Friday, 31 March 2017

March in Review...


My sewing mojo took another hit this month as I was still on the mend. I did manage to accomplish some easy projects with the aid of a coccyx cushion and replacing the chair at the serger with an upholstered footstool.   

Clockwise top left to right:  Chambray dress for Mama R, Simplicity 2372; Knit dress, OOP Vogue 8939; Chambray shirtdress, McCall's 7546; Panties, Simplicity 8228; and more panties, Simplicity 8229.
I've been working on a little girls' coat, Vogue 9219, as well. If you've been following on instragram you'll have seen bits of progressive throughout the month. It's not quite finished yet.  

RTW & Fabric Fast:

This ready-to-wear fast is easy peasy now that I'm into my forth year but the fabric fast is proving to be quite the challenge.  

Fabric shopping was a bit of therapy this month. You see the physiotherapist told me to make sure I keep moving. That meant fabric shopping, right? I'm kidding.

Sadly, Mitchell Fabrics announced earlier this month that they will be closing and I made my way down there to pick up fabrics that I know I won't be able to find again. Unless, some brave soul with fabulous taste in fabric opens up a new fabric store in the city. A gal can dream. The end of this month my annual membership at Fabricland expires and I've vowed not to renew it. I have more than enough supplies and fabric to keep me busy.  

The Stats:

Quantity Used from the stash this Month 
Quantity Used this Year
Added to the Stash this year
Basting Tape
1.10 metres
2.22 metres
Bias Tape
1.8 metres

Cord Stopper

4.7 metres
5.5 metres
6 metres
8.8 metres
31.0 metres
31.9 metres
Fusible Tape
2 metres
10 metres
Hand needles

Hook and Eyes

1.35 metres
2.3 metres
6 metres
Lace trim
2.6 metres
Pattern (new)
Pattern (previously used--TNT)

Serger needles

Serger thread

Sewing machine needles



2 metres
7 metres


Happy Sewing! 

Monday, 27 March 2017

In Sewing News Today...

Have you seen the new release from Vogue patterns? ~swoon~ I really like the summer 2017 release and best part, I think I found the dress pattern I would like to work on for an autumn wedding.

Vogue 1544 would be my pick for such an occasion and I have a silver silk fabric that might work. Of course, I'll lengthen it to somewhere below the knee.  
Vogue 1550 is my favourite from all of the summer released patterns. Simple and comfortable looking. And I have some linen stashed away that would be perfect for this outfit.   

What is it about a Marcy Tilton dress pattern that I can't resist?  Vogue 9254 calls for knit fabrics and I like that you can mix and match up patterns and colours with this one.
And then another Claire Schaeffer French inspired jacket makes it onto my wish-list. I don't think that I'll be picking this one up even though a French jacket has been on my sewing wish list. I already have two of Claire Schaeffer's French inspired jacket patterns in the collection. I just need to stop dreaming about sewing it up and get to work.  

How about you, do you spot any patterns that made it onto your wish list?  

In other news... did you hear the latest hoop-la over leggings? Despite the fact that wide-legged pants are supposed to the lastest it-fashion item for 2017, millions of people didn't get the memo. Kidding. Passengers flying United Airlines were denied entry onto the aircraft because of the way they were attired for the flight. Apparently, leggings were a no-fly item and it didn't fly well on twitter either. 

Muddy Mutts

I wonder how old that dress code policy is because it seems like everyone and their dog is wearing leggings everywhere. I guess United Airlines didn't get the memo

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

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Starry Night Dress

I made a couple of turtleneck dresses using Vogue 8939 over the years. Sometimes when you find a good pattern it's just worth revisiting. And since I was in the mood for an easy project this pattern fit the bill. Minus the hem which I finished up this morning, I was able to cut and sew this up last night.

It feels great to be back in the workspace and sewing clothes again. It was a great feeling. Yes, I do have that coat in queue but I wasn't feeling it last night.

Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, circa 1889.  

Instead, I was drawn to the knit fabric I used in this project because the colours and pattern reminded me of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night painting. It is a polyester sweater knit with a soft hand from Fabricland.  

The pattern is currently out-of-print (OOP) yet it is still available on the Vogue pattern website. It's a Vogue Wardrobe pattern that also comes with a vest, jacket, skirt and pants pattern although the dress pattern is the only piece I've tried. It is only four pattern pieces and easy peasy to put together. I didn't quite follow the instructions. Instead of set-in sleeves I sewed the shoulder seam followed by the armhole seam and then stitched closed the side and sleeve at the same time. Then I tackled the collar piece. The hems and shoulder seams were interfaced with Knit-N-Stitch™fusible tape. I lengthened the dress by ten inches (one inch hem) to create a maxi length and shortened the sleeves.     

The Stats:

Fabric:  3.0 metres 100% polyester knit

Fusible Tape:  2 metres

Pattern:  OOP Vogue 8939

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, tweezers, screwdriver, walking foot, scissors, thread clippers, threads (for the sewing machine and 4-spool serger), cutting table, pins, iron, ironing board and coffee.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Verdict is In...

The knickers were sewn first.

And oh my, Simplicity 8229 panties pattern is a keeper! The pattern arrived in the mail earlier this week. I wanted to try these in a smaller size than I cut Simplicity 8228 from and I'm glad that I did. These fit better than the first pair. I'm not sure if this pattern is sized big or if it is the amount of stretch in my fabric?  

Remember back-in-the-day when pattern envelopes came with a stretch guide? This one does not, instead it has a description of recommended fabrics. 
**Patterns were designed to be made with fabric that has approximately 30% - 40% stretch.**
My fabric is a two-way cotton stretch. The pattern is designed for optional lining but I just went with my fashion fabric only. I didn't open or read the pattern instructions since these are my second pair of Madalynne panties. I did however take bbarna's advice to use a size 11 ballpoint needle. Thanks bbarna! The pattern recommends a size 12 ballpoint needle. The needle worked like a charm, no issues to report of my fabric pushed down the needle plate. It was a quick, easy, and enjoyable sewing project.  

The Stats:

Fabric:  0.50 metres

Elastic:  2.40 metres picot elastic

Needle:  Ballpoint size 11

Additional Tools and Supplies: Sewing machine, serger, screwdriver, scissors, thread clippers, 100% polyester threads for the sewing machine and serger, pins, wrist brace, elbow gel pad, iron, ironing board, coffee and biscotti cookie break.

Happy Sewing!  


In Sewing News Today...

There has been some unselfish sewing going on around here. Well, not actual sewing, mostly prep work, hand-basting underlining and attaching interfacing.  

This is typically the time of the year that I work on a Lenten Sewing project but with the injury that happened earlier this year, my focus was on my recovery. Instead I'm working on a little girls' coat, Vogue 9219, to be gifted to a former colleague's daughter. It is a cute pattern and I'm hopeful that it will turn out. After making two winter coats and realizing that the one lined with that thin fleece is oh-my-goodness-toasty-warm, I decided to use the remnant of fleece with a some blue melton wool from my stash. I didn't have enough fleece for my second coat and the flannel underlining on the burgundy coat didn't prove to be as warm. The plan is to end up with a winter coat that is both cute and warm enough for the coldest of cold prairie winter days. 

Talking about coating fabric... I happened to stop by Mitchell Fabrics while I found myself in the neighbourhood. I found a green melton wool that I didn't notice before. Beautiful colour and it's actually a soft fabric that would be lovely for a jacket or blazer. Or maybe another little girls' coat?There is still quite a selection of fabrics to be found. I thought I might pick up some more shirt fabric but it was all gone. And that super cute plaid silk fabric was moved out of the discount section and placed with the other silk fabrics, so it's no longer priced at 70% off but now 30% off. Still good deals to be had minus the insane crowds of people that flocked to the store when it hit the news that they were closing. I picked up a metre of a crab print for microwave bowl cozies. And there was some cute plaid seersucker fabric. I picked up the last two metres for $3.00/metre and hope to get a summer dress out of it.

And there is a new knickers pattern in my collection.  Simplicity 8229 arrived this week and I have a size medium traced and cut.  

As you can see I'm having trouble focussing on one sewing project. We'll see which one is completed first.  

Well, that's all in sewing news today.

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 12 March 2017


Simplicity patterns hasn't been available here for a few years now. And with shipping costs and exchange rates added onto the online prices it is quite an investment to order off the website. I really want to try the panties pattern but I couldn't find any reviews on this pattern other than for the soft cup bras to justify that sort of investment. So, I searched Etsy to see if I could save a few pennies. And lucky me! 

The latest panties pattern I'm trying is Simplicity 8228. It arrived a few weeks ago but it wasn't until this weekend that I actually got to work, traced out the pattern, cut my supplies and when I couldn't sleep last night, snuck down to the workspace and started stitching.  

This morning before breakfast, I finished installing the elastic. They're not perfectly sewn but with what I have learned from sewing these, I'm willing to give it another try. The next pair I think I might try a size smaller though, just because of the amount of stretch in my fabrics.  

I didn't make any changes to the pattern and followed the directions, including watching this Madalynne video. The instructions are great, the pattern is fantastic, and now that I know the process, I feel ready to tackle another pair.  

The instructions for the elastic warn to be "careful not to stretch the elastic as you sew" and I took great care while doing this only to discover that I should have gave my elastic a gentle tug while sewing. It worked out in the end, not perfectly mind you, making this a imperfect wearable toile. At the waistline there is a 3/8" space where the top of my elastic does not meet. I'll just have to keep this in mind for the next pair.  

There was an emergency mending repair that happened when my fabric was pushed down into the needle plate while sewing the crotch lining in place. After carefully working with my Pro Seam Ripper Kit to remove the knit (lightning bolt) stitch that became knotted, I ended up with a small hole. Again, this could have been prevented if I were to hold the back end of the fabric and provide a gentle tug.  

The fabrics were found at Fabricland, and right now they have a lovely selection of stretch lace fabrics perfect for this sort of project. I didn't pretreat my fabric. ~Gasp!~ If they shrink, I'll be okay with that. These panties were stitched with the knit (lightning bolt) stitch on my sewing machine. Instead of finishing the edges with a zig-zag stitch, I used my serger. The elastic was stitched with the zig-zag stitch as directed on the pattern instructions.  

The Stats:  

Fabric:  0.5 metres ($12.00 / metre - 50% off + taxes = $3.39 Cdn / $2.52 US).  

Elastic:  2.3 metres 77% nylon and 23% spandex picot elastic  ($1.25 / metre - 50% off + taxes = $1.62 Cdn / $1.20)

Thread:  100% polyester thread for the serger and sewing machine (averaged out $2.00)

Pattern:  Simplicity 8228 ($13.47 Cdn / $10.00 US).

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Sewing machine, tweezers, seam ripper, serger, cutting table, pins, scissors, hand sewing needle, Burda tracing paper, felt-tip marker, Coccyx cushion, wrist brace, latte, many breaks.  

Happy Sewing!  

Friday, 10 March 2017

Matching Mother / Daughter Dresses: Chambray Dress II

Oh my goodness, sometimes I crack myself up. Mama R and I never dressed alike while I was a wee little gal. But it's never too late, right? I had enough of that floral print chambray fabric to make Mama R a dress using her favourite dress pattern, Simplicity 2372. Even though this is an easy project, it was difficult to motivate myself to get it done. I have to admit that the passion for sewing has taken a hit these past couple of months. I'm glad that I got this done though.

Mama R is thrilled with it and says that it will be a "summer" dress. The usual changes to the pattern happen here as well.  

  • Eliminated the centre front seam.  
  • Basted the tucks and then removed the basting after the seams were stitched (basically I did this to cut down on the sitting time at the sewing machine).  
  • Inserted a centre back zipper.
  • Lengthened the sleeves.
  • Shortened the dress.  
  • Adjusted the neckline and raglan sleeve so that the neckline doesn't sit as low.  
  • Added front patch pockets.  

There was absolutely no challenge to this project since I'm well-versed in this project. I've lost count with how many versions of Simplicity 2372 I've made over the years. It worked out to being just the thing I needed, an easy peasy project.

The fabric is a 100% cotton Chambray that I've been gushing over for the past few weeks. It was pretreated with a tumble through the washing machine and dryer and it handled the pretreatment process without any issues.

The Stats:

Fabric:  2.00 metre of 100% cotton Chambray ($26.00 / metre - 70% off + taxes = $17.62 Cdn)

Interfacing:  0.20 metres of fusible interfacing ($6.00 / metre + taxes = $1.36 Cdn)

Zipper:  22" / 55 cm closed end invisible zipper ($3.90 - 50% off + taxes = $2.20 Cdn)

Basting Tape:  44" / 1.10 metres ($0.63 Cdn)

Thread:  4 spools of 100% polyester thread for the serger and 1 spool of 100% cotton thread for the sewing machine and hand stitching (averaged out as $3.00 Cdn)

Pattern:  Simplicity 2372 (Priceless, this is a tried and true pattern with all the adjustment to fit Mama R perfectly)

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, tweezers, brushes, screwdriver, regular foot, invisible zipper foot, regular zipper foot, blind hem foot, serger, cutting table, pins, scissors, thread clippers, iron, ironing board, ruler, tailor's chalk, hand sewing needle, coccyx cushion, timer on the iPhone (keeping track of the 15 minute sewing limits), wrist brace, gel pad for elbow, stretching and exercise breaks, heat pad and a whole lot of procrastination.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Fabric Focus: Chambray

Spring sewing might mean the appearance of florals but I'm all about Chambray this spring. There is something about this fabric that is all about comfort. Perhaps it's the wonderful characteristics of cotton that it highlights.   

Chambray (also spelled Chambrai) fabric refers to a lightweight plain woven fabric consisting of white yarns filling out the weft and coloured yarns lining the warp. What makes a Chambray a Chambrai is the use of the two different coloured yarns that are interlaced together.  

Source:  Linenplace

The warp refers to the lengthwise yarns that run parallel to the selvage. The weft is the yarns that woven over and under the warp yarns. Chambray is often confused with denim because Chambray is often seen as an indigo coloured cloth but in reality chambray can appear in many colours. 

Ohh, would love some yellow chambray!
Source:  Fabric Spark

Despite the indigo colour often seen with Chambray, it is not considered a denim and its distinction is found in the weave of the fabric. Chambray's plain weave (also call tabby) structure is woven with the warp and weft yarns alternating over and under each other. The strength of this fabric is found in the strength of the yarns used and the compactness of the structure that is woven. Whereas, a denim has a twill weave where the weft yarn will go over at least two warp yarns (to a maximum of four yarns) before going under one or more yarns and repeating the pattern. This structure makes twill fabric more durable than plain weave fabrics. Another difference between chambray and denim can be found in the fibre content and the contrast of colour on the opposite side.

Traditionally, chambray was made of linen but it is more common to find chambray in these parts that are made of cotton. Cotton chambray fabric is easier to care for in the sense that it can be laundered at home whereas linen is usually dry-cleaned unless you like a softness instead of the crispness that linen is know for. Cotton fibres are good for dyes and makes it perfect for the two tone fabric. But it also has some down sides.

Cotton, like linen, tends to wrinkle and that is not a desirable quality if you're like me and not all that fond of ironing. I can get over it based on the comfort level of this fabric and that ironing this fabric is easier when damp. The Vogue Sewing Book (1975 and 1982 editions) suggest using fabric softener to reduce wrinkling.

Chambray is a beautiful fabric for making shirts, dresses, and just about anything you would use a soft cotton fabric.

Source:  Tessuti Fabrics, Lily Linen Dress 
Maybe, if I can get my hands on some yellow Chambray fabric, I might give the Lily Dress a try. How about you, do you have a favourite fabric for spring sewing?

Disclosure:  I was not compensated in any manner for my gushing praise of Chambray fabric. After wearing my new chambray shirtdress, I just want to sing the praises for this fabric.


Colton, Virginia (ed.)  Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., Montreal. 1982.  

Cruz, A. and McGraw, H. (eds.)  Vogue Sewing.  Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1982.  

Musheno, Elizabeth J. (ed.)  The Vogue Sewing Book.  Butterick Publishing--Division of American Can Company.  New York, 1975.  

Sunday, 5 March 2017

McCall's 7546 As a Shirtdress

Fifteen minutes at a time and I finally have a new dress. The timer feature on my cell phone came in handy during this sewing project. 

It was interesting to see what I could accomplish in fifteen minutes (the collar minus the collar band) and what I couldn't (the sleeve opening near the pleats), this project was a slow process. The timer kept me from overdoing it, but even without it my time sitting is limited right now. So this project feels like a huge accomplishment.  And the project:  I used McCall's 7546 as a starting point for a new shirtdress.   

McCall's 7546 caught my eye because of the attached sash and I started thinking that maybe it might make a nice shirtdress. I have to say that I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I really like the shape created by the darts. Oh my goodness, those curved darts are lovely and it's well drafted.

This fitted shirt pattern with shaped darts had me worried about the fitted description. Since I was cutting out fabric that I really liked instead of cutting out a toile, my thought was to go with some additional ease throughout the body. I cut the shoulders, neckline and armhole as a size fourteen. Then I extended to a size sixteen where the armhole and side meet, grading out to the largest size towards the hemline. So now it has more of an A-line shape. I have to say I like the extra ease especially since it is taken in with the sash.  

The fabric is a 100% cotton floral print chambray that I found in the discount section at Fabricland late last year. It has been pretreated with a tumble in the washing machine and dryer and then steam pressed before cutting the fabric. And it handled the pretreatment process well. The dress was constructed on a Janome sewing machine using a regular stitch at 2.6 and the slip stitch by hand. The buttons have been in my button stash for quite some time and were sewn by hand. The buttonholes were sewn by machine using the automatic buttonhole feature on the sewing machine. I did find that the cutting of the buttonholes to be a challenge because the front facing in interfaced and folded so I was cutting through two layers of interfacing and fabric. If I make this again, I'll only interface half of the facing, that would be enough.  

Alterations and Pattern changes:  

I raised the sash two inches so that it wouldn't sit at the waistline level. I like how empire styles look on my body shape and that was my motivation for this change. Shirt view D was lengthened by ten inches keeping the hemline shape. The sleeves were shortened and other than that (and adding the extra ease), it is pretty much true to the pattern design.   

The Stats:  

Fabric:  2.8 metres Chambray fabric ($26.00 / metre - 70% off + taxes = $24.86 Cdn / $18.56 US)

Interfacing:  1.15 metres fusible interfacing ($6.00 + taxes = $7.80 Cdn / $5.83 US)

Buttons:  14 - 1/2" buttons ($5.42 Cdn / $4.05 US)

Thread:  100% cotton thread for the sewing machine and hand-stitching, 100% polyester for the 4-spool serger (averaged out at $5.00 Cdn / $3.74 US)

Pattern:  McCall's 7546, circa 2017 Early Spring Collection  ($17.95 - 40% + taxes = $12.17 Cdn / $9.09 US)

Time investment:  11 hours and 30 minutes

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Coccyx cushion, sewing machine, walking foot, buttonhole foot, serger, 100% cotton thread for the sewing machine and hand-stitching), hand sewing needle, scissors, thread clippers, iron, ironing board, tailor's ham, sleeve ham, tailor's mitt, tailor's chalk, pins, cutting table, pin cushions, measuring tape, seam gauge, wrist brace, cell phone timer, Magic Bag®, breaks, naps, pain meds, exercise and stretching breaks, and some good tunes.

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 2 March 2017

I Blew the Budget

So much for that Fabric Fast... and as we'll see, I didn't give up fabric for Lent either. This fabric haul was based on the fact that Mitchell Fabrics is closing and they're the only fabric outlet in the city that carries quality wool and silk fabrics that I'm unable to find anywhere else in the city. And goodness knows, I'm not an online fabric shopping. I need to feel and see the fabric.  

Well, it was all over the news that Mitchell Fabrics is closing their doors and not surprisingly the store was full to the rafters with customers trying to score a bargain, myself included. I had bolts on my mind that I had planned to snag but they were gone by the time I got there. Someone has that beautiful black cashmere that I would stroke and swoon over every time I visited the store. How lovely it would be as a winter coat using Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8934. And I was thinking about picking up the rest of the cream coloured raw silk to make into chemo caps, but that was also gone.  

I didn't leave empty handed and if it were not for Mama R holding a spot in line to have fabrics cut I wouldn't have been able to find all of these fabrics. I found this olive wool and cashmere suiting fabric reduced by 70% off when a customer gave up dropped her four bolts of fabrics on a nearby table and walked out the door. A lot of people gave up because of the long line-ups or they had to be somewhere else. I was grateful to have the time to wait for fabrics to be measured and cut. 

This white and blue striped chambray fabric was also marked down 70% off. The whole discounted section of the store was further reduced to 70% off. And there's some beautiful silks including a lovely silk plaid that would make an adorable little girls' Christmas dress. I resisted and left it for another sewist. There really are some good deals there even though some of the shelves are starting to look bare.   

If I had an unlimited budget I could have easily spent it in the wool section. I picked up two pieces, the first this beautiful Italian wool is planned for a pair of pants. There wasn't much left on the bolt.  

The other choice was this beautifully soft 100% wool plaid. I'm not quite sure what it will become, perhaps a dress and blazer?   

And buttons and tailor's chalk. The notions wall was almost bare when I got there but there is still lots of fabric. Oh and I almost forgot, there was also some fabric for a terry robe. I think I blew the budget for the year.

I have to say that the atmosphere at the store was friendly even though it was crazy busy.  The customers were understanding and everyone pitched in to help fold cut pieces of fabric and share the bolts they had in their possession. Often a bolt was passed down the line to the next person who wanted a cut.  And the conversations in line were filled with friendly inquiries as to what each of us were sewing.  The service was impeccable as always. It is sad to see this establishment close. Too bad they couldn't find a buyer and to carry on the business. I wish them well and thank them for offering such an outstanding collection of fabrics over the years.  

Well, now I just need to get busy.  Happy Sewing!  

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Mitchell Fabrics

Over the years, praise for Mitchell Fabrics have made appearances on the blog. Their service has been unmatchable as they have helped me with various sewing projects in both my personal, volunteer and work place sewing endeavours. The only times when I did not have an enjoyable shopping experience at Mitchell Fabric came when I came too close to the in-house cat or that one unfortunate time when I admired unpriced knit fabrics. But those are overshadowed by the many positive experiences at the store. It is with the greatest sadness this morning that I discovered on instagram that the store is closing. I actually didn't believe the instagram post. And went searching for confirmation.  

Announcement from 28 February 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
How heartbreaking for the sewing community that this city landmark is closing. I know that I will personally miss shopping here. It was the only place that I found fair trade cotton knits, gorgeous silks, and the beautiful Italian and British wools. ~sigh~  

Yes, I know there are online stores but I know that I'll never embrace shopping for fabrics online with the same joy and enthusiasm as shopping at an old-fashioned retailer. I need to feel a fabric to be inspired and the online shipping costs don't make an online fabric purchase worth it.  

I only can say thank you Mitchell Fabrics for all the wonderful selection, not only on fabric but buttons as well, you will certainly be missed.  

June in Review...

As things start to re-open in this part of the country, there is certainly a shift in how I view things that I took for granted pre-pandemi...