My current work in progress:

Seaforth designed by Alice Starmore, knit in British Breeds 5-ply Guernsey Wool on US 3 needles.


Sew What?

Knitting took a back seat for a couple of days last week, as I hauled this out of the closet.

I call him “Husky”

This is my beloved Husqvarna Prisma 990 sewing machine that I purchased on February 15, 1986. That makes him 36 years old! Look — I still have the receipt:

That was a lot of money in 1986!

I still have the manual, too.

I’m amazed I didn’t lose this at some point

I decided I wanted to get back into some sewing so I hauled Husky out of the closet, plugged him in and hit the on switch — and he immediately purred to life. A good thing, because the warranty was only for 25 years! I used this machine 5 or so years ago to make some doll clothes, but before that, I hadn’t used it since the 1990s, apart from stitching the occasional steek on a Dale of Norway sweater. Amazingly it still works absolutely beautifully!

I have some very precious fabric I want to turn into a shirt, but wanted to work up to it by practicing on some lesser fabric. On Monday I made this shirt:


I used a lightweight chambray and Simplicity pattern #9044 and I am very pleased with the results. I may make this pattern again as I really like this shirt. I was pleased to learn that I had not forgotten how to sew. I just needed to check the manual to remind me how to do buttonholes. Husky makes it very easy to make buttonholes!

Yesterday I made this:

This has been laundered — could use a touch-up with an iron!

This is Butterick pattern #6099 in a very lightweight denim. This shirt was more difficult that the one I made on Monday, as it has that pesky front placket and cuffed sleeves.

That little continuous facing thingie is a pain to do properly.

Full disclosure: a million years ago I was a very accomplished seamstress. I could (and did, very often) make a Vogue designer suit in a weekend. I made a tailored man’s suit once, three wedding dresses, a prom dress (the recipient of that prom dress is now 45 years old — yikes!), numerous suits, party dresses, and everyday clothes.

I don’t plan to rise to that level again — I don’t think my back could take it. But I have a few more shirt patterns to try out before I cut into that precious fabric I mentioned above.

Loki is, by the way, a big help to my sewing.

“I’m here when you need me, Momma!”


  1. I am major league impressed with your sewing skills! My mother worked in the garment industry in NYC before she married, and sewed for myself and my sister, but not everyday stuff. She made floor-to-ceiling drapes, various other curtains, and bedspreads. She made my wardrobe for my high school senior class trip, and later on my wedding dress, as well as hers and my sister’s as maid-of-honor. However, it made her utterly hyper-critical of my sewing, and she’d rip out what she didn’t like after I went to bed, and after a while when I still lived at home, I stopped.

    My own first machine was a Kenmore, and though she usually sewed on a quite old but very good Necchi at home that I learned to sew on, my mom borrowed the Kenmore for the wedding dresses, because of the stitch variety. When I shopped for another, it was a toss-up between a Husqvarna and a Bernina, and the local Bernina dealer was a gem. She also preached machine maintenance, and she’d say it would not be a bad idea to have the Husqvarna gone over after its long time in the closet if you’re going to keep going. I can’t wait to see the mystery fabric you’re referring to.

  2. It’s clear that you have the sewing skills – the shirts look really good! I found that ironing during construction is important but more optional after. My iron has gotten very little use lately except when I made some face masks.

    I also am looking forward to seeing the mystery fabric.

  3. Ruth Porter says:

    You have a wonderful machine there. My first Viking was a #1. So great that you don’t have to oil it, just plug in and go. Your sewing skills rival your knitting talent. Enjoy!

  4. Makes me want to dust off the old Singer. No good place to work though. I think the simple styles from 100 Acts of Sewing are more my speed these days.

    Cats help best when they are sleeping.

  5. Wow!! Totally impressed by your shirts. They look fabulous. My sewing skills are nowhere close but pintucks might be in my future. Thanks, as always, for the inspiration.

  6. Lestersmama says:

    Nice job!
    LTo help your back, get a good quality office chair with lumbar support. It will make all the difference in the world. I also lower the ironing board to chair height. The roller wheels on the chair let me scoot between sewing machine, ironing board, and serger without getting up.

  7. Great looking shirts! I think my machine is just a little younger & I still have the receipt too! 😆

  8. Venice Guntharp says:

    Your skills are enviable. I used to sew and made clothes for myself and my daughters, but nothing very complicated. I am impressed!

  9. You have skills, girl! I was accomplished back in the late 70’s & 80’s but have only done hems and patched jeans for my son in the late 90’s. Oddly enough, he loved wearing his patched jeans in high school and has hung on to the ones my late mom patched for him. He had them out the other day admiring them.

    I bought my White by New Home in 1980 and it still runs like a top. I hung on to mom’s machine when she passed. It has made suits for my brother and prom dresses and pajamas and school clothes for me a long, long time ago. I just couldn’t part with it.

  10. Love the grey chambray shirt-pintucks are fun to wear. My mom sewed on my grandmas treadle machine- I could never master it- Mom and I made my wedding dress. My youngest sib the only other girl in the family had most of her clothes made by mom. ( it’s amazing how much you can get done when 4 kids aren’t running wild in the house. My first real machine was a Kenmore- all metal, dial for stitches and the best buttonhole maker. When it died after 25 yrs. of sewing quilts and clothes for myself and 3 daughters and costumes for the local high school drama dept. I mourned. Now I have a Pfaff. Not as sturdy but runs well. After abandoning my sewing in favor of knitting I’ve renewed my relationship with sewing!
    Thanks for sharing-can’t wait to see the special fabric.

  11. poodletail says:

    Cool to see your sewing skills, Wendy. Is there anything you can’t’ do well??? Love that you kept Husky’s receipt!

  12. Dorothy in Kentucky says:

    Absolute love those shirts!! Seems we share more than birthdays and England. I too was an acomplished seamstress and dedisigned clothes for friends and colleagues. Then i sews home decore
    .i recently dug out my mechanical Bernina out and sewed new window dressing for my kitchen. But i am also knitting so dividing my time between all my crafty ideas! And i know sewing without the kitties help is not near as much fun!!

  13. Mary Osborne says:

    Good Lord! You certainly have Golden Hands. You know, when I was 17 (1971) I really, really wanted to be able to sew, knit, weave, spin… whatever. 50+ years later I cross stitch pretty darn well, knitting is okay (I’m certainly not as proficient or fast ) and I can sew a seam. I made my high school graduation dress (with my sister’s help). My sister – when she did sew- was very, very good. She too made curtains, men’s shirts, etc. My dear MIL was another one who was very, very good at sewing. I have yet to purchase a sewing machine, but I expect I will when I retire (probably within the next two years or so). I like quilting so it will have to have that capacity.
    Beautifully done shirts and am looking forward to your “mystery” fabric shirt. Thanks for joining me for a trip down memory lane!

    San Pedro, CA

  14. Linda Yancy says:

    I too have a Viking 990. It was my first major purchase when I moved to Atlanta for my job in July 1986. I love the buttonholes, button sewing, and pattern cassettes. I’ve used the lettering to create nursery rhymes on baby blankets and the design elements to create special collars, etc. I don’t use it as heavily now, but every time I fire it up it works great. The only thing I’ve found lacking is the power to go through heavy layers of denim.
    The shirts you made are beautiful and will be so comfortable in hot weather (when it comes again). Keep up the good work!
    I’ve been knitting toe-up socks from your book, “Socks from the Toe Up”, as I’ve found only wool socks keep my feet warm in winter. Thanks for sharing all of your creative work with us.

  15. Charlottewv says:

    Oh, Wendy, you are soo talented. I’m amazed at your knitting and sewing skills. The shirts are beautiful. And thank goodness Loki is there to assist with your projects.