Tuesday, 31 January 2012

When sewing is snubbed...

When sewing is snubbed it sucks. Just saying.

Actually, it really sucks. At work today one of my co-workers asked "did you make that?"

I wore the green plaid dress.

"Yes" I replied.

And then she made this sour face and asked, "what, do you make everything?"

"No" I replied.

I just ignored her facial and verbal communication. It came from the same person who is critical of my choice not to colour my greying hair. It is not the first time, nor the last time I suspect, for a disdainful comment relating to my personal appearance or sewing hobby.

But then I came home from work and read Meg the Grand's blog post. It was about a recent social evening she planned and hosted with her friends. It made me smile. I'm sew grateful that I read her post today out of all days.

And then it made me wish I lived somewhere where I had friends that shared my interest in sewing.

If I talk about sewing with many of my friends their eyes glaze over in complete boredom. If there is any remote interest in sewing expressed, it is often when they are trying to solicit a sewing job. Usually, it is a request to sew cushions or some other home furnishing project.

If I decline and offer up the name of an upholster that I know the response is typically, "I don't want to spend that much!"


At least I feel connected to an online sewing community who always manage to lift my spirits. Gotta love that. Thanks! Now I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine and raise a glass to all you fabulous bloggers that write amazing stories that always manage to put a smile on my face and inspire me to keep sewing.

Cin cin!

And Happy Sewing!

January in Review

I have to say that I have been quite impressed with bloggers that are organized enough to keep tabs on their numbers. There are of course the folks on Sew Weekly and Carolyn at Homemade by Carolyn that have inspired me to take a look at my own numbers.

So, here is a look at my January projects in review. This month I was busy sewing 2 skirts, 2 dresses and revisiting a shirt I started last year. One dress was an epic fail. The other dress was the most rewarding project of the month (love sewing for Mama R, she's so appreciative). The shirt surprised me as it turned out being my favourite project and most expensive. Here is some additional details on what I've been busy working on this month:

The Re-fashioned Project (Pants to Skirt):

Fabric:  Free!  (Recycled an old pair of pants that no longer fit)
Pattern:  No pattern used but I was inspired by an article in the Vogue Patttern magazine.
Zipper:  Free!  Part of the original pant.
Hooks:  Free!  Part of the original pant,
Thread:  probably about $2.00
Interfacing:  $0.50
Total Cost:  $2.50
Times worn this month:  Five and counting.
Time investment:  3 1/2 hours
Tools used:  Sewing machine, Serger, iron, ironing board, seam ripper, fabric shears, ball-point sewing machine needle and pins.
Would I made this again?  Absolutely.

The kAtheRine Tilton Shirt:

Fabric:  2.6 metres 100% cotton, $36.40
Pattern:  Vogue 8748, $4.47 (purchased from Vogue website pattern sale)
Buttons:  Free!  Recycled, found in button stash.
Thread:  $3.00
Interfacing:  $3.00
Total Cost:  $46.87
Times worn this month:  Once and counting.
Time investment:  6 hours
Tools used:  Sewing machine, serger, buttonholer, iron, ironing board, fabric shears, thread cutter, universal sewing machine needles and pins.
Would I make it again?  I would recommend the pattern but at the moment I don't have a burning desire for another loose-fitting shirt.    

Vintage Vogue Skirt:

Fabric:  1.6 metres of stretch crepe, $12.54
Pattern:  Vogue 2885, $9.00 Out of print Vintage Vogue pattern, (averaged out cost across four skirts)
Zipper:  Free!  Recycled.
Thread:  $3.00
Interfacing:  $2.00
Total Cost:  $26.54
Times worn this month:  Not yet.
Time investment:  4 hours
Tools used:  Sewing machine, serger, cutting board, fabric shears, iron, ironing board, ball-point sewing machine needle and pins.
Would I make it again?  Possible, this is now the forth skirt I made using this pattern.

The Red Mess Dress:

Fabric:  3.3 metres of polyester suiting, $18.48 
Lining:  .5 metre of 100% silk, $6.00
Pattern:  Simplicity 3673, $4.46
Zipper:  $2.00
Thread:  $2.00
Ribbon:  $2.30
Total Cost:  $35.24
Times worn this month:  Never worn and don't plan on wearing it.  Filed under epic fail.
Time investment:  5 hours
Tools used:  Sewing machine, serger, fabric shears, cutting board, seam ripper, universal sewing machine needle, pins, iron and ironing board.
Would I make it again?  No.

Mama R's Floral Print Dress:  

Fabric:  2 metres of Stretch Cotton Sateen, $8.00
Pattern:  Vogue 7836, $2.24 (averaged out cost across six dresses)
Zipper:  Free!  Recycled.
Thread:  $2.00
Bias Tape:  Free!  Cut from left-over fabric
Total Cost:  $12.24
Times worn this month:  Not yet.
Time investment:  5 hours (most of the time was dedicated to hand stitching and cutting)
Tools used:  Sewing machine, serger, fabric shears, cutting board, seam ripper, universal sewing machine needle, pins, iron and ironing board.
Would I make it again?  If Mama R requests another, yes.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Mama's got a brand new dress!

In sewing news today...

Lovin' the long weekend so far. The weather has been absolutely beautiful. It is hard to believe that it is winter in Winnipeg, especially after that cold snap we just had. It felt like a Toronto winter. Love it!

I know I should have been doing something outdoorsy with this weather but instead I went to the movies.

I caught The Artist and the clothes were very inspiring. If you love vintage clothing, this is a must see film.

The costumes were absolutely stunning in this movie. Check out this interview with film's costume designer, Mark Bridges.

Some of the dresses were from the 1920s and most were copied.  

And the hats! The lovely hats!

It was a charming film with stunning clothes. Bridges is the star in this film.

Inspired to sew... 

I went to work on Mama R's new dress. Actually it was the bias tape for Mama R's new dress.

Things didn't start off too well when the iron decided to call it quits.  Luckily I wasn't pressing the right side of a main dress piece.

I can't believe how quickly the iron took to burning the iron cover.  It was crazy.

You can see in the photo that I didn't get very far along in my bias tape. It was pretty much immediately that the iron overheated.

That was scary. Luckily that was the worst of it. I quickly turn the iron off and unplugged it. Unbelievable really that the bias tape wasn't damaged.

It all worked out when a brand new iron appeared on the scene to save the day.


Sew with that situation all under control I was able get to work piecing the dress together.

First to mark and sew the darts.
And then sew the invisible zipper, shoulder seams, pockets, side seams, bias tape and sleeves.

All that is left to do is a final fitting for the hem- line.

Talking about hems to finish... 

That is what I have left to finish on my latest version of Vogue 2885. Well now that I have corrected that little facing issue.

Anyway, that all there is in sewing news today.

Happy sewing.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Mama R wants a brand new dress...

Mama R has made another request for a brand new dress. And since I believe I have all the fitting kinks worked out I'm going to make another version of Vogue 7836. Mama R loves the fit, just have to throw in some pockets and voila!

Sew, I'm busy cutting the dress in a floral print cotton stretch sateen. It is mostly neutral colours except for the wee bit of yellow.

Mama R is not big into splashy colour but she's willing to give this print a try. I don't know why, she looks lovely in light colours. Silly lady.

Once I have it cut out it is easy to whip together. A couple of darts in the front and the back. Position the pockets, make the bias tape, invisible zippers are super quick. And hem it up and it should be done.

I'm going to sneak out and squeeze in the afternoon show time for "The Artist" before I get to work.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Mighty Thimble

The mighty thimble rules in both the practical and aesthetic realm.

The practical thimble has a history of as a protective shield for one's thumb or middle finger. Today it is used by those who sew and quilt. It is a nifty little tool to push the needle through otherwise challenging thickness of clothe or leather.

Earlier examples of thimbles were made of leather but metal ones came into use in the seventeenth century. But we can go back even further into history.

According to the Fingerhut Museum, archeological finds near Moscow uncovered bone rings used 30,000 years ago to apply pressure while stitching buttons onto leather garments. The modern concept of the thimble is believed to originate from the Etruscans living in what is today Italy. Early thimbles were made from bronze using clay casts.

Fast-forward a few centuries and a few advances in thimble making we find that the first thimble made in England in 1695 by a Dutch metal worker.

Originally thimbles were used for sewing but over time other practical uses for the thimble emerged. In the nineteenth century they were used to pour spirits. Hence the phrase just a thimbleful. Ladies of the night would use thimbles to tap gently on windows in order to announce their presence. This practice became known as thimble-knocking.  Victorian school-mistresses also picked up the practice of thimble-knocking but not to announce their presence. Rather they would thimble-knock on the heads of unruly school children to gain their attention.
This isn't a thimble. It's Turkish nipple armor. It's very valuable, especially if you have a pair. (Dr. Dick Solomon, 3rd Rock from the Sun).  
Thimbles have even been used as a form of currency during the First World War. The British Government collected silver thimbles to be melted down and help purchase hospital equipment.

Collecting thimbles has an earlier appearance. In 1851, it became popular to collect thimbles that British companies made to celebrate The Great Exhibition.

Sew do you collect thimbles or is it an essential tool found in your personal sewing kit?

Colton, Virginia, ed. Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  New York:  The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1982.
Cruz, Ada and McGraw, Hewitt, ed., Vogue Sewing.  New York:  Harper & Row, Publishers, 1982.  
"History of the Thimble."  The Romantic Road. n.d. Web. 21 January 2012 Retrieved from <http://www.romanticroad.com/fingerhutmuseum/> 
"Thimble."  Wikipedia. n.d. Web. 21 January 2012 Retrieved from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thimble>

Friday, 27 January 2012

Sewing Pattern Models, yea or nay?

So there is a discussion online about the new Vogue sewing patterns that came out earlier today. Some oohs and aahs over which new patterns will make it into pattern stashes.

And also some discussion over the models that Vogue patterns used for the release. Mezzo Couture and Tia Dia Needleworks wrote:
Can anyone say Photo-shopped-to-death?  Why take a picture of an already very slim person and make her look smaller than my 13 year old daughter?  I’m disgusted.
Vogue patterns responded to the link to the blog post on their Facebook page.
Vogue Patterns This photo was not retouched. This is the model's natural shape and size. We limit retouching of models to removing tattoos (which many models often have).
To which Mezzo Couture responded:
Good to know, but I'm still not alone in being very disappointed that you would choose such thin models!

So what do you think? Are you disappointed by the by the use of thin models in sewing pattern catalogues?

The use of thin models to sell commercial products is not a new debate, designers have been defending the use of thin models for some time now. Back in 2007, Italian designer Valentino defended the use of thin models a few years ago. He argued "if the girls are skinny, the dresses are more attractive" (Reuters).

But the models at the centre of this debate are selling sewing patterns.

And I have to agree with Mezzo Couture on this one. The models do not inspire me to run out and purchase any of the new patterns.

Yes, I know there are people out there that are a size four. I use to be one of them when I was young. But I can tell you one thing, when I was a size four there wasn't a Vogue pattern that worked and fit my size.

I'm now a size fourteen, I finally have curves that work with Vogue patterns. So who are they kidding. The use of these thin models are not representative of their demographic.

I know Vogue patterns has their figure flattery feature on their website which I love. But when I see a thin model selling a sewing pattern I'm passing over it because I'm thinking if it looks good on her it won't look good on me.

I know it sounds silly. And I'm not beating myself up for my new shape. I'm very comfortable in my own skin.

I'll just be waiting until the new Vogue patterns are sewn by real people with real body shapes like my own before I'm sold on any of these lovely designs.

The best models that Vogue patterns have are the sewists that share their creations on their blogs, patternreview.com and Vogue's own Facebook page.

Oh, and I wouldn't mind seeing a model with a tattoo. At least it would look current with popular culture, no? Besides, what's the big deal with a tattoo that it would have to be photoshopped out?

Thursday, 26 January 2012


"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes" ~Oscar Wilde~

Can you tell the mistake I made on the Vogue 2885 skirt I have been working on this evening. I'll give you a hint. It's a repeat mistake.  Maybe, it's because I have sew much experience making this skirt?

Okay, maybe not. The back and front facings are sewn on the wrong side. Oops. I'm taking it as a sign to take a break.

Otherwise the skirt is coming together nicely. I just have to fix this mistake before I can get back to  attaching the facing. After that, I'll have the hem left to finish. Then I'll have a new colour of my favourite skirt. The fabric is a stretch crepe.  

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

In sewing news today...

The comic shirt

The kAtheRine Tilton shirt made it's first public appearance today. I wore it to work. I figure I could get away with the print because I work at a school. The kids thought it was the coolest shirt ever. Bless their innocent little hearts, when I told them that I made it they were astonished.

"How did you get the comics on there?" they asked.  

I love my job. 

Also luv the new Burda patterns... 

I can't wait to sew these skirts.

I would like to make Version A from Burda Style 7215 and Version B from Burda Style 7216.

The skirts look so comfortable.

On my sewing table... 

But right now I sewing up another skirt, Vogue 2885.  I know, I have about three skirts from this pattern but I like how it fits. Besides, I cut it out before I stumbled across the new Burda Style skirts.

And on my cutting table... 
Simplicity 2398, it has me a wee bit confused. The bust measurements on the envelope are not the same as the "finished garment's bust measurement".  Okay. So does mean that I should cut out two bodice muslins for my niece to try? Does the pattern really need two inches of ease if it is going to have halter straps? And could this be why Christas said she had to make two muslins to find the perfect fit when she made the dress for her daughter? I haven't sewn a lot using Simplicity patterns. This should be interesting.

And that's all in sewing news today. Happy sewing!

Monday, 23 January 2012


Mama R hasn't worn this dress since I finished it last fall. Curious, I asked her why.  

"It doesn't fit well" she replies.  

I was puzzled because I used the same modified Vogue dress pattern, Vogue 7836, that I used to made several other versions of this dress.  

"What's wrong?" I inquired.  

"The shoulders are too big" she said.  

She's right. Compared to the other dresses that I have made the shoulders seem bigger than on the other versions. I can't explain why because I didn't cut the shoulders bigger. The only tweaking in that general area was done to the neckline where I trimmed away a bit of the neck opening. I suspect that maybe the weight of the fabric might play a part, perhaps. Otherwise, I can't explain why the shoulders on this dress feel "bigger" to Mama R.  

So how to fix the problem.  
To solve the problem I took in the upper cap of the sleeve, luckily it was not a major alteration.
 This can be done up to 1/2" to solve the problem.
Any more than 1/2" and you will have to remove the sleeve and reshape.  

I basted a new stitching line and Mama R try on to check for fitting.  Now I'm ready to sew.  

With the new sleeve-shoulder seam done I can serge and trim away the excess fabric.

Gotta like simple solutions that work. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Vogue 8748

Vogue 8748, the kAtheRine Tilton Shirt, is finished.

I have to say, I do like this addition to my wardrobe. I know that the print limits me as to where I can wear it but I do think it is a fun print.

What I love about this shirt:

1.  The ultimate in comfort!
2.  The topstitching detail.
3.  Version A's knotted collar detail
4.  Super easy to sew.  This is a great pattern for beginners who want to practice top-stitching.
5.  The retro inspired comic strip print, it is all about sewing!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Vogue 8748 is starting to grow on me...

I spent the afternoon re-visiting the kAtheRine Tilton Shirt, Vogue 8748.

I lost interest in the project when I started to question my fabric choice. It is 100% cotton retro inspired comic strip print. I thought the print was the cat's meow when I came across it at Fabricland.  

I didn't know what I was going to make until I spotted the shirt pattern. It was a perfect design to show of the print.

Back in November I gave up on the project. The "very loose-fitting [shirt] with dropped shoulders" just seemed to be too much for my petite frame. I thought I didn't have the height to pull it off.

Luckily, it didn't make it into the cut-into-squares pile of scrap fabric.

For some reason I picked up the project and I have to say that this time around it is starting to grow on me.

I love the knotted collar. And the shirt actually does drape nicely. And I can live with the looseness of the design.

So I will finish the shirt. And I'm actually looking forward to wearing it. Something fun and crazy to add to my wardrobe.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Is it possible to be fashionable...

Today it was one of those bone-chilling days. I wore pants and a long sleeve shirt the other day but I was freezing at work. And I'm quickly running out of bone-chilling cold weather options.  I'm at the point that I might have to wear jeans to work by the end of the week.

And my outdoor gear included a down filled long coat, hiking boots, and leather gloves. But I just couldn't warm up. Even with the heat blasting in my car at top speed and the seat warmer turned on. Nothing was taking the chill off. It has been like this for days and there is not break in the upcoming days.
I was thinking is it possible to be fashionable during a prairie winter?

Winnipeg Woman magazine considered these as appropriate winter fashions. Are they kidding? This wouldn't keep me warm during a Winnipeg winter.

Okay, it was seasonably warm up to the new year, but winter has finally arrived. And not everyone where has jobs or the means to flock down south.

Don't get me wrong, yes these fashion pieces styled for Winnipeg Woman are lovely. But not practical for a winter days like today.

So the question remains and more important, can practical be fashionable?

Just check out the Sorel boot advertisement.  I guess practical is not fashionable. If it were then Sorel wouldn't have to rely on a cheap trick of making their product appear sexy with a hint of a fantasy winter scene.  Where is the snow?

And practical as fashionable is missing from sewing pattern books too.  

I would love to find a pattern for a pair of ski pants. I don't ski, nor do I snowboard. I don't even skate since I had a knee injury a couple of years ago. But a pair of ski pants would be sweet for when the temperatures dip to the minus twenties and a wind chill of minus forty-six.  Yup, minus forty-six.

Now,  I'm not talking about those vintage stylish ski bunny ski pants patterns for those posing on the slopes that appear to come from circa 1980.

I want to find a pattern for a seriously warm ski pant because I'm standing outside for recess duty instead of generating warmth on the ski slope.  Where are those patterns?

I know that I can find a sturdy, heavy duty pair of ski pants at a snowmobile shop but they don't exactly cater to the petite market. I have a pair of those ski pants and I love them from the knee up.  I just have to alter the length and it is a huge job so that I'm not tripping over my pant legs.  And that is when they are clipped up!

I guess practical really can't be fashionable, it just comes across as clumsy no matter how you layer it.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Trend: Colour blocking

Colour blocking is back for spring with a vengence. Remember colour blocking?

This iconic Yves Saint Laurent "Mondrian" day dress from the Autumn 1965 collection is a prime example of colour blocking in the past.

Colour blocking is fabulous and I have to say that I'm happy to see this trend make a re-appearance.

I'm not so thrilled about the simple styling of the YSL dress when colour blocking first made an appearance. It is the graphic colouring that makes the look.

I would love to try my hand at a coloured blocked dress. I would use this Vogue pattern. I can just see it! And Sandra Betzina's Vogue 1234 is such a comfortable dress.

I wonder what bold bright colours are hiding in the fabric store shelves?  

Are you happy with the return of this trend? Any plans to include it into your wardrobe?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Pants to Skirt: reuse, restitch, remarkable!

I'm so happy that I picked up the new February/March 2012 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine. In there your can find Erica Bunker's article Pants to Skirt: reuse, restitch, remarkable!

The article inspired me to dig through some of the clothes that I have outgrown but can't seem to give up.  And I found what I was looking for, a pair of high-waisted, wide-legged pants.

The title of the article took me back to the seventies and when our neighbour turned old jeans into a skirt. Erica's was no seventies jean skirt remake. She made a stunning faux crocodile embossed leather skirt. And her stunning re-production of a designer crocodile embossed leather pencil skirt had me thinking.

Why can't I turn my once favourite pair of pants into a skirt.

Of course there was that issue of weight gain over the years. Damn you menopause, gluten-free beer, and oh yeah, my sweet tooth.

 I figured that I could use Erica's instructions as a guideline and use the extra fabric to give the skirt some much needed width.

So away I ripped the inside leg seams and up the curve of the crotch.

I stitched up the front and it was starting to look like a skirt. That was all the encouragement that I needed.

I figured that it would be easiest to put the extra width at the centre back. And that is where I put the plan into play.

So, I got to work on the back.  I cut the curved crotch seam so that it eased into a straight seam for the back piece. Then I took the seam ripper up further all the way up to the waistband.  And I din't stop there, I opened up the centre back of the waistband.
With the centre backs opened I was able to interface a piece for the waistband and sew it into place. I also created a centre back skirt piece for my booty.

Then to fix up the missing section for the waistband facing.
Stitch in the ditch and I have to say I was quite thrilled at this stage. I realized that it worked and it fit.

You can't imagine how thrilled I was about this project. I love the cotton blend fabric and the high waisted detailing. I didn't think that it would turn out to be a cute skirt. But it did.
A narrow hem and it is finished.

I can't wait to wear it.

And maybe, I'll get a proper photo. We'll see.

Back to School Face Masks

These polka-dot cotton face masks are to be gifted as part of require back-to-school gear. Not much to say except, of course, I revisisted t...