Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Tiramisu for New Year



In a fit of “OMG I’m done my Christmas sewing!” euphoria, I traced out the Cake Patterns Tiramisu the evening of Christmas Day and made it up (except for the hem) the evening of Boxing Day. I’ve been running so crazily so long, having a few hours where we’re not supposed to be doingsomethingrightnow feels incredibly luxurious. Or possibly wasteful. Then I went to The Farm (which is liking Going Home, but with about five times as much nostalgia), so it languished for the better part of a week. But finally, tonight, I got to it. Yes, it’s New Years’ Eve and I’m at home sewing. We might watch a movie with the kids in a bit. Big party people, we are.

From Eaton’s Department Store

I used my teal wool Eaton’s jersey, in large part because I had enough of it (although, as it turns out, a fair bit of it had moth holes so there wasn’t as much usable fabric as I might’ve hoped. Poopy moths, anyway. There was enough, just barely) I’ve never worked with a wool jersey before. It was lovely, as wool generally is, I guess. Not too stretchy.

Tiramisu on me!

Tiramisu on me!

I cut, as per my measurements, the size 30D (you have no idea how much joy that number gives me, even though I know it’s not particularly related to actual bra size…). I do like Steph’s sizing system—for the first time ever I could customize a pattern to match my actual measurements.

I made only two alterations, my usual swayback alteration and shortening the bust after an initial try on. I think I caused more issues than I solved, though: one or the other of the alterations was too big, and the underbust seam is now about 1/2″ too high. BUT—the shoulder seam pulls well to the back; if I tug it forward to sit in the right place, there’s about the right amount of length in the front. Which makes me think that the issue was the shortening in the back. Which is why in muslin-making-ville they tell you to make one alteration at a time, so the two don’t confound each other. Number of times I’ve taken this advice? Probably 0. I did take the side-seams in a tiny bit, and might take a bit more off yet depending on how things stretch out with wearing. I’d be tempted to add a bit of elastic to the upper and lower midriff seams for next time, but maybe that’d be overkill.

Many views of Tiramisu

Many views of Tiramisu

Other than that, and some funkiness at the front crossover area (probably also caused by tugging/not enough length), it’s a lovely dress. No complaints about the pattern. I was tempted to ignore Steph’s grainine on the skirt pieces since I’m not using a stripe, but the allure of having them fit nicely on the folded fabric proved too strong.

The length is great, and it’s insanely comfortable. Like,PJ comfortable. Which I guess is standard for knit dresses, but I don’t have many knit dresses. I was iffy about the pockets—last time I tried inseam pockets on an A-line skirt, the look  was not so good. But they don’t bother me, and I can tell they’ll be super awesome for actual wearing (although I had probably better not put too much in them…)

So yeah. Win. Aside from the problems I created for myself, anyway…



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Yaaaaay! I got home from the Farm to find this package from awesome commenter LinB—thanks so much, Lin! I am all squiggly with excitement. Ok, can’t type any more, must go play with patterns. 😀



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A very distinguished fellow


My uncle has received his vest. Fortunately for me, we didn’t make it down to the farm until a few days after Christmas, so I had a few days extra to finish off pesky little things like the back buckle and buttonholes. It fits well enough (OK, it may be on the snug side, but then I feel like the next size up would’ve been too big…), and he’s more than happy with it. The only thing that’s a bit odd is the length—it’s very short. And my uncle isn’t unusually tall—I’m pretty sure that it’s meant to go over antique-style trousers, you know, the up-to-the-armpits variety.


I basted hair-canvas to the vest fronts, and then added in (as per the pattern) two layers of batting, with the edges feathered.


A closeup of the hand-basting and padding in the vest front. I haven’t done this kind of handwork since Gertie’s Lady Grey Sewalong. It was fun, though.


I even padstitched the undercollar.


And then there were the welt pockets. I made samples. I marked. I basted. I tailor-tacked. And still, my first welt wound up uneven and just UGH. I could’ve cried. I couldn’t imagine making two more, when those two had to be… ulp… matching.

So I didn’t. My uncle’s vest has only a single, sad and uneven, welt pocket. I’m not going to mention it if he doesn’t.


I added a patch of outer fabric inside the pocket, which was not in the instructions. The instructions, incidentally, were good but not verbose. They told you what to do, but not how to do it. And I added a few thing here and there, because I could. Like padstitching. And this little patch.


I used shiny silver vintage buttons from my stash. Making the buttonholes was also a beast, although at least my thread matched very well, so their nasty quality isn’t obvious. I was so hoping for neat, beautiful keyholes, too…


The buckle was also from one or another thrift-store baggies. I do wish, in hindsight, that I’d interfaced the straps here. And that I had two-piece eyelets—these are one piece and I’m worried about how they’ll hold up. Although I suppose it’s not a super-high-stress area. (And, yes, the back’s made out of fashion fabric, not lining. This is because I didn’t have enough of the silver Kasha lining fabric left, and my local Fabricland didn’t have any in the silver colour. Yes, I could’ve used another kind of lining. But I hate every other kind of lining out there…)

Understitching would’ve helped this back bit. Although I suppose if the outer back were in lining fabric as well, it wouldn’t’ve been an issue.

All in all, though, I think he’s a very distinguished fellow.

He still wants a kilt, though…


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A Christmas Dress

Simplicity 8498

Simplicity 8498. I would love to add some crazy braid along the front seaming.

It actually happened. It involved staying up late, not finishing several other things, and some seriously slipshod stitching, but my Simplicity 8498 (AKA Simplicity 3833) got made!

I changed my mind on the fabric—I had planned on a teal plaid cotton. But that really felt like a summer dress and, well, Australia this ain’t.*  So I dug through my stash some more and turned up about 2m of this gold brocade drapery fabric, absolutely clamouring to become View 3 from the original envelope. It’s not any warmer, mind you, but somehow it feels more “right” for the season.

Making this took some doing. First off, given the time constraints, I didn’t have the time to trace and alter my pattern properly. So I made my small plethora of usual alterations by dint of folding, pinning, and occasionally chalking out the changes directly on the fabric. Also my pattern is a size 14 (NEW SIZING!), which is a size larger than I usually make; I trimmed 1/4″ off of each seam after cutting, except for the few pieces on the fold, which I overhung the edge the same amount. Not the most scientific grading method ever.

Simplicity 8498

Simplicity 8498

This post, along with some slapdash tissue fitting, suggested that I wouldn’t need to shorten the upper bodice as I usually do, but measuring the back piece confirmed that the distance to the waist is still the full Simplicity standard. So I took my 1″ tuck below the bust but above the waist. On the back I added a swayback adjustment. I squared the shoulders the “proper” way, by raising the outside rather than dropping the inside, since I was pretty sure I didn’t need to raise the bust point even a little bit.

I carefully re-attached the lower portion of the skirt pieces (which had been trimmed away by some previous stitcher, but fortunately saved) using scraps of cheap iron-on interfacing. It took considerably wriggling to get all the pieces on my 2 (ish) m of fabric, but somehow I did it, although I won’t swear that all the skirt pieces are perfectly on grain. (I’m not convinced the original pattern grain-lines were the most logical, either, for that matter).

I only made one major style alteration: I knew I would feel dowdy and choked if I kept even the lower of the high necklines, so instead I made a squarish scoop neckline. In hindsight, I think it rather resembles the neckline in this similar-era dress, actually, though I didn’t explicitly set out to copy it. I lowered it over 2″ and it’s still not even what I would call low-cut.


Multi-view. The back fit is actually much better than it looks here, since I’m twisting funny. My ass probably really is that narrow, however.

There’s not much to say about the construction. It was simple, fast, and completely lacking in finesse. I did manage a decent (not awesome) lapped zipper in the back, facilitated by the fact that I had extra-wide seam-allowances to play with. Even after I had trimmed off the amount of excess I thought I would need to remove, I still wound up taking in the side-seams each an extra 1cm (for a total around the dress of 4cm)… I suspect I am not really respecting the intended fit of a shift dress, but I like it this way, which in the end trumps period authenticity in my books. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the shift-dress shape, which is why you haven’t seen a whole lot (any?) of them in my sewing thus far. I really like how the fit of this turned out, though. Even if it is a little more sheath than shift. Also, I love how these late 60s/70s patterns do long. I didn’t even lengthen the skirt (after removing 1″ above the waist, remember), and I could still take a 2″ hem at the bottom. Win.

It is nice being able to understitch all around the separate arm- and neck facings, but they still seem bulky and awkward to me where they overlap. The darts wound up at pretty much the exact right position, perhaps a smidge high but no worse than I typically end up with. (I have a hard time with dart placement, I think stemming from the fact that my “bust apex” and my nipple are not in the same location.)

I really miss my dedicated photo-space. Finding an un-cluttered space with enough distance to set up the tripod in out current, limited digs is, um, tricky to say the least. None of these photos are as awesome as I feel like the dress looks in real life… not sure if that’s a reflection on poor photography or my own vanity. At least they aren’t iPhone photos, as I finally found my camera charger. Actually, Osiris found it. In the wall-socket where I left it. Apparently it’s been there the whole time. I’m blaming the poor light in our bedroom—I think I mistook it for the telephone plug in.

So, the dress has been worn to one Christmas dinner already, with at least one more to go. It appears we will get away with only two turkeys this time. Up side of shift dress style, no issues with a restrictive waistband when indulging in conspicuous consumption. It’s not exactly the right style to become a wardrobe staple—maybe in another version—but I am definitely satisfied. 🙂

Insert Obligatory Winter Scene Here.

*Let’s just say that I kinda hope my brother doesn’t call from Adelaide, because I may very well cuss him out out of sheer bitterness. Real Saskatchewan winter has finally arrived, with daytime highs not exceeding -20C and windchills pulling everything below -30C, and I am realizing  how thoroughly pampered I have been by the last five years of pansy-ass Southern Alberta winters.


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Home stretch.


My husband’s shirt is done and my uncle’s vest nearly. I am bribing myself to finish the shirt for my father’s Christmas present. It’s a short-sleeved Negroni, about as easy as a shirt can get, and I am following the instructions to the letter (to the best of my abilities, anyway… I suck at following instructions.) so I don’t have to expend mental energy thinking about other ways to do things. And I want SO BADLY to throw it all in the corner an make a Tiramisu.



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Billions of (rice) baggies…

Today was one of those epic days. I was up at 5 AM to get Tyo off to a school ski trip, and really didn’t stop running until the kids got home from Hip Hop at 7:30. Then it was time to Make Presents For Teachers, since tomorrow is the kids’ last day of school pre-Xmas.

The best thing* about moving is that all the old ideas I’d used on previous teachers are new again—so it was the perfect opportunity to re-use the rice-bags-as-teacher-Christmas-presents. I love rice baggies. Throw it in the microwave for a minute, you’ve got a heat-pack. Keep one in the freezer for a cold pack. All the cozy of a hot water bottle without the mess. I’ve been told that using flax seeds is even better than rice as they don’t have that rice-smell, but on the other hand I don’t find the rice-smell unpleasant, flax might go rancid eventually, and, most importantly in this case, rice is something I generally have around the house. 😉


Syo and the Waif were my main assistants tonight. Of course, as soon as the two for my kids’ teachers were made, the Waif and her sister, Fyon, began clamouring for their own bags. Since we’ve all had colds recently (actually, the Waif has a very lively variety of pneumonia), how could I refuse?


And once I’d made baggies for my nieces, well, obviously I had to make baggies for MY kids, since all ours are in boxes somewhere. (I should probably point out that Syo sewed her own baggie as well as the one for her teacher, and she and the Waif did the majority of the rice-filling, so really I was not doing this on my lonesome.)

And then, just as I was finishing up Tyo’s bag, Stylish** returned from putting the Waif and Fyon to bed with their heated baggies, and asked if maybe, just maybe, very sweetly, I could make up two more for her girls to give to their teachers tomorrow as well.

It’s possible I may be a sucker (especially when it comes to my nieces). But two more baggies were made, for an evening total of eight… so I guess it only felt like billions. We did use up just about all the rice in the house. And Syo did a very lovely job of wrapping them up with cards and bits of lace.

Now if I can only get through the rest of my Christmas sewing…

*OK, possibly not THE best thing. But a very nice thing indeed.

**Sister-in-Law, mother to the Waif and Fyon


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Things that keep me from sewing


Today I made our annual Christmas cards. No, they won’t be there in time for Christmas. (Really they never are) It’s hard with crafts like this not to try to outdo yourself each year… But this year is definitely a “roll-back” year… Especially since the box with all my stamp pads and embossing powder is MIA at the moment. Note to Mom and Crafty and anyone else on the Christmas list who reads this: you are still familially obligated to act surprised and delighted when you get your actual card.


December 17, 2012 · 10:04 pm