Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

I just couldn't resist sharing my holiday decor - no tree this year, but a hint of winter wonderland! Have a lovely holiday, everyone!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Paisley Power

Fall project number 2! The "chic soft blouse", aka McCall's 6512. Yes, that phrase is straight from the pattern instructions.

After Anouk, I wanted to take the pressure off. This blouse took some time to cut, but was a breeze to sew (I triple checked my measurements, and tissue fit the pattern, for maximum fun, minimum headaches) And this fabric was a steal at the 3-for-1 sale at Fabricland. Win-win-win.

And the fabulousness was on! The loose fit of the blouse and surprisingly nice drape of this polyester fabric are a match. And speaking of match...

I went all out and mirrored the fronts and sleeves, and centred the pattern on the back. The pattern uses one piece for the back yoke and sleeve, so had to add a seam centre back to accommodate the one way design of the fabric. 

The back shirt tail is longer than the front, something I haven't been drawn to in the past, but I think it works well in this case. It really adds to the relaxed style, and I couldn't be more pleased with the end result. 

The sleeves are a computer friendly wrist length, just a bit shorter than a full long sleeve. The fabric is a bit busy to show off the neat yoke/sleeve construction, which drew me to the pattern, but it's there. Originally I thought I'd be making the short sleeve version, but once I found this fabric, the long sleeve was the way to go.

Instead of my usual shortening above the waist, I added about 1/2" total to either side seam below the waist. And after a fruitless hunt for buttons, I decided to use snaps down the centre front, and buttons just at the cuff. When I had the front placket attached and was playing around with button placement, I thought "ooh, a hidden button placket would be great!" But I really didn't feel like unpicking, so snaps it was! Something to keep in mind if I make this one up again.

This one reminds me of a yearbook photo, the casual yet super posed look. Where are my prop school books?

I'm feeling pretty good about my fall sewing - how are your plans progressing?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Anouk Makes an Appearance

Well, here we are, fall has truly arrived. And with fall, comes fall sewing! After a summer of sewing whatever took my fancy, I've made a bit more of a plan for the next few months. So, without further ado, here we go.

Anouk from Victory Patterns! I bought the pattern a few months ago, and picked up the fabric on a whim on a brief trip to New York. This is the most expensive garment I have made in some time, and I had high hopes, let me tell you.

I had a tricky time deciding on the contrasting fabrics for the yoke and centre front detail, but I settled on the safe navy for the yoke, and a daring chartreuse for the front. The body is a printed silk chiffon.

And then I lost my marbles and made a size too small.

Here's a nice shot of the back - you can see the pulling near the armholes, and how the sleeve is really snug against my skin. I'm glad I used a double layer of chiffon for the body, it saves me from having to wear a camisole underneath - there is just no room!

But I managed to salvage the blouse by releasing the tucks at the bust and in the back (a shame, I had done a really nice job!) and cheating the button placement at the yoke outwards. There is still a bit of pulling just above the bust, but  it is wearable! I don't think I have ever done this to myself before. I did cut a cotton muslin of the yoke, but just didn't clue in that silk does not give until the whole darn thing was cut out. And I used all 3 yards of my 45" chiffon, or I would have re-cut either the front, or the sleeves, or possibly both! Aside from my sizing mishap, the only other thing I would have done differently would be to interface the centre front. I could do without that bubbling.

I bound the inside of the armhole with self bias to hide the seam allowance and keep the sleeve cap clean and tidy from the outside. The seams in the body and sleeves are french seams, and I finished the two layers separately. 

Here's a shot of the inside:
Indoor shot after dark. Trust me, I did not use such vibrant thread!

This pattern did go together very well, I have to give it up to Kristiann, the sleeves went in like a dream, they have the perfect amount of ease for the armhole. I'd give my stamp of approval for that alone! The instructions are clear, and the style is a winner. In all, I am fairly happy with this blouse. The snug fit just means I'll need to be careful about what I'm doing in it - bowling is out, but dinner and a movie is in.

Til next time!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Following up with Iris

My below the waist sewing saga continues! After finishing off the Colette Clovers of this post, I had some fabric left over, and I also had the Iris pattern on hand after a mini-spree of Colette pattern shopping.


With all my previous pants pattern experience fresh in my mind, I decided to try something a bit simpler for these shorts. I cut a size 6, I slashed and spread the pattern horizontally at the hip, and used the size 10 crotch line. Pretty bold, but it kind of worked! They're a touch snug at the hip, but not bad for an afternoon's work. Again, no pockets, this time because basically these are a wearable mock-up, and also they didn't seem to be at the best spot for me. Maybe next time.

Sassy side view
So, next summer, when I attempt these again, I'll scoop the back crotch a bit more. They ride up a bit...

Not quite so lovely from the back
And I did follow my own advice and use a lighter fabric for the waistband facing, and this funny zip with it's own hook at the top instead of a hook & eye. Much more comfortable, but a bit tricky to do up.

One thing I noticed with both these and my Clovers, is that the waistband is quite a bit smaller at the top than the bottom, and my waist doesn't curve in quite so dramatically. So I'll be sure to add about a 1/2" to the top edge of the waistbands in future.

These photos were taken about two weeks ago now, and the weather is starting to turn. No shorts wearing in my immediate future, though the tomatoes have decided to finally ripen!

Summer is not officially over, but I'm moving on to fall sewing. Next up, some fall sewing plans!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

How Sweet It Is...

I've had this pattern on my radar for a long time, and spurred on by Sew Colette 2.0, it is now a reality! Yes, it is the Colette Macaron, at long last.

Overall, I'm pleased with the dress, but I'm just not sure I'll be getting much wear out of it. There's something just a little bit too sugary about it for my taste. I feel like I'm off to grandmother's house for cookies, or perhaps even down the rabbit hole!

Let's talk fabric. I was really drawn to the blue and white combo, so I used my last piece of Yardage Sale fabric for the body (don't be fooled, I think it's pretty heavy on the polyester), including midriff, and a bit of swiss dot cotton that I've had left over for years.

See, there they are, dots galore.
The dress is fully lined with white batiste, so I skipped the neck facing and did a lovely job understitching the lining at the neck edge and sleeve hems. I was able to sneak in and machine the lower midriff fabrics together and press them up, leaving only the skirt pieces to be finished with the serger. 

The pattern itself went together well, I cut a size 8 all over and squeezed an extra inch out of the midriff pieces for a little more room over my waist, letting out the tucks about 1/8" each. I didn't shorten the bodice, which I usually do, and the front is fine, but the back is a tiny bit long. I also could have taken in the back width about 3/4" across the mid-back, especially since the seaming makes the dress stand away from the body a bit there.

And yes, the sleeves are cute, but they may not make it into any future Macarons. I'd like to make a wool jersey version, and let the pleats be free from the midriff instead of stitched down. The pockets are  nice, but I find I don't really use them, so they may go as well!

Excuse the fuzzy foot.

All in all, a pleasant sewing experience, but perhaps not as wardrobe enriching as I would have liked. Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

August in Clover

Well, hello there! I had the best of intentions, but August went by without a post! But not without some quality sewing time. Here we have them, my first Clover attempt!

I've seen a lot of this pattern around, and my hope is that it fills the J.Crew sized hole in my trouser wardrobe. Pre-Clover, my jeans collection ruled the roost, and while I still love them, I think it's time to branch out.

Now, I am pretty narrow in the hips, with not a lot of bum, and a very long rise. Off the rack trousers can be problematic, especially in the rise. By the time I get a waistband to do up over my hip bones, where most "mid-rise" pants hit me, there is inevitably an excess of fabric at the sides. In an effort to improve on that situation, here's what I did:

I cut a size 8, matching my hip measurement, for the legs, and a size 10 through to the waistband. My first mock-up was not bad, but there was room for improvement:

Hello swayfront! This picture may be a little muffiny, but it shows off my "problem" area. I had honestly never really noticed this one before, but as the photo below shows, my hips sit fairly forward. I turned to the Colette Clover Cheatsheet for help. I reversed the swayback instructions, using the back info for the front of my pattern & vice versa. I also scooped the back crotch about 1/2". I could scoop more in future, I think. 

Since the front was sitting fairly flat, I didn't bother doing too much to it, but in future I'll be more generous, maybe that will help get rid of some of these crotch wrinkles!

My biggest issue was that even after all these adjustments, I still have extra fabric under my bum in the upper thigh area. Not too sure how I'll resolve that one. 

Super wrinkly. I'm blaming part of this on being caught out in the rain the night before these were taken!

Although when I move, they are less noticeable.

Just pretend I'm walking.
For my final version, I cut a size 6 through the leg, an 8 for about 4 inches through the hip, and stuck with the 10 for the waistband. All in all, I'm calling this one a success. Aside from the pattern adjustments, I'll definitely use a thinner fabric on my waistband facing next time, and use a button & loop instead of a pokey hook & eye at the top of the zipper. I omitted the pockets because they didn't seem useful to me. I've worn these to work a few times now, and I've even had a couple of compliments! This fall may see another pair on the horizon.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Back in Time

Way back in May, I visited the Textile Museum of Canada's More than a Yardage sale. You can check out the museum here. It's a pretty great event, and all the proceeds go directly to the museum. In the past, I've picked up a book or two, and made a few donations - good times are had by all! This year, I was on the hunt for patterns. For the most part, I tend to avoid revisiting the Eighties; I was only a kid back then, really, but some things just shouldn't be repeated. However, when I saw this pattern, I thought "hmm, good basic, and I don't have a shirt dress pattern at home..." So I snapped it up. Here's the pattern I used, and here is the result.

I knew it would be small in the waist, but simply omitting the gathers in the skirt gave me the room I needed. But as for the top... yikes! According to the envelope, size 10 was meant to fit a 34" bust. I'm 2-3" larger, and after checking that it wouldn't be too small, and making my standard 1" tuck in the length, I went ahead and cut my fabric. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture - it was massive! I ended up eliminating the back yoke pleats by taking in 3" at the centre back, and still needed to take in about 1 1/2" at either side seam. The proportions of the original dress would have been hilarious! Almost 10" of ease? No thanks. And this is why I avoid Eighties patterns.

I'm very pleased with how the dress came out in the end. The fabric, also a Yardage sale find, has some unnatural bounciness, but for $5, I can't complain. I didn't want sleeves or front pockets, so I didn't use them. I bound the armholes in self almost bias, there wasn't enough fabric for true bias strips!

I really like how the skirt hangs, and even though I wasn't doing the 2-in-1 Sew Along with A Fashionable Stitch, I used this trick for button placement. Love it!

Odd head placement - but pockets!

The back - sans excess blousing

Although I finished the dress at least three weeks ago, it took me that long to find a belt. But now that it's all together, I'm looking forward to wearing it outside the yard.

Til next time...

Thursday, 5 July 2012


Here's a little taste of my other big love - flamenco! At the end of each year, my fellow committed amateur flamenco dancers and I perform in the recital (yes, it's just like being a kid again, but more fun)! I usually make at least part of my costume, but this year I volunteered to make blouses for one of the classes I was in, and here is the result! 

I've been dancing with most of these ladies for a few years now, and we performed a classical number to the Habanera, from the opera Carmen, complete with castanets.

The blouses are based on this Burdastyle pattern. I found some plain red rayon for the main fabric, and managed to find the floral fabric for the ruffle without too much trouble - there are a lot of reds in the world! I was happy with the rayon, since the other budget friendly choice was polyester crepe, but man does it wrinkle! Good thing we were all very warm under the lights. I serged all the seams together (saving valuable time), and used the amazing 3-thread rolled edge setting to finish the sleeve and ruffle hems (which was another time & sanity saver). I attached the ruffle and made a casing at the same time, and used elastic in the neck edge to keep the blouses feeling loose and fluid, and adjustable for each of us.

Note the rolled edge on the ruffle!
We all had a blast performing, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Party in the Back

Here we have it - plain t-shirt blouse from the front...

And lace from the back!

Just ignore those tan lines!

I've seen a few tops like this on the street and in the stores, and decided to make one up myself! I traced around a top I like, and made a 1" facing for the neck. The facing is the solid fabric on the back as well as the front. I thought about a lace facing, but this offers more stability, and looks just fine. The only really odd thing about making up this little beauty was finishing the hem and sleeve hems before sewing the side and shoulder seams. Kind of counter-intuitive, but I serged and turned up the lace hems, and used a narrow hem for the front sleeves, and a regular 1" hem for the front body.

I've had this skirt for a while now, and it's tricky to find things to wear with it! The blouse has had other pairings, jeans and wide linen trousers, and both of those were quite nice. Not sure about the skirt, but I had to give it a try.

And yes, those are my very own roses - which are left to their own devices most of the time!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Me Made May Mission Accomplished?

My first Me Made challenge is in the bag! And I think by and large I did stick with my 4 day a week commitment. Let's review the last 10 days or so...

Week 4 was a bit of a blur, but I know I wore these documented outfits:

Pink Sencha blouse
New Look 6224 - exciting serger post to follow soon!
New Look 6615 - cheat photo from Week 2, but I did wear it again, promise!

Self drafted swiss dot blouse
Then week five happened, and I seem to have blocked it out of my mind! The photo taking had lost it's charm, and I didn't have anything new to show off! I did wear some Me Made pj's, and my Minoru jacket, which was the undocumented star of the month. I have probably worn that jacket more than any other Me-Made ever.

So, aside from the photo amnesia, I'm fairly pleased with how this turned out. I started the month with eight garments (not including pajamas), and wore six of them. I left two skirts behind, one because I never got around to altering it, and the other because I just don't like it! I made, and wore, 3 new dresses, and learned more that I thought I would.

I really like to wear jeans & blouses (not really a shocker, but good to document).
I like to wear dresses. And below the knee is kind of great.
Skirts are a struggle. One would think that replacing jeans with a skirt wouldn't be too much trouble, but I just couldn't make it happen!
Colour is my friend.

And I love seeing what everyone else wears each day! Fantastic and inspiring stuff.

Thanks to Zoe for a great challenge!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Me Made May Week 3

Hello all!

I suppose Week 4 has already started, but it was a long weekend for me, so I'm definitely not there yet!
Week 3 was a bit uninspired, but it's amazing how doing this has made me think about my wardrobe just that tiny bit differently. More on that in the final roundup.

Only 3 pics this week, since I wore my well documented Chloe dress on Saturday. Here we have the rest:
Green Colette Sencha
Return of the green skinnies!

Self drafted coral stripe t-shirt dress
On Thursday, a sweater, by the weekend, t-shirt dresses - yes, that's the kind of weather week it's been. I just checked the forecast, and it looks like our heatwave is sticking around! Stay tuned for more summer Me-Made-ness!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Me Made May Week 2

This week was not without it's Me Made challenges - the weather was not fully cooperating, and it seems that many of my sewn clothes are warm weather wear. I did introduce 2 new pieces to my wardrobe, and I'm sticking to my 4 day/week minimum without too much difficulty so far. Here's the roundup:
Same self drafted white blouse, this time with a squint!

New Look 6615, from at least 5 years ago, with the belt from a purchased dress.
Pink Colette Sencha blouse
Victory Patterns Chloe dress, blogged yesterday!
And while I think I'm getting the hang of the self-timer on the camera, I could not manage to arrange these photos in the order I wore them! But, it's not about the photos, it's about the wearing of Me-Made goodness. See you next week!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Chloe for Chloe

This week I finished a new dress - Victory Patterns' Chloe! How could I not try this one, since we share a name? The pattern went together without a hitch, and I'm really pleased with the result.
Chloe wears Chloe!
The front
The back - the invisible zipper is working it's magic!
Side view 
The details:
Pattern: Victory Patterns Chloe, size 8. This was my first experience with a pdf pattern, and after some initial computer difficulties, there were no problems. I used my new best friend, the rotary cutter, to trim the edges of the pages, and traced the pieces on regular art tracing paper. 

Fabric: Steely blue linen blend (has just a bit of stretch, and was a dream to sew), contrasting cotton for sleeves and welts.

Adjustments: Minimal! I shortened the bodice by 3/4", and lengthened the skirt 4". By lengthening the skirt so much, I did end up with a fuller back skirt, but I will be able to wear this dress to work without fear of flashing anyone. Oh, and I omitted the lining, since the linen is sturdy enough, especially for summer wear.

If I make up the sleeveless version (wool for winter?), I'll need to raise the underarm a bit. The edge of the sleeve at the underarm is a good height. I'll also try and get rid of the extra back skirt fullness; it's not a big problem, but I may as well try and correct the proportion there.

After doing some running around yesterday in the sun, I'm happy with the fit and comfort. I was a bit worried that it was too plain, but I think it will probably get a lot of wear come the summer.