Wednesday, 30 November 2016

November in Review...


L to R:  Cotton tweed jumper (Lida Baday design), out-of-print (OOP) McCall's 8943; wool crepe dress (Lynn Mizono design), Vogue 1410; refashioned scuba knit skirt, OOP Vogue 8939; yellow cotton knit bathrobe, OOP Simplicity 7417; cotton microwave bowl holders, no pattern used.

The only item on my want-to-make list for November that I didn't get around to sewing were knickers. It's on the back-burner now that I need a new winter coat since I'm too cheap to spring for someone to replace the zipper.

RTW Fast

I will admit that I've found myself at the mall over the month and I have to say that it is getting a lot easier to turn my nose up at RTW especially when looking closely at the labels. With the exception of the scuba knit skirt, all the items I made this month were made in better quality fabrics that I can find in the retail landscape. Sad, but true. There's a whole lot of man-made mystery fabrics out there. 


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
1 metre
11.0 metres
5 metre
12.7 metres
88.15 metres
95.7 metres
Fusible Tape
1.5 metres
22.10 metres
Hand needles
Hook and Eyes
2.7 metres
5.7 metres
10 metres
Lace trim
Pattern (new)
Pattern (previously used)
4.5 metres
6.0 metres
2 metres
Serger needles
Serger thread
Sewing machine needles
1.8 metres
1.8 metres

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Well, I've Been Putting It Off For Far Too Long...

Yup, the winter coat that I've been talking and talking and talking about making over the years is back on my radar. I know when it comes to sewing a winter coat, I've been all talk and no action. So, you might be wondering what's different now?  

The zipper on my down and feather filled winter coat is broken. I was hoping that it would be an easy fix since I had all the pieces that are no longer functioning but I can't find anyone who can help me with trying to piece it back together. What I was able to find were businesses willing to replace the zipper. Are you sitting down? I'm looking at seventy dollars to replace the zipper. 

And no, I'm not willing to do this type of repair job myself. It would be a major pain in the wrist and I really don't like mending and alterations. Sometimes it is just better to take it in to get done. Since my winter coat won't be making any appearance in an upcoming Monday's Mending Pile post and I'm budgeting for another lay-off in a few weeks, I best hit the stash and pull out some supplies.  

At this point it would be more economical to sew a coat. I have everything I'll need in the stash.  

I still have this wool fabric sitting in my stash along with the lining fabrics I was considering. I'm also going back to this pattern, Vogue 8934, which as been on my want-to-make list for quite awhile.  

I'm all set, except for buttons. I'll have to find some buttons. I wouldn't mind adding a hood as well. Hopefully, I'll have a toasty warm winter coat before winter arrives. 

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 24 November 2016

In Sewing News Today...

It is that crazy time of year...

I'm busy with Christmas sewing. Not for me, this Christmas sewing is for orders related to the Etsy shop. I'm trying to get them done as soon as they come in.  

I just finished them this morning. I'm trying to fit in sewing whenever I can, sometimes it can be challenging. So much is going on.  

In other news... remember when this happened? I brought my copy to work for "show 'n tell" last week and that is when it got damaged when it collided with my water bottle. I will admit that I went back to my local bookstore to pick up a new copy. Boy, that makes me sound so vain. Yikes! I came home empty handed because they were all sold out. I couldn't find anywhere. Well, Monday I received an email from the editors of Vogue graciously offering to send a copy. How they knew, I have no idea. I'm just excited that a copy is on it's way. Boy, when those Vogue Pattern magazines hit the shelves they don't stay there long. A true sign that sewing culture is alive and well.  

There is more to tell in sewing news, but it is going to have to wait...

Until then, Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 21 November 2016

Monday's Mending Pile

I've been cleaning out the closet and bringing out all the winter gear. Even though there is no snow on the ground, there is a nippy feeling in the air. Soon, I hope snow will be here and allergy season will come to an end but sadly there is still rain in the weather forecast this week. Rain and leaves are not a good mix for those with allergies. But I digress and this is supposed to be a sewing blog...

Where was I? Oh yeah, winter clothes. So, this dress, OOP Vogue 8939, I made last year with a scuba knit fabric and would you believe it now fits me like I'm wearing a scuba diving suit? I swear, it must have shrank because I don't believe I gained that much weight since making this dress. I felt like my arms were stuffed into sausage casings and I was being strangled by the turtle neck.  

The only thing to do was to get rid of those problematic areas.  

I can now breath with it changed into a pull-on skirt.  I just serged the cut edge, turned down 1 3/8" and top-stitched with my walking foot and the knit stitch. I used an inch wide elastic. Last winter's dress is now this winter's skirt.  

Happy Mending!  


Saturday, 19 November 2016

Wrap Jumper

I happened to pick up this pattern, out-of-print (OOP) McCall's 8943, a couple of years ago and the jumper has been on my wish-to-make list for quite awhile.

I made the shirt when it arrived and finally got around to making the jumper.  

I am quite thrilled with how it turned out that I almost don't want to admit that I made this as a wearable muslin. 

I actually had plans to make it in a printed velveteen but since cotton velveteen is such a rare find now-a-days in these parts, I thought I better make sure I'm happy with the fit.  

This Lida Baday design has princess seams and darts giving it a beautiful figure. But since I don't have the figure that Lida Baday designed for, I left off the double back darts and the single front darts.  I'm glad I did, even though I made it in a size 14, my hips needed the extra ease. I actually gave a wee bit more ease but extending an extra inch from the hem and then grading from there to the bust-line.  

I also lengthened the jumper by four inches and hemmed it by hand with an inch and a half hem.  

I chose view B with the side ties. I love how they tie from the princess seam and wrap around the back of the dress. It is very comfortable. For the ties I used a velvet trim that was sitting in my stash for goodness how many years decades. 

I also like that this is a lined jumper. I didn't use lining fabric rather a polyester printed fabric that also has been in my stash for decades. I like the whimsical shoes and handbag pattern that is hidden underneath the jumper. The fashion fabric is a cotton tweed and the jumper has a nice weight to it. Both fabrics were pre-treated in the washing machine and dryer and handled the pre-treatment very well.  

This pattern is well-drafted, all of the pieces fit together perfectly. The instructions are well-written and illustrated. And now I think I have an outfit that I can wear to work.  

The Stats:  

Fabric:   3.9 metres (fashion and lining fabrics)

Interfacing:  2.7 metres fusible

Trim:  3 metres

Pattern:  OOP McCall's 8943

Thread:  1 spool of serger thread

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, threads for the serger and sewing machines, tweezers, screwdriver, seam ripper, scissors, clippers, iron, ironing board, tailor's ham, pressing cloth, pins, cutting table, coffee, coffee breaks, chocolate truffles (no wonder I had to let the darts out!), and wrist brace.  

Happy Sewing!  


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Why I Sew

I haven't been in the sewing room as much as I hoped these past few weeks. Overtime, allergies, and a sore back has been challenging to my work / life balance. Everyone is celebrating the unseasonal warm weather we're having but it is what makes this allergy season the worse ever. I'm praying for snow and that it will bring an end to these endless sinus headaches. Then maybe I'll feel like spending more time focused in the sewing room. Until then...  

I'm often asked if I made this or that and why I sew. Sometimes the reasons why I sew have changed over the years, different factors come into play. However, one reason has remain constant, I enjoy sewing. I really do, even though my one and only goal this year has been to rediscover the joy of sewing. Last year, I was constantly asked to sew things that I had no interest in sewing. I was feeling used and unappreciated and discovering the joy of sewing was all about putting an end to that silly business and rediscovering the joy of sewing that once filled the sewing space.

Now, I'm not a totally selfish sewist. Mama R's wardrobe has been created and financed at my sewing table and it has been an absolute joy to dress her. And there are little girls who were dressed in Lynn Mizono's dress that filled my heart with joy. If you haven't made this pattern, I highly recommend if not for the cuteness factor alone. Every time I finish one it puts a big smile on my face. And there are other reasons why I sew.  

Reason #1: A Sense of Accomplishment

I have to admit that I like the feeling of accomplishment and seeing a project from start to finish. I like to research how-to tips and tricks to achieve a technique and look that I'm after.

I was over-the-moon when I finished the red cape inspired by a Kate Spade cape that I spotted in the retail landscape. After all the time and money spent on this project, one could argue that it would have been more economical to just purchase the Kate Spade cape. But the sense of accomplishment that came with that project is priceless. I wouldn't have traded that feeling for anything.

Reason #2:  Heightened Sense of Awareness & Protest

From the first time that I picked up a sewing needle as a wee little gal, I have seen a lot of changes in not only the sewing industry but in the quality of fabric offered in the fabric stores to the changes happening in the retail landscape.

Judith Weller's statue of The Garment Worker {Source}

In North America, over the decades, the sewing industry was dismantled and shipped overseas chasing dreams of higher profits off the backs of cheaper labour and lower safety standards. In return, consumers paid lower retail prices in exchange for lower quality goods. I felt conned by these cheap goods that made it into my closet. As a result I returned to sewing. And eventually, I joined the RTW Fast. It was tough at first, but now it is a sense of pride. After reading Elizabeth L. Cline's Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion there was no way that I could continue to hide behind the veil of ignorance. The reform of education saw the decline of home economics classes that were traditionally offered in the last century. This drop was argued as necessary to focus on the three R's but policy makers failed to see that sewing helps to develop those skills. Instead, it helped to develop a consumer unable to spot and appreciate quality goods allowing the rise of cheap ready-to-wear to take hold. Meg L. Noonan's The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury, & Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat heartbreakingly follows the trail of a quality workmanship on the decline and how bespoke clothing is a highly sought after luxury out of the reach of many consumers. The meaning of bespoke is being transformed as marketers hi-jack the term to sell other products, dismissing it original luxury status.  I sew today with a heightened sense of awareness that I can control the quality of the garments I make by choosing natural fabrics that are less prone to pilling to choosing techniques to produce quality construction.

Reason #3:  The pure and natural mood altering experience

I sew for the mood altering experience that sewing gives me. From the excitement of finding a bolt of fabric in the store that triggers a plan for a new project.

Scooter print fabric and the perfect buttons, Mitchell Fabrics.
I have never left a fabric store without encountering something that inspires me and gets my mind thinking even if I leave empty handed. Under the best of circumstances, sewing is a stress reliever. The five senses are at play during the sewing process. The smell of a piece of cloth, whether it is leather that makes you consider making a handbag or moto style jacket or just that funky smell that sends you out the door. Sight of wall-to-wall buttons on someone's blog offered at a Paris shop invoke dreams of travel.

The sense of touch as one's hand strokes the soft nap of a piece of velvet or velveteen to reveal the different shades as light reflects off the surface. The symphony of sound that fabric makes with movement. Along with the sounds and sights from sewing equipment all contribute to the mood altering experience that sewing provides.

So, there you have it, the top reasons why I currently sew. What are yours?

Happy Sewing!



Friday, 11 November 2016

In Sewing News Today...

Today I found myself at the bookstore when I spotted the new Vogue Patterns and Threads magazine were out on the shelves.  

I did pick up the latest issue of Vogue Patterns because while flipping through the sewing magazine at the bookstore I came across this page.  

They published my V1312 and V9060 dress! I sent in the photo of this and my Euro Cup dress several month ago (pre-sprained ankle photo). I forgot about those project pictures, it seems so long ago. But check out the picture to the left of the dress -- another Lynn Mizono and Marcy Tilton combination, Lynn Mizono's V1246, Marcy Tilton's OOP V8712 and V8823. And I love that cotton print fabric all three pieces are made from, it is such a cool outfit. 

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

Happy Sewing!  


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Ribbon Tied Dress

Vogue 1410 has to be one of my favourite patterns and it is evident in the number of times that I've made this pull-over dress. This would be number four.

The fabric is chocolate brown wool crepe that I picked up at Mitchell Fabrics a couple of years ago with this project in mind. I don't know why it took me so long to pull off this project. I love sewing with this fabric, no challenges in the sewing department, and it has a lovely drape for this design. The fabric was pretreated with a tumble through the washing machine and dryer. It handled the pretreatment well. Pressing was done on the wool setting.  

Instead of finishing the front closure with a cord stopper and elastic cord to form the front drape, I took my inspiration for the ribbon treatment from the younger version of this design, Vogue 1455. The length was shortened on the pattern piece, including a one inch hem. The shoulder seam was also shortened by 5/8" and the front neckline was raised an inch.   

The Stats:  

Fabric:    2.8 metres

Ribbon:  1.5 metres of 2" wide ribbon

Knit 'N Stitch Tape:  1.5 metres

Pattern:  Vogue 1410

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, buttonhole foot, button, screwdriver, tweezers, brushes, tailor's ham, iron, ironing board, cutting table, scissors, thread clippers, pins, coffee and chocolate.  

Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 7 November 2016

Monday's Mending Pile

First, have you seen this opinion piece in the news? I had no idea that last month was  celebrated with an online movement called #slowfashionoctober. The article celebrates thriftiness and the make do and mend ethic. Talking about make do and mend and the benefits of buying the best quality that you can afford, lets check out the latest items to make it to the mending pile.  

Last week I wore this outfit.

And while walking out of the door my jumper got caught in the decorative iron railing leaf motif at the front step. Right smack in the front of the lower skirt portion a hole was created. What initially looked like a large hole recovered into a small hole that I could live with as I continued on my journey. Ponte knit has good recovery.  

And by the end of the day, I discovered that my much worn and cherished black knit t-shirt has a hole in the sleeve near the elbow. The t-shirt is not a me-made item. I picked it up at Holt Renfrew's Last Call store many moons ago and it has proven to be a quality item. Sadly, Holt Renfrew's Last Call store closed down and left the city to be replaced by some fast-fashion outlet. They don't make clothes to last like this t-shirt has now-a-days. I can't part with it yet and it's not the first time it's been to the mending pile. 

I really need to copy this top and try to recreate it before it becomes a beyond mending item. So, now added to the November sewing list, a new t-shirt.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Worse Fabric Ever?

I've had this dress for a total of sixty-four days and I can count on one hand the number of times I've worn it. It is now ready for the trash. This weekend I slipped it on to run some errands. 

And I discovered, much to my horror, a texture on the surface of the fabric that wasn't there before. I quickly removed the dress to investigate further this unseen and unfamiliar texture. The fabric is pilling!  

I couldn't tell you this fabric's fibre content other than it was labelled as a "Techno" knit. Much like scuba knits, they rarely list the actual fibre content. I think this might be the worse fabric that I've worked with, on so many levels. It was challenging to sew, it's not breathable and it is basically a defective fabric after a couple of months. Love the colour, but not enough to ever buy this fabric again.  

Techno and scuba knits are a cocktail mix of man-made fibres that can consist of any of the following:

  • Rayon
  • Polyester
  • Acrylic
  • Acetate
  • Nylon
Not only are any of these man-made fibres prone to pilling quicker than natural fibres, they are toxic to our environment and health. According to these are the top six fabrics you should avoid:

1. Polyester is the worst fabric you can buy. It is made from synthetic polymers that are made from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid.
2. Acrylic fabrics are polycrylonitriles and may cause cancer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
3. Rayon is recycled wood pulp that must be treated with chemicals like caustic soda, ammonia, acetone and sulphuric acid to survive regular washing and wearing.
4. Acetate and Triacetate are made from wood fibers called cellulose and undergo extensive chemical processing to produce the finished product.
5. Nylon is made from petroleum and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can be harmful.
I'm sure I'm going to ruffle some feathers with this post, if I haven't already. But I'm sick and tired of spending money on cheap fabric that is of poor quality, doesn't not wear well, may cause cancer!, and is bad for the environment.

I still have man-made fabrics in my stash but from this day forward, I'm saving my pennies for the natural fibres. No more man-made fibres. That's my new fast.

Happy Sewing!


Saturday, 5 November 2016

What's Cozier Than a Sweater?

A robe made out of a stable sweater knit. I think I love this one more than the terry robe this is replacing.  

I picked up this yellow knit fabric at Northwest Fabrics last year for a song. And besides the deal I got on this cloth, the best part is the quality of this fabric. You can't find knits like this anymore. This fabric was part of a shipment from a business that went out of a business. They were selling a beautiful collection of fabrics for $3.99 / metre (a song!), or 99₵ / metre for the whole bolt. I thought it would be crazy to not take advantage of such an offer, so the whole bolt came home with me. It is a medium weight stable cotton knit. According to Mama R (she has a cardigan made in this fabric), it wears incredibly well and it is warm.  

I'm thrilled with how it turned out. I revisited the pattern that I used for my previous robe, Simplicity 7417 and chose the same style. Even though I never wear the hood up, there is something about a hooded robe that I like.  

The robe is stitched with the knit stitch including the top-stitching.  I left off the pockets even though I did cut them out. I might go back and sew them on but for now, I'm okay without pockets. I didn't make any pattern alterations at all and that left me with a floor length robe. It feels like I'm wearing a big blanket.  

The Stats:

Fabric:     6 metres 

Pattern:    Simplicity 7417 

Needles:  1 new serger needle

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, walking foot, 4 spools of yellow thread for the sewing machine and serger, scissors, thread clippers, screw driver, tweezers, pins, cutting table, wrist brace, coffee, and some good tunes.  

Happy Sewing!  

Tuesday, 1 November 2016


Back in August when I was thinking about what autumn sewing projects I wanted to work on I came up with a list that's... well, it turns out to be just plain crazy. 

This plaid wrap skirt is on hold as I've gained a few pounds and not feeling it right now. Hence, all the elastic waist maxi skirts that recently entered my wardrobe. I'm going to replace this project with a new robe. I could really use a new robe.  I plan to revisit OOP Simplicity 7417 for this project.  

Oh yes, and I had plans for another pair of dress pants and a matching vest.  

I was going to make these in a charcoal coloured British wool. But a new vest and dress pants just don't fit into my current work life assignment where kneeling on the floor, tying shoe laces are the norm. These items would be way too dressy for work. 

Instead, I'm going to try to make knickers again with McCall's 7168. I like the high-waisted vintage vibe on these bottoms.  

There was also this Donna Karan dress I wanted to make but again, too dressy for my current work assignment.  

Same goes for this shirt and jumper. I had plans to make it in a burgundy colour British wool that is way nice for work wear.  

And this Donna Karan sweater / cape will have to wait. Maybe next year?

But this Lynn Mizono design is back on the make list. I could use another version of this super comfortable dress for work.

So, there we have my new revised list that I hope to tackle this month.

  1. New robe (just finished cutting it out this evening and changed the thread on the machines)
  2. Knickers
  3. New dress for work
And hopefully, I'll find some time to do some sewing for Mama R. She would like to have another pair of pants and another top. So, what are your sewing plans this month?  

Happy Sewing!  

In Sewing New Today...

A few months ago the strap on my handbag broke. The leather strap was fine, it was the hardware that gave out. The strapless handbag sat un...