Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December in Review...


It was (mostly) all about holiday sewing this month.  

The year breakdown looks more like this,

I don't have 21 dresses in my closet. Some were gifts and many are in Mama R's closet. Even though I did sew for others most of the sewing was the selfish kind for moi.

Sewing Club sewing was listed under work but I should clarify that was volunteer work. I didn't get paid or reimbursed for the supplies used from my own stash. Unless of course you measure payment in the form of the absolute joy I got from watching the kids make their own Christmas stockings.  

RTW Fast

One year, one purchase.  It was a vintage Persian lambs wool jacket. I can't believe with all the gift cards that I received this month for the shopping centre that I wasn't even tempted to use them towards clothing. Or shoes! Despite the one slip up, I am going to continue with the fast in 2015.


Well, I did manage to put a small dent into my stash despite adding to it throughout the year. I managed to stash-bust some of that fabric stash but at the same time I added more than I busted in the notion and pattern department.

I'm going to have to work on my stash-busting next year. I'm starting with not renewing my Fabricland membership. No seriously. They changed the discounts on their membership and I haven't been all that impressed with the fabrics. For quite some time they have been catering to the home decor crowd and quilters. And besides, I think I can go through another year of sewing without adding anymore to the stash. We'll see how that goes...

Added to Stash
101.2 meters
5.15 meters

3.5 meters
3 metres
Sewing Patterns
Spools of Thread
Sewing Needles
Pant Hooks
0.40 meters
9.2 meters
12 meters
Bias Tape
7.3 meters
6 metres
Hook and Eye or other Closures
Basting Tape
14.2 meters
6 packages

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Pullover Pleated Top

Stash busting 2014:  Pullover Pleated Top

Fabrics:                      2 metres satin, 0.15 metre of fusible interfacing

Pattern:                      Simplicity 2372

Sewn on:                  Janome 4120 QDC using straight stitch for seams and blind hem for the hems.

Hand-stitching:    Slip sttich (blind stitch) strategically stitched along facing.

Seam finish:            Serged on Janome MyLock 234D

This top is for Mama R. She has requested a few tops to wear with pants after I made one using this pattern to go with her suit. This is a trusted pattern that has seen many makes and has to be Mama R's all-time-favourite pattern. There was a bit of panic when I couldn't find three pattern pieces that were found folded in some fabric. I'm usually pretty careful with pattern pieces especially one that has proven to be so valuable. Luckily the pieces were found since all the tweaks are cut into the pattern pieces.  

The fabric has been in my stash for a couple of years. I found it at Fabricland in their formal wear section and picked it up to make a blouse for myself. But Mama R loves the colour and it looks great on her so that was that. It is a 44" (112 cm) wide 100% polyester fabric. It has a satin finish and really is pretty. I love the easter-egg bluish-green colour (I don't know how else to describe it).

There are no surprises in the construction of this top until the final fitting.

For some odd reason the hemline on the front was higher than the sides and back. Now, I realize this hem style is all the rage but it wasn't the look that I was going for. I must have made a mistake when cutting out the fabric? I fixed the hem issue by lowering it in the centre front and then trimming the rest of the hem allowance. Instead of the one and a half inch hemline I was aiming for, I ended up with a three-quarter inch hem. And it does look fine.

Other modifications to the pattern include removing the centre front and back seams, adjusted the neckline shape so that it's not as wide as on the very first dress made with this pattern and lengthened the sleeves. Easy peasy. 

Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 29 December 2014

Year in Review: RTW Fast

The year started off on a high note when I returned three items that I purchased just before the new year. I won't say that this RTW fast was easy. Trust me I was tempted along the way.

Early in the year I was tempted by this cardigan that went on sale after the holidays. I was tempted more by the sale price than something that would actually work with my wardrobe. 

In the spring, I was tempted by this Ralph Lauren peplum shirt. But the spring romance of this item didn't last too long and I didn't even attempt to recreate the look which I did consider doing for a brief moment of time.    

I have a weakness for Lord and Taylor line of clothes. They came out with these two midi-length skirts that I absolutely fell head over heels. This one (above) has side pockets (love). I will admit to picking it up and then returning it. My first stumble during my journey.

This one didn't have pockets but the fabric was gorgeous. I admired it from a distance and wondered where I could possibly find such beautiful fabric.

And later in the year, I was tempted by yet another cardigan sweater. The floral print knit is what caught my eye.

So it might look that I did manage to go a year without any RTW but it wasn't so. I couldn't resist a  vintage Persian Wool jacket that I found at a second hand store.

Besides that one fall off the wagon and the temptations along the way, I'm quite pleased with my attempt to go completely RTW free. I even managed to sew my own knickers this year even though it was on the acceptable purchase list. It feels good to accomplish what I did through the RTW fast but to be completely honest, I have to give credit to being part of a supportive group. They were truly inspiring and it was great to have the support of the group.

I plan to continue with the fast in 2015 because I learned that the items that I was most tempted by were things that I can easily sew at home and achieve a better fit. I don't have a ready-to-wear body shape and so why buy ill-fitting clothes that need to be altered. I don't like doing alterations. I do like sewing though.

Thank you Sarah and my fellow RTW fasters for being such an inspiration and motivator.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

In Sewing News Today...

It had to be a mistake. On Christmas eve I found myself at my favourite bookstore and I happen to find the February / March issue of Vogue Patterns sitting on the shelf. This will go down as the best christmas gift to myself. Piled down wearing a pair of Sorels and a down-filled winter coat it was nice to flip threw the pages of spring offerings. 

And the magazine did not disappoint. Oh no, not at all. I don't think I have been this excited and inspired in a long time about the new patterns that I hope will appear on their website soon. I'm going to be in trouble when they go on sale.  

Talking about Christmas, have you recovered from all the frantic Christmas sewing? Or was that just me? I really should plan to spread out the Christmas gift sewing out over the year. But we all know that won't ever happen.  

I did get a Christmas gift that was showed that someone knows me very well. 

Basting tape! I go through this stuff like nobody's business. I use it mostly for holding zippers in place before I take it to the sewing machine to sew. I love it, Best. Gift. Ever.  

And I'm back to sewing. After those velvet dresses I'm looking for an easy project and what can be easier than sewing a pattern that I've made countless times.  

Mama R requested more tops and I'm using Simplicity 2372

In other sewing news... I'm going through a break up. Yup, I'm breaking up with Fabricland--our customer / business relationship is coming to an end. The end of our relationship has been a long time coming. I'm not their target consumer. Fabricland has been moving direction in their merchandise over the years catering to quilters, the home decorator and now knitters and crafters. As offerings to the home sewer who likes to make clothing I find the selection of fashion fabrics to be increasingly unlabelled as "unknown content," or polyester and an alarming amount of rayon. These are not fabrics that I'm typically drawn to so I feel that the time has come to discontinue my membership. It is a perfect time to shop my own stash. 

Well, that is all in sewing news today... 

Happy Sewing!  

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Year in Review: 2014 Sewing Goals

I made some sewing goals at the beginning of the year.
 Make some knickers and then make some more.  
 Make a Chanel-esque jacket.
 Learn and incorporate more tailoring and couture techniques into my sewing (more slow sewing).

 Finish that damn quilt!
The first one I'm happy to say has been checked off the list when I discovered Butterick 6031.

The second goal, "make a Chanel-esque jacket" has not yet materialized even though I have two suitable patterns, Vogue 8991 and Vogue 8804 in my possession along with research material.  

I even have all the sewing supplies ready to go. I just need some time courage! 

The next goal focussed on incorporating more tailoring and couture techniques into my sewing. I would like to think I did accomplish this goal with the help of some vintage patterns and new reading material. 
I underlined several garments with silk organza and the efforts paid off beautifully. There was way more hand-stitching that appeared in my sewing work as well. And there were techniques that I learned and adapted into my sewing while working on the velvet dresses that were new-to-me. Even the first ten chapters of The Pink Suit nudged me along the way. (I really must finish that book.)

Progress on the quilt moved at a snail's pace this year. I do believe that I did the most work on the quilt when I was recovering from knee surgery earlier this year. And then when I was finally able to escape venture outdoors again, the quilt once again fell to the UFO pile. 
However, it has been on my mind thought the year and I did pick up a queen sized package of 100% cotton batting for the middle section. Mama R and I spent the other evening pinning the piece together and after stitching it all in place, this three year epic quilting journey has finally come to an end. I gifted the quilt to Mama R since the piece of fabric hold many family memories.

Now to think about next year's sewing goals, other than build up the courage to make a Chanel-esque style cardigan jacket...  

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Over Three Years in the Making...

It was over three years ago that I started sewing squares of fabric together with the crazy thought of making a "quilt." You see, I'm not a quilter. I said it back then when I started the project and I think I can safely say today, "I'm still not a quilter."

However, I am proud of the project. It's been gifted to Mama R because there are so many memories found in those small squares of fabric. I wasn't sure who I was going to gift it to when I set out on this project, but it just seems right as the fabrics hold so many family stories.  

Happy Sewing!  

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

May the joy of the season fill your hearts and homes with peace, love and fun. Wishing everyone the best of the season!

And Happy Sewing...

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Year in Review: Top Ten Favourites

These are my favourite makes this year (in no specific order).

1.  Lynn Mizono's loose-fitting dress, Vogue 1410, has to be my favourite dress. I wear it with a turtleneck in the cooler weather and its a go-to in the warmer temperatures too. I have some brown wool crepe in my stash that I picked up to make another version. This one turned out to be a wearable muslin and I wear it more than I thought I would.  

2.  The Cardigan Style Jacket. Vogue 8916 was discovered by Mama R and this jacket has to be a favourite make for many reasons. First, because Mama R loves it and it fits her well. Secondly, because I took my time and paid attention to the little details and even though they are unseen that make the world of difference to the final product. 

3.  The houndstooth pattern suit. I had to make another jacket using Vogue 8916 but this time I made a skirt to go with it. Simplicity 2372 is the pattern used for the skirt. Both pieces are unlined with silk organza.  

4.  The Donna Karan cream coloured jacket, Vogue 1263, makes it to my top 10 list for sure. I've been wearing it quite a bit this autumn and it does wash well. I feel like a great when I wear this one.  

5.  Marcy Tilton's knit skirt pattern is another favourite. This skirt, Vogue 9060, is so comfortable and it is a well drafted pattern. The fabric is a textured floral print on a cotton knit.  

6.  The classic white shirt. My favourite detail on this shirt has to be the french cuffs and the tucks. It is a Lida Baday design from a out-of-print McCall's 8943 pattern. If you find this pattern, I would highly recommend that you pick it up.

7.  Kickin' Knickers!  Seriously, finally making a pair of undies that fit and feel comfortable with great butt coverage that doesn't ride up, I can't put into words how much joy this pattern has brought to the sewing room. I actually made a total of six pairs. Butterick 6031 is worth its weight in gold.

8.  The sewing club sewing was the cherry on the cake. Oh my gosh, the kids were amazing, and creative and willing to learn. It was the most joyful and hectic mornings I spent sewing.

9.  The Velvet dresses. Yes, despite working with the challenging fabric, these velvet dresses made it to the list. I learned so much about sewing through this project and that it truly takes a village to create a beautiful dress. I couldn't have pulled it off without the help found in Linda Lee's article "Velvet Indulgence." McCall's came out with a perfect dress pattern for any occasion. Even though I vowed to never sew velvet ever again, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend McCall's 5795.

10.  The turtleneck sweater will go down as my favourite sweater pattern. It is made with Burda 6990 and it is comfortable and practical for the prairie winters.

So, theses were my favourite makes. How about you, what is on your favourite made list?

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Year in Review: Things That Rarely Make it Out of the Closet

I'm not perfect and same goes for my sewing. Here are some of my less than perfect creations this year. 

Above left:  The yellow and blue dress I made for Mama R and she ended up letting out the curved darts and asked me to add front pockets but still I rarely see her wear it. Not even as a housedress does she wear it.  

Above middle:  The peplum sweater I made for myself is make in a mystery polyester fabric that isn't warm enough to wear in the cooler months and too uncomfortable to wear in the warmer months. 

Above right:  Yeah, this is one of those ideas that seemed better in theory. I only wore this dress once.  

What happened in the 80s should stay in the 80s. These next three items were made from vintage 1980s patterns.   

Above left:  This skirt cost me a small fortune in the fabric. I found it in the home decor department and I foolishly picked it up when it was 20% off only to discover it was 50% off the following week and that I didn't make the best fabric choice. I should have gone with a fabric with a bit of stretch especially for the waist and hip area.  

Above middle:  Another dress for Mama R. This one she wears more often than the yellow and blue dress but we both agree that the shoulder and neckline are too wide.  

Above right:  A six gored skirt that would work better on a tall and slim model-esque gal not a short, middle-aged, over-weight woman. There wasn't enough give at the waistband and the side closures didn't function at its best. It has made it out of the closet and off to the Sally Ann.   

Left:  This jacket breaks my heart a little bit every time I look at it. I love it in theory. The urban landscape print, the neckline pleating details and the side pockets that I added to the jacket. So why did it make it to this list? This falls under one of my epic sewing bloopers of the year. I cut it in the wrong size and my arm movements are restricted to keeping my hands in the area of the pockets. I still try to wear it every now and then but the fit could be much better.  

It is all good because I enjoyed sewing all of these. I learned new techniques and over-came challenges along the way. And it is about the journey, right? I'm sure I'll make some more mistakes in the future, I just won't be repeating these ones.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 21 December 2014

First Marsala, Now This!

I've wanted to rock the grey hair look for ages. It doesn't go over all that well at my ultra conservative suburban work environment. And there is nothing that can send chills down the spine of my hair dresser (bless her heart, she's an awesome and classy lady) than me casually saying that I don't mind the grey. Some people just don't get why I want to give up dying my hair.  

This article might help them understand. Yes, that right, grey is the it-hair colour for 2015!
“Grey hair is becoming a stylish and fashionable option for both older and younger women alike as the mindset towards the hair colour changes. It can actually make a woman look softer, more premium, more interesting – younger, even, if done in the right way.”
I'm quite thrilled about this. And you know what, I'm going to do it. I'm going to let my hair go grey  to its natural colour and I don't give a rat's behind what anyone thinks about it.

I like the sounds of 2015.

Anyway, I should get back to tidying up the sewing space and get back to sewing those last few gifts.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 19 December 2014

In Sewing News Today...

I received the loveliest thank you card from my co-worker about the dresses. I'm so relieved that she said they will fit her girls and that one of them might even be big. I can deal with on the big side. There are a few more Christmas presents to sew.

A couple more tops for Mama R which will be quick projects and I'm sure I will have no problem getting them done in time. The roads are icy, my social calendar is clear and the malls are crazy so it is the perfect weekend to stay in and sew like nobody's business. How about you, are you done all your Christmas sewing?

First, I will have to clean up the sewing area of all the velvet droppings that were left behind. I sure the feed dogs on the sewing machine could use a good lint clearing.

I can't believe that it is only five more sleeps until Christmas eve. Craziness! Well, I'm going to call it a night and get a good night's sleep. Hopefully, sleep in a bit. And then it is back to work in the workshop.

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Sewing with Velvet: Never Again!

Stash-busting 2014: The last of the Teal Velvet

Fabric:             2.6 metres cotton velvet plus 0.5 metres of polyester lining

Zipper:             22" invisible zipper cut down to 12"

Basting tape:  24" length

Pattern:            McCall's 5795 

Linda Lee started out her article in threads Party Dresses issue with the bold statement, "[i]t's worth it to master this temperamental cloth" referring to velvet. I agree because the dresses are beautiful (if you excuse my lack of modesty for a moment).  

But I will never sew velvet dresses ever again. I am a fan of the smooth softness of the pile and the rich colour when the light hits it just right. But seriously, this was the most challenging sewing projects that I ever worked though. I'm glad they are done.

The latest version is in the children's size five. And you already seen the matching velvet dress but in a girls' size eight.

They are super cute now that they are done. I still have a ways to go to master the art of sewing with velvet but that is for another life-time. For now I'm just happy and shocked that I was able to finish them in time. They're wrapped in tissue and carefully folded, ready to deliver tomorrow morning. And my fingers are crossed that they fit and the girls like wearing them.

So, I'm wondering... what was the most challenging fabric / project you ever made?

Happy Sewing!

Oh No!

The last dress is in a state of undone-ness. I came home from work last night exhausted with another sinus headache that wouldn't quit and decided to take a nap. 

It turned out to be an all night nap. I just woke up in my clothes, tights and all and panicked at the thought I might not finish the dress.  

The plan is to get home and sew like a fiend on a mission.  

I really hoping for a Christmas miracle here. The two dresses have to be ready for Friday morning and I have another workday to get through too!   

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sewing with Velvet: Handling things Differently...

I'm working on a second version of McCall's 5795. This second dress is in the children's size range and the sleeve and armhole are teeny tiny. The challenge here is to manoeuvre around the armhole opening using that big clunky walking foot

I could use the much more dainty roller foot for this section of the dress but that would be too easy. And besides velvet is prone to all that shifting and sliding around and the walking foot has proved to be the best option. To prepare for this challenge there was a whole lot of hand stitching using a diagonal basting stitch.  

First, I hand-stitched the lining to the sleeve along the cap line.

The next step was to hand stitch the lining to the velvet along the armhole opening on the bodice.  

The final step was to hand stitch sleeve to the opening and through the four layers of fabric. Again, I used the diagonal basting stitch.  

Now that everything is basted in place I can take it to the sewing machine and machine stitch. On the first dress I hand-stitched the sleeve but pinned it to the bodice and then machine stitched. The problem that I had to deal with afterwards were an imprint that the pins left on the velvet. Hopefully, handling things differently with this dress will produce a better result. But first, I need a something for this sinus headache that won't quit. Wish me luck? There are only two more sleeps to get this done.  

Happy Sewing!

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...