


Less than 48 hours until I’m on Flickr lurking sewists from all across the planet. Well, lurking more than usual. Oh, how I love this time of year. Me-Made-May has always meant a lot to me, as it was one of the first social events in which I participated as a less than three-month-old baby seamstress in 2012. The encouragement and inspiration during the challenge, not to mention Zoe’s fun and fearless leadership, kept my newfound sewing enthusiasm at a high level, and I got to know so many lovely blogoddesses and their unique styles.

Me-Made-May 2012

Me-Made-May 2013

By my second year, I was able to challenge myself by wearing a complete me-made ensemble every day with no outfit repeats. While I was happy to stick with that pledge, those parameters occasionally prevented me from wearing beloved separates that didn’t have a me-made ‘partner’ as it were. This year my pledge is to wear virtually all new-to-you garments, either made since last Me-Made-May or previously un-MMM-ed due to weather or the separates issue.

I, Shelley of Cuckoo Chanel, pledge to complete Me-Made-May’14. I endeavor to wear and document at least one me-made garment per day, previously unworn during a Me-Made-May challenge.

Be on the lookout for me. I’m shelshel on Flickr and @shelleyhesson on Instagram. Please join me in this celebration of pattern enabling and fabric drooling. Thanks again, Zoe!

Ahhhhlisalex, AKA Sew Dolly Clackett Dress #2

Ahhhhlisalex, AKA Sew Dolly Clackett Dress #2

Shall we list the ways that Sew Dolly Clackett has enhanced our lives?

1. A Flickr group to stalk relentlessly
2. Discovering new blogoddesses through said Flickr group
3. An excuse to celebrate–as though we need one
4. Getting past previous hurdles and coming out looking fabulous

So yes, all that and more. Who knew that one sewing event could do so much?

I’ll try to keep the bla bla bla short. I’ve been wanting to make a successful Elisalex by those impossibly well-dressed and well-tressed ladies at By Hand London for over a year now. My first and only Mood trip (so far) was heavily focused on finding the perfect fabric to make that tulip pop. Thing is, I overthought and underthought this dress every step of the way.

I did okay with the muslin, following the impeccably written FBA post by Elisalex herself. Twas looking good

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Then it all went pear-shaped. Literally.


Don’t ask. I won’t even post a pic of the original muslin, out of this crazy faille (insert fail/faille pun here).

I was so focused on having the fabric be sturdy enough to be a tulip that I didn’t concentrate enough on making the bodice look good. I overlengthened the waist in my crazy bastardization of the FBA, so it never looked right once I attached the skirt. The back was all saggy, etc. etc. I had given up.

Then I started witnessing all of these happy cotton Sew Dolly Clackett creations, and I did a facepalm. Why didn’t I ever just try a cotton version and work it out that way first? If the tulip didn’t ‘bloom’, I could always try the recommendation of using fusible interfacing on the skirt. I chose this crazy print in my stash called Olivia’s Holiday, by Westminster Fibers, and tried out the new theory.


Look how happy I was last night when I started having breakthroughs with the fit. And by the way, the skirt was NEVER a problem, in any of my attempts. The pattern design is so good that the shape just happens.

Photo Apr 21, 9 10 57 PM

This morning my actual tulips congratulated me by opening just in time for some Earth Day shots. Thank goodness I bought an iPhone tripod attachment because the man was sound asleep.

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This is just a hands-on-hips kinda dress. I love the whimsy of it. The tulip shape is a riot.

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My only true regret about making a second dress is that I’m wearing the same pink shoes as in my first Dolly Clackett dress. May the shoe gods forgive me for not splashing out for some new ones. I did throw in a little variety later though. Scroll on…

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I promise the back bodice fits, or at least better than in any previous version. I was in a hurry, and mortified imagining my neighbors peeking out their windows at my narcissism. And I know we’re supposed to celebrate our lumps, but back fat doesn’t help in any fitted dress.

Grabbed the now-awake boyfriend for a lunch break photo shoot, and here’s some more frivolity.





Just had to twirl and scream with glee. Good weather, time with my honey, and a new dress


Had to celebrate even more by taking Elisalex out to dinner. Look how irritatingly well it matches this jacket.
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From the bottom of my heart, I thank Sarah (Check out her Lilly Laurel) for dreaming up and running this whole thing. I know it’s been a lot of work, but you have created something phenomenal. Thank you Roisin, for being the muse to SO many in the blogging community. Thank you, crazy women in the Flickr pool, for being so beautiful. There are over 430 photos in the group at this moment. How jaw-droppingly wonderful. Have fun judging, Roisin!


SO Dolly Clackett


How many times have we swooned over Roisin‘s dreamy dresses? Luckily, SOMEONE (namely Sarah of Rhinestones and Telephones) decided it’s time for the blogoddesses to channel their inner Dolly Clackett and frockify ourselves accordingly. It’s also a celebration of Roisin’s upcoming nuptials next month, but somehow I think anyone reading this post is aware of that happy fact.

Fortunately, I already had the perfect pattern/fabric marriage of my own picked out. The fabric is a slightly stretchy and substantial cotton from my first trip to Mood last March during a major sewista meetup, and the pattern has been made by our muse once or twice or more.

As luck and sloth would have it, I never made the thing, so the combo was still waiting for me when Roisin Fest was announced. It was so meant to be.

When I opened the pattern, I was seriously stoked. FOUR PIECES (if you don’t make the bow). That’s music to my lazy sewist ears. There are actually more pieces to cut when you include the lining, but to know you only have to fiddle with four pieces… I was crying with happiness already. I cut somewhere between a 20 and 22, fudged a bit of an FBA, and loved how the muslin turned out. So did David Hasselhoff, as it happens.

Photo Apr 08, 11 04 23 AM
Hasselhoff appearance courtesy of Google+ and their brilliant April Fool’s Day joke of Hoffsome-ing our photos.

Was happy enough with the muslin to go ahead and cut into the Precious, and was a super good girl and pressed when appropriate, was careful sewing the darts, etc. etc. I forgot how much I love a lined bodice. Looks so sharp.

The only thing I don’t absolutely adore about this print is that the Eiffel Towers are upside down in relationship to the rest of the repeat. However, inverted Eiffel bewbs are amusing.

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I had a finished product just in time to go to an event at my friend’s store in Asbury Park, Backward Glances (where I also got the accessories for my shift), which happens to sell retro clothes and accessories. She has petticoats in varying lengths and had a perfect one in pink. LOVE.

Photo Apr 06, 2 06 40 AM

Spring finally happened in New Jersey, so it’s proper photo shoot time.







It’s been an absolute pleasure to check out everyone’s work in the Sew Dolly Clackett Flickr group. Wowza!! If by chance you haven’t visited lately, go immediately.

Thank you, Sarah, and congratulations to Roisin and Nic!

Yours in twirly girliness,

Wrap, Mama, Wrap


I’ve been wanting to make a real DVF-wannabe wrap forEVer, but just never have yet. I’ve made a few fauxs that I quite like, and a crapola one a couple of years ago that I hated (A broadcloth wrap. Really? I was too much of a newbie to know to stop when I realized it wasn’t knit! And had ugly built-in pleats!).

Only problem with the fauxs is that if you don’t sew the bodice well, you are forever stuck with a possibly permanent peek-a-boo neckline.


Whoopsy. Good thing this was vacation and not the office.

So anyway, now you can’t throw a rock without hitting a blogoddess in a wrap dress, especially in light of its 40th anniversary and its prominence in the movie “American Hustle”; but they’re all so beautiful and flattering. And with a tied wrap you can go from mega modest to full Amy Adams. Love it.

I finally paired a REAL knit wrap dress pattern, Vogue 8379, with some appropriate fabric (yet another onion skin knit–I must have hit that sale HARD) and realized there were no instructions. I’m sure I lost them since I have a bad habit of taking pattern instructions to bed (which is really stupid because it just makes me excited and I can’t sleep). It was super easy to put together sans instructions, especially when I took a cue from the beautiful Aleah from no time to sew and left off the collar.

When I finished this happy little garment it was of course still mid-winter and required much layering. It was meant to be a second Jungle January garment, but unfortunately I am in New Jersey and not a nice sultry jungle.

Meh. Wrap with turtleneck not hot.

It took a few months to get to wear it outside, at a lake in Pennsylvania with my new best friend, my tripod. This was March 23 mind you. Looks like January for crying out loud!

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Passes the modesty test:
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I have no idea what this pose is. Just having too much tripod fun I imagine.

Here’s a little Band for ya, but you can sing Wrap Mama Wrap instead of Rag Mama Rag. Levon would have been fine with that I’m sure.

Peace, love, and much happy spring sewing!! And make a wrap dress. You’ll like it. It’s good for you.

Swingin’ in my Shift


Hey Y’all

Happy almost Super Bowl to us fools in the USA. I have decent numbers in the office football pool so I will be occasionally paying attention between commercials.

I finished my Shift Dress Sewalong creation in a timely manner, I’m happy to say, thanks to Lauren’s amazing tutorials every step of the way, particularly her dart tute. It seems simple, but was impossible for me to visualize. Goodness knows what would have been going on in my midsection without her guidance. I cut a 22-ish, and fudged my own FBA, which seems to have worked out decently. Was happy with my Swedish tracing paper muslin, so I went for it. The fabric is a baby pink and white double knit polyester that I found on the eBay a while back. This was PERFECT for the dress. A little knit give, which is always appreciated, a little bit warm for this wretched never-relenting winter, and a lot easy to work with.

Photo Jan 09, 10 10 34 PM

I’m actually getting ready to start a new project (Renfrew dress, anyone?) out of a — I can’t even say it — solid brown jersey, so I’m going to try to keep the writing portion of this post short and sweet. By the way, I literally can’t make a dress out of a non-print (even this dress had two colors). Everyone send your support, please. I’m telling myself I can accessorize the crap out of it and it’ll all be alright. Plus it’s extra soft and scrumptious. ANYWAY, no more blathering on about construction, just pics, coz let’s be real, that’s what we’re here for…

My honey posed me next to our Block Island sticker. He’s funny that way. We can only dream of the Block right now, but if you ever have the chance, definitely go there. It’s off of Point Judith, Rhode Island, and you can get there from Montauk, Long Island as well.

It was ALMOST warm enough for a top-down ride today. Yeah, my Miata is kind of special-looking. We hit a huge deer going about 75mph a few years ago. Can’t believe this thing is still going strong.

Scenic shot of my parking lot. Time to talk about accessories. I definitely felt like white, especially in the hosiery department. Luckily I was going to visit my friend’s really cool store in Asbury Park, Backward Glances, all kitschy coolness, and she had exactly what I pictured and more. These are white fishnets, y’all! Also, white go-go earrings, which I will wear constantly, and this perfect necklace. Okay, commerical over. 🙂

I tried to tweak this pic to make it less washed-out, but this is the best I could do. I still like the shot so I’m keeping it anyway.
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I hope some more of you gals crank out some shifts soon. It was a tremendously fun sewalong, and I can definitely see myself making more in different fabrics and for all seasons. Stay tuned to the Flickr group.

Take care and happy groovy sewing!!

Sew Bossying Myself In Jungle January


Hooray for our fearless leader and jungle guide, Anne, who not only runs Wearable Wednesday flawlessly every week, is on her second year as the ultimate Jungle goddess, but was also a fabulous Sew Bossy employee. How does she do it all so well?

When I ordered this Butterick 5815 for Ms. Jungle, I guess I liked it so much that I ordered one for me too, plus mayyyybe a few extra yards of this bright and shiny wonderfulness to keep for myself as well. I think it was labeled as crepe de chine, which goes to show you I still don’t know my fabrics, coz to me it’s all slippery and crazy like a charmeuse.

So there’s really not much to say about the construction. It’s an easy pattern, but of course my shoulders are way too poofy, and I’m afraid to mess with them too much because I don’t want to pick the fabric more than I need to. I’m just going to go with my usual I Meant To Do That attitude, and hide the poofiness with my hair. The sleeves on this thing are to die for, all flowy and feminine. I highly recommend this pattern for its ease and loveliness. It can be a top, a tunic, or a dress. Yay versatility.

Okay… pics, coz that’s what Jungle January is allll about! I could whine about it being winter and being stuck with shitty indoor photos, but–oh, I just did. A thousand pardons for the dodgy photo quality. Maybe by some miracle it’ll get above freezing and I’ll get some outdoor shots.

Butterick 5815

Butterick 5815

Of course my beautiful jungle cat/accessory Teddy had to get involved.

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Photo Jan 19, 10 09 34 PM

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And I had to go out on a mini date at Fruity Yogurt so I could actually wear it somewhere

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In its fully jungle-y accessorized state:

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Have a wonderful remainder of Jungle January, and definitely check out Anne’s version of this pattern. Her pics are a zillion times better than mine, and her shoulders infinitely less poofy.

Hugs to all you wild thangs out there!!

Bonus, semi-professional jungle-at-work photo. Wish you could see the purple tights better: