Tag Archives: Springy Coat

The Great Reveal

Ze Coat, She is finished!

Step right up, ladies and gent (there is at least one gent reading out there, I think?). You’ve borne with me through I don’t even want to count how many Springy Coat posts this month. And now, here we are, at the end of April (how did that happen?) and, at last—the Springy Little Coat is done!

At this point you’ve probably heard everything there is to hear about the construction of this coat. So all I’ll say is that I used seam-binding on the shell hem, stretching as I sewed, which worked fairly well for pulling it in (the joys of an A-line hem), then handstitched. For the lining I did a blind-hem (just for fun… I suck at machine blind-hems). I didn’t quite get my lining length vs. shell length right—the lining was a bit long—but I’m not going to complain at this point. (And better too long than too short, right?)

I also gave in and hand-stitched the lining at the cuffs. I know, not the point. But with my cuffs, it just seemed awkward, bulky, and likely to screw up to do it by machine.

Then I dug out all the coordinating (and some not-coordinating) clothes in my closet and played around in front of a mirror.

A lot. And since I’m not nearly as good as Patty at picking the one or two absolute best shots, I will hereby subject you to a crapload of them:

If I get my way, I will get better (outdoor!) shots this weekend, and subject you to those, too. I think by Sunday it should be warm enough to wear my coat out of doors. For now, it’s snowing again. (Obviously my strategy of invoking spring through sewing has failed. I should just cave and start making sweaters and snowsuits.)

Incidentally I’ve decided (along with most of the rest of those in the RTW sewalong, no doubt) to enter my Springy Little Coat in the PR Lined Jacket Contest, so if you’re a PR member go ahead and vote (ideally for me, but y’know. May the best jacket win and all that…)! Fortunately for me, Patty’s coat, which is almost a dead ringer for mine, can’t receive votes as she won the wardrobe contest in March.

For that matter, if you’re a Canadian, you have some voting to do, too—Monday, peeps! I happen to live in the Prime Minister’s riding, so I have the rare privilege of actually voting directly for (or, as the case may be, against) him—although since he’s pretty much guaranteed to win his seat, it does make it seem a bit pointless voting for anybody else. The joys of a parliamentary system.



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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.


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Springy coat---now with collar!

So yesterday I took the opportunity afforded by my kids’ last day off school to sew shamelessly. I caught up on the RTW Tailoring sewalong. I washed most of my new finds. I played with my buttonholer, and I traced out Simplicity 6023.

Springy Coat---cuff

It is by dint of great restraint that I am not showing you full, modeled shots of my springy coat, as I am loving it. But I am determined to retain some elements of surprise, so you will have to subsist on teasers for the moment. The sleeves went in well, although my princess seams don’t line up with the sleeve seams as well as I’d hoped (sniffle). There was a bit more ease to the sleeve cap than I might have liked, although it wasn’t a problem with this particular fabric. Denim would be another story, I’m sure. I love my buttons, too. I forgot to add a hanging-loop and my label before sewing in the facing, maybe I will just have to do that by hand…

The buttonholer is fun to play with. I sat down and read through the manual. I oiled in the spots that said “oil”. I twiddled with the adjustment knob until I figured out how to crank the template around (not without some moments where I was convinced it was broken and/or seized. But, with much reference to the manual and a little bit of blind faith—it works! Gorgeously.


Now I want more templates. 😉 The keyhole template is 1 1/4″ long and I stitched it at the widest available width. The little tiny buttonhole on the right is 1cm long (the smallest template that came with) and stitched on the narrowest option. Both of these are stitched along the seam of a scrap of denim left from some child’s pants that became shorts; they’re stitched along the seam, so through four layers of denim plus serging. For some reason I really want the eyelet template, now. There’s a video of the same sort of thing on youtube here, by the inimitable BrianSews. You can see the Greist starting about 1:00 in. I initially thought the stitch-length was a bit long for my liking, but you just keep going around and around your buttonhole until it looks the way you want. Fun!


I decided, after much wringing of hands, that Simplicity 6023 would be next up (it’s still a little too cold to think about wearing the runner-up, McCall’s 3415.) Unfortunately, when I started trying to lay out my pattern, I realized that my fabric is only 45″ wide—which means I’m about a metre short (especially since I’d been wanting to do some of the plaid on the bias). D’oh! I think I can do it by using a contrast fabric for the collar, yoke, and cuffs. I have some black stretch linen that’s about the right weight and stretch (the plaid has stretch, too) but it’s earmarked for a shirt for the ungrateful hubby, and I don’t think I have enough to do both. So I’ll check at Fabricland to see if I can get any more. If only I’d realized this last weekend during the 50% off sale… I also need a zipper and dark knit interfacing.

As to the pattern itself, I pulled out the pieces from Simplicity 5728 (apparently 1973 was a good year for Simplicity—both these patterns are from it), which, as you may recall, fit me remarkably well for being a size 11 Junior Petite. Now, 11JP has the same bust measurement as Misses’ 12 (and is a measurement I can reach with a good, padded bra), but is drafted for someone considerably shorter. Despite that, it fit me amazingly well through the upper body, although I added a generous amount of length to the sleeves and skirt.

More Jacket fun!

Upon comparing the tweaked 5728 pieces to the Misses’ 12 6023, I think I can get much the same fit just by reducing the length through the armscye by about 2cm. I also did the same little swayback adjustment. If these are my “standard” Simplicity adjustments, I’m excited, as it will give me more confidence going forward with, say, Simplicity 66o2, which also walked home with me from the thrift store on the weekend. Doesn’t that look like fun? (my camera ate the photo I took of my envelope, so I nabbed this one from the Vintage Pattern Wiki entry—my pattern is in fact a size 12. I have some robin’s egg blue stretch corduroy that I think strongly wants to become this jacket—and possibly the entire ensemble.

It is just possible that I might be a jacketoholic.

Oh, in other good news, the missing fabrics I was moaning about have re-surfaced. They were stuffed in various boxes in the kids’ playroom (which is adjacent to my “sewing room”). The fact that my children, who had tidied the playroom days before I discovered the absences, denied any knowledge of the contents of their toyboxes continues to rankle.


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A tale of impatience and disorganization

Bound Buttonholes

To ease my coat-making itch while sticking to the RTW tailoring schedule, I was going to try and bang off a coat for my second niece this weekend—basically this one, in a slightly smaller size, with a blue leopard lining rather than a pink. Despite an acute (if pleasant) case of inlaw-itis, I could easily have messed around with this for a few hours on Sunday, maybe even conscripting my mother-in-law for a bit of light cutting or something.

However, my notoriously disorganized, chronically un-sorted stash failed me. I would’ve sworn the rest of the black sparkly boiled wool was tucked safely deep in my main tub. I located the fleece lining and the flannel interlining easily. But despite tearing apart my “sewing room” three or five or seven times on the weekend, I can’t find the shell fabric.

Which I guess means it’s not in the sewing room. Which I guess means it’s somewhere else in the house. And despite searching every closet I can think of, I can’t find it.

I also can’t find the four metres of cream sweatshirt knit I picked up a few weeks back. This is even more disturbing. How do you lose FOUR METRES of a heavy-duty knit? Except that I wasn’t hoping to have a little jacket made out of it to take home with me over Easter. Anyway…


To assuage my itchy fingers, I got ahead of myself. I tried not to, really. I graded every seam I could think of. I took the plunge and made bound buttonholes. But then, last night everyone else was watching some incredibly dreary Jean-Claude Van Damme movie (it seemed to involve a lot of torture in a Russian prison), and I just couldn’t resist.

I stitched the shoulders and side-seams.

Probably I shouldn’t have. Probably Sherry has some secret technique involving seam tape and ninja seamstress fu, and I have now rendered my Spring Coat thoroughly un-tailored. If so, well, I will abase myself before the altars of the sewing gods and as penance look up how to actually oil my serger properly.

I’ve mentioned before that this is my favourite moment in sewing a top—when it goes from an assortment of flat pieces to a garment, however unfinished. Setting a sleeve comes close, but it’s still not quite that magical.

The back

So, the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The good: I am going to have a SUPER CUTE COAT! YAY!

The Bad: I think I must have sewn my back pleat a smidge too wide; the top is a bit snug and the side-seams seem to pull a bit to the back, something they didn’t do in the various other iterations of this jacket.

At this point, fixing it would require unpicking both side and waist seams, and I just don’t think I can face it.

the front

The ugly: um, well, the bound buttonholes are straight. I did manage that much. Their lengths… are a bit irregular. To put it kindly. Which has everything to do with me sucking, but anyway.

There’s a bit of funniness in the hang of the back skirt, but I suspect it can be fixed by reworking the pressing in the pleat a wee bit. On the whole, I do think the front looks good!

I made the pocket bags huge, and they’re a little low—not badly so, but it’s a bit odd to not rest my hand on the bottom of the pocket. I have realized wearing my winter coat, however, that my kids love to stuff their hands (holding mine) in my pockets when we walk, and a giant pocket bag is great for this.

I only planned buttonholes for the bodice, but as there’s not a huge overlap in the front, I may need something lower down as well. I’m thinking a sew-in snap or two… we’ll see.

Also, do you think it needs a little back belt (like, say, Patty’s)? Or would that be overkill?


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Yay, sewing!

All the bits.

We got to start sewing today! YAY!

First, of course, I fused some more. I cut lengthwise strips of more of my white armoweft and fused the edges of every single piece of my fray-prone fashion fabric.

Trial buttonholes

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes messing with buttonholes. I used Sherry’s tutorial (might as well be consistent, right?), and it worked much better in this fabric than the super-duper thick boiled wool of my last try. Unfortunately, even with the use of felt marker to draw on my fabric, I can’t seem to get the buttonholes to come out straight. As usual, my precision falls short of Sherry’s.

I did some samples with my machine’s indifferent buttonhole function, the one that tends to choke on anything thicker than shirt fabric. It actually made fine buttonholes (remarkably). The lower one is corded (I used dental floss) which is a lot better looking than the regular one. I would prefer the bound buttonholes, but that’s pretty darn slanty :(.

Sherry made a comment in her post today about efficiency in stitching. I must admit I am not a terribly efficient sewist. Most notably, my ironing board is on a different floor (not room, but floor) than my sewing machine. I also tend to migrate where I cut things depending on who’s home and what surfaces are free of clutter at a given moment. All of which contributes to my husband’s general exasperation with my sewing hobby. For whatever reason today was particularly bad—I couldn’t decide which pieces I wanted to stitch, then when I did one had invariably gotten left downstairs at the iron board, or I needed a pattern piece to re-mark a pleat, or…  well, you get the idea.

Facing and back lining (not stitched together yet, mind you)

Despite the fun of actually getting to stitch (YAY!), there’s still a long way to go. My favourite touch so far is my piped facing, which I think will be such a nice, fun, secret peep (since I don’t have a fantabulous lining like Patty’s spring coat). I’d just like to point out that I am NOT knocking off Patty’s coat. We came to our (very similar) inspiration entirely independently, darnit!  Also, hers is made out of wool and silk, while mine is mystery synthetic fabric and known synthetic fabric. I’m not going to do uber-crazy covered buttons, either.

I didn’t like how the CB pleat in the lining of my 30s knockoff jacket fought with the pleat in the fashion fabric, so for this go I moved the pleat to two side-back positions. Hopefully that works out.

So far I have most of the “bits” together—princess seams stitched and pressed, pockets attached to skirt seams, pleats marked and stitched (where appropriate) and pressed. But skirt pieces are still separate. Somehow I don’t really feel like I’ve accomplished anything until I have side- and shoulder-seams stitched. Also I’m a bit scared of my sleeves (well, the cuffs). And the collar.

In an interesting construction note, I was dissecting my old winter coat (in an effort to copy its minimal shoulder pads), and noticed some nifty construction details. Aside from fabric strips linking the hem and lining hem, it also had strips of raw lining fabric anchoring the lining above and below the armscye (stitched to the sleeve seam allowances) and a similar attachment holding the mess of thin interfacing and foam that was the shoulderpad in place. Unfortunately, the shoulder-pad was so messed around and deformed that it was impossible to get much info out of it, so I had to wing my own—I’ll try to remember to photograph them next time. They’re just two layers of felty interlining, cut to a vaguely half-moon-sorta-shape with a small butted dart for shaping. Hopefully they’ll provide a reasonable compromise between smoothness and bulk…


Although I have no intention of turning this into a style blog, I felt like doing an outfit photo today, as I’m combinging my Businesswoman Pants, 30s Knock-Off, and black JJ blouse, which I think work quite nicely together. I seem to get really good customer service when I wear this jacket, or perhaps they’re just staring. At any rate, Hubby and I snuck off for a lunch at A&W (classy, I know) and I don’t think I’ve ever had such good service at a fast-food joint.

I have to take my joy where I can since this was the scene we woke up to this morning:

My back yard. Again.

Actually, this was mid-afternoon, when a fair bit had melted. The accumulation this morning was more like this photo.

Fortunately, it’s not actually any colder than yesterday, when it wasn’t snowing.

Did I ever mention that children are crazy?

Nuts, I tell you.


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What I Did Today

And twitchy. That inspired feeling where you want to madly do SOMETHING but aren’t sure where to put it. Which, considering I’m in the middle of a rather demanding sewalong, is ridiculous, but anyway.

Today, I fused.

And fused, and fused, and fused.

And then, when (almost) all of the fusing had been done, I cut my fashion fabric for the RTW tailoring sewalong. I am a good little sewist, yes I am. I’m still behind—I have to cut my lining, and I haven’t finished drafting my lining pattern yet (just need to do the pleat-less skirt lining). I should just do that, but I haven’t quite been able to bring myself to. Partly because the hubby and I spent half the afternoon nosing around a motorcycle repair/junkyard (I do love me an old, fugly motorcycle, even if I am far too chicken to ride one myself) and fantasizing about the near future when he will be able to ride his again. If it ever stops snowing, anyway. It snowed again yesterday. I swear if we don’t get a good, hot summer this year I’m going to run away to Australia. Argh.

Anyway, since I was feeling twitchy but unable to settle on what I should be doing (sewing-wise, anyway), I pulled out my new patterns. I was weak at VV the other day, and walked home with a couple of kids patterns (I know, what am I thinking?) and (yes, the End Times may be upon us) a home dec pattern.

An assortment of (mostly) unwise patterns.

For a kids’ stuffed chair.

I know, I know. Bear with me, though:

I have a house. (This is a fairly new thing for us). Said house has a finished basement, which is basically a large rec room in which the children run wild.

Despite having lived in this house for nearly two years, the only furniture in the basement is still the coffee table the TV is sitting on, one random (kitchen type) chair, and my ironing board. Well, unless you count the various plastic tubs the kids’ toys get shoved into at irregular intervals. We keep meaning to buy a futon, but haven’t found one we like (at least for a price we like), and so the usefulness of the space for anyone is kind of limited (although it’s excellent for banishing any number of visiting children to).

In addition to this un-furnished space, I have a lot of fabric scraps. Bags full. I’ve been thinking for a while that I should use them to stuff floor cushions. So when the chair pattern presented itself—well, I gave in. I’m pretty sure I have scraps for at least one chair already.

I’m not sure that squishy cushion chairs will actually make the basement more appealing to adults, but hopefully they’ll at least make the children more willing to watch movies down there (instead of, say, my bedroom).

I thought this Simplicity kids’ wardrobe pattern (bottom left) looked cute, too, and it was in sizes 8-16, which is a pretty nice range to give a try in the next few years.

Except that it’s not actually 8-16.

It’s 8 1/2 to 16 1/2

Man, I love these dresses...

Those would be, erm, robust sizes. My children, while not exactly string-beans, are really no wider than average relative to their heights. Heck, given the bust sizes on these patterns, I could fit a 12 1/2. If I were, y’know, 4″ 10″. (Which, given my success with the Junior Petite sizing, might actually not be that much of a stretch. And I wouldn’t have to do an SBA…)

Anyway, we’ll see; the kids are confident in my grading abilities; I am sceptical of my motivation. It’s still in its factory folds, too.

What I really want to make is hiding at the back.

Yes, my recent lovely addition to the “dresses I shouldn’t be sewing” list, another gorgeous 70s maxi-dress. I want to make the high-necked halter, and I will doubtless be seduced by the lure of the maxi-skirt even though the above-knee would be more practical. /sigh. I’m really going to have to make an effort to wear all these great dresses as the weather improves. And it will soon be joined by this pattern from Peter (squee!) So many dresses, so little time (and need!).

I did complete one (actually, two) finished objects today, though! Yes, Tyo and a friend need

Cave Girl

caveman (or cave girl, as the case may be) costumes for their spring choir concert. Fortunately for their theatrical aspirations, Value Village supplied a nice big piece of rather unglamorous fun-fur at just the right time, so I spent approximately half an hour with Tyo this afternoon figuring out the best way (or at least the way that meant the least amount of effort for me) to turn one very long rectangle of fur into two fur “dresses”.  So I got to photograph my very own Homo habilis. Although with that posture I’m not sure she’s even on the hominin lineage…

To prove that this actually is sewing (not just cutting and draping), there is actually one seam at the side. The shoulder is pinned together with sticks, pending production of some “bone” pins.

I really do prefer this picture, though:


Cave Girl Rock


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Accessory after the fact?

In the interest of having something to talk about other than pattern twiddling (almost there… I think…) and tiny pleating samples, I thought I’d muse for a minute or two on something that came up a bit in the comments of my last post.


Yes, I know, this includes a fairly large chunk of things I can’t sew, so really has no place here, but bear with me, I just spent two hours trying to figure out how to rotate an undersleeve. (Thank you, Sherry, for responding to my piteous pleas… 😉 ). So, accessories.

I was a bit surprised to get compliments on my shoes and belts, of all things, since I generally think I’m… not rubbish at accessorizing, exactly, but I tend not to think about it much. I have a few go-to pieces that I use a LOT (like my belts) and then there’s the really costumy stuff (like the spiked belt in the foreground up there) that only comes out for special occasions. Which are few and far between these days, frankly. (Ok, I did wear the belt with the big spikes a lot at first, but it’s gradually shedding spikes so now I save it…)

I know a lot of people (*cough my mother cough*) who can do amazing things with accessories. Scarves, necklaces, bracelets, rings, hats, shoes—all can put an outfit from boring to chic, or from chic to out of the ballpark. But most often I don’t even think of them. I do up my game a bit for photo shoots (shocker) especially since I don’t need to limit my footwear to what’s weather-appropriate that I can put up with on my feet for eight hours. My usual accessorizing is a pair of big dangly earrings and maybe (maybe, maybe) a necklace. Once in a blue moon, a bracelet. The one big thing I really never, ever got a hang of is scarves (for decorative, rather than functional purposes… when it comes to wrapping up your face, I’m a champion scarf-wearer). My mom does amazing things with them. I just feel fake and showy.

The jewelry box

I have a mixed relationship with hats. Obviously they’re necessary for winter—I have a red velvet, vaguely turban-esque hat that I wear in the winter that is my “hat that makes winter worthwhile”, and it does admirably except that it’s not warm enough for the truly cold weather, so when it gets really grim I wear a toque, or my hoodie hood, underneath it. Not the best look, but fashion suffers all around when it comes to the deep minuses. Anyway, I like hats. I look good in them. But they don’t work well with my short, spiky hair. And since it’s very unlikely that I won’t want to take my hat off at some point, I never wear them. Sad, I know.

I am a big fan of the huge, dangly earrings. Unlike hats, they do go well with the short spiky hair. Although I do find my ears getting a bit sensitive now that I’m older (I fear the days of shoving a safety pin through the hole and calling it good are gone) so I don’t wear them every day.

Necklaces I’m fine with as long as they’re short, I prefer chokers or just a little bit longer… but I don’t really think of them for everyday. Same with bracelets, although these tend to annoy me, and don’t play well with long sleeves (or at least I don’t know how to make them play well)

A lot of my pieces in the shot above are, you may have noticed, a wee bit costumy? Most of it was bought with belly dance in mind, even the stuff that didn’t end up being quite over-the-top enough. Once in a while there’s a regular outfit or occasion where I get to break out this “good stuff”, but it’s rare. Too bad, really. I love these pieces. They may technically be costume jewelry—no precious metals or genuine jewels here—but they warm my heart.

What’s your favourite accessory? Are you using your accessories to the best of your ability? And most importantly—what am I missing out on?

Sample pleats. Interfaced version on right.

Now, so it’s not a completely sewing-free post, I’ll show you my sample cuff-pleats. After my musing the other day, I thought that I might try and just line my cuffs with lining fabric rather than fashion fabric, to reduce bulk. And I’m happy to say, I think this approach will work. The sample on the left has no interfacing, the sample on the right has, and really I don’t see any difference at all between the two of them once pressed. For each sample pleat I edgestitched one folded side but left the other (you should be able to see the difference if you click through to the full-size photo)… I will edgestitch the inner folds, but I’m kinda leaning towards leaving the outer folds alone. Thoughts?


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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

Springy Little Coat—Muslin edition

Hip hip hooray for the RTW sewalong kicking off! … once I got over the shock of realizing (silly me) that it was starting a day earlier than I had thought, on acount of being run from the future, aka the other side of the International Date Line.

Those of you on flickr may have seen this image a couple of days ago, but I thought I’d share it here for (I hope) a wider audience. (No hope of taking outside photos today, it’s dreary and with the winter storm warning in effect it’s not a matter of if we get snow, but when)

Coat skirt muslin

This is a muslin for (most) of my Springy Little Coat. And overall, I think it looks pretty good, although I must admit, at this stage it looks remarkably similar to this. Perhaps I could’ve saved myself some pattern-drafting time and just swiped the skirt panels from the dress? Ah, well.

That aside, the skirt hem is pretty level, the width is nice, the pleats seem to fall relatively as-they-should. I think I want it a wee bit shorter (say, two inches), but that’s why we make the muslin. I was quite chipper.

Then, yesterday, I was looking at my pattern pieces, and I realized… my front skirt piece is more than an inch longer than my rear skirt piece.

This is disturbing on two levels. Not that I would manage to measure them the wrong length—I know that kind of drafting sloppiness is well within my capabilities, and I hate walking seams so I’m not surprised I didn’t catch it, either. No, what have me flummoxed are 1) how I actually managed to sew those dissimilar lengths together and have them match up perfectly (with no visible puckering, although obviously a crapload of bias easing was involved), and 2) oh crap, that means that my skirt front probably does need to be longer than the back… at least at the CF. Which makes sense since I know by under-bust seam isn’t perfectly level—it runs straight around my body, but straight around my body is at an angle to the ground, as my entire rib-cage is tilted—part and parcel of that weird postural thing called a swayback.

So I should really probably modify my skirt lengths to reflect the uneven waist—basically what I did here by accident, but on purpose, with pattern pieces that actually match up. /sigh.

In (final) MMM news,

Cowly Jacket and 70s Dress!

At long last, I managed to wear this combo yesterday, for the last day of Me-Made March. Hooray! I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm up enough for a decent photo of this combination ever since I finished the jacket. Yay! Of course, my backdrops can’t quite compete with Debi’s, but, well, that’s life. There’s a few east-coast places that can compete with Europe for architecture, but nothing this far west. And miracle of miracles, the outside photos seem to have finally captured the fact that this dress is purple, not black! 😉

I’ve actually worn this dress three times this month, which is pretty unusual considering the weather and the dressness of it all. Yesterday, for a plus, I wasn’t even staying home all day—I had to drop the car off at the shop, pick up the rental, and then, as it turned out, pick the hubster up at work and drive him to the ER since the silly boy put something heavy and metallic through his finger and needed a number of stitches.

I may do a MMM-wrap up post later in the weekend (depending on how much real sewing I get done 😉 ), but for now just a couple of thoughts.

  1. It was a lot easier than SSS, in terms of variety of items (especially pants!)
  2. I still wound up wearing my RTW hoodie… I guess I should break down and make a me-made version. More warm things!
  3. But they need to be in neutral colours—I don’t think I wore my red cardi-wrap once, not so much because of the hole I accidentally snipped in it back in November (although that didn’t help), but because it doesn’t go with any of my new, springy-coloured shirts. And I am thoroughly bored of my black knit tops by now…
  4. my photography this month was not great—worse than last time 😦
  5. I am a little relieved to get back to not-quite-posting-every-day. Much as I love it, it’s a bit much to maintain with everything else in life.

I’ll go into what I didn’t wear, and why, a bit more comprehensively later. For now, I just want to toss this out there, with maybe a link to the full flickr set of Me-Made March (missing, I think, only one day)


Filed under Sewing

Sticks and stones may break my bones…

But internet views will never hurt me.

Ok, I think this is my first official bandwagon post—you know, when a topic takes blogland by storm and for a week or so everyone’s covering the same theme? Well, in last couple of days the Sewaholic and the Slapdash Sewist, among others, have covered that ever-present internet boogie-man (bogey-man? 😉 ), the creepy-picture-viewer. And, well, aside from opening my big mouth in various comments, I guess I’m feeling the need to throw my opinion out there “officially”.

In short form, my opinion is this: I refuse to let the existence of pervs out there control my behaviour, whether in real life or on the internet.

To expound a bit, any time we put any bit of our life out there—by posting on the internet, or even by leaving our houses—we are exposing some aspect of ourselves to other people, some of whom may, in fact, be thinking things that would, if we knew it, make us uncomfortable.

This tends to come up in the context of Flickr, where (unlike our regular blog posts) we

may actually find out if a creep is perusing our photos, typically when said creep favourites them. Doubtless the exact same thing is happening with our regular blog photos on the hardrives of pervs (or just horny young men) around the world, but since we have no way of knowing that, we can remain blissfully ignorant.

My central thesis, I guess, is that while I have no control at all over what the creeps of the internet do, I do have control over my own actions. In this case, over whether (and what) photos I will post, but also in how I choose to react to the fact that the nasties are, in fact, out there. I wrestled with this a lot when I was first creating online personas—I even toyed with the notion, at the beginning of this blog, of keeping it head-free. That lasted all of about three posts.

Because here’s the thing. What they are doing doesn’t affect me unless I let it. Like a kid calling you a name in grade school, it only hurts if you allow that person to have some power over you. Even less so, because most of these creepies I will never even know about. And I would much rather create an open, authentic blog, that shares my life—the sewing parts of it, anyway—honestly. Because I value the connection I have with you, my readers, the ones who participate, comment, and put up your own blog posts in turn—far more than I dread the occasional creep using my photos for his own personal gratification. None of the photos on this blog are anything I would hesitate to own up to in real life—even my vagueness about my name and location have more to do with fending off google searches from my regular “career” than a desire to keep you guys in the dark. Nothing here is an embarrassment to me. (Well, except perhaps some of those sewing disasters…). I want my blog to have the features that I look for in other blogs, and openness, honesty, and, yes, faces, are some of the things I look for.

Actual "creep-favourited" photo

This is not to say I don’t take basic precautions. My comments are moderated (though I don’t think I’ve ever had a really nasty one, just spammers),  I keep tabs on my flickr stream (and always have) and don’t hesitate to block the odd creep. I like how nice and safe and friendly the sewing-blogland is, and I certainly want my content to reflect this. Because that’s what’s real, in that that’s what forms my experience. The phantoms of nastiness may exist, but they don’t form part of the regular give and take that is the blog community. And as long as what I’m posting is content I’m happy to own, what someone else might do with it is something I’m not going to waste my time worrying about. I have sewing to do, damn it!

(Naturally, your mileage may vary, just as your tolerance for that kid calling you names in third grade may have been different than mine. Everyone should, of course, take the route that makes them comfortable—much as I enjoy reading others’ blogs, the fact is that blogs are ultimately by and for the writers, and you need to do what’s right for you and permits you peace of mind.)

Cuff mock-up

Speaking of sewing, I did manage to make a mock-up of the inverted-box-pleat cuff for my springy coat. And I think I’m happy with it. I’m thinking I will edgestitch the pleats to keep them sharp, although not in a contrasting colour in the final project (but the red was still in my machine from the jean jacket).

A better view of the pleat.

In Me-Made March news,

MMM day 30

gee, where have you seen these items before? I keep planning to wear something fancy, and then wimping out. I’ll doll up tomorrow, I promise…

Cowl top
skinny jeans


Filed under Sewing