Monthly Archives: October 2015

Darlin’ It’s COLD outside



As the leaves wither and rattle from the trees, Canadians hunker down and sink into a quiet desperation while daylight hours dwindle and summer ebbs away to a painful memory, and the impending torture of the deep freeze becomes an immanent presence suffusing every waking moment…

Burda XXXX, with sleeve alteration

Burda 6847, with sleeve alteration

Yup, it’s sweater season. And Fabricland has a variety of sweater knits and fleeces I haven’t seen the like of in years, so I had to dig in, on the project side because, as per usual, I am flat broke with my real own money, and good sweaterknits are expensive. Hell, mediocre ones are expensive. Darned kids and their needing braces and things. I was actually hoping to do a men’s cardigan for my father for Christmas, but another lady totally nabbed that* and they don’t like us to all do the same pattern. Boo hiss. On the up side, that meant I was free and clear to pick a project for MEEEeEe!

I’ve been ogling Burda 6847 for a while now. I love long sweaters but I haven’t had one of my own in years. Gillian has been making some awesome ones though.  And, see my above comment about the sweater knit collection.



I picked a faux-cable knit kinda fabric, in white because I am a sucker for punishment. When this fabric first came in I wasn’t sure if I hated it, just for having a misleading name. I detest when they do that. It’s not a “real” cable knit, but rather two layers knit together to create what look rather like quilted cable shapes. But it’s got a nice weight and stretch and all that. And, because I’m kinda mad for fleece lined sweaters (my husband has quite a few that I’m always stealing), I wanted to line it. But I didn’t want just our regular old fleece—I wanted this particular one we got in with a bit of an odd, nubbly surface. Again, I wasn’t sure I actually liked it at first glance, but when I was picking out the project, it just seemed right. Except. We were already sold out of the white. All that remained were a couple of remnants with stains on.

Can you see the nubblesÉ

Can you see the nubbles?

I grabbed them anyway. At the very least it would be enough for the hood, which is really all that is “supposed” to be lined in this pattern. Of course, if at all possible, I had every intention of lining the whole damn thing.

The zipper might almost be my favourite part—this is the kind of crazy luxury item I would have a really hard time splurging for myself, but for a project—awesome! As per the pattern photos, it`s a double-ended separating zipper, so you can zip it up from both ends. With a particularly gorgeous gunmetal finish.

Front view

Front view. At least I look like a shapely marshmallow. Sexy astronaut costume?

I was pretty minimal on my alterations for this one—I cut a size 36 (aka 10, technically a wee bit smaller than I actually am but I wanted this to be form-fitting.) I petite`d the bodice, lengthened the sleeves, and squared the shoulders. I skipped the swayback adjustment, figuring it’s just a sweater. But I can definitely tell that I skipped it.

Awful back view, with swayback wrinkles For Science.

Awful back view, with swayback wrinkles For Science.

So, as I mentioned, the pattern isn`t designed to be fully lined. So I was a bit perplexed when it called for 1.4m of fabric for lining the hood. I mean, the whole pattern only calls for 2m of fabric for the outside). How do you use 1.4m of fabric on a hood?



Well, it turns out when you cut the hood and front facing all in one, that really does take 1.4m of fabric. Fortunately for me (especially since neither of the remnants I wanted to use for lining was anywhere near 1.4m long), I just wanted to use the exact same pieces for the lining as the outside. I was able to get my body pieces from one remnant, and the sleeves and hood from the other.


Hood? Also, unfinished hem.

Speaking of the hood, I’m not loving any of the pictures where I’m actually wearing it. It’s large enough to be functional, it isn’t large enough to have an attractive drape when up. I often use the hoods on my bunnyhugs to layer over and under various winter hats, though, so I’m sure I won’t regret having it. Also, the grainline on it is odd. It doen’t run parallel to the front of the hood. Which wouldn’t bother me except that I was using what was essentially a vertically striped fabric, and I think having the cables on a bit of an angle at the hood front is a little odd. But maybe better than trying to have it go perfectly down the edge of a cable like I tried to do for the front zipper. That was hairy, and made me wish I’d cut things out singly.

Less candid, but much more pleasing, back view.

Less candid, but much more pleasing, back view.

I fused knit interfacing along the front of the fabric, both shell and lining, before attaching the zipper. I still ended up with some pretty hefty rippling in the zipper, boo hiss. At a guess, I was trying to ease too much fabric onto a shorter zipper (the pattern called for 34″, but the longest Fabricland had that was separating was 32″, My alterations should have taken care of at least 1″ of that, but I probably eased in the remaining 1″ without realizing it., It doesn`t show when it’s zipped up and I’m sure as hell not unpicking, but it was a bit of a disappointment.

2015-10-12 15.46.19-1

Worn open. Which is probably how I’d normally wear it anyway.

I also wasn’t happy with how bubbly the hem looked in these photos, so I tried to wrangle a 2″ wide strip of steam-a-seam into the space inside the hem. I think this would’ve been a great solution if I had tried to do it, at leat the first half, while the hem was still open, rather than after I’d sewn everything up except a 4″ gap that I eventually finished by hand. As it was, trying to wrangle it in and then get it fused was a bit of a disaster—it looks OK, but not as smooth as I would’ve hoped, and the doing of it was just a nightmare.

I think I like it best with a belt.

I think I like it best with a belt.

The fleece lining definitely makes it a bit less sleek and more, um, marshmallow-y than it might otherwise have been, but the coziness certainly can`t be beat. And I don’t think I can explain to you how much pleasure those cozy long sleeves give me. LOOOOOONG sleeves.

There is one potentially catastrophic problem, though. I showed it off to my stylish sister-in-law at Thanksgiving**, who also loves LONG sweaters with LOOOOOOONG sleeves, and she wants one. Preferably this one. Like, right now.

So when I get it back from hanging, I may have a fight on my hands.

*In fairness, apparently she had hoped to do something with Burda 6749, the basis of Tyo’s flannel shirt… So we yoinked each other.

**Canadian Thanksgiving, in early October, a civilized length of time before Christmas.



Filed under Sewing

Monochromatic Clown: Accidental Wardrobe Planning

Ok, I confess I’m really enjoying this outfit.

McCall’s 6955 and Quick Sew 535. And stripey socks.

The dress is McCall’s 6955, and while I confess I was a little bit disappointed when I put it on and it didn’t instantly transform me into the voluptuous bombshell I was hoping for, it is pretty fun.

I’ve been experimenting with making fewer alterations, seeing what I can get away without. I didn’t do a swayback adjustment, as the skirt was full. I only shortened the bodice below the armscye, as I think I maybe don’t need to petite McCall’s quite as much as I did Simplicity. I think I should still have done the swayback  to the bodice, though, and probably added a bit of length at the bodice CF as well (the flip side of the swayback alteration, I guess… my back is shorter and my front is longer. Silly body.) I always think this after, but somehow I never actually act on it.

I picked the racerback option because the standard version just seemed a little TOO boring. (Yes, apparently I thought crazy kindergarten polkadots were boring. /headshake.) And of course, black piping at the neckline and armholes. #pipeallthethings

Not my best photo face ever. 😛

I made this as a Fabricland project back in the summer, mostly as an excuse to use some of this gorgeous “cotton satin” they got in. Man, I petted that fabric every day for weeks… The print is a bit out of my comfort zone, but it is fun. You can see that I didn’t even try to match it. Mostly this doesn’t bother me, although now that I look at these photos it would’ve been nice to match at least the bodice across the zipper in the back.

I made my proper size (size 12) as the fabric didn’t have stretch, but I wish I had made the 10. I took out the extra width in the side bodice, but I feel like the shoulders are just a bit too big. Some of that might be that I didn’t shorten the bodice through the armscye, either. And yeah, I didn’t really think that sleeveless, narrow shoulders, barely more than straps, like these could actually FEEL too big or too small, but they do. If I hadn’t done all that crazy piping, I’d take them in half an inch, but I’m not quite willing to break up the piping. The skirt is quite short; I did a faced hem (is there any other way to hem a circle skirt?) so only took it up a 1/4″ and it’s still three or four inches above my knees. Not bad, but something to be aware of. And it shows off the lace on my petticoat. Totally intentional, I swear. 😉

Back view. Not compatible with the slip I am wearing, nor with bra straps. I will just have to channel Tyo and not give a fuck about them showing.

I added pockets because all circle skirts should have pockets. It’s fully lined in cotton batiste (one of my other perennial fave fabrics).

I do have one quibble that I THINK is with the pattern (although it’s possible I got my markings wrong, because lord knows I’m bad with notches, but I was using the side notches to line up my pocket pieces so I’d swear I actually got it right because I was paying attention to them for once) Anyway, when I cut it the grainline of the back skirt is rotated 90º from the front. I noticed this vaguely when I was cutting out, but as it’s a circle skirt so one edge is going to be on the cross grain anyway, I didn’t think anything of it. It wasn’t until I was sewing up my side seams that I realized that my polkadots are actually arranged in subtle stripes, and they are perpendicular to each other, running horizontally across the back of the skirt and vertically on the front. HEADDESK. Also, if I’d realized those stripes were there I could totally have added a front seam and gone to town with polkadot chevroning! As for the mis-matching stripes, I could totally have fixed that by just unpicking the side-seams and switching the back pieces around, since they are 1/4 circle each, but I already had the pockets all sewn in, so I didn’t. Apparently I was not into self-improvement when I made this dress. #badsewcialist

Anyway, despite all my quibbling it’s still really fun to wear, especially with a little sweater to cover the less-than-optimal bodice. Which brings us to part II of this post:

Kwik Sew 535

While the dress was a spur-of-the-moment impulse kind of project, this sweaterette has been percolating through my brain for AGES (OK, like a year). I can’t even remember when I got this pattern, but it is weirdly cute, and it has grown on me as my fascination with teensy shrunken sweaters blossomed over the last couple of winters. Except that obviously it needs to be shortened, because a fitted bottom band that starts right at your waist (or just below it) as the picture seems to indicate… well, that’s just going to ride up anyway.

Front view

I overdid the cropping a little bit. Another inch, even two, all around would just relax everything. I do have enough of both these fabrics to make another version, should I decide to. We’ll see. There were some hairy moments in the construction I don’t know if I want to revisit.

It looks cute lying on the bed, anyway!

I got both of these fabrics last winter sometime. The main fabric is a scratchy sweater-knit/burnout kinda thing that was one of those random end pieces Fabricland often gets, which seem to have been collected from the trash behind some apparel factory. The fabrics are unusual, sometimes even spectacular, and often grievously flawed. This was a flawed piece, being both badly stained at one end and varying wildly in width as one selvedge has a crazy yaw going on. A long soak in Oxy-Clean minimized the staining, but there’s no saving that weird shape. It’s ok for itty bitty things like this, though.

This seems like the best view of the sweater. Or maybe it’s just my best angle. 😉

For the ribbing, I used this luxuriously soft rib-knit (almost more of a sweater-knit, except I hate hate hate rib-knit sweaters). Based on the way it changes texture in the wash, I think it’s largely rayon, and unlike almost every other rib-knit I’ve ever met, it feels great. It’s got more stretch than Elastigirl, though, and was the main cause of all the hairy construction moments I mentioned above.

This was my first attempt at this kind of a neckline; it was a little nerve-wracking, and I should have stabilized more, but I am content with the result.

I was pretty darn excited that the Kwik Sew pattern had separate cutting lines/pattern pieces for the bands and collar depending on whether you were using ribbing or the self fabric. Obviously I was using ribbing, so I went with those. Um, did I mention this ribbing is really, really stretchy? I actually had to go back, iron the ribbing to flatten it as much as possible, re-cut my pieces with it flattened, and then shorten some more. And I still could’ve made the bottom band a couple of inches shorter—it kinda flaps out at the bottom. I did stabilize the seams with 1/4″ clear elastic where I could (neckline and bottom, if I recall.)

Back view. Shoulders a little wide.

I hadn’t even looked at the pattern size when I picked KS 535 up (one mustn’t be too fussy with vintage patterns, after all), but this particular envelope only went down to size 14! Oops. So I started off by grading down a size, not as easy as it might be as the nesting was not particularly regular—not sure if that’s a quirk of how the grading was done or just of pre-CAD drafting days, when you couldn’t just instantly nudge everything into perfect alignment. But it worked well enough, though the shoulders are still a tad wide for my taste (I like my little sweaters LITTLE. Like the sweater version of the shrunken hipster suit. Especially if you’re going to add puff sleeves. These have just the perfect amount of puff, by the way, enough to be pretty without nudging into linebacker territory.) I did my other usual changes as well, of course, petite-ing the bodice and squaring the shoulders. If only I’d left just a little more length on the bodice below the bust…

Especially good with a stripey scarf. And my Springy Coat, but I didn’t get a good photo of that.

I didn’t actually plan these pieces to go together, nor were any of the accessories acquired with them in mind—but somewhere around the time I started this blog I picked a bit of a mental “palette” and have come back to ivory/off white again and again, and I guess it does pay off eventually, because I have the most luscious array of black and ivory things to pair with either of these pieces. To the point where the pleasure of constructing the outfit, and then wearing it, far outweighs my little nit-picks at the individual items. So that was actually a neat thing, too—I don’t do a lot of wardrobe planning, but stumbling into some by accident is pretty darn awesome.


Filed under Sewing

Best Laid Plans…

Burda 6849

Tyo wanted a plaid flannel shirt.

She has several, but the best one actually belongs to one of her friends and she’s going to return it. Tomorrow. Totally. So could I make her one just like it? I made Syo a whole dress for her cosplay a few weeks ago, and the last thing I made Tyo was a lousy sports bra like six months ago. Jeez, mom.

She was complaining that she no longer knows what to do when modeling clothes for photos; the ease she felt at nine and ten and twelve has melted away. I think this is code for “You should make me more stuff so I can get more practice modeling,” though I’m not convinced I believe her.

It’s been a long time since I made Tyo a flannel shirt. Like, um, five years? How the hell did that happen? I will say, that was an awesome shirt, even if it was too small. One of my nieces still has it, and a few weeks ago it floated back into our house and I was looking at it and I was all like, man, I did a great job on that shirt! I had always planned to make Tyo a bigger one just like it, and had even bought more of the fabric. I found the piece shortly before I started this project; I got a one metre cut. How the hell did I expect to make a shirt for a ten or twelve year old out of 1m of 42″ wide flannel? How the hell did I even manage that the first time, which was something like a kids’ size 7, but lengthened?

What all the cool lumberjacks are wearing.

While I’m not going to complain about the final product (and Tyo is thrilled, so that pretty much fixes everything) there was definitely a fair bit of, um, sideways on this project.

It started with the fabric. Tyo wanted red. I leaned toward a red-and-black plaid myself, but I thought Tyo would love this more colourful one, with its blue and green and bits of yellow. That are not, as you may notice, symmetrical (Is that the right word? I’m too lazy to google proper plaid terminology, though I know I’ve read posts on it before.) I didn’t even think about this until I started cutting out, and trying to mirror left and right. Yeah, doesn’t really work. Headache number one.  It didn’t help that the fabric had dried slightly off-grain after the pre-wash, so getting the lines on one side to match up to the lines on the other side when cutting was, um, not working. The sane thing to do, by the way, would’ve been to iron and steam the fabric back square, but I’ve been trying not to leave my ironing board up in the kitchen between projects (at which I am intermittently successful) so I didn’t have it out when I was cutting this out. What I did instead was yank and fudge so that my plaid lines roughly matched up, although everything looked weirdly twisted, and then iron them back into submission (and symmetry) after everything was cut out. It worked, fortunately, but I do not recommend this method.

Burda  6849 is a beautifully tailored women’s shirt. What Tyo wanted, on the other hand, was a loose, slouchy I-stole-this-from-my-boyfriend kind of shirt. Archer would likely have been perfect, but I don’t have that one, and I wanted to do this as a shop project—and while I can and do use Indie patterns for those, the cost can`t be included in the budget and I didn’t want to shell out the money. I figured I could make it a size up, and with a mod or two, all would be well. I left off the front and back darts, and cut the back on the fold with a little more width than the pattern called for, to make a pleat. Tyo was a bit concerned that it wasn’t going to be long enough, so I also lengthened the back—through I think it would’ve been fine; I removed most of the length I had added before hemming.

Sleeve tabs.

She loves shirts with those button-up tabs to keep the sleeves rolled up, so I added some of those as well.  It was pretty simple, although I should’ve made them a little longer.

Flannel and toques go together like peas and carrots.

Other than shortening through the waist a little bit, I made none of my usual fitting alterations.  It felt really weird, especially when I didn’t add four inches to the sleeve length. In hind sight I could’ve graded out another size at the hips, but ah well.


Either the sleeves are very narrow, or my bias cuffs stretched before I interfaced them, because there was no little bit of gathering or pleating—the sleeve fit smoothly right into the cuff. I always use this technique of Sherry’s to attach cuffs—I’m so happy I can link to that again! 🙂 My one disappointment with the pattern was that there isn’t a real sleeve placket piece—the opening is just finished with a bias band. This is a technique that reads much more “blouse” to me than “shirt,” but whatever. It’s also fast and less nerve-wracking, so there is that. I’m pretty sure Tyo hasn’t noticed.

The Importance of Cardboard Templates in shaping Bias Pockets.

I have been trying to skip pocket templates lately, but it was not a good idea in this case. That was definitely three minutes well spent.

So many options

I initially planned to include bias pockets, pocket flaps, and front yokes, all great features included in the pattern. Except, when I got them all laid out, my eyes started to bleed. And I made the pockets and flaps in bias so I wouldn`t have to match the plaid, but I didn`t match the plaid of the flap to the plaid of the pocket. D’oh. In this busy fabric, it was much better to dial everything back and just use the pockets. Another piece of sideways.

Attempting at a chebroned back yoke.

My attempt to do a chevron back yoke by adding a CB seam there was foiled, as well. Turns out, when your plaid is very even (Like, the same stripes vertically and horizontally), the chevron effect doesn’t show up at all and you might as well just cut the whole thing in one bias piece.

Adventures with snap setters.

One of the things I wanted to experiment with (this is encouraged in shop projects) was using a snap setter. I tried out this hammer-in style, that basically helps hold the snaps in place for you, and I also managed to figure out that the ancient set of pliers below, which have been kicking around my sewing hardware since I found them at my moms aeons ago, would also work for this size/style of snap. Which was a big relief. I have been so close to getting rid of these so many times, but I’m a hoarder at heart and couldn’t quite do it. I’m so glad I’ve figured out how to use them now.

Vintage snap pliers, used at last.

I’m still not completely convinced that the snaps will hold, mind you, but we’ll see. One side of the collar stand popped right off, but the fabric there is really thick; I wish I would’ve trimmed my seam allowances much more aggressively.

Back View

The back of the Burda pattern has a centre seam and fisheye darts for shaping. Both of these seem like REALLY good ideas to me… but were not right for the shirt Tyo wanted. So I cut on the fold, and added a wee bit of ease to include a pleat below the yoke. I could probably have used a bit more, but oh well.

Just needs snaps…

In any case, it’s done and hanging, and when she gets it back Tyo will be a very, very happy teenager.

Fabulous Lumberjack Child

Fabulous Lumberjack Child


Filed under Sewing

Coming clean 

Butterick 6241

Butterick 6241. I love this pattern and I love the fabric, but the odds are I wouldn’t’ve splurged on either if it weren’t a store project.

So, a while back there was a bit of a kerfuffle in blogland about sponsored and otherwise compensated posts, projects, patterns, etc., and the need for transparency about such things. And I didn’t have a thing to say on the subject, because let’s face it, I’m barely managing to blog projects these days, never mind actually think about ethics and transparency and things like that and then write about it. Except that actually I do. Because, though I haven’t mentioned it on here, I’ve been working part time at my local Fabricland for almost three years now, and aside from the lovely people I work with, one of the major things that keeps me there is the chief perk—the staff projects.


Sense & Sensibility Patterns Regency Stays. The fact that it was a project that was going to hang was a big factor in me picking this fabulous embroidered silk for the outer layer of the stays, rather than a boring but more accurate cotton or coutil.

You see, rather like the Mood Sewing Network, but with much less prestige and a much smaller viewing audience, every  month I have the opportunity to pick out a project, within a budget, based on the fabrics and patterns available at my store. I make it up, it hangs for a month, inspiring customers and giving me (hopefully) plenty of opportunities to yack about how much I loved the fabric or pattern or technique, and then I trot it home and it’s mine, all mine.


Vogue 9106 (on the to-blog list)

I haven’t really wanted to blog about working there, because a) who wants to write about work, and b) I don’t want to feel like I’m either a corporate shill if I only say nice stuff, or an unprofessional employee if I say nasty stuff. But I have increasingly felt the need to come clean about which of my projects that I blog here are staff projects, because while the projects themselves are very self directed, it definitely does affect my choice of both fabric and patterns. While I would probably still be getting most of my fabric from Fabricland (local selections are fairly limited and heavily quilt-centric otherwise) projects give me the chance to use brand-new fabrics, rather than haunting the sale racks, and also to play with things I would not be able to afford. (Though the project budget is pretty limited, too.) And frankly with working there and at my day job, my sewing time is very limited, and a lot of it does end up being projects.


McCall’s bomber and Jalie dress.

Initially I just didn’t blog shop projects—I’m not being paid for the blogging, after all, the projects have hung on display as per requirements, my obligation is met. But first and foremost this blog is my sewing journal, and I like to record the alterations I make, the changes, the struggles I have. Especially for years later when I can’t even remember what I did. And a lot of my own creativity goes into these things—I want to share that. Some of my very favourite things I make these days are projects


I used my project budget to help me explore applique techniques on knits in this sweatshirt for my husband. Good sweatshirt fleece is EXPENSIVE!

I don’t have time to go back over three years of posts and point out the culprits (though a large number of them are decorating this post), but I want to put it out there, for the sake of honesty, and being able to tell the whole story in the future. If you want to know about a specific project, please ask.

Rear view

I get to play with crazy, new-to-me fabric.

The second best thing about projects (after free patterns and fabric), is the deadline! They have to be completed within a fairly tight time-limit, so shit gets done. A luscious fabric doesn`t get purchased and then lurk in stash for heartbreaking months or years.

I am content.

Something by Butterick.

The flip side, of course, is that a lot of the stash doesn`t get touched.


The Gertie slip. I love this one so much. I need five more.


Drape Drape top and Burda jeggings.

Because of the tight deadline, it can be hard to pick complicated projects—it`s much easier to go with something you can whip up quickly.


I was so excited when this McCall`s coat pattern came out, and when we got this camo twill it tied in so perfectly.

But sometimes there`s just no resisting. When the right fabric and pattern come together, you’re off.


This Vader dress was another casualty of the early ‘not blogging projects’ policy.



Hallowe’en Project



Father’s Day project


What's right

Simplicity knit dress.


It'll do.

This was my very first store project!


So that’s it. Mea culpa. I hope you aren’t mad (but if you are, well, I get it.) Going forward, I will be mentioning which projects are shop projects, which is a big relief because sometimes a big part of the story of why I picked a particular project is to do with that, and I do’t want to edit those stories out. Sometimes, they`re even pretty funny.


Filed under Sewing