Tag Archives: fabric

Honest, Officer!

Fabricland Sale Scores (a small part of the total)

That  fabric just threw itself in front of me!

It’s been a bad week on the fabric front. Or a good one, depending on your perspective. Fabricland had their Canada Day sale early, so almost everything in the store was 50% off. Cue time to stock up on lining, interfacing, and other basics. And there was a whole rack of stretch denim in various bright, springy colours—and I went with cream. Boring, I know, but these are totally becoming some awesome capris as soon as I have time to sit down to sew without my head spinning round. There will be piping*. And of course some more black coating for the jacket the hubby wants, which I’ll get to some day. Gawd.

Thrift Store Scores

Then, after dropping Tyo’s birthday treat off to her classroom yesterday (it HAD to be ice-cream bars. Which of course she couldn’t just take on the school bust with her, they’d be melted long before she got to school), I stopped by my Value Village. I wasn’t expecting much (having been just a few days ago) but it’s on the way home.

Apparently after my last visit (when there was no fabric worth mentioning) they busted out the good stuff. I walked out with 3m of sturdy black non-stretch denim (I may have to break down and make my hubby a pair), a similar amount of something that feels like a very lightweight wool, and about a kajillion metres of white starched cotton with this interesting bit of lacework (that only barely shows in the photo) on the one end. That may in fact be hand-worked lace, although I don’t know enough about such things to be sure. And some nifty notions, including tracing paper and a bunch of heavy-duty snaps and rivets.

Kid-Mades in progress

A bit of the kid-sewing has gotten done. Tyo’s almost finished Syo’s present (the white), although since the party is today I’m not 100% sure the last bits will get done. I opted to have her make it underlined, so I serged the voile to the gauze along the major edges and had her do the seams.  This also pre-finished the edges and took care of her rather, ah, ragged cutting job. Syo did a bit of  work on the dresses for the nieces, meaning we got them cut out, managing to remember that we really need all the fairies with their heads pointing up (bloody directional prints). Cutting two different sizes of the same dress at the same time is actually useful for fabric conservation, though, as you can put the front of the smaller size beside the back of the larger size and vice versa and get a little lest waste. Which is good since I only had about 1m of this stuff.

Don’t tell Tyo I said it, but Syo’s a bit better at this sewing thing. She pays more attention to things like sewing her seams straight and keeping her seam-allowances accurate.

In Me-Made June news:

June 24

June 24

Hmm, this is a Me-Made record: four items. Only because I’m wearing two toppers, but anyway.

Cropped Jean Jacket
Vintage Shrug
Boring yet incredibly useful tank-top
Gored knit skirt

I don’t wear this skirt much, partly because I really only have the one shirt (the tank top) that I think it really works with. Not quite sure why that is. The jean jacket colour-scheme is a bit out of place with this outfit, but my other jackets were all too warm, while I wasn’t quite ready to leave the house just with the shrug.
I’m happy to report that the shrug, which has been getting a LOT of use, survived its first machine washing unscathed, even with the large snag in the back I had to clip. I should make about three more of these, seriously.

June 25

June 25

Today, I will be wrangling 23 children for five hours (a double-decker end-of-school-year birthday party). Fortunately I think I’ve bribed at least a couple of other mothers to hang out with me (the hubby’s at work), but it’s still going to be insane. Wish me well. I was tempted to dress fancy, but I’m thinking comfort and ease of movement are the way to go. Especially as there’s a reasonable chance I’ll have to dodge water-balloons this afternoon.

Winged Cardi
JJ blouse (my first me-made everyday wearable! A little over a year old now, it’s holding up well despite its unfinished seams.

And now, I’d better get cleaning before the hordes descend…

*inspired by details on some of my kids’ jeans. Seriously, kids’ jeans have the BEST details. Grown-up ones are so boring by comparison…



Filed under Sewing

More patterns I don’t need

Thrift store patterns and fabric

I never used to buy patterns. In fact, I had a positive phobia of paying for patterns for a LONG time. But then, I never used to buy fabric, either. So I guess it’s just another example of how far I’ve come (or how the mighty have fallen, depending on your perspective, I guess).

Yesterday, I popped very briefly into my local Value Village. I was secretly hoping for more Japanese pattern magazines, but that’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime find. I did, however, walk out with two kids patterns (somehow I’m more susceptible to kids patterns, or maybe I’m just in a kids-sewing rut at the moment…) and this awesome cotton dragon-print curtain. The patterns are basic, but mindful of the raves Kwik Sew gets I decided to pick it up, and the Simplicity sleepwear set is cute and simple and totally uncut. The patterns are simple enough that the kids could probably stitch them up themselves, although convincing them that they’re interesting enough to try may take a bit more work.

I really love the curtain, too. It’s not a big curtain. I was thinking of turning it into an apron for me when I got it, but am also tempted to make it (with the addition of some coordinating fabric) into a sundress for Tyo, maybe. The print might be cool and tough enough to actually get her into a dress.

Young Image, My Image

Or not. She’s been in tomboy mode long enough now that I actually have a hard time picturing her in anything dressy. But the musing brings me to my next recent pattern acquisition, which includes some really cool kids sundresses. Yes, I jumped on yet another bandwagon and ordered two issues of My Image, the newest pattern magazine on the block. Or blog, as the case may be. What can I say? They emailed me with a 25% off coupon, which brought the price down to roughly what I’d pay for an issue of Burda Style, even with shipping from Europe. The envelope squeaked in right before the current postal strike escalated into a lockout and the dribbling mail delivery screeched to a complete halt. I miss my mail, especially as there were a couple of other goodies I was hoping to receive soon. /sigh.

My Image, winter 2010/2011

Anyway, I ordered the winter women’s version (which includes 11 womens’ patterns and five children’s patterns) and the summer kids-only version. So all in all it turned out to be a pretty big haul for the kids, pattern-wise. And while there are some nice patterns in the adult section, it’s really some of the kid ones that are making me squee. Like the empire-waisted coat third down on the right in the image above. And basically all of the sundresses in the summery kids issue, below:

Young Image, summer 2011

Plus some of the other pieces I can totally see Tyo in. I will admit I’m not super-enthused with their made up samples (which you can peruse in their entirety on the website linked above). They look great and are well-photographed, don’t get me wrong, and I like that they have multiple versions of each pattern. But the designers seem to lean heavily towards intense prints. Again, not a bad thing in and of itself, but it tends to obscure, rather than highlight, the really nifty seaming of some of these patterns. Some of these patterns are crying out for colour-blocking, too, to highlight those nifty panels.

Anyway. As if that weren’t enough potential-kid-sewing, the children have become enchanted with the idea of making some sundresses for their little cousins, whom they are going to visit in a few weeks. Last night I had quite the little sweatshop going on in the basement just before bed; Syo was tracing out patterns, Tyo was ironing the fabric. She’s much more industrious about that than I am, by the way.

In Me-Made June news, here’s a catchup that finally gets me up to date:

June 19

June 19

Posing with R2 at our local comic convention. I felt a little sad not to be dressed as Catwoman or Princess Leia, but I figured this outfit could, with a little massaging, pass as steampunk.

Apparently my husband really likes steampunk. This is odd to me because he pretty much hates anything antique.

I should really pick open the lining of this skirt and add some boning. I knew it probably should have it when I made it, but I didn’t have any on hand so tried to do the job with heavy interfacing. Silly me. I am happy to report that by the very end of the day I was actually a little too warm in my (beyond)high-waisted wool skirt.

Corset-Waist skirt
50s shrug (Free multisize pattern now available! 😉 )
Absolutely boring tank-top

June 20

MMJ 20

An almost summery day, interspersing warm sun with sudden thunderstorms. Which I guess is the definition of June. I think this is a pretty good almost-summer outfit, simple but cute.

50s Shrug again. I’ve been getting a LOT of use out of this version. It’s great for throwing on top of a plain tank or short-sleeve shirt to spice it up a little and add a tiny bit of warmth. Unfortunately my fancy knit got a major snag in the back and I’m not sure how long it will last before that turns into a big hole.
Very old tank One of my first knit projects from last summer.
Jalie Jean capris I’m very glad my best attempts to screw these up failed. They remain one of my favourite denim makes yet.

June 21

MMJ 21---Happy Solstice!

Another simple, cute, summery outfit. I love that my ironing board matches my shoes.

Jalie 2908 capris
Crazy cowl topThis is one of my favourite knit tops at the moment. I really should make a jillion more, but I hacked up the pattern in my attempts to refine it, and wasn’t as satisfied with any of my changes as I was with this original. Joke’s on me!

Oh, yes, and happy Solstice! It actually feel summery here today (forecast high of 23C!… sad that I’m rejoicing over that, I know). I love the long days—light at 4, dark only well after 10. I like that they’ll now start getting shorter less, but am comforting myself that the hottest part of summer is still to come.


Filed under Sewing

That horrible sinking feeling…

Simplicity 6023

You know, where you start sewing something together and it’s just not quite right. Your fabric isn’t behaving the way you envisioned. You mess up a seam and don’t notice until it’s graded. You begin to suspect that your arbitrary alterations weren’t the right ones after all…

Erm, I’m not the only one who gets this way, right?

I have gotten the front bodice constructed for Simplicity 6023. After experimenting with knit interfacing, I decided to use an extra layer of the black linen (actually a linen-cotton-lycra blend, really quite yummy) for interfacing instead. And I decided I would make piping (from one of my scant scraps of the plaid) to edge the neckline and cuffs. Then I sewed the three layers of the front yoke piece together (one half, anyway), notched, graded, and realized that I had forgotten the piping. Rrrripit. Add in the piping. Flip around, and realize that the linen is quite a bit sturdier than the plaid fabric and really doesn’t need the extra layer for interfacing.

Use the pinking shears to remove as much of that extra layer from the middle as I can, because I’m way too half-assed to unpick again.

Manage to trim the piping too much at the corner, so it’s fraying a bit when clipped.

Fuck it.

Anyway, it looks cute. I have a sinking feeling I should’ve raised the armscye without raising the neckline, and shortened the bodice lower down. Or perhaps left it, as it’s designed to hit above the natural waist (which probably means it would hit right at my waist).


Probably, it will all be fine. I like piping. I like plaid. I have a great excuse for not even trying to match my plaids. The black detailing looks pretty sharp. The neckline may be higher than I wanted, but that’s hardly the end of the world. At least I’m pretty sure this one will be large enough (if not a bit too large, given the stretch in both my fabrics)

After all this self-drafted stuff with seam allowances of 1cm or less, the 1.5 (5/8″) regular seam allowance seems positively excessive. Especially in nice, minimally fraying fabrics like these.

Springy coat---now with shoulder pad!

On the subject of the Springy Coat (may I just say that working on two projects at once, when you only have one sewing machine, is REALLY ANNOYING? I have spent way too much time re-threading in the last three days) I put my shoulder-pads and sleeve heads/wadding in as per the latest installment of the RTW, and am HAPPY. I love how it just ups the look that little bit. It was kinda a pain since I’ve already (contra the sewalong) stitched my lining to my facings (I did this before sewing the facing on to the main coat, as I didn’t think I’d be capable of getting the piping right while wrestling the whole coat), but I managed. I will take a moment to note my jealousy that Steph has already finished her jacket.

New Coating

Oh, and while I was at Fabricland picking up the black linen, this coating followed me home. I’ve been keeping an eye out for something with a good drape for Simplicity 8613. I was thinking either cream (I know, I’m making an off-white coat right now) or blue or coral, and this combined two out of three.

I think a fabric diet is in order. I seem to binge every few months, and then fast for a while, but I’m not getting stuff sewn at quite the rate that I’m buying. I’m not anti-stash, mind you—I especially like to have on hand various “basic” fabrics, like denim, plain-coloured knits, lining—but I also don’t want it to get out of hand.


Filed under Sewing


Five days of blog silence, haven’t done that in a while. I don’t think I even went dead that long at Christmas…

Dashing home is always hectic, and for whatever reason this time was even more so—but despite a lack of both sewing and blogging, there was no shortage of sewing-related talk and, more to the point, fabric shopping. In particular, thrift-store fabric shopping. My mom took me to her favourite little thrift-shop, which seems to have a particularly large fabric section (not sure if the fact that it’s run by Mennonites plays a role in this or not…)

Thrift store fabrics

And, well, I went a little overboard. BUT, I stuck to my “palette” and came away with mostly springy colours, mostly in lengths that should be large enough to make at least some of my dresses. Of course there were a couple of heavier plaids that snuck in, but I did resist the 4m of lavender coating/upholstry fabric (virtually identical weave, though not colour, to the stuff I’m making my springy coat out of… otherwise I’m sure it would be with me now. I’m actually kinda regretting letting that go… I might have to send my mom back for it…)

More patterns than are good for me (but at $.50/each, how can you resist?)

They also have an entire pattern-cabinet, which I dug through meticulously, and came home with probably more patterns than I should have. But I was good! No more dresses! There are a few more skirts than is probably wise, though, and I won’t get into the jackets yet…

But aside from all that yumminess (which I can’t think too much about as I have to catch up on my coat and do a couple of other things before I can think about ANYTHING else… I’ll rhapsodize in more detail later), I have to show you the bestest of all finds.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but everything I know about thrifting I learned from my mommy. She was thrifting back in the 70s when you actually could find real antiques for a buck or two at a yard sale…

And a few weeks ago, she found me a Greist buttonholer attachment.

The Buttonholer

I haven’t actually used it yet. It’s possible it’s completely non-functional. But it’s pristine, still in its box, with five templates, manual, feed-dog cover—and it fits on my machine!

Buttonholer contents

And it cost her  $1.99.

’nuff said.


Filed under Sewing

Goodie, goodie gumdrops!

I got a present in the mail!

A Pattern from Peter!

Yay! Thank you, Peter! This is, of course, the pattern I won from his giveaway a few weeks back. Sweet and super-duper-uber cute.

Of course, now I’m in a quandary. Which yummy 70s pattern to make next? This new one, or this…

Man, I love these dresses...

Or this?

Simplicity 8613, from 1978

And Joy thinks I should make bellbottoms?

What to do, peeps, what to do?

Eaton's Jersey

And, I discovered this rather yummy jersey at Value Village yesterday while cruising with my mother-in-law.

It feels like wool, I thought to myself.

But it’s at Value Village. It’s probably some nasty mystery synthetic you really don’t need, I responded.

Then I discovered these little original tags, still on. 100% wool.

It went in the basket.

Originally purchased at Eaton’s Department Store.

This was a Canadian department store that went out of business when I was in high-school… but I have absolutely no recollection of them ever carrying fabric. Any Canadian readers remember when they stopped?

So, despite still not finding my little-girl-coat-fabric, and having to unpick and re-adjust the entire back of my coat (sniffle), life is not entirely bleak.

Now if it would just warm up enough, I could actually justify sewing some of these crazy little dresses.


Filed under Sewing


Me and my mommy.

Those of you who’ve been paying attention have probably heard a thing or two about my mom. She’s the owner of the Grand Old Dame, a reformed serial crafter, and was courteous enough to answer my nosy questions in a sewing interview. She’s also sorta the reason I started this blog, if only because last year at this time I was calling her up about once a week to yammer (for an hour or two) about my revamped sewing hobby, and, I was pretty sure, boring her silly. Also the long distance bills were racking up, but that’s beside the point…

Anyway, sometime (back in the fall? I really don’t know) she “discovered” my blog, and I gather has been enjoying it since (not to mention pimping it to her friends… thank you mom 😉 … thank you any of Mom’s friends who are reading… 😉 ). And the sewing phone-calls have gradually picked back up, laced with a liberal dose of style/fit/age/lifestyle angst (I’ll blame most of that on seasonal depression, though). Most of the conversations went something like this:

Mom: I love what you made.

MMM day 8... I'll just sneak this in here.

Me: Me, too! Except this and this and this.

Mom: Well, it doesn’t show in the photos. I don’t know, I just can’t find anything I want to wear. I go to the mall and nothing fits, and if it does fit it looks like it was made for a teenager or an old lady.

Me: Well, mom, you do have that kick-ass sewing machine…

Mom: yes, but I don’t have any time/money/energy for another hobby! Everything takes too much work! I want to go live under a bridge in Edinburgh!

Me: Well, you probably do need to simplify your life a bit… But I think running away to Edinburgh is probably a bit extreme. Ireland might be better… at least you could probably get your citizenship there*.

Mom: And you got such a good fit on that other thing you made…

Well, you get the idea.

And so it went, aside from occasional worries about my mother’s sanity.

And then, yesterday, I get a call from her. She sounds chipper. Excited. Upbeat.

Mom: Guess what I did?

Me: What did you do, mom? (oh god she bought plane tickets to Edinburgh…)

Mom: I downloaded and printed out the Burdastyle Franzi vest and Ellen pants, and I bought some wool blend fabric to make them up, and I ordered five patterns from Jalie, including the jeans!

Me: (swallow… gulp… sit down… let the shock wear off…) Wow, that’s awesome! You’re really going for it?

Mom: Yup, I am. Now tell me how to do a full bust adjustment!

Yup, apparently I have lured my mother back into the wild world of sewing (and the somewhat-new-to-her world of advanced fitting… hopefully she survives!). She’s still claiming she won’t become a sewing blogger, but with any luck she’ll let me showcase a project or two—and with a little more luck, the wonderfully helpful online sewing world, and maybe a helpful book or two, will help to get her past her old fitting issues. (I get my long legs, short torso, and rectangular shape from her, except that on her it’s even more exaggerated, plus she kept all the boobage in the family for herself. On the bright side, she doesn’t have my swayback).


In other enabling news, my Fabricland seems to be doing their spring cleaning, and there was a cornucopia of lovely (or at least, tolerable) knits in the clearance section, for no more than $3/m. Including this ivory sweatshirt knit on the left (typically $25/m or up!!! it’s stained, but I’m pretty sure whatever I can’t get out I can work around.) The three pieces on the right are also knit in the round, which is the best way to get knits in my opinion. And look at all those colours! Bright, soft, springlike… I know, you’re saying, am I reading the right blog? There’s even patterned pieces. Well, stripes. Stripes are almost a pattern. And either the solid blue or the solid coral would be perfect for knocking off Steph’s Anthropologie knockoff (apparently I have no creativity of my own at all these days…)

There’s plenty more enabling going on out there in internetland, but I think this enough for once post, don’t you? Oh, and if anyone has any advice for my mom on getting back into sewing, fitting, or the wonderful world of online sewing resources, do share! 🙂

*my mother, like approximate half of Canada, had an Irish grandfather, which is apparently good enough.


Filed under Sewing

Dresses I shouldn’t be sewing

A dress I shouldn't've been sewing

Ok, this post has been in the “drafts” folder long enough that the original title was “Dresses I’m Not Sewing”. But since I seem to have fallen off (or on?) that wagon, and I can feel the itch for another one or two coming on, I’ll retitle it.

I’ve been trying to focus my sewing this time around very tightly on things I will wear in my everyday life, as I spent the first, er, twenty years or so of my sewing career making things that were mildly to wildly impractical, at least from an everyday standpoint. And I was doing really well, too, right up until about Christmas, give or take a Lady Grey coat.

Since Christmas, I’ve made the 70s dress, a fluffy petticoat, and now a skirt to wear with the petticoat. I’m feeling a little less guilty about the petticoat since I made the skirt, and a little less guilty about the skirt since I did wear it all last weekend. And I have worn the 70s dress out of the house once, to a friend’s birthday. It’s possible that when the weather is warm (I can’t say “warms up” as we were the warmest place in Canada yesterday for a bit and it’s been lovely for almost a week, but winter is bound to return before it goes for good) I can work on incorporating some fun skirts and dresses into my wardrobe a bit more. I’ve certainly had my bouts of creative over-dressing before, but I’ve been rather lazy the last several years.

Anyway, this post is not a to-do list. It might even be a to-don’t list. But it is a quick examination of some of the dresses, in my stash or on the internet, that are tickling my fancy right now, and tempting me from the Straight and Narrow Road of Practicality.

Maybe I’m just impatient for Spring.


Collette’s Ceylon

Yum, yum, yum. Colette’s pattern draft is probably about as far from “suited to my figure” as you can get, but I’m willing to dare it for the Ceylon. I love the waist panel; I love the little pseudo-bolero yoke (wouldn’t it look smashing colour-blocked?). I even love the buttons all down the front, though I don’t imagine I’ll love actually sewing them, or their buttonholes. The only thing I think I might want to change would be the skirt—wouldn’t it just be yummy with a circle skirt on there?

I especially love this version. Though it may be one of those cases where the way it looks on her figure and the way it would look on mine won’t add up.

When I start thinking about making this dress, I become paralyzed. Start with size 0 or 2? How should I do the swayback alteration? What about the SBA?

Now that I have a duct-tape quasi-double, I’m feeling a little more bold about tackling this, but… we’ll see. My guess is that I will need to do an SBA, shorten the bodice and/or the waist piece, grade out at the waist, and do a swayback alteration, possibly involving the addition of a back seam.

Style 3416

Maternity ?!?!

Ah, those 70s dress. Style 3416 crept into my stash last summer, mainly for the sleeveless dress version in pink on the cover. Imagine my surprise when I got it home, opened the baggie (it came in a baggie of three patterns for $1 at the thrift store) and discovered it was technically a maternity pattern. I’m betting it would be easy to de-maternify, though, or failing that just get pregnant again.

That was a joke. Don’t even go there. I may be at an age where most of my cohort are finally giving in to the biological clock, but while there are advantages to having your kids later, and advantages to having your kids earlier, I’m fairly convinced that there are no advantages to having both.

McCall’s Easy Stitch ‘n Save 8500

McCall's 8500

I know, I know, but look at the lines. Basic, scoop neck, princess seam. This is another one of those cases of “looking past the envelope.”

Or so I’m telling myself, anyway.

I had a dress like this in high-school made out of green crushed stretch velvet, with laces in the back (oh, the mid-90s…). I did love that dress. The only problem with it was the sleeves were too short.

I’m pretty sure with the right fabric, and maybe a detail or two, this dress could be the bomb. With buttons all down the front, I bet I’d love it almost as much as Ceylon…

When I get around to it.


Cheongsam pattern

And then the Sew Convert has to go and post about cheongsams, re-igniting a love of this dress-style I’ve probably nursed since first seeing the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as a tot. Don’t laugh, I blame my 14-year-plus love affair with bellydance squarely on Princess Leia’s slave-girl outfit in Return of the Jedi. Well, and how awesome bellydance is, but that’s a whole nother story (and would require a whole nother blog, I suspect).

I had one of these I found at a vintage clothing store as a teenager. I loved it, but it always needed to be altered to fit properly, and since I kept fluctuating size what with growing up and then having babies, I eventually passed it on.  This pattern is on the “Modern Sewing” site, which is a few of the same patterns as the Lekala people, but free, not custom sized, and not conveniently tiled for printing. I’m not sure I love the cut-on sleeves of this particular one, but I don’t hate them either and I’ve had good luck with their drafting in the past, and there’s back darts and a CB seam for shaping, unlike, say, the Folkwear pattern.

Contrary to type, I think I want a blue one. It’s possible I’m being led astray by Adey’s gorgeous wedding cheongsam

Since I just paid an unpleasant volume of bills today, which has me gasping slightly and vowing to sew only stash fabrics for the foreseeable future (yes, you may start placing bets on how long that lasts…), I think this one is going to have to wait a bit. Also, have I mentioned I’m terrified of double-ended darts?


Red fabric

Ok, if nothing else a post like this helps me prioritize, and fitting terror aside, I think Ceylon’s definitely ahead of the pack. I have a copious amount of a rather sturdy red fabric (right of picture, and rather more dark-red than the muted purplish colour in the photo, sigh. Actually, the muted purple it’s showing on my screen is rather close to the actual colour of the 70s dress, which photographs as black) that’s been aging in the stash since last summer, and would be a lovely Ceylon. I originally bought it for mediaeval-costuming purposes, but it’s the only piece I have in stash right now that’s large enough for a full dress, and a regular dress would be at least a tiny bit more wearable than a mediaeval costume…

Hmm…. I have to finish tracing out the pattern for the hubby’s shirt… maybe I could pull out some of the Ceylon pieces at the same time…

Bad, bad seamstress….


Filed under Sewing

Shiny Happy Things

Sharp 'n Pointies

Sometimes, wonderful things happen.

Over the holidays, several actually have, and I thought I’d mention them all here before getting to the buttons post.

Back before Christmas, I won Steph’s Sharp and Pointy Giveaway (my first giveaway win and probably the one I’ve *most* wanted to win ever) Yay, sharp and pointies! And they arrived today. Now I have a pin-cushion (a cute little mouse), pins that aren’t from the dollar store, and some other neat little sharp things like

Cute little sharp and pointies!

a buttonhole chisel and an awl. All of which are things I’ve though “gee, that would be nice to have,” but been too lazy/broke/disorganized to acquire myself. Yay! And it came with this adorable little case, too.

Around the same time, Claire a.k.a. Seemane, who’s been one of my favourite commenters since back in June when I got like 30 views a day and usually no comments at all, emailed me out of the blue after reading my lament about my lack of a manual for my serger. Not only had she happened to notice that my Janome JA-603A was identical to the Pfaff Hobbylock HL-603A, but she had tracked down a pdf manual to the Pfaff… and then bought it for me!!!!!! So I now have a manual for my machine (cue

The curious case of the 603A

choirs of angels), which details a number of nifty things it can do beyond basic serging. Some of them require more intensive adjustments than I’m likely to bother with, or different face-plates which I just don’t have, but at least I have a place to start. Thank you Claire!

To make this even better, Claire’s finally posting to her blog, Sew, Incidentally! So head on over and check our her progress on Sunni’s Trouser Sewalong. And whatever else she may get up to—I know I’m excited.

Speaking of Sewalongs, Peter’s going to be hosting a men’s shirt sewalong! And I have just the pattern in mind, of course. My only worry is fitting—as far as I can tell Peter fits his patterns straight out of the envelope, which my hubby decidedly does not. Fitting someone else is always a bit nerve-wracking, isn’t it?

On the up (or down?) side, several friends and relations got to try on my “Kimono Lady Grey” over our quick little holiday, and not only did they all love it, it was remarkably flexible in its fit, considering the sash isn’t adjustable. Although those blasted pear-shapes look good in darn near everything as far as I can tell. 😉 My SIL suggested a full-length version for a house-coat. Which would be fabulous, wouldn’t it? (can you imagine how much fabric that would take, though?!?)

Clockwise from top: diagonal-striped jersey; blue and cream stretch lace; blue and pink leopard fleece

I also took my sisters-in-law out to Fabricland for the New Years sale, and scored some fabric for some upcoming projects. The leopard fleeces are for lining little coats for my nieces (aged 2 1/2 and almost 4); I have some black textured wool flecked with sparkles for the outside of the coats already). At some point I’ll have to make something for my 13-year-old niece, too, but, well, between the hazards of trying to fit someone who lives 600km away and trying to hit the right style with a teenager, well, I’m hesitant. I was thinking of using the jersey for my 70s dress, but while it’s relatively stable, it still stretches nearly 20% across the width. Jersey is a listed fabric, but… well, I’m not sure. I’m sure it can be something else if necessary; I loved the muted purple colour and the nifty diagonal ribbing/stripe (and at $2.50/m, I’m not going to complain.) The blue and cream stretch lace has no particular plan in mind yet, but it was too gorgeous to pass up for $2/m. Maybe I’ll go scout out Carolyn’s blog since she always has such gorgeous lace pieces :). I probably will need some kind of thin knit underlay for it, though, which could easily cost considerably more than the lace did…

So those are my wonderful things. How about you? Has life given you any wonderful little gifts lately? Or are you just gritting your teeth to get through? (believe me, I do my share of gritting…)


Filed under Sewing

My sewing library…

My first sewing text.

I’ve mentioned before I’m a self-taught sewist. For a long time I figured that anything I couldn’t sort out on my own, I’d ask my mom. This worked well when I lived in my home town, but started to become problematic when I moved out of province. Especially about a year ago, when I was starting to entertain notions of learning how to sew well. One thing I did was do some quick internet surveys of recommended texts on sewing. The idea of actually studying sewing had never occurred to me before, but since I’m a researcher by trade it really was a natural progression. And then, one day around last Christmas, I stumbled on a copy of the “Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing” at the thrift store.

This was on the short list of recommended texts. I snaffled it up, read through voraciously, and went on to make my daughters some coats. Then I discovered the world of sewing blogs, and the forums on PR, and Burdastyle.com, and, well, I was off.

Well, a few weeks ago, a number of volumes of the Singer Sewing Reference Library showed up at my local Value Village. And I resisted. Probably most of the information was already in my Complete Guide. Probably it was all super-dated, anyway.

And then Cidell went and reviewed one of the volumes. Interestingly, Carolyn also listed the series among her favourite sewing books, but none of the volumes she has are ones that were available to me. And there’s a whole one on tailoring, apparently. D’oh!

My new sewing reference library!

Anyway, yesterday I was feeling a little foolishly flush, and they were still there and, well, they’re only three bucks each, and it’s five for the price of four, and… well, I came home with five of the set.

I did not buy the home dec volumes. Sorry. Maybe I will be more interested in home-dec sewing when I a) don’t live in a bleak rental house decorated in a scintillating palate of cream, ivory, and ecru. And b) can afford to decorate with the kinds of sumptuous fabrics my imagination demands. In the meantime, home-dec sewing = meh (which hasn’t stopped me from sewing my own curtains, or curtains and bed-drapes for my kids, but I’m not going to spend money learning to do it.)

So… Cidell talked about the Activewear volume already. Sewing Essentials seems to cover the basics, which I think I mostly have down when push comes to shove but hey, pictures are always great. Sewing Specialty Fabrics has to be good to have on hand, and covers everything from silk to bouclé to gabardine to lace to fur (fun or otherwise). The Perfect Fit is considerably more detailed than the five or so pages on fit in the Complete Guide, and has a small bit on swayback alteration, although it’s in the pants section, which isn’t was usually gives me the most trouble. I was a bit concerned over Sewing for Style (which style? 80s?), but it’s got a large chunk on tailoring, so I decided to go for it (but see above about the actual tailoring volume). I’d still like to get a real tailoring book at some point, but every little bit helps.

And, there was about 2 yards (just shy of 2m) of this lovely wool tweed. Isn’t that a great heathery-grey-mauve colour? At least half the nice fabric I’ve ever found at Value Village has been lovely wools. I hypothesize that people buy them and then are too intimidated/lazy to actually make the coat, and they end up in the thrift store alongside the godawful polyester and that “what was I thinking?” print. I wish there was enough to make this my Lady Grey Fabric, but even if I used something else for the facings, collar, and belt, I think not. Maybe a nice little blazer instead.

Me and my fantasy blazers. /sigh.

Syo's Pillows

In other news, Syo has been working hard on her hand sewing. She has now learnt to cut her own thread, thread her own needle, and even carefully marks out her stitches on the fabric beforehand. She has been putting these skills to good use creating an assortment of little pillows for the toys of the house.

Her knots, however, leave a little to be desired, as you can see.

We also (sigh) bought Tyo a “play coat” at the thrift store. It’s big, poofy, ugly, water- and wind-resistant, and most importantly easy to move in. Well, easier. There’s always going to be a certain amount of restriction when you look like a marshmallow. Ah, well. At least this way the Princess coat won’t be coming home soaked with muddy slush when the chinooks hit.


Filed under Sewing

Retail therapy, thrift-store-sewing-notions style.


A consolation score


The school bus schedule changed today, and according to Tyo the bus would be coming five minutes later as they are now the last stop to get on before the bus goes to the school. So we went out five minutes later than our usual time.

And, naturally, the girls missed the bus.

Now that the weather is no longer motorcycle friendly, we are back to being a one-vehicle family, which means my hubby takes off at 7:00 am with the car. Which leaves me with two kids and a complex web of public transit between us and the school. It’s not actually that far as the crow flies, but the buses and train just don’t connect well.

So we trudged off towards the nearest city bus stop. While I was inside the 7-11 getting change to get the girls on the bus (I have a pass as I take public transit to work), the bus came and went (not one that would take us right to their school, but within about a 10-minute walk at offpsring-speed). So, swearing quietly (me, not the kids), we trudged the block further to the train station. The train doesn’t go to the school, but it does go to a stop that has other buses that go by the school. We caught the train, although each of their tickets cost me extra because I still didn’t have quite the right change. We went to (what I thought) was the stop. We waited. Eventually the bus with a number we wanted came. We got on the bus.

The bus proceeded to toodle around in exactly the wrong area for about 40 minutes, before dropping us back where we started. Apparently it had the right number, but the wrong name underneath (usually this means that it’s going along the same route in the opposite direction, so it’ll still get you there EVENTUALLY. Apparently not in this case). It’s really embarrassing getting off a bus at the exact same stop you got on at. Ah, well. At least it gave us a chance to drill Syo’s spelling. She managed to score 0/10 on her last weekly spelling test. I think that takes talent, don’t you?

We started walking.

It takes about 20 minute to walk from the train station to the kids’ school. It only takes about 45 minutes to walk all the way from our house to the school. Granted speeds with offspring in tow are still a little less than optimal, but they’re not that bad. I got the kids to school an hour and a half after they first missed the bus.

Should’ve just walked the whole way.

So on the way home (walking) I stopped at Value Village to console myself. I staunchly resisted the several colours and weights of denims, and some rather interesting brocades. I did succumb to this rather lovely grey/cream wool (on the left in the top photo—would’n’t that make a lovely spring jacket?) and two packages of vintage zippers, still in their little paper cases. Including a bunch of invisible zips, which I don’t have any of. And a bleached old blue flannel duvet cover that will do nicely for the next round of muslin/underlining for Tyo’s coat (on the right).

Whenever I can get the pattern printed.

These zippers are really darling.



Regular zips


Most are in the 7 to 9″ range, good for skirts or pants. One’s a pink 14″ regular, and another’s a white 18″ invisible. I guess I need to make a white dress for it :).



Some invisible zips


And don’t they come in the most adorable little packages, complete with instructions inside?



More zips... the oldest, if price is a guide.


I really do hope I can convince myself to use them. Something about that old packaging is so precious…

Also, it occurs to me that I somehow missed out on the obligatory “Hallowe’en Post”. So here’s a picture. The only actual sewing I did was Syo’s red gauntlets (well, and the jacket Tyo used, but that was last summer and thoroughly blogged already). Syo’s costume wasn’t really warm enough… I should’ve made her put another layer underneath the shirt, even with the very mild weather we had on Sunday. She was pretty cold and grumpy by the time we got home, which is when this picture was taken.


The Zombie Punk and the Fire Fairy



Filed under Sewing