Friday, 30 September 2016

September in Review...


There were big plans for National Sewing Month, I planned an autumn sewing list and hardly put a dent into it this month. Most of my time sewing was dedicated to hand-sewing samples work. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to abandon hand-stitching and run it through the sewing machine.     

Top L to R:  Blue dress, Vogue 9060 and 1312; Pull-on pants, Simplicity 2372; Floral dress, Vogue 1410.
I need to get back to work on the projects I neglected this month. Plus Mama R is waiting for another pair of pants and goodness she's been waiting ages for another top. Lots to do!  

RTW Fast

There have been several articles in the news lately about the consumer shopping trends. Most recently, the Financial Times wrote about the declining profits. With the state of ready-to-wear and the rise of athletic-leisure wear, did retailers think that consumers spending trends would remain the same as before?  

Yup, mind blown.     

The Stats:

Quantity Used from the stash this Month 
Quantity Used this Year
Added to the Stash this year
Basting Tape
1.88 metres
Bias Tape
7.41 metres
Cord Stopper
2 metres
7.0 metres
3 metre
 7.6 metres
65.85 metres
76.1 metres
Fusible Tape
 2.2 metres
19.40 metres
Hand needles
Hook and Eyes
3.0 metres
10 metres
Lace trim
Pattern (new)
Pattern (previously used)
1.50 metres
2 metres
Serger needles
Serger thread
Sewing machine needles
1.8 metres
1.8 metres

Well, I hope you had a productive and enjoyable National Sewing Month. Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The Mysterious Consumer Trends

Four days ago the Financial Times published an article that has been circulating on the net. The authors of the article are perplexed as to why clothing sales has dropped off in previously unseen numbers. Oh the horror! 


I'm kidding, I'm actually rolling on the floor laughing. 

Obviously, the authors are unfamiliar with the current fashion trend "athleisure." Actually, athleisure is more than a trend as evident by the number of people who dress exactly the same in their gym-to-the-office look without actually stepping into a gym. Seriously, if it has become culturally acceptable to a large segment of the population to wear leggings and yoga pants everywhere, why is a drop in clothing profits such a "mystery" to the the folks at the Financial Times? With one less change of clothes needed... do we really need to do the math?  


The article tries to suggest that the under twenty-five demographic are becoming uninterested in fashion and shopping for clothing but I think there is more to the story that hasn't been explored. Millennials have a reputation for being socially-conscious, they are not the me-me-me generation that they are often labelled as. This is a generation that has grown up with fast-fashion like no other demographic and they are well-educated in social justice issues. Millennials are all about participating and doing for themselves and they are the reason that many young people are taking up sewing in numbers unseen for decades. It is why the bookstores are stocked with beginner level sewing books. Millennials are part of the generation engaged in the Fashion Revolution movement that emerged out of the tragedy at Rama Plaza and they ask questions. This is a generation of eco-tourists who grew up with books like Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. This is not a generation to be easily conned by a sale sign.  

A decline is ready-to-wear clothing sales is only a mystery if we fail to recognize these cultural and social trends.  

Happy Sewing!    

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Winter / Holiday Vogues

Vogue patterns released their Winter / Holiday line last night. The most exciting part is that there are a whole new line up of new designers to discover. Although, I'm still missing Donna Karan designs, Rebecca Vallance seems to have some Karan-esque features to her designs.  
Vogue 1525 has pleated pants that remind me of the pleated pants found on OOP Vogue 1417. I quite like this top. I think Vogue 1525 might make it to the collection even though I'm not all that crazy about pleated pants. I'm thrilled that waistlines are rising, but why is it that when that happens pleats appear?

Kayla Kennington is another new-to-me designer. Vogue 9229 is a fitting tunic and pull-on skirt and pants pattern. I'm too short to pull off the tunic look and I have more than enough pull-on bottoms patterns.  But it is a pretty look for the right body type to pull off.  

This is the last of the new-to-me designer, Paco Peralto, with Vogue 1526.

Now, let's talk about the one must-have pattern on my wish list.
Check out Kathryn Brenne's Vogue 9235! I want to make view D and can't wait until it hits the store shelves... a few more weeks.  Do you have an wants from the new Winter / Holiday collection?  

Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 26 September 2016

Monday's Mending Pile

There is always something or another making it onto the mending pile. Typically, I'm doing laundry on weekends and adding to the pile. 

And it is usually when I've finished ironing something or another that I discover it should have been in the mending pile instead. This week's said item:  

Small holes were discovered in the back armhole seam on both sides. Yikes! I have another version of this top, Butterick 5891, on the sewing table. It is a quick fix but it has me thinking that I need to seriously get back to a daily exercise routine. 

There is nothing like a mending pile to remind a gal to exercise.  

Happy mending...

Thursday, 22 September 2016

In Sewing News Today...

This morning at Sewing Club I discovered the

gen·er·a·tion gap
  1. differences of outlook or opinion between people of different generations.

The students were choosing their projects and I was quite surprised that the most popular choice was a little smiley face that I stitched up and stuffed. I actually thought it would be the least popular but included it just for another option. I called it a "smiley face." To the younger generation of enthusiastic new sewers, it's an "emoticon." I never thought of it as an emoticon when I was sewing it up. I officially feel old and still loving sewing club. They are teaching me so much!

I haven't been sewing at all this week other than the samples since finishing Mama R's pants. I'm itching to get back to the sewing room because I splurged on a little something for myself.

It was on sale last week and I have a kAtheRine Tilton shirt in mind for this fabric. It looks like it will have to wait until the weekend.  Life has been too busy during the week to get any sewing work done. Why is it that one's sewing mojo is in full swing, when there's not much free time to be sewing?  

Well, that's all in sewing news today...

Happy Sewing!  

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Sometimes Sewing is Not Relaxing

Goodness, sometimes sewing can be stressful. Like right now, when panic sets in and there is one more day to get the samples done for work and there are kits to put together.  

What can I say besides Mama R was right and I'm a master procraftinator. Shhh, just don't tell Mama R she was right. I just can't take the "I told you sews" right now. It doesn't help when it is the height of allergy season and I wish I were in Banff right now so I wouldn't feel so miserable. Sinus headaches are throwing me off my schedule and focus. 

Well, my coffee break is over... back to work.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 18 September 2016

New Pair of Pants

Well, I've made a new pair of pants but this pair is not for me. Mama R asked if I could take her to the mall and when we got there she asked to go to Sears because she wants to look for a pair of pants. 


Yeah, I know! Isn't that the craziest thing you ever heard? The woman tricked me into taking her to Sears.  

"But, I can sew you a pair of pants," I said through the hurt feelings that were building up inside of me.  

"You're too busy," she replied.  

"No, I'm not," I protested, thinking that I could probably sew a pair of pants in less time that it would take her to find a pair of pants that fit. 

And then she sent me away while she looked, hoping that I would stop nagging her. 

"I didn't find anything good," she said later at our agreed meeting spot, cheering me up a little.  

"Let me try to make you a pair," I quickly offered.  

"You have lots to do for work," she said.

True, I still have to sew those samples for work but my wrist is killing me today and my heart is not into hand-stitching. My heart ached to sit at the sewing machine and sew a pair of pants for my Mom.   

"I'm just going to try," I interrupted, "if you don't like them you don't have to wear them."

I pulled out Simplicity 2372, Mama R's go-to dress pattern because it also has a pants pattern that has all the sizes intact. She let me take some measurements and I got to work.

The fabric that I used was a left-over piece that was just enough for a pair of pants. I can't remember where, when or why I bought it but there it was and I thought it would work for a trial run. I suspect that it is a polyester by the way it frayed.

I cut a size 10 crotch length and inseam and a size 18 on the outer leg seam. The waistline was too short and the length was too long. And since I didn't have any more fabric, I cut off four inches from an already shortened legs and pieced it together to make a waistband.

Hand-stitching made its way into this project just to prep for some stitch-in-the-ditch action.

And guess what? Mama R now has a new pair of pants. Now that the needed alterations are all figured out, I'll make a pair in grey British wool this week.

The Stats:

Fabric:     2 metres

Elastic:    1 metre 1" elastic

Pattern:    Simplicity 2372

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, walking foot, regular foot, threads for the sewing machine, serger and hand-stitching, hand needle, scissors, cutting table, pins, iron, ironing board, and one patient Mom.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

What to Sew Now?

My original fall sewing plans are on hold right now. I still want these items in my wardrobe but I'm back to work with a new exciting assignment. 

So what is a gal to wear when you have the privilege to work with little angels?  Parts of my work week are make up of joyful workdays filled with lots of bending, kneeling, sitting on the floor, sweeping, wiping down tables, and getting dusty in the playground. A professional dress code of no denim, no leggings, no leisure-athletic wear, basically follow these rules throw a challenge into the mix.   

I'm not a casual dresser by any means, it's just not me. I'm most comfortable in a dress and it is my preference when getting dressed for work but this year, it is not always a practical choice. So, what to sew now?  

Enter my new fall sewing plan. Butterick 6097 is my favourite shirt pattern and my favourite shirt but it doesn't cut it in the movement department and it just might be too dressy for the playground. Instead, a flared pullover top, McCall's 7407, might be more appropriate and give me the movement that I will require. Katherine Tilton's loose-fitting pullover top, Butterick 6218, also made it to the new fall sewing plan. I'm certainly looking for tops with sleeves.  

And I need comfortable pants. With the exception of one pair of pants, all my pants, OOP Vogue 1325, are made with 100% wool or wool and cashmere blend and are way too nice for the playground. I'm thinking Marcy Tilton's OOP Vogue 8637 pull-on pants in a black ponte knit or perhaps Donna Karan's pants, OOP Vogue 1417.  

I hope to put away the grey British wool sitting on my cutting table and get to work on these more practical items this weekend. I now have a new understanding and appreciation for what Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic went through. It is easy now-a-days to stand in front of a closet full of clothes and say, "I haven't got a thing to wear!" I need to change that.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 11 September 2016

In Sewing News Today...

Have you been following The Great PatternReview Sewing Bee contest? Round one just closed and I'm so impressed with the quality of work on display. I'm blown away with the shorts that were entered and feature a variety of details: welt pockets, cargo pockets, snap details, sailor pants detailing, plaid matching, lace and lining, and so much.  The judges have their work cut out for them.

I've been less productive as there hasn't been any sewing this week. It was back-to-work this week and the only sewing related activity that I managed to do was heading to work early to plan sewing club activities and shopping. There is a few things still left to do before sewing club starts on Wednesday, like sew up a sample.

Yup, that's right. I haven't had time to sew a sample yet. Wish me luck on that one. I also had plans to make gluten-free button themed cookies in honour of National Sewing Month and the start of Sewing Club, but it doesn't look like that will materialize. So much for keeping it simple.

I'm going to blame the lack of sewing activity on the ankle that needs an ice pack when I get home from work. Who knew a sprained ankle took so long to heal? Yes, the clinic doctor and physiotherapist warned me, but I really didn't think it was true.

I mentioned that there has been shopping. I needed some supplies for work and then I was tempted by fabric on sale. The whole discount section was reduced to 70% off. If I wasn't just back to work after a nine week lay-off, I might have done some serious fabric shopping. Silk duponi and linen fabrics were sitting there at 70% off this weekend and it is still there. ~sigh~ I will admit that I was tempted, very tempted.

I did pick up a cotton chambray fabric at 70% off. I have plans to make another Butterick 6097 shirt for work. And some more Knit 'N Stitch tape that happened to be on sale for 50% off. Oh, and buckles for that skirt on my fall sewing list.

I hope to get back to the sewing machine this week.

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

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Monday's Mending Pile

September is a call back to routine (my nine week lay-off from work will end tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.--insert happy dance here) and a good-bye to those care-free days of summer (and hopefully allergy season as well). 

Summer 2015, Assiniboine Park.

This is also the end of a long weekend here in Canada. Happy Labour Day to those readers who are celebrating. Which brings me to this week's mending issue.   

I am once again labouring (I know bad pun--couldn't help myself) over this top. It ended up in my mending pile when it came out of the wash looking like this horrible mess.  

Yes, it pilled. And those horrible little bobbles of tight fuzz locked onto the fabric surface are enough to make me throw this in the donate pile.

But I can't because I like this top. This is the reason that I prefer natural fibre over the man-made stuff. Yes, I get that it is cheaper for manufacturers to produce and there will always be silly consumer (insert moi) who will know better but still pick it up. So here are some tips to prevent this miss from happening.  
  1. Avoid fabrics that have blended natural and man-made fibres, especially if the fabric content lists three or more fibres.  
  2. Wash knitted fabric on the gentle cycle on your washing machine. I have access to a machine that has a delicate cycle. It is a slower wash and there is less agitation during the cycle.  
  3. Or better yet, hand wash your knits. 
  4. Turn the item to the wrong side before washing. (Yes, I neglected to do this.) This will prevent the surface of the fabric to rub against other items in the wash that might cause rubbing against hard surfaces like zippers or buttons.  
  5. Wash like-minded clothes together. Washing towels with knits will spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e because those lint producing towels will be attracted to any broken fibres on a polyester surface and form pills.  
  6. Dry knits flat, avoiding the use of a dryer where it increases the chance of abrasion against other fabrics.  
If pilling occurs not all is lost.  

I couldn't have saved this top without this handy little tool. It's the Remington® Fuzz-Away Pro and can you believe all the fuzz that removed from that one top! Yikes.  

Happy Labour Day!  


Saturday, 3 September 2016

The O'Keeffe Dress

American modernist painter, Georgia O'Keeffe is without a doubt one of my favourite painters. 

This dress with its oversized flowers reminds me of her art leading me to call my third project from my fall sewing list, the O'Keeffe dress.  

The O'Keeffe dress found the perfect canvas with Lynn Mizono's loose-fitting pullover dress pattern, Vogue 1410. It is easy to wear and comfortable. The only thing that would make this a perfect dress is pockets.  I still might add some later.  

A few minor changes to the pattern. The shoulder seam and the over-all length of the dress were shortened. Even though I shortened it, it's still near ankle length. Instead of a 3/4" hem, I sewed a one inch hem. I omitted the french seams and went with a serged seam finish. The armholes and neckline were finished with some Stretch 'N Knit tape, turned and top-stitched. And I raised the front neckline about an inch.  

The Stats:  

Fabric:              2.8 metres

Elastic Cord:    1 metre

Cord Stopper:  1

Pattern:            Vogue 1410

Additional Tool & Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, threads, scissors, thread clippers, buttonholer, cutting table, tailor's chalk, pins, snacks and a wee little break.  

Happy Sewing!  

Friday, 2 September 2016

Fall Sewing: The Techno Dress

Project #2 from my fall sewing list can now be checked off.

I'm calling this one the techno dress. It is a reference to the fabric, listed as a techno knit on the label.  

I've heard of scuba knit but this is the first time I've come across anything listed as "techno knit." After coming home with this fabric I did some research and discovered that it's been around for awhile. This is a stretchy, sturdy, light-weight knit that has a sheen and drapes beautifully. This fabric is not as thick and spongey as a scuba knit, and is often compared to a double knit fabric. But it is lighter than a double knit and it does have some spongey-like characteristics evident while cutting out this project and as the presser foot moved across the fabric.  

Working with this fabric was a totally new experience even though I've been seeing more and more man-made knits in the fabric stores over the years. I usually steer away from them but this time I was really drawn to the colbolt blue colour and sheen of this fabric. I found a 2011 article that describes the appearance of this "new" emerging textile, 
as prices for pure raw materials become more and more expensive many mills have responded by mixing less-precious yarns into their compositions and using new treatments to create substantial fabrics from lighter-weight fibres. The full body of these fabrics demand less tailoring.  
I'm not completely sold on the scuba / techno fabric trend, if we can call it a trend after all these years?  It was fun and challenging to sew with a new fabric and I like my dress but I don't think I would be overly thrilled about a wardrobe full of this textile. Call me old-fashion but I like wool and cotton knits over this manufactured stuff since I tend to have bad luck with longevity of man-made fibres. But the colbolt blue colour, goodness, I like the colour. I just hope the fabric holds up to everyday wear and won't be prone to piling like some manufactured knits.

This fabric was pretreated with a tumble in the washing machine and dryer. It handled both quite well and I didn't notice any change to the hand of the fabric. I was worried about how to press this and did a test on the "silk" setting on my iron. I was thrilled that it could take more heat than the synthetic setting on my iron, it made attaching the Knit-N-Stitch tape a whole lot easier.

And some left-over lint from the previous projects. My bad.

I will admit that I did find it tricky to sew. The seams were stitched with the knit (lightning bolt) stitch and I did use the walking foot. I found that I had to slow down my sewing significantly and gentle tug at the threads / fabric to prevent it from getting caught in the plate. Which did happen twice during the construction of this dress. Thankfully, there was no need for a seam ripper because goodness, I don't think I would want to even try to take stitches out of this fabric.

The patterns used to make this dress were a combination of two favourites, Lynn Mizono's bodice from Vogue 1312 and the skirt from Marcy Tilton's Vogue 9060. After this version, I knew I wanted another for work. But now I'm thinking this is too nice for work.

The Stats:

Fabric:   2.2 metres

Lining:  0.5 metres

Patterns:  Vogue 1312 and 9060

Interfacing tape:  1.2 metres

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, thread, tweezers, brushes, screwdrivers, walking foot, cutting table, pins, scissors, thread clippers,  iron, ironing board, pumpkin spice coffee, wrist braces, and some tender loving care (heat pads) for my back.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

In Sewing News Today...

First off, Happy National Sewing Month! This year's theme is to "sew for the experience of it." I think that might be a sign that I really should get around to trying to sew a winter coat? That would be a new sewing experience.  


National Sewing Month is an American celebration, started in 1982, at the request of the American Home Sewing and Craft Association, when then president Ronald Reagan proclaimed the importance of home sewing. You can read about the history here if you're interested. There is not a whole lot of hoop-la up here over National Sewing Month unless you're a sewing geek like me and follow such things.  

It is my favourite time of year, autumn is in the air, the leaves are starting to change colours and the first project was announced this morning for Pattern Review's 2016 Sewing Bee. Shorts or capris. 


Never in a million light years would I have guessed the first round would be shorts or capris. Needless to say, I'll be sitting this contest out since the discussion boards seem to say that culottes are a no-go. If only I had this pattern in my stash,  

lost about thirty pounds, didn't have knee scars, and were a little taller, then maybe I would consider making a pair of wool shorts to wear with tights. Since we're moving into autumn here, it is the only way I can justify making shorts now. Actually, I can't justify making shorts. I'll be sitting this one out but looking forward to seeing all the entries. Anyone joining in?  

In other sewing news... I received an e-mail notification that Vogue Patterns released the October / November issue and of course I rushed out to the book store but it isn't in yet. I'm curious about the quilted scuba knit jacket piece. I just finished sewing a techno knit dress and am curious if there are any pointers since I have enough fabric to make a top.  And I found it a challenging fabric to sew. More on that later, for now that's all in sewing news today.

Happy National Sewing Month everyone!  


The Perfect White Shirt

Is there such a thing?  If I were to dream, the fabric would be white and made from natural fibres. It would have long sleeves, a menswear ...