Tag Archives: plans


A springy little pattern

So aside from Saturday’s various obligatory activities (cleaning, yelling at children, pouting at the 20-30cm of snow (that’s 8 to 12 inches) that’s already fallen today, and it’s coming down steadily), all I’ve been doing is messing around with paper as per the various instructions on the RTW tailoring sewalong (wowza, I think my brain broke—on the plus side Sherry’s walking us through making facing pieces etc. which is good for me since I don’t have any drafted yet!). While fun, this is not particularly scenic to share. Oh, and I lengthened the bodice front of my muslin, which will hopefully make up for the unevenness of the skirt.

Interfacing trials

I also trialled a couple of different interfacings on my fabric—I can’t say that I really noticed a difference between the two, although the fusing might be slightly better on the knit (right). I am a little concerned that either is going to be too thick for my pleated cuffs. Will the world end if I don’t interface my cuffs? My fabric itself is pretty beefy to begin with…

Out of curiosity (this is thrift store fabric, remember) I also tried my first burn test. The fibre doesn’t stay lit, melts into a smooth bead that’s either black or neutral depending on how much soot gets in it, and smells like plastic when it’s burning. I’m not sure exactly what that makes it (maybe polyester), but definitely man-made. Which is about what I thought.

I’m alternating between being overwhelmed by all the details to do for the sewalong and being impatient to get cutting fabric. Which probably means Sherry’s pace is just right ;). Especially since the kids will be done their spring break and I’ll be “fully recovered” on Monday, which means no more slacking from my real-life stuff…


Me-Made-March: the Autopsy

(Or, more than you really want to hear about my wardrobe for the last month…) I mentioned my big me-made lessons for the month yesterday, so I won’t belabour them much. Much greater selection of clothing this time, less helpful weather, crappy photos, yadda yadda…

A possible favourite, day 31

I was hoping to go through and pick my fave outfit (or five) but I’m really having a hard time. Obviously there’s the “dressed up” days, when I wore outfits that feel just dang costumey. Not bad, but definitely out there. Those would be day 3, day 12, day 15, maybe day 26, and, of course, day 31. Of these, day 15 (the “Ceylon suit” as I tend to think of it) and day 31 are probably my faves, but there’s nothing wrong with the others. Incidentally, I always feel a bit awkward wearing the pouffy circle skirts, and it’s not because they feel costumey. Rather, I feel a bit rude and obtrusive, as if I’m taking up too much space with that big skirt, especially if I wear one on the train or to the grocery store or a crowded waiting room. Weird, no? Come to that, I kinda feel the same way when driving a mini-van.

The rest of the month I would call “regular” days—my usual uniform of pants and a top. Mostly jeans; the skinny cargoes and the skinny jeans got the heaviest rotation, but the silver-topstitched jeans are still probably my favourite, even though they’re getting pretty ratty (pockets shredded, topstitching failing, and now a small hole at the crotch seam). I’m glad I got to haul out my first attempt at the Ellen pants, which I initially wasn’t sure would ever get worn, but apparently I’m a lot more into white pants in March than in October. My fave top of the month probably wound up being the fluttery cowl, despite my initial dislike for the flutter sleeves, although I’m still quite enamoured of my Stegosaurus top and the blue raglan top. Not sure why, since they both photograph as BORING, but something about that thick, slightly scratchy knit just feels substantial and cosy. And much as I was trying to feel spring this month, I needed cozy.

Which brings me to my big me-made fail: toppers.

A me-made topper.

This would be that nebulous category that includes sweaters, hoodies, bunnyhugs, shrugs, cardigans… the stuff worn over your shirt to keep me warm. At this stage I have three me-made toppers, which you’d think would be adequate… the Kimono Lady Grey, the Simplicity Cardi-wrap, and the 50s shrug. I did wear the KLG several times, but a) it completely hides the shirt underneath, which makes me sad if it’s a cool shirt, and b) is so distinctive I don’t like to wear it that often (well, except for the first month after I made it when I wore it every day). I wore the shrug once, and the cardi-wrap not at all (although I did wear it yesterday just to prove something to myself, I guess). The shrug would get more use but for two things: 1) it’s not really warm enough, and 2) I don’t quite like the fit. I need to tweak the pattern a bit—narrow the neck, shorten the whole thing, maybe shorten the sleeves a tad as well, and narrow the waist. It’s a bit big, and even the original shrug was a bit too long in the back—it would probably be cropped on someone with a normal torso, but on me it reaches my waist, which is not the best look. It’s comfy and I do like it with a bright-coloured top, though. The cardi-wrap… well, again there’s two problems. The first is that I snipped a hole in it accidentally back in November. Although it’s usually hidden in the folds of the drape, it still annoys me when I notice it. I should stitch it up and call that good, I guess. Then there’s the colour. Not that I don’t love it. But it doesn’t coordinate at all well with the “springy” colours I’ve been sewing lately, I’m bored as hell of my basic black tops, and I don’t like the red-on-red look. Maybe I just need to be more bold and creative in my colour combos, I don’t know… So the upshot is that time and again, despite these options, I retreated to my lone, boring, black, workhorse RTW hoodie. I guess the moral of the story is that I’m still not quite sure what I’m looking for in a topper, so it’s hard to know in advance what I want. Although I need to try to remember pockets. Pockets are very, very good.

Some other things that didn’t get worn:

the Kasia skirt. Partly the weather wasn’t overly condusive to skirts, but also me and pencil skirts don’t get along terribly well. Everytime I wear this I rip the back seam up about three inches, which then needs to be repaired and re-topstitched. Meh.

A lot of my knit tops. Some of these I love to bits, and some I’m just not overly thrilled about, and it’s hard to predict before hand which will be which. A lot depends on the fabric—not just how it fits initially, but how it launders later on. Also I’m always more excited about my newer tops than my older ones. Hmm. Have to think about that…

Two of my JJs. Although I did wear the other two once each, so I guess that’s something. Not sure why, except that they feel more summery, and I wasn’t desperate enough to do a whole lot of layering-over-a-long-sleeve-top this time around.


Anyway, I am happy about the days that I did get to wear exciting outfits, and even some of the days where I didn’t—there’s something very satisfying about even my more unglamorous days, as long as it’s a garment with construction that feels solid and satisfying. Which isn’t all my pieces by any stretch ;).

I think I’ll stop boring you with my wardrobe details now… I can’t imagine they’re of great interest to anyone else.

I am a bit torn about one thing—what I am “aspiring” to in my wardrobe. The people whose style I most admire—who are most amazing every day in their outfits, are, I’ve noticed, the ones who’ve purged the ordinary from their wardrobes. All they have is nifty—so their outfits are, by necessity, nifty. And I love the idea of that. But how does that mesh with banging off another round-necked, long-sleeved top, or another pair of jeans (even if they do have a nifty topstitched pleat in the back)? While I love wearing the odd circle-skirt or 70s dress, I don’t really want that to be all I wear.


Oh, I know. I have to leave you with a shot of my back yard. Because some things are too depressing not to share.

April 2nd, people. And what’s worse, at this time yesterday less than half the back yard had snow on it.

Somebody pinch me, this must be a nightmare, right?


Filed under Sewing

The Lace Conundrum

The lace in question

A while back, I posted a teaser comment on Carolyn’s blog saying I had a question for her about lace. And then I got distracted. But finally, here it is, and I’d love to hear opinions from all of you—I singled Carolyn out merely because, as we all know, she’s the queen of using lace without it looking frilly or juvenile.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with lace. I am not (certain evidence to the contrary) the frilliest person in the world. And while I like the idea of lace (I am, after all, a sucker for texture and lace is pretty much texture distilled), I often am underwhelmed by the actual trims and fabrics available.

That being said, when I found this 4-way stretch (or is it 2-way stretch? Can someone with an industry background school me in the correct usage?) lace in the bargain bin at the Fabricland in my hometown at new years, I had to snaffle it up. (I think it was $1.50/m). The colours are perfect, it’s got the depth of texture I love—I love everything about it. I scooped up everything that was left on the bolt, just under 3m, although it’s only about 90cm (41″) wide. And now that spring is edging around the corner (it’s supposed to actually rain!), I’m itching to use it.

I just don’t know for what.

It’s got that great scalloped edge along both sides, which clamours to be worked into the hem of a skirt, but I don’t do dirndls particularly well. I’ve thought of a form-skimming t-shirt dress, sort of like this one Carolyn made her daughter. But is this really the best use of the lovely drape this has?

Help me out, people! What would you do with this?

UPDATE: WTF, it’s snowing again?!?


Filed under Sewing

I hate style blogs. (Not really)

One of my favourite styles from Self-Stitched September

OK, hate is too strong a word. In fact, I very much want to like them. I know for a fact I’m not the be-all, end-all of fashion (not when I spend as many days as I still do in jeans and a knit shirt). I have things to learn, especially about not dressing like a teenager/skank/student/harried mom. Sometimes all four together, which is not the best look ever. (What’s worse is that I’ll end up dressing like a teenager from ten years ago. Fail.)

So. Style blogs. I’ve tried them, I really have. I’ve flipped through Already Pretty, Fashion for NerdsWhat I Wore TodayInside-Out Style (some great info on dressing for your body type there, which basically amounted to what I’ve already figured out by trial and error. Nice to have the backup on why, for example, I hate belted on me)…

And here’s the thing. With sewing blogs, if I see something I love, my first thought is—what pattern did she use? How hard would it be to knock it off?

All I think of when I’m reading style blogs is either a) not me (which could mean “not

my style” or “gorgeous but not going to work on my body”) or b) I want it! And in this second case, unlike the sewing blog, I can’t have it, because obviously it’s in someone else’s closet and I’m not buying RTW much these days anyway even if it’s still available in a country near me. And she definitely doesn’t have a helpful how-to on how she knocked off this Anthropologie-esque look

It’s almost as frustrating as when I used to read “women’s magazines” at the gym. This was pretty much the only point in my life I’ve actually read a women’s magazine, by the way. It didn’t do too much of a number on my body image—I was 23 and 115 lbs and going to the gym regularly enough that I was actually toned, what did I have to complain about—but it did leave me with the intense desire to shop. Especially bad since then, even more than now, the shopping budget was basically nonexistent. So I resigned myself to digging through the piles for the occasional copy of Newsweek or MacLean’s.

A fun photo

Which I guess is a roundabout way of saying that I find style blogs frustrating. Which isn’t fair at all to style bloggers, who I’m sure are lovely people just trying to share their wardrobe creativity with the world—which is what we sewistas are doing, too, in a slightly different way. But I feel faintly like I’m butting my head up against a wall—trying to take something away from the blog that isn’t actually there, or wanting something that isn’t really on offer.

I guess I’m thinking about this, too, because we’re on the cusp of Me Made March and my own blog is going to devolve, temporarily, into a rather lackluster version of a style blog, probably with far more jeans-and-random-knit-top than is strictly good for it. And it’s a good thing, because it will push me to wear more of my less-used clothes (Businesswoman Pants anyone?), and to find ways to be more creative with what I have. But it’s (at least potentially) a bad thing in that my “product”, which is sewing and yakking, will be at least somewhat changed to “styling and yakking,” with sewing interspersed.

I miss my lawn.

Looking back at these highlights of SSS makes me more excited for my impending style-bloggishness, but then these are my faves out of the whole month. On the other hand, I have a number of fun items I didn’t have before, at least some of which I need a little push to get me wearing.

Speaking of which, the Businesswoman Pants got their first out-of-the-house wearing ever today. Mostly because the button had come off and it took me this long to get around to fixing it. They were, I’m happy to report, deliciously warm, which is good considering the daytime high today was -23C (not including wind chill… and it was windy).

So what do you think about style blogs? Love ’em? Leave ’em? What am I not getting? What do you get out of them, if you do love ’em? (and what killer-awesome-knock-your-socks-off ones am I missing?)


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

I want horsehair braid.

In real life, this is another muted purple. Apparently my lighting completely fails to capture this colour.

I think this is the fabric that will become my first skirt for the petticoat. It’s a thrift-store find, yummy purple herringbone wool (I seem to be on a purple kick here.) But now, ah, now I am torn. So many decisions. Do I want to cut the skirt in a single piece? Do I want to try and have front and back seams on the bias, matching the herringbone? How will I mark the hem before I hem it? How do I want to hem it? Narrow hem, hem facings… horsehair braid. Sigh. I want horsehair braid. I haven’t seen it at Fabricland but it’s certainly possible I missed it.  I *really* love the look and hang of the skirts I’ve seen (pictured) using this. Second best, I guess, would be a hem facing, but it always seems like that would just take up an obscene amount of additional fabric. And then there’s a lining. I really don’t have anything on hand that would work. Do I need a lining for a skirt I’m going to put a petticoat underneath? Maybe I don’t.  Will I ever want to wear the skirt without the petticoat? Doubtful. I much prefer how they look with some pouf. Grum, grum.

On the Men’s Shirt Sewalong front,

Left, woven-stripe cotton; right, black flannel.

I have two fabrics picked out and pre-washed, though I suspect the flannel, at least, should be washed a couple more times to make sure all that pesky shrinking is taken care of (I hear flannel’s a progressive shrinker.) Both of these fabrics are black*, and by some miracle I managed to capture the texture, if not the colour, of both. The woven-stripe stuff on the left would appear much smoother if it were ironed, but to be honest, my inclination to iron my hubby’s shirts is about on par with my inclination to run a marathon. I keep thinking that it would be a worthy goal, but there are far too many more immediate and rewarding things to spend my time on. Fortunately his work supplies his uniforms, so any clothing I make will just be worn to and from work and around the house, so a slouchy, casual shirt is fine (Yes, I will press while sewing, I promise. Just maybe not ever again, after). I will make my first try from the black flannel, as it was significantly cheaper.

Butterick 3364

I’m thinking I will go with view A for the first shirt after all, as I think the seaming would spice up an otherwise terribly plain shirt. Also I noticed some hand-topstitching on a male co-worker’s shirt (anyone else in this sewalong, are you ogling menswear around you as badly as I am?) today that looked really nice. If it turns out well I might consider something like that—again, it could be a subtle way to jazz up the flannel without trying to appear formal.

I guess I should really get on, y’know, tracing the darned pattern before I get too far ahead of myself, eh?

And on that note, what I thought was going to be a super-quick fabrics post turned into half a book, so I’ll end it here.

*here’s the problem. My hubby, the light of my life, a funny, insane, delightfully stylish man, wears only three colours. Black, white, and denim**. Occasionally a small amount of red or purple, as an accent, is tolerable. Although he really doesn’t like red. He doesn’t even wear grey.

**for him, this is a colour.


Filed under Sewing


Coat, interlining, lining

I feel a little unpatriotic for picking a baseball over a hockey metaphor. Oh well. Progress on Fyon’s coat was continuing incrementally but steadily (holidays are definitely over) until last night I realized that the coating fabric really should’ve been underlined. It lets a bit too much light through to be lined with light fleece. WHOOPS! Fortunately I had purchased just over two meters of black cotton flannelette the other day for a (hopefully) wearable muslin of my sweetie’s shirt. But there was just over 2m left on the bolt, which I was worried would not be enough for a man’s shirt after flannelette’s notorious shrinkage. So I guess it can become girl coat underlining, and I’ll pick up some more. It’s not like it was expensive. Of course, the other problem here is that I have already constructed both shell and lining. So I guess the “underlining” will be more of an interlining. On the upside, flannelette is such a dream to cut and sew that I almost don’t mind the extra work.

One cute little collar, coming up.

The collar is also sewn and steamed, for whatever good that will do. 😉 I think I am starting to get the hang of the whole turn-of-cloth thing, for collars like this, anyway. Also getting a bit better at those tight corner curves… A little bit, at least.

I fought off the temptation to try and machine-blind-hem, mostly because I wasn’t confident I could get the crease out after, as I’m trying to avoid hard pressing on this spongy fabric. So it has a hand-stitched outer hem, anyway. I think I will check out Gigi’s post on finishing hem/facings to see if I can make head or tails out of it. Usually my lack of precision is hampering in these areas and I compensate with lots of hand stitching, er, couture detail.

Oh, and I remembered to put in a label and hanging loop! This ribbon is perfect for

Label and hanging loop

the coat—although I’m not convinced how sturdy it will be. Ah well. Odds of small fingers managing to use the loop even if it is there? Minimal, I’d say. Anyway, all that remains is hemming the lining, attaching the collar, and attaching lining/facings to coat. Not necessarily in that order.

I have a feeling my next “for me” project will be the fluffy petticoat. I seem to have fallen off the “practical clothing” bandwagon this year (so far. Maybe because my wearable wardrobe is no longer critically low, or maybe because, like everyone else, I’m just sick of winter sewing (although this

Fluffy petticoat supplies

doesn’t explain the continued coatitis). But the materials have been building for ages—the chiffon (background, left) since Aug. 2009, the idea since sometime in the summer of 2010, and the whole spool of gathered lace (top left) appearing at Value Village last weekend seems to have pushed things over the top. Now, making a tiered skirt is dead easy—this is ultimately just a shorter version of the tiered dance skirts I’ve made several times now, on various scales. But I really like Sugardale’s tutorial because of how she uses ribbon to finish the seams, so I’ll be going that route. Zena has another method that produces nicely-finished results, more for dance skirts (hers are like better-made, better-finished versions of mine). And I will have to consider how to use the vintage lace with the coral flowers. I would have used it on the lower edge but there’s only 4m, and 4m is not a full enough hem for a petticoat.

Just for the record, I have no skirts at all to wear with said petticoat. Yet. But then I’ve been thinking about a circle skirt since summer and been disinclined to make one because I only like how they look with petticoats under. Chicken and egg. But I’ve decided that the petticoat will be my egg, and hopefully once it’s done chickens will ensue. Yeah. If that makes any kind of sense at all.

But first… I have a little coat to finish.


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…)


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It’s Steph’s fault.

I should be making up another long-sleeve knit top, or at most cutting out another pair of jeans. But she left the sweetest little invitation to join in the Vintage Sewalong 2011 in her comment on my last post. So of course I had to go check it out.

Simplicity 5728, on the right

And the next thing I know, it’s 10:00 pm (we’re staying up late these days with the kids out of school and my hubby not starting work until 9:30 in the morning) and I’m pulling out the pieces of Simplicity 5728, doing a bit of tissue fitting on my duct-tape me (I suppose I should dignify her with a name…), and finally decided to make my first muslin as-is. I did trace out the bodice pieces first, however, since I was anticipating fairly extensive lengthening alterations. This is, after all, a pattern drafted for someone a good half a foot shorter than me. (I have, however mentioned that most of my height is in my legs. The pattern’s back neck-to-waist measure is 15″, which is the same as mine.) So I pulled out my trusty blue flannel ex-duvet (what will I do when it runs out?) and cut out the pieces. Then, bright ‘n early (okay, not early—you saw the bit about tracing this out at 10pm last night—and not bright as it’s snowing once again) this morning I popped out of bed and threw the thing together.

Oh, god. This means I need to show you…

fitting pictures.


Simplicity 5728, Muslin 1: front

Well, it is a little bit short, at least in the front. The empire seam in the front could come down about 1/2″. The bottom of the front is almost exactly at my waist (and of course it needs to be about 5/8″ lower).

Simplicity 5728, back

The back is… well, practically perfect, length-wise. There are a couple of drag lines under the arms (if someone can enlighten me as to what they mean I’d be super-delighted… is is that the armscye is too high? it is high, although not uncomfortably so…), but they pretty much disappear if I cross my arms so I suspect I should just leave them (?).

Simplicity 5728, back, with arms crossed

The back hem could probably come up at bit at the CB, which I guess would be a swayback alteration? I’ve never done a swayback alteration where I had a waist seam to play with, so I’m not quite sure what the procedure is—I’ve heard some people rail that the hem must be kept on grain, and others say that you can just take a bit off it. I will have to do some research 🙂

Simplicity 5728, side view

There’s some tweaking to be done around the shoulders/back neck where I removed the collar—it won’t be a problem. The armscye is high but I think will be comfortable—I have pretty scrawny arms. The side-seams seem to be in the right place.

So… any suggestions on lengthening the front but not the back? Maybe I could just increase the curve at the gathered part to build that extra length in there, without having to mess with any of the other seams at all? Or add the 1/2″ to the CF neckline and curve that out. On the other hand I don’t really have the bust to fill in too much more gathering in that area, though I can always wear the bullet-proof bra, I suppose.

I eagerly await your thoughts and suggestions!


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Theoretical Sewing

Fantasy jacket, side view

If I may steal a phrase from Elizabeth.

My goal this weekend is to see if I can, somehow, catch up on my much-neglected NaNoWriMo novel (if you scroll down to the bottom of my sidebar, you will see on my widget that I am sorely behind, while the month is nearly done. I blame this squarely on sewing. In my non-sewing (or at least, non-sewing-obsessively-except-when-thinking-about-sewing-obsessively) days I had no trouble pumping out my 2k words a day. This year, it’s been a struggle. Grr. Not helped by the fact that my main character has two small kids and over the course of the story so far has acquired a third, and getting your character to do anything with three kids under the age of five is almost as hard as actually doing anything yourself with that many small children. Who knew? Anyway. So I’m trying to not sew this weekend. Despite that, my brain is fluttering with things I’d like to make. In particular, this jacket-cum-sweater thing. I’ve been thinking that I love the idea of a blazer for everyday wear, but in practice I find them restrictive and end up reaching for my bunnyhug (hoodie to those of you who don’t hail from central Saskatchewan). It’s the bastard lovechild of the Lady Grey and the Kimono-Style Bunnyhug on Burdastyle. In particular, I want to make it out of sweatshirt-material,

front view

with a shawl collar. Which will require—yes, you guessed it—drafting. Ulp. So naturaly, I spent a chunk of time yesterday when I should’ve been writing, looking up how to draft shawl collars. And then working up these sketches. And now, when I should be writing, I’m making a blog post. *headdesk*

I’ll get to it right away, I promise. No tea until I start writing. Ok, no more tea.

Also, my sketching is sooo out of practice. Not surprising—I’ve done very little figure drawing, none of it life-drawing, since Tyo was born—but painful, still. The side view above is decent but the front view is indifferent at best. Bleh. I always did like profiles (you don’t have to get both sides symmetrical! 😉 ). I’ve done scientific illustrations out the wazoo the last several years, but those don’t really use the same skill-set. I love drawing fabric, though. I love drawing clothes. I always have. My main annoyance with most of the figure-drawing I did in early Uni was that it was all nudes. Which are interesting in their own way—once you add clothes you are no longer drawing “a person” but drawing a particular kind of person; the figure acquires layers of connotation that were absent from the nude—but I wanted to practice drawing clothes as they fit around a person.

Anyway, I’m obviously stalling. Off to write!


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A coat for Tyo?

So I may have mentioned already that I bought some (other) fabric last week. In fact, it was a bit of a binge-week, fabricwise (gotta love payday), but this is the EXPENSIVE fabric. Not the random metres snagged at the thrift-store, but real, honest-to-goodness expensive bought fabric.

Boiled "wool" camry

As a self-justification (can you tell how guilty I’m feeling about this?) I had a 50% off coupon for Fabricland (up to 5m of fabric) that expired at the end of October. My plan was to finally splurge on some wool melton ($16.50/m sounds much more palatable than $33/m, yes?). Red and a little bit of black. But there was this other fabric, a “boiled wool camry” (all “wools” at Fabricland, incuding the melton, are, in fact, wool blends, as far as I can tell). Its basic price was a little cheaper ($24/m), and it had a really interesting texture to the surface that the melton lacks. It had caught my eye before. It’s also a knit, which is interesting; it has a little give but isn’t what I would call stretchy.

And, this past week, it was on sale for $10/m.

That’s more than %50 off.

So I bought it instead. My precious 50%-off coupon will, it appears, expire, unused. 5m of red wool, 1 of black. The idea was to create something similar to my long-destroyed HBC blanket coat, with pieced-in or applique’d stripes, either for my long-neglected Lady Grey or even a rehash of my Winter Coat pattern (with the standard collar and lapel this time)



I’ve mentioned before that Tyo is in need of a new winter coat this year. And I’ve toyed with the idea of making one (provided I could throw it together quickly enough. But I didn’t think I had a good pattern handy, and am still worried  about whether my construciton techniques will be warm enough to get me through the winter.

Probably I should’ve spent that $60 on a coat for Tyo. Hence the guilt.

Girls' double-breasted coat

Then, yesterday, I stumbled again across this pattern. Cute, no? I originally downloaded it in September off the Lekala website when they were offering free downloads (in limited sizes); it came in a kid’s size 120, a bit small for Tyo.

But, many of the Lekala patterns are available, albeit in limited/fixed sizes, from M-sewing.com. So it occurred to me to check over there.

Now, I have to admit I’m pretty suspicious of these pattern companies. The few reviews of Lekala patterns have agreed that the instructions are useless and some of the measurements perhaps dodgy. More, I just don’t GET it. I don’t know where they come from, why a Russian site and an English-language one are offering the same patterns (albeit with a different sizing system), one for free and one charging. I guess basically, I don’t know where the money is, so I’m wary.

That being said, there are some pretty cute patterns on the sites, and I’m pretty sure I can throw a coat together without instructions at this point. I showed this one to Tyo and she said she loved it. Especially if it were in red. With, say, a black collar.

So I was able to download the coat off the m-sewing site in child’s size 134, which is Tyo’s

M-sewing pattern image

Burda/Ottobre size, and the measurements SEEM compatible (I should probably measure her again, however, to be sure). The other problem with the m-sewing (but not the Lekala) downloads is that the PDF isn’t tiled for printing at home. Apparently newer versions of Adobe Acrobat will tile it for you, but my archaic version won’t, and the built-in tiling software in my printer is limited to set sizes. I could print it at a copy-shop, but that would require spending actual money (as opposed to money on ink and paper, which doesn’t for some reason count), which I’m disinclined to do on a pattern I don’t trust. So I spent some time messing around with some equally archaic software, “poster printer“, and have what I HOPE is a reasonably-close printout.

Next step, of course, will be muslining. I figure whatever fabric I use for my muslin I’ll re-use for underlining, thus alleviating a) waste, and b) warmth worries. Unless of course it’s a total wadder, in which case, well, I get to use my red fabric for ME. Although with 5m of the red I really should have enough for a coat for Tyo AND one for me, even if I can’t use the Lady Grey pattern.

Of course one other big question remains: will I have time to get this done in November?


Filed under Sewing