Adventures in Dressmaking: FAQ


Have a question?  Someone may have had it before you...


Q: How did you learn to sew?
I learned to sew starting when I was about 5, from my mom. She has a business making historic clothing, like for museums and reenactors, but also made me clothes and things for the house, and taught me with simple projects and hand-sewing. When I was 16 or 17 I started actually making and designing cute summer dresses for myself, and it sort of stuck! So I learned to sew gradually, "at my mother's knee" and under her supervision until I was able and inspired to do things on my own. But it's never late to start!! It can be really fun if you're excited about the projects you're doing, and you can absolutely do it! Check out common questions I've received from readers in my Sewing Circle feature here.

Q: Do work in a sewing-related field?
Nope, I have a lot of diverse interests! I work in a pretty technical job--although it is in the field I went to school for, and have two master's degrees in.  Someday I might like to do something more creative or related to this blog, but for now I'm sticking with the 40 hour/week stability, and I love coming home and doing fun things like blogging and sewing!

Q: Do you ever make things for other people?
Only for friends and family.  I can't make you something for a fee, sorry!  It just doesn't pencil out for me to make a fair rate and buy the materials, plus I don't have time or room!  While I'm not set up for it, lots of others are.  I recommend you look around on Etsy for custom sewers.  I did a post here with some recommendations.

Q: Where do you buy patterns?
I have quite a supply of patterns, so I normally convert one I already have and know fits to look like what I want.  Otherwise, I shop online for smaller labels (check out my sidebar sponsors for great sources!), or buy basics at JoAnn when they go on sale for $0.99.  Simplicity are my favorite.  I've also ended up with a TON of vintage patterns!  These are great to get from thrift and vintage stores, or if you're lucky from friends and family members.

Food and Health:

Q: You've mentioned you eat a limited diet.  What is it?
I was vegetarian for 13 years, and mostly raw vegan for the last three. Now I eat an "upgraded Paleo" diet--lots of veggies, grassfed meat and butter, eggs, nuts, and almost no fruit or sugar. And definitely no grains or legumes. It's crazy but I LOVE it and feel awesome! I posted about it here.
I eat an about 80-90% raw vegan diet. I know, it sounds weird, but I'm sooo happy with it and it makes me feel really good. I did a long post about it here (and have had some awesome comments from you all on it, as well!). I sometimes share recipes and food thoughts that work for my grain-free, dairy-free, meatless, largely raw diet, so check those out, too.


Q: Why'd you pick your blog name?
A: Oh, it's so hard to name things, isn't it? I couldn't decide, when I originally named my blog, but some of my favorite projects are dresses, and somehow I came up with is Adventures in Dressmaking. It's not just a nod to the 1987 Chris Columbus classic (in fact, it's mostly not); it's about my do-it-yourself attitude for all kinds of projects, including things as easy or hard as dresses. ;) 

Q: Why don't your full posts show in readers, email, etc.?
A: Only previews of my posts show in a reader--sorry about that; I know it can annoying. I tried it out for a while where I only showed one image or so before a break in the post, so you could see a good part of it, but engagement with the blog dropped considerably. I feel I owe it to my readers and sponsors to bring folks to the blog to engage fully with my posts. Again, sorry about that--hope you can bear with me, and follow along however you prefer!

Q: I just started a blog. Do you have any tips for me?
Yes!  Well, I'm definitely not the best person out there to ask, but I do know a thing or two and have a few years' experience! I sometimes do posts with my little blogging tips, so check those out.  Some of my main tips for new bloggers are: 1) Link to your Twitter/social media/following tools on your blog, 2) Have a "Search" feature on a sidebar that is easy to find!, and 3) (This is a biggie!) Turn off the captcha word verification for comments!!!

Q: Can I post your tutorial or project on my blog? 
Yes, but please follow these guidelines: You can post one photo of my finished project with a link to my original blog post. You are of course welcome to pin my photos on Pinterest, but also please use the original post link.

DO NOT post the entire content of any blog post, tutorial, step-by-step photos, or written instructions without written permission. Adventures in Dressmaking is protected by copyright laws.

Q: What's your sponsor policy?
I do accept sponsors for the sidebar ads on the right. I only take sponsors whose work and products I support, and I am so happy that I get to promote small business owners and independent sellers like the folks I have--I love getting to spread the word about shops and artists I love! Their presence on my blog also makes it more vibrant and interesting, adding to the amazing community of crafty and talented people in the blog world. Not only that, my relationships with many of my sponsors have become very meaningful, and I love how we have come to support each other throughout the online world. I’m so grateful to have been able to find these blog world friends!

If you are interested in sponsoring, you can buy an ad here through my Passionfruit shop and I'll approve your button if I think you're a good fit for my readers. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email and I can send you my ad card with stats and policies! =)

Q: What's your product review policy?
I occasionally do product reviews if it's for a product I believe in and think my followers would be interested in.  It's a great way for me to try out new things before I suggest to readers that they buy them, and I love doing product reviews for things people commonly buy online.  I will always say in the post that I've been sponsored to review the item.  Depending on the situation, I often can only do product reviews for sidebar sponsors, but email me and let me know what you're thinking. You can see my disclosure policy below.


Q: I really want to make something I saw in a store/online/in a movie. How do I ask a Sewing Circle question?
I try to answer your Sewing Circle dilemmas!  Basically, you send me an email or write on Facebook with your question, then I write back with my thoughts and, generally, a long list of patterns that might work. Sometimes I write up a post about it and share it as a Sewing Circle piece, and other readers chip in their ideas! It's great to get lots of folks' thoughts, because often they've seen something else that works great! Note that it sometimes takes me up a few weeks to get back to you if I'm swamped, so no last-minute projects, please!

**Before you write me your question, please do a little research yourself.  I start out by perusing Simplicity, Vogue, the other big pattern companies, as well as great smaller ones like Colette. I also check BurdaStyle. Please look around there yourself, if you have the sewing knowledge to know what kind of pattern you're looking for, before emailing me--you never know, the perfect pattern could be staring you in the face if you just look for it!

Q: We just moved to Portland. Where are the best place(s) for fabric in the Portland area, both style- and price-wise? 
Great question! Portland has so many creative people, artists, domestic goddesses ;)... we do have some fun  fabric shopping options. I don't have a big budget for fabric and craft supplies, so I don't do a ton of shopping, but here are my ideas:
  • For major shopping, Fabric Depot in super far east Portland has a HUGE selection of quiliting fabrics, lots of home dec, and a pretty good bridal department.
  • Mill End (one in Milwaukie, one in Beaverton) is probably the best place for silks and fine cottons, and also has a big home dec section and lots of trims and notions.  They're a little hard to predict (mill end, meaning end of the bolt--theoretically discount/outlet style) so they may not have the exact color you want, etc., but they have amazing stuff.  And they send out monthly coupons and accept JoAnn coupons up to a certain value.
  • If you want wool or cheap zippers or buttons, the Pendleton Woolen Mills Store (outlet) is right by Mill End.  They sometimes have amazing deals on a wide range of wools, especially at their special sales events.  They have the blankets and home stuff, too, but it's a really cool place for raw materials as well!
  • Bolt on Alberta—cute fabric shop 
  • The Whole 9 Yards on E. Burnside I've heard has great home dec fabric, and a lot of quilting prints.
  • I’ve heard Knittn Kitten is an amazing vintage/used sewing and craft supply store, but I’ve never been! Tell me how it is if you go!

Q: I'm visiting Portland soon.  What spots do you recommend I check out?
I've been a Portlander for many, many years in different capacities and have lived in several different parts of the region. I am a self-declared Portland nerd and will tell you anything and everything about it if I have a chance. There is so much to see when you visit!  Here are just a few thoughts...
  • NW 23rd is super cute to walk around and look at expensive housewares shops, but there’s also an Urban Outfitters and a Lush and cute tea shop in this funky upstairs of a house, and there’s Papa Hayden, a famous restaurant with the best desserts. Go to 23rd for great people-watching and feeling fancy.
  • 23rd is near the Pearl District, which is a nationally renowned urban renewal success. Expensive condos and nice restaurants (and breweries! Check out Deschutes!!) and Anthropologie and stuff. OH, GO TO POWELL’S. You have to. it’s like the world’s biggest bookstore or something, and they have used and rare books and a great home/crafty section too!
  • Downtown is fun kinda, there’s a big brick block called Pioneer Square near the MAX train lines and the mall, and there’s the park blocks which are pretty. And in the sort of sketchy part of downtown where the bars are, near Chinatown on Burnside, is Voodoo Doughnut, which is another Portland landmark. There’s another one on the eastside if you don’t feel like parking. Seriously, check it out—super fun and amazing and all kinds of funny donut varieties!
  • Alberta Street is a hip neighborhood; definitely a good spot to spend time in. I don’t live far from that area myself and have a couple friends around there. Lots of restaurants, brunch places, boutiques.  Sewing-related, there's Bolt, a cute fabric store, and Modern Domestic, cool place where you can rent time on a sewing machine!
  • Hawthorne is another funky hipster street on the east side kind of like Alberta but way more discovered—Alberta is kind of what Hawthorne was 15 years ago. There’s a huge resale/vintage shop called Red Light on Hawthorne, which is fun, and it’s blocks away from a Buffalo Exchange, too. More great breakfast places on Hawthorne—we love our breakfast here. And brunch.
  • Oh, try to go to a McMenamin’s if you like funky historic buildings and beer and fries; they’re a Northwest tradition. I got married at a McMenamins, their big campus out toward Mt. Hood, where they have the winery and golf course and stuff, but there are neighborhood pubs everywhere and if you're on Alberta you'll be close to Kennedy School, which is an old elementary school building they converted into a cool hotel with restaurant and pubs. They have live music and stuff.
And if you want to check out my fave thrifting and vintage haunts... there are tons of resale and vintage shops everywhere in Portland, but we also have these things called Goodwill Outlets—that’s where I buy the furniture I recover and occasionally some clothes or fabric. There’s a sort of ghetto one in Portland (technically Milwaukie…)  and there’s a way better one way out in Hillsboro if you make it that far west. Goodwill Outlets sell the rejects and stuff that was too overpriced at the regular stores, haha, and sell clothes etc by the pound and furniture and stuff for really cheap. Well, they used to—I used to get dressers there for $5, now they charge more like $40 which is ridonculous. Grr. But you may not be able to take home a lot of that kind of thing anyway!

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Leaving a comment is easy, and I love to read them! No annoying word verification required. =)

  1. Hi! I wasn't sure where to leave this comment...but I've been following your blog for a few weeks via email only (and just started following via google friend connect today!) but I wanted to say...I usually read blogs via email and I don't know if you have yours set so that only a part of the post comes through...but that's how it's been showing up and usually it's just annoying so I don't take the time to come check out the rest of the post....and I didn't realize until now how much I was missing out on. I'd be a whole lot more likely to come over and comment more if I was able to read the full post in email...just a thought. I know some people like to use that setting so that the readers actually go to the site, but I thought I would mention it anyway!

    Love your blog btw!

    Blue Eyed Beauty Blog

    1. Thanks for reading, Helen, and thanks for your comment! I have a hard time knowing what to do about my email feed. I do have it set to only show a few lines, and I found that when I let the whole thing come across, way fewer people come to and engage with my blog. I think maybe I'll switch back and forth every once in a while, but I really hope you'll make the click to visit the full blog and see what else is going on here!

      Thanks again for reading and your thoughtful comment.

  2. Is a pattern for this dress available for free ?

    1. The first two are Simplicity patterns, the next is one I made up using a basic McCall's. So nope, they are commercial patterns.

  3. what type of machine do you use?

    1. Hi there! I'm currently using a BERNINA 350, which BERNINA USA lent me to use for my book. I also have a vintage Viking Husqvarna. I have a post about how to buy a machine here!

  4. What is the source for the clear pegboards in your sewing room.

    1. Amazon! This one:

      Also linked in this post:

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