Tag Archives: Me-Made June

My (almost) sewing room

From this...

From this... (MMJ 8)

On Saturday, the last day of his visit, my brother and I braved the rain and Canadian Tire in springtime to procure me a shelving unit and a stacky-plastic-see-through-drawer-kinda-thing (like my technical terminology?), in the hopes of helping to transform my basement catacomb into something more closely resembling a functional sewing room. I won’t say I couldn’t’ve procured said items myself—I could have—but it’s nice to have a partner in crime for once. (Also Hubbykins recently made some less-than-well-considered bike-related purchases so I’m feeling psychologically if not actually fiscally justified in my splurge.)

... to this. (MMJ 11)

As a result, I spent the bulk of Sunday getting the mess under control.

This was done mostly in fifteen-minute bursts, as that was about all I could manage before being overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the disaster nearly two years of neglect had wrought in the room.

To my surprise, however, only about three grocery bags of actual garbage came out of the room. Everything else was either fabric-scrap or actually usable in some way.

My stash, which looked pretty overwhelming on in the top photo, all fit neatly on the shelf, although I would’ve liked to have a bit more shelf-space for sorting purposes. The only shelf that is really approaching capacity is the one holding the coating fabrics. Go figure. The patterns are now all tucked in the bottom drawers of my rolly thingy, while the notions are filing (and overfilling—I really need more room for them) the upper drawers. I hadn’t quite realized how much space zippers and bias tape can take up. The buttons and snaps are still fairly out of control.

The view from the doors. The bags under the table are all fabric scraps.

But anyway. Although I haven’t actually sewn a stitch in it yet (or even plugged the machines in), the floor has been found, the scraps wrangled into bags (I am saving them to stuff cloth chairs for the kids. Hush, I’ll get around to it.), and the non-sewing crud mostly confined to one end of the room. There may even have been vacuuming*  There were a disturbing number of loose pattern pieces lying around on the floor in various piles, which I still have to sort out and decide what’s worth saving and what will be consigned to the rubbish.

Above is the view from the doors. Yes, my sewing room has French doors. Unfortunately, rather than opening into some lush and elegant European garden, they open onto the rest of the basement, which principally functions as a play room for my children. Sweet, but not terribly scenic, especially when Hurricane Syo has been at work.

To the right of the door

As you can see, I have failed at keeping my “cutting table” clear through the tidying process. Also the ironing board. I maintain I am allergic to horizontal surfaces… they make me break out in clutter. That being said, this is eighty million times better than the view a couple of days ago, so shut up. With any luck I’ll be sewing in it tonight!

To the left of the door

All right, this is not the room’s best angle. There’s a fair schwack of boxes of old journals**, fine china*** and wrapping supplies. Not to mention a bit of stash overflow (for sorting, not space purposes). But I am not one of those people who can’t work with a bit of clutter about. My husband would be much happier if I were, I promise.

Anyway, I think my first few tasks will be some little bits of mending and hemming, but I promise I’ll get to a real project soon. I’m thinking 70s Week won’t be complete without making up one of those blouses I posted a while back…

*A whole ‘nother adventure, I admit… I’m a firm believer that children should vacuum their own mess, but occasionally have cause to regret this, like when I spend twenty minutes trying to dislodge entire paper towels that are thoroughly blocking the vacuum hose, resorting to hot-dog-roasting-sticks and eventually my husband’s computer-repair grabby tool to get it out.

**Scientific, not personal. I’m not quite that prolific in my navel-gazing. Quite.

*** Yes, I do have a porcelain set. Yes, it’s been in a box for almost four years now.



Filed under Sewing

The weird and wonderful world

Assorted notions

Of vintage sewing knickknacks.

Top: Black "Kashmir Jacketing", centre: polkadot voile; bottom: red and black coating

I mentioned previously that after a bit of a hiatus, my most recent Value Village trip was, ah, fruitful. The fabrics shown to the left are all substantial chunks: 2m of the black, four of the voile, and three of the red/black coating. My husband has attempted to claim the black for his frock coat, although there’s only 2m so I’m doubtful it’ll be enough. The voile has me thinking of retro sundresses (gee, bit surprise), inspired perhaps by this Burdastyle pattern.

The red coating… I don’t know, but there’s 3m, how could I resist? It’s quite heavy and might even be wool(ish). I may have a slight “problem” with coating fabrics…

More patterns I don't need

I couldn’t quite walk out without these patterns, either, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure my pattern stash is nearing critical mass (or at least the point where I’m going to have to start organizing it on something other than the principal of superposition*. The kids’ pattern on the right is cute and summery, just the thing. I was a bit more hesitant about the Kwik Sew dancewear, but I’ve been wanting to make myself another pair of yoga pants forever, and I figure it can’t be too hard to reduce the rise, and everyone loves Kwik Sew patterns and says they’re not as awful as the illustrations, so I went for it. And the corsets… well, c’mon, who can resist a “genuine” (or at least passably historical) corset pattern?

some nifty books



I’m pretty sure I’ve heard recomendations of the book on the right… I’ll let you know once I’ve had a chance to peruse it. The book on the left… well, that kinda speaks for itself. I love Art Nouveau.

More fabric-coverable buttons

Coverable buttons. Apparently these ones don’t need a special setter/tool. And there’s a package of square ones! I’ve never seen square coverable buttons. I’m beginning to have rather a collection of these… I must actually try some sometime.

Weird needlepoint buttons

I think the oddest thing, this round, though, is these needlepoint buttons. Have these been on the fabric store shelves the whole time and I just haven’t noticed? I do tend to steer clear of the plastic canvas section. And yet, I’m oddly intrigued. I have a feeling that, if covered with a really nice yarn, they could be quite lovely, especially if you were a knitter and wanted buttons whose texture matched the knit… Or maybe they’re just irredeemably weird. I don’t knit, so I’m not likely to find out, I suppose… I have seen some vintage thread-wrapped buttons that are gorgeous, and perhaps you could get (with a LOT of patience) a similar look with these…)

In Me-Made June News


Today was a wee bit grueling, culminating in the assembly of a futon so that our impending guests won’t be condemned to the (ever-leaking) air mattress. It was also grey and sprinkly, although I managed not to get actually rained on, doubtless due to the protective properties of the umbrella I actually thought to pack.

My skinny cargoes and frankenshirt. The shirt remains one of my all-time favourite knit projects, despite the fact that the bodice wasn’t quite long enough (so I haven’t hemmed it) and the twin-needle topstitching on the wrists has broken from over-stretching. Also the fabric, another one of those rayon-doubleknit things, has pilled a bit. I still love it.

The skinny cargoes have held up quite well also, albeit not quite as long. The only real problem is that I forgot that the pocket lining I used (the same asian-inspirted remnant I used for the binding in the 70s jacket) hadn’t been pre-washed (don’t worry, I washed it before using it on the jacket). It has shrunk. Not catastrophically, but just enough that there’s a bit of slackness over the front thigh, even though they don’t feel loose. Pooh. These are great pants when I want to feel tough and competent and a little bit edgy. As in, they’re not at all in keeping with the soft-pretty-spring thing I’ve had going on in most of my sewing the last few months. Ah, well. They were just what I needed today.

*geology joke, don’t mind me…


Filed under Sewing

Syo’s Sewing

Syo's First Project

No sewing today—I am moving sewing spaces! Yes, the found table has been wrangled down the stairs (my poor walls) to the basement, and installed in my “sewing room”, so my excuse for keeping my machines on the computer desk in the kitchen—that I had no sewing-room furniture—has evaporated. My long-suffering neat-freak of a husband has issued an ultimatum—all sewing paraphernalia is to be removed from the kitchen before nightfall. The entire process is really highlighting just how MUCH sewing stuff there was crammed in the kitchen… I guess I really can’t blame him for wanting it out.


Ah, well. It’ll be all right for the summer. I may have to invest in another space heater come winter, though.

Strap, with rick-rack and topstitching

Anyway, with the absence of sewing on my part, I thought I’d show off Syo’s “first machine-sewn project”, made up last week. This isn’t her first sewing project—she’s been hand-sewing little cushions and things (although she was not very good at knots), and the shirt/dress/thing she’s wearing in the top photo is actually her own creation, too, although I did the actual (minimal) serging at her direction.

Lined interior

But this little purse was several steps up. We measured out the length and breadth of the strap. We used a pattern for the purse body (actually a sheet of standard paper). I helped with the pinning but she did all the cutting herself. She also chose the fabrics. The exterior is a cream cotton damask, a remnant from this pair of bellydance pantaloons I made a couple of years pre-blog. The interior is a remnant of cream synthetic something that I had at one point started making a shirt for the hubby out of  (the vastly inferior prototype to this shirt, frankly). It was a costume pattern, not full and blousy enough for the look it was trying for, the lace-up front placket instructions thoroughly defeated me at the time, and to put the icing on the cake, I melted the back of the neck ironing just as the shirt was almost finished. Anyway, I was a little hesitant when Syo selected it… while it’s not the worst to work with, it ain’t no cotton, shall we say. But it was the right colour and this project would pretty much take care of the last shreds of that painful memory, so I agreed.

I won’t say I didn’t hover nervously. I also helped with some tugging where the layers required taut sewing (a walking foot would be great for a project like this). Syo has a particularly alarming habit of accidentally pressing down on the foot pedal while attempting to re-position or maneuver the fabric with the presser foot up. But she distinctly improved over the course of the project, and managed not to puncture either of our fingers.

1/4" Edge-Stitching Foot

Also, I think it was Marie-Christine who made the comment once that technology will trump skill in most cases. I must (again) concede th truth of this. This little fellow is a 1/4″ edge-stitching foot that I bought on a whim when I got my marvelous new zipper foot. It set me back a whole five dollars or so. I won’t say it’s revolutionized my topstitching—I’ve gotten halfway decent over the last year—but it certainly makes some things that took a bit of concentration before almost effortless. More importantly, it made it possible for Syo, who can barely sew a straight line, to do almost-perfect topstitching. She also did a really darn good job sewing down her rick-rack, even in the centre of the strap, so it’s not all the little gadget, but anyway. All in all I’m a pretty proud Mama, and Syo is excited to try many future projects…

In Me-Made June News…

My back yard. Oh, and my outfit for June 5

Here’s a slightly more panoramic shot of my back yard than usual, just because we finally mowed the jungle lawn, and the crab-apple trees are absolutely gorgeous right now. This is, of course, Simplicity  6023, the 70s dress pattern I won off MPB. Possibly I shouldn’t’ve worn such a nice dress on a day that included a fair bit of sweating and yard work (yay, heat!), but ah well. It’s washable.

Also, I was a little sad that I missed the twirling on Friday, so I decided to twirl today.


It’s supposed to be rainy and cool again tomorrow, but at least we had one truly glorious day! Now, back to the sewing-room-moving…


Filed under Sewing

The Grecian Goddess Dress

Grecian Goddess Dress

I will admit I considered various alternative titles for this dress. The KISS (keep it simple, stupid) Dress. The Shirring Saves (Almost) Everything Dress. I commented in my inspiration post that I could just use a rectangle. I probably should’ve. Instead, I painstakingly drafted a short kimono sleeve, then added fullness for gathering both top and bottom. Even that would’ve been all right, though, if I’d just had this top flow straight into the skirt. But no, I had to fool with an underbust seam. Which of course (because I didn’t muslin anything) was about two inches too low in the front, and not particularly even all around.

In desperation a flash of brilliance, I decided to shir. I stitched up the front and back openings a couple of inches, pulled out my elastic-thread-wound bobbin, and started shirring a long spiral around the dress, beginning at my approximate underbust and continuing down across the bloody “waist” seam.

Front view

This created a vast improvement—instead of a mumu I now had something much closer to the elegant, drapey concoction I had envisioned. By a miracle, the neckline didn’t gape OR fall off my shoulders, and the bra straps are completely covered both at shoulders and at the back.

Back view

But all the shirring in the world couldn’t save that lumpy, uneven waist seam from being lumpy and uneven. No worries, though, I had always envisioned this dress with a sash across the offending area. I had planned to do a self-sash, but found myself desperately short of fabric. My Japonais Mum to the rescue! I cut off a pair of narrow widths ( it was too narrow to do just one), joined them in the centre, and made a simple tube sash.

Because having a seam at one edge and not the other annoys me, I hit on the idea of rolling the seam to the centre of the back-side of the sash. Quite satisfied with how that turned out. Yay me.

Sash closeup

Obviously I need to shorten the dress a fair bit… it’s dragging even in the heels I’m wearing for these photos (and the odds of me actually wearing heels like that out and about in the summer are pretty minimal).

I might try the general idea again, without an underbust seam and with a bit less gathering at the shoulder.

In Me-Made June news,


This is an older ensemble, meaning everything in it was made last summer and fall. It’s not terribly glamorous and I have a few issues with the fit of the blouse that I didn’t notice when I first made it (too bad since I made like four different versions). Still, it’s warm and comfy on a rainy, chilly day. These remain my single favourite pair of me-made jeans, despite a number of material failures (the pockets have disintegrated and much of the topstitching is failing).

JJ blouse
Knit top formerly known as Lydia
Jalie 2908 Jeans


Filed under Sewing

Trial Tunic

Tunic and apple tree

Before I get into the tunic, I just wanted to say thank you for all the wonderful comments on yesterday’s anniversary post. I’m proud of my husband and our family, and of the way we’ve dealdt with the struggles we’ve gone through to get where we are now (not that we are done with struggling, by any means). My favourite quote about love (though I couldn’t name the source) is that “Love isn’t something you feel, it’s something you do.”

Anyway. Tunics.

I have a bit of an ambivalent relationship with tunics. You may not know this, except, perhaps, by their total absence from my sewing so far. Basically, I have what can charitably be called a “boyish” figure, and I have generally figured that the purpose of clothing should be to emphasize what little I have in the way of curves, rather than skim over them. Also, I’m still recovering from a long-time perception that the tighter, shorter, and skankier an outfit was, the better it looked. So I’ve always tended to give tunics a pass.

But, in their massive popularity over the last few years (possibly in abatement now, but the trends can kiss my ass), I did wind up trying on a few here and there and, to my surprise, discovered that I really liked at least some of them. Who knew?

Anyway, one of my favourites has been a specimen with a wide hip-band, scooped, gathered neckline, flutter sleeves, and a keyhole opening in the upper back. And ever since I worked out my knit sloper over the course of last fall, I’ve been wanting to attempt to immitate it. How hard, after all, could it be?


This is not the ultimate version, by any means. Most egregiously, this version is about three inches too short, so that the hip band falls above my hips rather than at my widest point, especially after several minutes of wearing. I can blame this on nothing but myself, though, as I took the existing length of my knit sloper rather than actually measuring the original tunic. My keyhole opening in the back is quite a bit smaller than the original, too, for much the same reason, although this is less upsetting.

Neckline. Meh.

The hardest part of this entire project was binding the neckline. I have a really hard time producing nice bindings in thin, wriggly knits. I’ve sidestepped (or at least minimized) the issue in the past by using a lot of cowl-necked patterns or other alternative neck finishings for the thinner knits I’ve sewn up, but for this pattern I really needed to bind the gathered neckline. I achieved it, by dint of much fussing, cussing, and the flagrant application of both Steam-a-Seam and Wonder Tape, but it’s not especially pretty or professional-looking. Also keeping my gathering from squooshing under the machine foot was nearly impossible. It’s not perfectly even, but at this point I’m not going to complain. Sadly, I’m not sure I can do a lot better with the equipment at hand.

Back view

Other than that, and a bit of futzing with the back closure (between the neckline and the keyhole), I’d say it’s a reasonably successful first attempt, though. V. 2 should be much more satisfactory, or at least longer. The downside of taking your own photos with the timer is there’s no one to tell you your shirt is hiked up at the back. On the other hand there’s a pretty good chance this is the way it’d look most of the time when worn, anyway.

In Me-Made June news,


today I am wearing the 50s shrug (pattern here), blog post here

Cowl-neck shirt

skinny jeans.


As you may have guessed, it still isn’t really warm, although at least we’re in no (immediate) danger of snow. Still, I shan’t complain—sun and mid to upper teens (C) is decent enough.

It does appear that someone’s been working some arcane rituals in the back yard, however. Maybe that will be more effective in bringing on the nice weather than all my hopeful sewing.

Someone's up to something...


Filed under Sewing

June First

Me and ma bro, Cambridge, UK, 2009

Enter Me Made June. June is always a crazy month what with the kids’ birthday parties, their school wrapping up, and to top it all off, my brother and his girlfriend are arriving from Australia next week (ack! Must clean house!). Although I’ve managed to see him twice since he shook his native soil from his boots almost four years ago, the kids haven’t except via skype. Syo is literally twice the age she was when she last saw her uncle. And we’ve never met his girlfriend, whom he met while working in Edinburgh and who enticed him back to her homeland down under when their visas were up. So excited. So much to do.

And take daily photos. Gawd.

I miss my little brother.

When we were very young (July, 2000, in our first apartment)

In other non-sewing news, today is also my hubby and I’s anniversary. 12 years, to be specific. Yup, twelve years ago to the day I picked up a boy at a 7/11, took him back to a friend’s pad, and…

Wait, my mother reads this blog. Scratch that last line. Anyway, if you’d told me at, oh, sixteen, that I would meet The One For Me when I was 18 and be a mother not much more than a year later, I would’ve told you to go soak your head. And that it was a ridiculously bad idea. Which is was, objectively, although it never felt that way at the time. Hard, yes. Ridiculously, grindingly, hopelessly hard. But never a mistake. Our first year together was the most insane roller-coaster—a dizzyingly wonderful, irresponsible adolescent summer, an autumn of emotional drama barely patched up in time for me to discover I was pregnant shortly before Christmas, and the insane, irrevocable decision to keep it and make it work. More emotional drama later, largely due to my pregnant hormones and his choking, unspoken terror. Thank goodness for youthful stupidity and family support; I don’t think we would’ve made it without a major dose of both.

The rest, of course, is history.

We’re not perfect. We’re certainly not perfect for each other. But at our best, we complement each other’s strengths and shore up each other’s weaknesses (at our worst it feels like trying to force the round hole into the square peg. The fights, though rare, can be epic). Above all, we keep on loving and laughing. I think that’s the most important thing of all, that after all these years we still entertain each other, and show each other our love in a jillion little ways.

Posing with new sewing table and shabby back fence

Oh, yes, Me-Made June, right.

Hmm, I wish I could convince myself that my back fence looks edgy and urban, but no, really it just looks crappy. Which it is… this is a good house, but you can tell it’s been a rental for a while.  Also, during last week’s torrential rains the lawn went from barely-green to OMG-it’s-a-jungle, and it still hasn’t dried out enough to cut with our crappy-ass mower.

However, of chief note is this highly classy table I’m leaning on. I found it in the alley this morning so, like any good dumpster-diver I brought it home with me. My mommy would be proud.* The base is a solid wood antique kitchen table, not unlike the one I grew up with (and it is heavy!!!). The top has been replaced with laminate particleboard, that’s not in particularly good shape, but it should suffice for cutting and/or holding up sewing machines. If it’s too chipped and rough I will just have to saunter back to Value Village for some old blankets to pad the surface, a la Beangirl only less awesome. It’s not a great height for cutting, but considering the alternative I usually use is the floor, I think it’ll be an improvement.

MMJ day 1 (without topper)

Anyway, today I am wearing the Skinny Jeans, the winged cardi, and a new tunic I’ll tell you about tomorrow. I know, it’s hard for me to put off posting stuff, but posting every day it gets hard to come up with something for content to justify the daily outfit post, so I better drag things out. I also have some great VV finds I’ll be sharing later on…

Anyway, happy first of June, and enjoy your day, wherever you are! 🙂

*I am not even being facetious. Finding thrifty treasures is one of my mom’s favourite things in life. We had an exquisite antique bridge-lamp in our livingroom when I was growing up that she had rescued from a landfill, yes, an actual dump, and re-wired.


Filed under Sewing