Saturday, 16 March 2019

Trench Dress: Burda Style 6321

The chic nature of the trench dress soared as a trend to watch when in 2018 Meaghan Markle appeared in a blush pink sleeveless trench dress by Canadian fashion designer Nina Khaney's fashion label Nonie. 

The Inspiration dress

The trend took off from there. The trench dress is still available on Nonie's website for a cool $1,085 (Cdn).  As well, independent and the Big Four pattern companies are coming out with their own version of the trench / coat dress.  Sure, the trench has been around since the first world war and adapted as a fashionable look well before this event. Even Tim Gunn as long sang the praises of a good trench coat.  

I'm not really one to follow the latest trends these days, let alone drop a grand on a garment. But I am someone who will be inspired to make something I like to fit my taste. This is how BurdaStyle 6321 ended up on my cutting table. It had the double breasted button front and princess seams that I like in the Nonie version Meaghan Markle was photographed wearing and with some tweaking I have to say, I'm okay with how it turned out. It's nothing like the inspiration dress as mine doesn't have a capelet or the stand up collar and it has sleeves, but this one works for me. And the added bonus, it's in, as Frank Sinatra would say, the happiest colour. 

I removed the waistline seam and cut the bodice and skirt pieces as one. And I added pockets to the side seam adapting out-of-print Vogue 8934 pocket pattern to this design. I'm not too crazy about the button placement on this pattern, it probably doesn't help that I'm a petite sized person and those top buttons are at the perfect placement where I'd rather not draw attention to, I'm going to have to rethink the placement maybe even consider removing them. After that, I think this might be a good work dress.  

The Stats

Fabric:  2.8 metres

Interfacing:  2 metres

Buttons:  11 - 18 cm 

PatternsBurdaStyle 6321 and Vogue 8934

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Scissors, pins, thread clippers, tailor's chalk, tailor's mitt, clapper, collar press, iron, ironing board, hand needle, sewing machine, walking foot, buttonhole foot, serger, threads, seam ripper, buttonhole cutter and a chai tea latte.   

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Documentary Review: Fashion's Dirty Secrets

BBC's investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker Stacey Dooley explores the impact of fast fashion in the 2018 film Fashion's Dirty Secrets.  Hardly a new topic since Elizabeth L. Cline's book Overdress:  The Shockingly High Cost of Fast Fashion hit the bookstore shelves in 2012. And the emergence of Fashion Revolution movement in the aftermath of the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy. There has been countless calls for transparency and reform of the fashion and textile industries.  Dooley's investigation travels the globe and interviews the social media influencers, social activists and scientists who all play a part in this global issue.  

Dooley offers a disturbing and powerful look at the impact that the fashion and textile industry is having on the environment and water systems destroying and reshaping geographic landscapes and impacting the lives of communities outside of the textile industry.  

The film starts off examining the environmental destruction of the Aral Sea, located in Central Asia between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.  In 2010, The Daily Telegraph reported the Aral Sea as "one of the world's worst environmental disasters."

In the early 1960s, the Soviet government decides the two rivers that lead into the Aral Sea were to be diverted in a plan to grow and export cotton, also referred to as "white gold."  It became a major export and in the late 1980s, Uzbekistan became the world's largest exporter of cotton.  The disturbing part is that this environment disaster was foreseen in the early 1960s and came as no surprise to the Soviet government.  Dooley doesn't go into the geo-political history of the region, instead she takes the viewers on an expedition into the now barren sea to view it's current state. It's a powerful opener, and echoes the empty promises from the fashion industry with their claims of sustainability and inability to discuss the meaning.

If you want, you can watch it here.  

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Dress Appropriately!

Is a vague phrase in the era of business casual when everyone is tip-toeing around what it really means. Why the fear to attach a definition to it? 

English Fit Puppytooth check wool suit
Source:  Burberry

Could it be in the age of fast-fashion and contract work that organizations are desperately trying to attract and keep young talent until their contract is up? The concept of casual dress codes hit the news again when Goldman Sachs, the last of the Wall Street hold outs, last week loosen their own dress codes. Yeah, the same day that Burberry took a hit on the stock market. 

Times are a changing.  Of course the slow pace towards a less formal suited look comes at a time with technical advancements in the textile industry.  Unless wearable technology could be adapted into traditional forms of dress something will have to give.    

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Sweatshirt Knit Jacket: Butterick 6495

To actually label this fabric as a sweatshirt knit doesn't do it justice.  This fabric is beautiful, light-weight, incredibly soft and oh-so-cozy.  Add a polar bear and mountain print just takes it over-the-top.  

The fabric was teamed up with Butterick 6495 even though sweatshirt fleece wasn't listed as one of the fabric recommendations.  The soft and light-weight nature of this cotton fabric made it an ideal match.  And the pattern was simple enough in its design that it was the perfect canvas for this print.  

The Butterick 6495 jacket is described as "very loose-fitting" but I think I wouldn't go that far. Let's say that it's comfortable in its fit. If I were to style this with a belt as seen in one of the pattern envelope photographs it would certainly be uncomfortably stretched across my body and appear fitted. It actually fits like the central photograph, open without the bands meeting.  

No serious complaints on the fit but I will certainly keep a few things in mind. 
  1.  Cut the armhole and sleeve cap as a smaller size.
  2.  Cut the sides a size larger, maybe even an extra large as I do like a little more ease in the hip area.  
  3.  Shorten the sleeve length an additional inch.  
  4.  Add pockets.  I will actually take this back to workspace and add patch pockets before it moves into the closet.  
The pattern for the jacket is well drafted.  I can't really give an honest review on the instructions as I didn't find any need to look at them.  I did notice the illustration showed a fitted sleeve and I opted for a flat-fitted sleeve instead. It's a very basic design with only four pattern pieces. It's easy to figure it out.  This will be an excellent project for a beginner who would like to build their confidence sewing knits.  

I used Knit-N-Stable tape at the sleeve and bottom hemlines. The entire project was sewn with the lightening bolt stitch and with a walking foot.  These are my favourite knit fabric sewing techniques that I will share.  The hems were top-stitched with the lightening bolt stitch.  

The Stats

Fabric:  2 metres

Interfacing:  3 metres of Knit-N-Stable tape

Pattern:  Butteric 6495

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Cutting table, scissors, pins, tailor's chalk, iron, ironing board, sewing machine, Jean-a-ma-Jig, serger, tweezers, threads, and tea.  

Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 4 March 2019

The Name Behind Kwik Sew Patterns

Kwik Sew patterns emerged on the scene in 1967 under the name Sew Knit and Stretch. Nearly a decade later, 1974 to be precise, a shorter name that captured the ease of these patterns filled its place. 

There is more to the story of Kwik Sew patterns.  Kerstin Martensson, the designer and name behind Kwik Sew patterns, was born in Gothenburg, Sweden.  She received her fashion and design education in Sweden and England and used her skills in the ready-to-wear industry before settling into a career as a fashion designer and pattern maker for the Viking Sewing Machine Company. It all happened by chance you can say. While working with the Swedish based Viking Sewing Machine Company, she became one of the company's international representative to be sent to the United States.  You see, in 1960 Viking Sewing Machine Company released the Viking 2000 which was supposed to be an user-friendly sewing machine with colour coded settings and automatic feed for elastic stitches. Sadly, the machines didn't sell well this side of the pond because the home sewist didn't have the experience with sewing with stretch-stitch capability and these new stitches.  

Thanks to Martensson, the fortunes of the Viking Sewing Machine Company turned around when she was called upon to create sample patterns to help promote the new stitches of the Viking 2000. Her experience in the ready-to-wear landscape where quick and easy methods were reproduced into her sample patterns and the rest is history!  The patterns and the Viking 2000 were hits and the home sewing community could not get enough. International business travel along with designing more patterns for Viking Sewing Machine Company began to take a toll and that is when Martensson had to make a decision on the career path she wish to follow.  

Relocating to the United States in 1967, Martensson struck out on her own with her own pattern line and releasing her first book, How to Sew Knit and Stretch Fabric.  

Sweater dress, circa 1967
The time was right with new knit fabrics hitting the scene and easy-to-wear styles tempting the home sewers with the ability to recreate the fashionable looks at home. Martensson continued to design patterns and write. The instructions found in the vintage Kwik Sew patterns are a testimony to the wealth of sewing techniques she learned during her career.  The patterns stand out both for their craftmanship and perfectly graded patterns printed on glossy hard stock paper.  

Martensson passed away in 2002 and in 2006 became a Sewing Hall of Fame Honoree yet her company name and quality patterns stand the test of time and are still available.    

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Vintage Kwik Sew 941

This weekend's second hand store find is a vintage sewing pattern loaded with nostalgic feeling. It's stamped Janome Sewing Centre The Sewing Gallery.  It is with fond memories that I recall this establishment with a business model that is unheard and unseen today.  More than a quarter century ago, I purchased a sewing machine from this shop without a credit card and the full amount of cash needed for the purchase.  Seriously, not kidding and this is not fiction.  It was back-in-the-day when people were trusted on their word and cheques were accepted.  I paid for my first Janome sewing machine with post-dated cheques and was able to take my purchase home and start sewing.  I even remember the store owner offering to drive me home so that I didn't have to transport my heavy purchase on the bus.  It seems like a life-time ago.  Maybe because it's an unheard act of kindness found in today's marketplace.  I often find myself thinking about the elderly couple who sold the business and moved onto retirement.  They are often fondly remembered by their past customers in the local community for their kindness and knowledge freely shared.  

The pattern brings back memories as well. I guess you're of a certain age or someone who appreciates and wears clothing from a certain era to recall and appreciate the wearing of slips. Patterns like these are often dismissed to the "loungewear" section of a sewing book or website as more dresses are designed to be lined in order to eliminate the need for a slip. The last revival of the slip came in the 1990s with grunge music icon Courtney Love appeared in a slip dress at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. Kicking off a whole new round of inner wear becoming outwear. This is not another revival.   

It's a slip to be gifted for someone who doesn't wear lined dresses. There are still people out there appreciative of the functional aspects of a garment that mediates between wearers outer and under layers of clothing.  

The Pattern

The pattern isn't marked with a date stamp. However, the illustration does suggest that this pattern appeared on the scene in the 1970s based on the camisole style, side slit and Farrah Facet hairstyle on the model illustrations. I will have to add that Kwik Sew patterns were ahead of their time in offering multi-sized patterns when other major companies from this era where offering single sized patterns. 

The pattern has stood the test of time as it's produced on heavier paper stock than those currently found on the market by the big four pattern companies. Independent pattern companies excluded. This is a pattern that is ideally weighed down rather than pinned during the cutting process.  

I'm impressed with the detail instructions and suggestions for turning over the straps and treatment of the elastic at the top edge of the back. You don't often find these in today's patterns. I did use some modern-day techniques in the construction. Instead of finishing the hem with a side slit and lace, I used Knit-N-Stable tape at the hem. This version was cut 5 1/2" shorter and then an one inch hem.   

The Stats

Fabric:   2.4 metres

Lace:  1.5 metres

Elastic:  0.5 metres

Interfacing:  2.4 metres of Knit-N-Stable fusible 

Pattern:  Kwik Sew 941

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, scissors, clapper and collar board for weights, thread clippers, sewing machine, walking foot, serger, tweezers, threads, pins, pin cushion and an audio book playing in the background.


Thursday, 28 February 2019

February in Review

As folklore would have it, some rodent predicted that we would have an early spring, retreated back to it's cozy den to chuckle at the notion of peoples' superstitious beliefs. And then this well-humoured rodent went back to hibernate until this crazy winter is over.  

Sewing or the Lack There of It

As well, this month was all about hibernating in the sewing room. I took my inspiration from the groundhog.  There wasn't a great deal produced, rather more consideration of what do I really need. It was a month of sticking to the classics when it came to my sewing life and getting dressed.  Although I do love the "art teacher chic" look, I've been noticing that I've been reaching for more conservative practical looks for my work life. It's not fun standing in a dark parking lot, all alone, scraping the car for the slippery ride home if you're wearing Vogue 1410 and the wind is whipping around snow at your feet. And sometimes it's cold in the office. It's all about dressing in layers.

So my creative side wasn't inspired until this project. And then my creativity went back into hibernation mode. Yes, that means that I haven't even started the jeans toile or completed the urban print pencil skirt. It could also be recovering from all that snow shovelling? Or perhaps the mending pile that needs to be addressed. After, I'm done hibernating.

Happy Sewing!  


Saturday, 16 February 2019

Sewing With Cork Fabric

I've been asked a lot of questions about sewing with cork since posting photos of the handbag. So here's a bit of information I've gathered that might help you decide if you want to consider a project with this fabric.

My Top Reasons Why to Sew with Cork

  1. It's crazy light-weight.  Did you know that 50% of cork's volume is air?  This is the lightest weight handbag I've ever owned and my back is thanking me.  
  2. Despite the fact that it's light-weight, it's also durable.  Cork's resistance to moisture means that this fabric will likely last longer than any other fabric that I'm aware of and durability is good for the environment. 
  3. It's sustainable.  Did you know that the cork trees are never cut down for their bark and cork is the only tree that regenerates stripped bark. The bark can be harvested every nine to ten years. 
  4. This is the perfect fabric for people with allergies (moi!) because of it's unique honeycomb cellular structure the surface of cork is antistatic, antimicrobial and water resistant.  
  5. Cork is naturally fire resistant, containing a waxy fire-resistance substance called suberin. Gotta love nature.   
  6. Cork's beauty is unique.  No two pieces of bark are the same. 
  7. Cork is an Eco-friendly product.  According to the World Wildlife Fund, "cork oak forests support one of the highest levels of biodiversity" (second to the Amazonian Rainforest) "among forest habitats, as well as the highest diversity of plants found anywhere in the world."  
  8. Cork fabric production is chemical free with a non-toxic sealant. I've discovered that the backing can be made up of natural or a blend of man-made and natural fibres.  
  9. Cork is a low maintenance fabric that can be cleaned with water and soap.  
  10. And it's easy to sew.  

Where to buy cork fabric?  

I found out that Northwest/Marshall Fabrics had cork fabric in stock via Instragram.  But cork fabric has been on the scene for many year.  Just not locally.  A few years ago a read an article in Vogue Patterns magazine about sewing with cork fabric.  Even though it wasn't until I actually was able to see and touch it that I was sold.  I'm a reluctant online fabric shopper.  I like to feel a fabric before I commit.  

There are many online sources for cork fabric as well.  Here are a sample:  

Habitus Cork Fabrics offers a unique line of cork fabric sold in rolls of 10 yards each.  The backing on their cork fabric selection is 100% cotton.  

Flare Fabrics offers cork sold by the piece, pre-packaged cuts and half yard options.  The backing on their cork fabric selection is 15.5% polyester / 29.5% cotton / 55% polyurethane.  

Sew Sweetness offers a large selection of cork by the piece.  No additional information on the backing. 

Printed cork fabric from Thachery.  

Thachery Thoughtful Products offers cork by the piece, yard and rolls.  The backing on most of their cork selection are 50% polyurethane, 35% cotton and 15% polyester. They also carry cork piping.

How hard was it to sew with cork?  

Easy and I'm not kidding. I don't know why, maybe because it was a new-to-me material, but I thought it would have been difficult to sew.  It wasn't.  Honest, it's just like sewing any other fabric, except for velvet.  Sewing velvet was tricky. But I digress...

And it was easy to cut as it was to sew.  I made my handbag using my Janome 4120 QDC sewing machine and the walking foot.  I had a roller foot and gave that a try because one side of the straps were cut out of suede but it was a waste of time.  The walking foot worked the best.

Okay, there was one part of the construction that was different than sewing any other fabric. Pinning.  Just like pinning velvet doesn't work, cork does require some special consideration in this aspect. It's not recommended to pin your cork fabric and instead clipping works best.  Use whatever you feel most comfortable with, if you have those fancy quilting clips, hair clips, paper clips or if have clothes pins hanging around, they will all work.

What needles and type of thread were used?  

I was sewing suede with this project and chose a size 100 Klasse leather needle on my sewing machine.  And I chose denim thread for no other reason than the colour matched best. I kept using these throughout the project since my interfaced lining was a canvas fabric. But sample sewing with just the cork fabric proved that a universal needle and regular cotton thread was sufficient for successful sewing.


I finger-pressed my seams and it worked fine.  I also tested the iron to my cork fabric since I was working with canvas as my lining.  No damage to report.  It must be that fire-resistant property that allows it to take the heat.

I think that covers it.  Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Cork Handbag: McCall's 7851

This is my first attempt at making a handbag and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I'm not quite sure if it's the pattern or the cork fabric that has me more smitten at the end result.

Let's talk about the pattern, McCall's 7851, first. It's a keeper. The pattern pieces fit together beautifully. The only complaint, and it's a minor one, is that there is no mention on the pattern envelope that the fusible interfacing is optional. This information is listed inside the envelope on the pattern directions. It would be nice for us Canadian shoppers who are not given the inner contents of a pattern, until it's paid for and we're on our way out the door, to have access to this information via the back of the envelope. Goodness knows there is ample room for the word "optional." That said, I did use interfacing and I'm glad I did.  

I also found it curious that the list of fabric choices only mention synthetic leather or synthetic suede and I found this quite sad. I'm not a fan of the synthetic stuff. And you can still find the real stuff. I know it's trendy to be vegan and a push to the synthetic materials but no one seems to be talking about the environmental impact of all this synthetic materials.  

Yet my cork fabric does have a synthetic backing. Other than that and the fusible interfacing, it's made with natural fabrics. The cork I found Marshall Fabrics along with the 100% cotton canvas I used for the lining.  

Sewing the cork to the suede pieces for the loop handle was tricky in that I couldn't use pins.  Instead, I used basting tape to hold the pieces together. I stitched the bag with a size 100 Klasse leather needle and denim thread throughout. I thought that a roller foot would work best but I was wrong and it was the walking foot that made things come together smoothly.  

Since I'm not rolling in the in money, using basting tape throughout this projects was a luxury indulgence that I wasn't willing to make.  

Clothes pins worked out to be a more economical and practical choice.

It worked. I'm sure paper clips would work out as well.  The sales person who cut the fabric said she used hair clips when she made her cork wallet. 

Have you sewn with cork?   

The Stats

Fabric:  0.40 cork fabric 

Lining:  0.4 100% cotton canvas

Handles:  21.5 x 28 cm 100% Pigskin suede leather piece 

Interfacing:  0.8 metres of fusible  

PatternMcCall's 7851

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Anything I could get my hands on weights, pins, scissors, cutting table, sewing machine, screw driver, tailor's chalk, basting tape, clothes pins, thread, walking foot, leather needle, hand needle, roller foot, iron and ironing board. 

Happy Sewing! 

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Maxi Skirt: OOP Butterick 5790

Sometimes you need a basic piece and you just happen to have some fabric that will work. That's how out-of-print Butterick 5790 made a reappearance on the cutting table.  

The Butterick French Connection skirt pattern, circa 1998, is easily made for a beginner but it's a good one as well. The close-fitting, tapered, ankle length skirt has elastic waist.  Easy peasy.  

The Stats

Fabric:  1.1 metres Ponte knit

Elastic:  1 metres 

Fusible Tape:  1.2 metres

Pattern:  OOP Butterick 5790

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, walking foot, threads, pins, measuring tape, and Chai tea.  

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Sewing Thoughts...

Dressing in winter, oy!  

Foolishly wearing the pencil skirt toile to work, the reason for not wearing pencil skirts quickly revealed itself.  

Honest, not trying to be punny.

Maybe it was the mix of opaque tights and an unlined pencil skirt that caused the rise in the hemline?

Or perhaps it was that rolled hem that caused it to roll in the opposite direction.

It was an evening of wardrobe malfunctions every time I tried to make any significant movement.

You know, like walking, breathing.

That sort of thing.


Time to pack it up and try wearing it again in the summer.

Without opaque tights.

And to put my thoughts into engineering the perfect pencil skirt before I cut out the panel fabric.

Slip alternative, Vogue 8916 is a lined skirt pattern.

Lining will be a must.

But, I've also experienced lining riding up.


I'm thinking about a hidden snap, closer to the hemline at the side seam to hold the lining to the skirt for some added security.  

Lengthen significantly.

Below knee length.

Two inch hem.

And hem weights.

Now pockets.

Maybe something like those welt pockets on OOP McCall's 6757 but not near the side seam.

More like a mid-twentieth century vibe.

Yup, definitely pockets.

And more work to do before I cut that panel fabric.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Pencil Skirt: OOP Vogue 8916

If a skirt is not fitted can it still be called a pencil skirt?  This one has a bit more ease than what is typically considered to be a slim-fitting narrow skirt. I need ease. Another reason to sew, you can make things however you please. 

This is actually a toile as I was testing out Vogue 8916 before I cut out this fabric.  

I need a simple design so to not distract from this print. And I think I found it in out-of-print Vogue 8916. It's almost perfect. I just want to lengthen it a bit.  

And I think I actually have a wearable muslin. A little shorter than I prefer to wear but it's conservative enough to wear to work. 

The Stats

Fabric:  1.1 metres

Zipper:  8" invisible zipper

Interfacing:  1.1 metres

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, zipper foot, invisible zipper foot, serger, threads, cutting table, iron, ironing board, scissors, pins, pin cushion, thread clippers, tweezers, hand sewing needle, thimble, and tea.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Paco Peralta

It was this blog post that sent me searching for confirmation that it wasn't true that the world lost another creative giant in the sewing world. Instead, I found a McCall's Pattern Company's announcement that Paco Peralta passed away yesterday.  

His kindness towards others passionate about sewing is that of legend. May he rest in peace knowing that he made the world joyful for many in the sewing community.  


Friday, 1 February 2019

January in Review

There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bitterness of January wind chills and frostbite warnings, sewing and the release of the new spring line. Okay, I might be joking but not about the cold. Perfect temperatures to test out my winter coat if I weren't so afraid to spend time out there. But I digress...


This month was all about sewing with previously used patterns. I didn't try out any new-to-me patterns this month. And other than a robe and pair of knickers for myself, the rest of the sewing projects were to be gifted to others. 

I did, however, try out a new-to-me sewing technique. It is called the couture method in one of my sewing books or as Susan refers to it as the "burrito method" of sewing a shirt yoke. I have to agree with Susan, it is tidy.

Super thrilled to have completed a project that has been sitting around for years. Well, it felt good to check one unfinished project off the list.  

This month, eleven and a half metres of fabric, two point ten metres of interfacing, two point four metres of ribbon and twenty-four buttons were stash busted. I would say that it was a good month sewing wise. I still haven't got around to sewing a toile for those boot-legged jeans that I keep thinking and talking about. Maybe next moth.

Spring Pattern Release

I have to admit, it has been awhile since Vogue released patterns that I really want to try.  Even though I was disappointed with the fit of the last Marcy Tilton dress I made, I would like to give this one a try.  

Thrilled to see that designers are pulling up their pants when it comes to where the waistband sits.  

The coat pattern is quite nice too.  

There was much a do about this Meaghan Markle inspired look but it actually reminds me more of a DKNY design with the skirt drape.  

View C caught my eye, maybe it's that it has pockets? Otherwise it's a pretty classic design. Its a toss-up between this and Paco Peralta's design.  

It's nice to see the spring offerings but when you're piling on the layers to keep warm, it's hard to wrap your head around the thought that spring might just be around the corner. In the meantime, while I'm waiting for spring to get here. I hope to get to work on those jeans and something with sleeves.  

Happy Sewing!  

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Vogue 1455: OOP and Retired.

I've made a lot of little girl dresses using out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 1455 over the years. This is the last one before I retire and maybe pass along this pattern. 

Not that I don't enjoy sewing up this project anymore.  It is a darn cute pattern and a fun make, I just want to move onto something more challenging and different.  

I am glad that I was able to stash bust quite a bit a lot of fabric with all of the Vogue 1455's that I've made over the years.  The blue floral side was a cotton sateen that I picked up to make a dress from Mom but she thought the print was too bright.  There is still enough left over after this project that I might be able to pull off a skirt. I've been wanting to test out the skirt pattern from OOP Vogue 8916 so I'll use the rest as my toile fabric.    

The reversed side is made with two different polka dot fabrics. The main body of the dress is a small polka dot quilting cotton.  The lower band has larger sized dots in a medium weight cotton. Frank Sinatra is right, orange is the happiest colour. And I'm quite fond of this side.  

Tomorrow, this dress will find a new home and hopefully a little gal will have as much fun wearing it as I did sewing it.  

The Stats

Fabric:  2.6 metres

Buttons:  4 - 9 mm 

Ribbon:  2.4 metres

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, pins, scissors, measuring tape, thread clippers, tailor's chalk, threads, hand sewing needle, sewing machine, buttonhole foot, buttonhole cutter, serger, iron, ironing board, seam ripper and a cup of coffee.  

Happy Sewing!  


Sunday, 27 January 2019

McCall's 2447 Shirt

I've made a few versions of this shirt pattern. This is the first time using the couture method of sewing the shirt yoke. And I do believe that I will never go back to top-stitching a shirt yoke again. Why pattern instructions don't show this method and how this method has elude my sewing repertoire is beyond me.

This method is outlined in my vintage copy of The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. And I do plan to revisit this method along with this pattern.

McCall's 2447 is the cat's meow as far as patterns go. It is well drafted and all of the piece come together without any issue. No complaints or issues with the pattern.  

The fabric is one of the best quality shirt fabrics I've had the pleasure to sew with, it was sublime. It is a cotton with a bit of stretch from the now-closed Mitchell Fabrics. Thankfully after pre-shrinking the fabric there was enough for the project. It did shrink significantly. The fabric was pretreated with a tumble through the washing machine and dryer.    


Fabric:  3.3 metres of striped shirting 

Interfacing:  1.2 metres of fusible interfacing

Pattern:   McCall's 2447

Buttons:  10 - 9 mm

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, buttonhole foot, threads, cutting table, scissors, thread clippers, pins, pin cushion, measuring tape, measure gauge, tailor's chalk, new sewing machine needle, hand needle, tailor's wax, buttonhole cutter, clapper, pointer, thimble, bandage, iron, ironing board and tea.  

Happy Sewing!


Monday, 21 January 2019

The Questionable, Political, Cultural and Desirable Pocket

Pockets have evolved throughout history but what does remain is its practical and desirable feature to a garment.

Pockets are key. Or are they?

I'm in favour of garments with pockets, they are more than a portable storage device. Pockets in the age of ready-to-wear fast fashion is a luxury item. And they seem to have a history of luxury associated with them.  

Paco Peralta's divinely designed skirt pockets. 
 Vogue 1567  

Pockets as we know them today haven't always been part of an article of clothing. During Medieval times "pockets" were more like external bags tied around one's waist or suspended from one's belt. A style worn regardless of one's gender.  

A historical recreation of a Medieval "pocket"

Pockets can also have negative associations with them, especially if they carry one's hands. In Western culture when one's hands are in their pocket it can be perceived as awkwardness or disrespect depending on the cultural situation.  

Often pockets are used to hold our money or wallets instead of our hands. Phrases relating to pockets have come out of these:  Out of pocket refers to a financial loss. Put one's hand in one's pocket refers to an act of generosity. Empty pocket refers to being broke.

To pocket something refers to conceal or hid something. 

Much as been written about the white pant suit Hilary Clinton wore at the Democratic National Convention and what one commentary saw as a pocket-less suit jacket illustrated that she had nothing to hid.    


I see this analysis as a lack of knowledge on pocket construction rather than a commentary on whether or not Clinton was trying to send out a message to voters. What I do see is a beautifully tailored welt or perhaps a bound pocket on the jacket front.  Hmm, does anyone else see the irony here?  
Today, pockets are lacking or at least minimized in ready-to-wear clothing as an austerity measure. Details such as buttons and pockets have slowly been given less and less importance and prominence in clothing design in recent years.  

Scanning the menswear department, I noticed the lack of chest pockets on men's dress shirts.  The Ultimate Guide to Dress Shirts suggests that pockets on men's shirts decreases the formality of a shirt and that most men don't use them. Some questionably argue otherwise, "[w]hy are women constantly trying to feminize the American [m]ale?" Seriously, the dude needs to stop blaming women and find himself a good tailor because RTW is not going to give him shirt pockets. In the age of fast fashion, it's all about getting clothing to the racks as quickly and cheaply as possible and pockets are deemed unnecessary in the process. Sewing on the other hand [pun unintended] allows you to add all the pockets that your heart desires. But you might have to draft your own.  

Scanning the offerings by Vogue patterns most long sleeve dress shirts are void of pockets with the exception of Vogue 8759. McCall's offers shirt pockets on many of their casual shirt offerings. And yet, vintage pattern finds are abundant with pockets from last century's offering. 


Could this be, dare we say, another cultural shift in pockets? Are men shirt pockets out of style, a vintage design feature of days gone by? 


As long as we have devices, wallets, sun glasses and whatever else we want to get out of our fingers, there will always be the desire for pockets. The question is do we want them to be seen or unseen. What are your thoughts on pockets?    

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Sewing Thoughts...

It is cold across much of Canada. Bone chillin' cold.

Wind chills of minus forty and extreme cold warning cold.  

Perfect weather to stay indoor and sew.

Or maybe test out the winter coat kind of cold.

I'm relieved to report the winter coat held up in the extreme cold.  

It's all about dressing in layers and that is exactly what is built into the coat.  That extra layer of micro-fleece did the trick.  

Not that I was looking to hang out in the cold for too long.  

There's sewing to do.  

Project cut out and ready to go and I froze. 

It must be the cold.  

I just couldn't get into it.

I mended a skirt. Motivated by Suzanne Shore's article "Fix a too-tight waistband" in the new March 2019 issue of Threads.  

The skirt fits better but I can't say I'm feeling it.  

Pattern Review's first round for the 2019 Sewing Bee is coming to an end and the entries are popping up on the webite.  I'm not feeling the "living coral" cardigan theme. 

Instagram news that a local fabric store is now carrying cork fabric was almost enough to get me out into the bitter cold. Almost.  

And after all the procraftination was done, I am finally sewing.  

Buried under a blanet for extra warmth.  

Stay warm and happy sewing!  

Friday, 18 January 2019

To Pre-shrink or Not

Some think that it's unnecessary to pre-treat fabric. 

Yet anyone who has purchased ready-to-wear (RTW) and has lost a garment in just one wash due to shrinkage knows that manufacturers often cut out this step in order to get garments to the market quickly. Maybe that is why the RTW landscape is over run with oversized basic baggy styles? As sewists, we're in control of the quality of the items we sew. So, the question today is do you preshrink your fabric before cutting out a project?   

Cotton stretch shirting fabric.
Pressing out the length of cotton shirting fabric that I plan to use for the next project, I noticed a that my fabric shrunk both in the lengthwise and crosswise grain by a noticeable amount. Luckily, there was enough fabric to cut out all of the pattern pieces. I always pre-treat my fabrics before I cut them out but to be completely honest, my motivation is more about having a cleaned product on my cutting table. The length of fabric came from a shop that had a cat.  I'm terribly allergic to cats. But I digress...

Back to the question of pre-shrinking your fabric. Vogue Sewing, my go-to sewing reference book instructs us to shrink fabric if it hasn't been pre-shrunk by the manufacturer or if it will shrink more than 1% according to the label.  

The advice written in this edition of Vogue Sewing was written in the mid-nineteen-seventies.  I don't know about your local fabric labels but this is unheard of in this part of the world. As a matter of fact, I've never seen a fabric label that contains this information. It's more common to find "unknown fibres" stamped across fabric labels found at the local Fabricland and even more rare to find a label at Northwest Fabrics.   

Vogue Sewing doesn't go into how to test if a fabric is prone to more than 1%, for this information, I was able to discover the method in Sew A Fine Seam, circa 1955. 
If possible, procure a generous sample--at least 1 x 2 inches in size, with a selvedge--so you can easily determine the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric.  Trim the raw edges of sample so the edges are "clean cut."  Cut a piece of paper the exact size of the sample.  Wet sample thoroughly and lay flat to dry.  Do not press dry.  When sample is completely dry, compare with paper.  The slightest difference in size indicates shrinkage. Supposing your fabric was cotton, 36 inches wide and the shrinkage was 1/32 of an inch in the lengthwise grain and 1/16 of an inch in the crosswise grain.  This may seem a very slight amount, but in a yard of fabric, it is enough to result in a snug garment after it has been laundered or dry cleaned (Wilson, 35-6).

This method is basically explain in here as well.

I didn't do the sample test on the piece of fabric I was pressing when I noticed that the crosswise grain was smaller than prior to the tumble in the washing machine followed by the dryer cycle. Instead, I measured my the lengthwise grain before and after and discovered that I lost 0.3 metres in the process.  I'm quite relieved that it shrunk before instead of after I sewed my project. 

Allowance for Shrinkage

What do you do if you're trying to decide on how much fabric is needed for a project when you're not in the position to do the shrinkage test?  Pattern companies don't incorporate a shrinkage allowance when listing the yardage requirements.  It would be a tough thing to suggest considering that different fabrics behave differently when washed or dry-cleaned.  

Sew A Fine Seam provides a quick general guideline:  
  • Allow 1/8 yard or 0.11 metres for a blouse, skirt, or jacket.  
  • Allow 1/4 yard or 0.23 metres for a dress, suit, pajamas, or coat
  • Allow 1/3 to 1/2 yard or 0.30 to 0.46 metres for a floor length garment if the width of your fabric is 36" or 54" respectively.  
If I went with this I would have underestimated how much shrinkage would have occurred with the cotton stretch fabric on my cutting table. These recommendations are from last century when body shapes, clothing styles and fabrics were different than they are today so I would only take them as a interesting footnote rather than a steadfast rule.

I do like the sample test for shrinkage as a reference but to be honest, I don't really put that much research into how much a fabric may or may not shrink.  How about you?  Or do you just cut and hope for the best?

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

National Hat Day

One of the big fashion trends for Spring 2019 is the, wait for it,

The Bucket hat. That iconic fashion item made famous by the likes of American journalist and activist, Hunter S. Thompson and the vintage television character Gilligan from Gilligan's Island. The bucket hat has a wide downward sloping brim and is traditionally made out a heavier natural fibre fabric such as twill, denim or tweed and has two eyelets strategically placed on the sides for ventilation.  

Of course, today being National Hat day, anything goes. And just like the bucket hat, the pattern companies have us covered.  There are even free bucket hat patterns and tutorials for wee kids and adults to be found here and here.  So, the question is will you be sewing this season's fashion trend?  

Happy Sewing & National Hat Day!


Monday, 14 January 2019

National Dress Up Your Pet Day

The market for pet products and services is a multi-billion dollar market. The status of the family pet has evolved to fur babies earning love and affection traditionally reserved for a child. Some pets have a wardrobe to rival just about anyone's.  

Dogs playing hockey 
And did you know there are sewing patterns out there to help you and your fashionable pet celebrate the day?

Butterick 4885

Kwik Sew 4033

Kwik Sew 4227

Okay, there are lots of options for the fashion pooch.  But what about other fashionable pets?  


I couldn't find any kitty coats offered by the big four pattern companies but there are many online sources catering to the fashionable feline.  

All of these are fun costumes for you pets but sometimes there really is a need that dressing up your pet.  


These baby goat sweaters were a life saver for these fashionable kids.  Whatever the reason that you dress your pet have fun celebrating National Dress Up Your Pet day.  

Happy Sewing!

Trench Dress: Burda Style 6321

The chic nature of the trench dress soared as a trend to watch when in 2018 Meaghan Markle appeared in a blush pink sleeveless trench dress...