Sunday, 31 December 2017

December (and Year-End) in Review

Happy New Year! Can you believe that another sewing year is coming to a close? And what are you doing reading sewing blogs? Shouldn't you be getting ready to party?

Wondering how much sewing I managed to get done from my list? Not much. I had a pretty ambitious list considering the time of year.
  1. I would really like to work on that Oki Style shirt pattern I picked up last year. This pattern didn't even get taped together. I don't know what I was thinking. I think I was dreaming. 
  2. Vogue 1567 is still on my wish list. If I make it in the red plaid silk I have in my stash, it would be something that I can wear to the theatre in a couple of weeks. And it will be a fun Christmas skirt.  Yup, this one didn't get made either.  And I didn't even make it to the theatre for the Christmas production.  Oh, the grand plans I had!   
  3. I want to finish that wool coat, another version of OOP Vogue 8934. It's cut out and started, I just have to focus on it.  I did manage to finish this one, just under the wire!  
  4. And finish off a jumpsuit, it's almost done.  I did manage to finish most of it and blog about it but I still had to hem it, right up to the end of the month. And would you believe that I did that this afternoon just so I could cross it off.   
  5. And there are some Christmas sewing projects in the works as well.  Oh yes!  This is why my sewing plans were thrown into chaos! All those knickers and Christmas stockings.  
  6. Oh and I have a few posts coming up about Make Something Week sponsored by Greenpeace and Fashion Revolution.  The earlier part of the month was quite fun to participate in Make Something Week festivities. I saved a few items and made myself a cozy little scarf.  Good times.  


There was a whole lot of sewing this year considering that I had a really bad fall at the beginning of the year and couldn't sit without the aid of a cushion and not for very long.  This past year I made 2 winter coats, 1 housecoat, 1 night gown, 1 set of pyjamas, 4 jackets, 2 slips, 1 camisole, 12 pullover tops, 1 skirt, 3 button front shirts, 16 dresses, 12 microwave cozies, 1 pair of pants, 1 apron, 1 infinity scarf, 2 tea towels, 3 reusable bags, and 16 pairs of knickers.  Crazy, I really didn't think I sewed that much!

Here's what was made this month.

Clockwise L to R:  Wool coat, OOP Vogue 8934; cotton sateen jumpsuit, OOP McCall's 6437; wool scarves, no pattern used; cotton knit panties, Simplicity 8229; Christmas stockings, no pattern used.

RTW & Fabric Fast:

Happy to report there was no ready-to-wear purchases made.  Carolyn was right, it does get easier as time passes. I've signed up for the 2018 RTW fast over at Goodbye Valentino. She's allowing socks, undergarments and shoes, I think for purchases. I'm good in those departments but I wish that sweaters were allowed.  I don't knit, and as far as the quality of sweater fabric goes around these parts (lots of fleece but I'm on a man-made fibre fast as well) it will be difficult to resist a cashmere sweater that might show up at the second hand store or get a crazy reduced one at the end-of-the-season sales in a couple of months. We'll have to see how that goes as that will be my only temptation especially with how cold it's been here lately.  And then Sarah does live in the southern states, she likely doesn't understand this dilemma.  

The Stats:

Quantity Used from the stash this Month 
Quantity Used this Year
Added to the Stash this year
Basting Tape
2.15 metres
7.29 metres
Bias Tape
32.95 metres
10 metres

Cord Stopper

36 metres
74.3 metres
38 metres
 18.6 metres
159.1 metres
Fusible Tape

44.26 metres
6 rolls
Hand needles
Hook and Eyes

1.6 metres
12.7 metres
6 metres
Lace trim
2.6 metres
Pattern (new)
Pattern (previously used--TNT)

1.1 metres
5.3 metres
Serger needles

Serger thread
Sewing machine needles


4.2 metres
7 metres


So what do I have in store for next month?

Who knows? No sewing resolutions other than I would like to continue to enjoy my time at the sewing machine. Crazy as it may sound to some people, it's a form of relaxation. But I realize that my health and family comes first. I'm going to go with the flow and maybe surprise myself next month and into the new year.

Until then, Happy Sewing & Happy New Year!

Winter Coat: Vogue 8934

I turned to an out-of-print (OOP) previously used pattern for this project. This is my third version of Vogue 8934, and I think I can say I've finally made the coat of my dreams.

I went again with view B and adapted all the feature that I liked with the other version plus something extra. View B has lining as well as underlining. And I didn't forget those interior cuffs to help block out the wind. I even added a piece of chamois to the back underlining.

Where to begin? Let's start with the interior.

Elasticized cuffs added to the sleeve lining.

Like the others, I underlined this one. This time I underlined it with wool suiting fabric. Yes, it hurt to use the beautiful wool that I could have used for pants or a skirt, but if I'm going to stick to this natural fibre experiment micro-fleece was out of the question. And to be completely honest, with the improvements that I've seen with my sinus issues, I wouldn't even consider going back to using man-made fibres.  The fabrics used in this project are all natural fibres. The fashion and underlining are 100% wool and the lining is a 100% silk.

Wind blocking layer added to the back.
In between the underlining and the fashion fabric is a piece of leather that I recycled from a previously owned RTW coat. I hope that this will provided an extra barrier to the cold winter wind that blows in this part of the world. The real test will be to see how it holds up this week as the country is gripped by a cold snap. Would you believe that they said it is colder than Antarctica in some parts of the country?  How about if I told you that the Calgary Zoo had to bring their penguins inside because it's too cold?


I digress... but it will be an interesting week to test it out.

There were a few challenges along the way.

I fell for these bamboo buttons but they were too large to fit into my automatic buttonhole foot. Thankfully, the vintage sewing machine that I picked up at a second hand shop was perfect for the job and it was just the machine that I needed to create the most beautiful buttonholes. I actually prefer the buttonholes from the vintage machine.  

Time also proved to be a challenge. I actually started this project back in early November when I started on the natural fibre experiment. I don't recall the other coats taking this long to sew. But to be completely honest I think it was more that my sewing mojo took a bit of a hit. I'm just thrilled that it is finally finished. Now I think I need to give my fingers a break from all that hand-stitching.  

The exterior wool and bamboo buttons are from Northwest Fabrics and the interior wool suiting and silk are from Mitchell Fabrics. All the fabrics were pre-treated prior to being cut out.     

The Stats:

Fabric:  9.6 metres (2.6 metres of napped wool, 3 metres of wool suiting, 4 metres of silk)

Interfacing:  1.2 non-fusible

Basting Tape:  1 metre

Buttons:  6 - 30 mm bamboo buttons

Pattern:  OOP Vogue 8934

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, pins, pin cushions, scissors, measuring tape, ruler, measuring gauge, iron, ironing board, sewing machines, serger, walking foot, button hole foot, button hole cutter, hair brush (for hammering the button hole cutter), blind hem foot, silk thread, hand needle, heavy duty thread, threads for the serger, good tunes, and tea. Lots of tea.   

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

In Sewing News Today...

I did it. I signed up for the 2018 RTW Fast hosted by Goodbye Valentino.

I did participate in the previous RTW fast but this one seems to be quite the year-long event with the sewing industry actively getting involved.  This is wonderful news because it will highlight the incredible work found in our sewing community.  

The purpose of the RTW fast is, as mentioned over at Goodbye Valentino, "to Save Money and Improve Your Sewing Skills." I'm a little skeptical about the saving money part as I've seen prices of sewing notions and fabrics hit the roof and beyond in recent months. Maybe I need to include a fabric fast into the mix for that to happen. But if I'm going to be serious, investing in quality fabrics has proven to be a money saving investment in the long run.  

I really would like to improve my sewing skills. This year it was the plan but my sewing mojo took a serious hit when I injured myself and it took awhile to get back in the swing of things. Maybe 2018 will be the year that I actually invest some time into making a Chanel-esque cardigan jacket that I've been dreaming about sewing for years? One thing is for certain, whatever I sew in 2018 it will continue to be in natural fibres (cotton, wools and silks).

So, what about you? Will you be joining in?  

Happy Sewing!   

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Saint Nick Brought Knickers!

Now that the gift-giving portion of the holiday festivities are over I can share some of the makes. Mama R recently asked me to stop off at one of those discount department stores to pick up some cotton undies. I know, the horror!

"I can make you those," I protested. Not that I wasn't willing to drive her to the store. And not to toot my own horn, but I knew I could do this.

"You have no time," she said. 

"I have lots of time," knowing full well that it was a lie. Drats!, she quickly exposed the flaw in my plan, time.

"I can do it!," I exclaimed trying to convince myself as much as I was trying to convince Mom. Besides, we always make time for those we love. That's the meaning of Christmas, right?

I knew I had the perfect pattern in my collection. Simplicity 8229 has been my go-to panties pattern and it was the pattern that I used for this very important project. Once I made a pair for Mama R to try on for fit and then it was tweaked to her liking, there was no stopping me.

I made a new stocking and started stuffing it with newly made custom fit cotton undies. And of course a few Japanese mandarin oranges. What's Christmas without mandarin oranges?  

The fabric used for the panties is a cotton knit and the stocking fabric is an upholstery fabric. Both fabrics were from Fabricland and the picot elastic was found at Northwest Fabrics.

The Stats:  

Fabric:  6 metres (5 metres of cotton knit and 1 metre of upholstery Christmas print fabric) 

Elastic:  36 metres picot elastic (for the panties)

Ribbon:  0.5 metres grosgrain ribbon (used on the stockings) 

Pattern:  Simplicity 8229

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, pins, scissors, thread clippers, tweezers, sewing machine, serger, threads, iron, ironing board, new sewing machine needle, and seasonal merry Christmas music for motivation to sew through some late nights.  

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 21 December 2017

All I Want For Christmas

All I want for Christmas is a box of mandarin oranges, good music, and some quality time with family & friends and to sneak in time at the sewing table. Oh and to finish off that coat because, baby, it's cold outside.

Happy Holidays!   

Monday, 18 December 2017

The 2017 What Was I Thinking? List

Oh my!  Twenty-seventeen was a full of what-was-I-thinking? sewing moments.  

1.  I made this kitschy dress, Vogue 9237, in the summer and I will admit that I did get some wear out of it before it ended up in the donate pile. I didn't like the fit and I felt like a was wearing an ugly frumpy dress. Too bad that I used that cotton fabric with this project. The fabric might have been better suited for a skirt but I digress. It's one of those times that I wished I made a toile.  

2.  This top, McCall's 7541, was another epic fail in the fit department. I was all smitten over the idea of a cape top but in reality it wasn't the most practical piece of clothing. And the neckline was too wide and low cut. 

3.  This fit on this tee-shirt was great, it was the fabric that has me thinking what the heck I was thinking! Polyester tee-shirt are just not my idea of comfort.  

4.  Droopy shoulder seam. Need I say more? Out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 9028.  

5.  I love the idea of a maxi-length turtle-neck sweater dress. It's just too bad I made it in a polyester knit that is a shock magnet.  

 6.  I always pre-shrink my fabric but this just kept getting tighter and tighter every time it came out of the wash. It made for lovely dusting rags.  

7.  Seriously, how did all this polyester make it into my fabric stash? Too warm for a tee-shirt.  

8.  Too tight.  

9.  This rayon fabric makes this tee-shirt too clingy to be considered comfortable. I don't typically pick rayon because of it's tendency to shrink but I was taken by the graffiti print.  

10.  The ugliest thing I have ever sewn. New Look 6321 was supposed to be a nightshirt but ended up as rags. This is what happens when you try to operate sewing equipment when feeling under the weather.   

11.  This jacket, Kwik Sew  4197, made me give up man-made fibres. I would recommend wearing safety goggles and a face mask when sewing this fabric.  

12.  I should have used a fabric with more drape. A combination of Vogue 9268 and Vogue 9057.  

13.  I made this pattern, OOP McCall's 6437, back-in-the-day when I was much thinner. I thought I would be more thrilled to finally sew up another version but I not loving it because I find the neckline too revealing. When did I get to be this old?  

Well, there it is, more misses that hits. It was that kind of year.  

Happy Sewing!  And may all your sewing be hits.  

Friday, 15 December 2017

My Top Ten Favourite Makes of 2017

Oh, who am I kidding?  I can't pick ten. Here's my top eleven sewing patterns / makes of 2017.

1.  Hands down, the most enjoyable sewing project of this year would be the little girl's coat. I was really pleased with how it turned out and I found the cutest blue and silver buttons which matched the colours of the fashion and lining fabrics. This pattern, Vogue 9219, is so adorable and it was a fun make.  

2.  I can't forget this top.  It's Vogue 1503, a Rachel Comey design. It took some time to get it done and it was all worth it and I felt that it was time well spent. And those pockets! I'm in love with those pockets and it's French seamed. I would love to revisit this pattern and create another version of this design. Maybe a colour blocked version with the raw silk I have in the stash.    

3.  and 4.  These two pieces are part of a set but came from two different patterns. The classic pyjama top (shown above) is Butterick 6296.

And the bottoms are made with Vogue 9217, a designer pattern by Kathryn Brenne. Her designs are quickly becoming one of my favourite, easing the pain the Vogue patterns no longer carry DKNY patterns. Back to the pants, these made the perfect bottoms for my pyjama set, it has a comfortable waistband and the cutest dolphin hem.  

5.  This is made from an out-of-print skirt pattern, Vogue 9951 (circa 1998) and I have to say, I quite like how this fits. I wasn't sure if I was going to ruin this project by breaking the rules and using a stripe but I have to admit, I'm glad I did.

6.  Simplicity 8529 will go down as my favourite sweater pattern of 2017. It's worth every penny. This is one of two versions made this year.  

7.  I made this jacket for Mom and I put my heart and soul into making this one. It is a cardigan style jacket made with OOP Vogue 8916. She already has several versions of this jacket but none like this one. It is made with 100% wool and lined with silk. I was tempted to keep it but my love for Mom won out.  

8.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on this Kathryn Breene dress pattern, Vogue 9268, when it first appeared. And I do love this dress even though I'm not wearing it at the moment because I made this version in a polyester ITY knit and well I'm on a natural fibre kick at the moment. I made a copy of it in a medium weight cotton knit but it really does work better in something with more drape. I'll revisit this pattern soon.   

9.  The Eva dress by Tessuiti patterns has to be one of the most comfortable dresses in my wardrobe. I've made about four versions and even made a couple for friends. The pattern is still available and Tessuti re-issued it in an additional size.  

10.  This is one of two copies of Butterick 6026, a Katherine Tilton design. The pin-tucks are hidden in this print but they add some really nice shaping.  

11.  I told you I couldn't keep it down to ten. How can I sign off without mentioning Simplicity 8229? This pattern will go down as my most used in 2017 and I'm sure there will be more to come.  

Happy Sewing

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Book Review

The Pattern Artist
by Nancy Moser
ISBN:  9781634097925
Published by Shiloh Run Press, An Imprint of Barbour Publishing Inc.
Canadian paper-book price:  $20.99
Genre:  Fiction / Christian / Romance

The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser only came to my attention via a mention in Vogue Pattern magazine. There is even a link to the book via the Butterick website. I was intrigued. And this set into motion my search for the book to discover more. I will admit that I did have a challenging time to find the book while in the bookstores because the last place that I thought to look was the religious section and that is where it was, not the fiction section where my search was focussed. 

I hoped this piece of fiction would be filled with rich sewing details. I really wanted to love this book but to be honest, I had a hard time getting into the story. Unlike, The Pink Suit by Nicole Kelby, the sewing and design details appeared to be an after thought. Sure, there were turn-of-the-century historical details throughout regarding the history of Butterick, Macy's department store, and the Titantic but as moved as I thought I would be by the details I was left feeling like these details were after thoughts or page fillers.

Sure, Annie and her friends are likeable characters, I just found the story line to be predictable and kind of preachy. Don't get my wrong, I wasn't offended by the religious aspect of the novel, I actually enjoyed the find-your-calling quest story line but there really wasn't any surprise or building action that kept me on the edge of my seat or wanting to turn the page to find out what will happen to Annie or the story's villain Grasston. I just felt that too much was revealed before you had a chance to enjoy figuring things out on your own.

It wasn't until Chapter seventeen that I felt some satisfaction from the words on the page. The characters and descriptive language felt as flat as a pre-folded pattern. Perhaps my expectations were too high for this read.

It is a cute story and yes, I did reach for a tissue by the end of the book. I didn't hate it, I guess I just hoped for more. Or maybe I should say I wish for a bit less, I wished for more to be left to the imagination. It almost felt like I was reading a young adult piece of fiction when I expected to be reading an adult piece of fiction.  

Well, now that I can cross this off my reading list, I can get back to sewing. And get into my next read, Fake Silk by Paul David Blanc. What's on your book list?  

Sunday, 10 December 2017

In Sewing News Today...

Today marks the end of Make Something Week hosted by Greenpeace and Fashion Revolution. I love that it was held in December, when consumerism is at it's peak, as a reminder that we can make things with the stuff that we already own.

The best lessons I learned this week are that if it's make out of quality fabric it's worth saving or making something new with it and recycled light bulbs really do make fixing holes in socks and tights an easier process. If I had more time, I would have loved to do more recycling projects but well, it's that busy time of the year.  I've been busy sewing up Christmas stocking stuffers for someone special when free time allows.

Talking about busy... I had tickets to the theatre this afternoon and I'm part of the group that likes to dress up when going to such a function. It's not everyday that one takes in the theatre, it just seems right to mark the occasion in this way. So, I had big sewing plans as I was really looking forward to this outing.

Paco Peralta's skirt, Vogue 1567, in a plaid silk just seemed festive enough for a Christmas themed theatre event. Sadly, it is still in the the above state of being. Life just got busy and the big plans for a holiday themed outfit fell to the side. And I didn't even go to the theatre as Mama R cancelled because she wasn't feeling well. I really hoped that it would have been a fun afternoon out for Mom but I guess, like the skirt, it wasn't meant to be.

I still want to make this skirt. Although, it looks like it will become a 2018 sewing project and maybe in another fabric choice. There isn't any rush to make it now.

In other sewing news, I've gone and done something that I thought I would never do. I went shopping for fabric online. I know, I almost fainted just typing those words. Earlier this year one of the local fabric stores closed down. The trend is not a recent one and over the last twenty-five years, I've watched and shopped at many closing sales in this city. But this most recent one, that hurt the most. It was a large fabric store with unmatched customer service (except for this time) where they would gladly help with a special order and it was centrally located. Since it closed down, prices at one of the remaining fabric stores have increased drastically. At first, I thought it was laughable when man-made fabrics were showing up with $70.00/metre price tags. No one will buy it even if it went on sale at 70% off, I thought. But then it wasn't funny anymore. I wasn't laughing, I move onto disappointment and then disgust that they were trying to take advantage of the shrinking competitive market.   

This weekend on CBC's Marketplace, they did an episode on Baby supplies comparing Canadian / U.S. retailers.  There was quite the difference, most of which were shocking. It echoed the increases seen at the fabric stores.  The program interviewed an associated business professor from the University of Toronto who points out that from the point of the consumer, it is likely that the price increase is not viewed as justified, rather they would likely be viewed as outrageous. Added was that  from the point of the retailer, when they don't find much competition, they're going to charge as much as they can get away with. And that is what appears to be happening here. If you go to the website of this national fabric store and continue to the online store do you know what you find, cheaper prices than what you will find at the local store. Even if you put in shipping! It is outrageous!

But thankfully, there is a whole other world of sewing products out there. In light of the changes that are happening in the local retail scene it just makes sense to look elsewhere. I've been picking sewing patterns online since Simplicity was no longer offered and the membership discount was reduced on the remaining brands. It only made sense to order them directly from the pattern companies. Why not fabric?  

L to R:  Hemp / organic cotton jersey, wool melange sweater knit,
and cotton cashmere featherweight knit.  

I have to say that I'm really impressed with Emma One Sock Designer Fashion Fabrics. I've read so many good reviews of their fabric and they're mentioned in many sewing articles. And you can request samples before making a final decision. It is not just the competitive prices that I'm impressed with, it's the quality that I wouldn't be able to find here. That wool melange sweater knit is sublime. It would be perfect for another Simplicity 8529. The hemp / cotton blend is quite lovely too. They are going on my Christmas wish list for now since sewing time is quite scarce at the moment.

Well, that is all in sewing news today.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Make Something Week: Wool Scarves

I am a maker.
A maker is someone who transforms things s/he already owns into something new by sharing, up-cycling swapping, repairing, and creating.  Make something celebrates creative, resourceful and social people that enjoy the experience of making something new out of their old things for the people we love.  

Today's project is a recycled project.

Prior to the transformation:

I found this 100% wool knit skirt at a second hand store. It's in perfect condition and it even fits. 

But it is not my style. The lacy knit fabric at the lower portion of the skirt is see-through, it could benefit from a lining or a slip. Or if someone had the figure to pull it off, a pair of leggings underneath.  But that is not me.

I picked it up for the fabric and because it was large enough to transform it into something else. 

It is a 100% virgin wool fabric with no piling and no damage and best part

is that I picked it up for a song.  

I would have refashioned it into a sweater but I went the easy route instead. This project is dictated by need. Since, I'm on a natural fibre vs man-made fibre experiment at the moment I'm in need of a wool scarf. You know, something to keep the winter chill at bay.  

This one is a single layered scarf with serged lengthwise edges. 

And a second scarf has the lengthwise seam stitched and then turned over to create a tube scarf. I can easily turn this into an infinity scarf but I quite like it this way.  

There is still more fabric to consider.  This is a quarter of the yoke of the skirt. It's not like the lace portion, rather it is a beefy knit wool that would be perfect for a couple of matching mittens. I just have to find a pattern.  Or maybe hand warmers.

Happy Sewing!  

Friday, 8 December 2017

Make Something Week: Repairing Is Caring!

As Make Something Week continues yesterday morning's prompt was to repair items that we already own and to share it on Instagram. Goodness knows, I'm not a fan of mending or alterations. If I knew I would be challenged to mend during this week I don't know that I would have been so quick to sign up for this challenge. Kidding. Somewhat. I might not be overly excited about mending but it does feel good when the task is done.  

I repaired these tights that I wore once a couple of months ago. I wasn't about to throw them out after one wear. A little Fray Check™, some silk thread and a recycled light bulb did the trick. But wait, it didn't stop there!  

This shirt has been sitting in my closet for awhile. It would often make it out and onto my body only to be thrown on the bed as I tried to find something else to wear because it was a bit snug around the mid-section.  

I removed the front tucks and it's nice to be able to move in this shirt. I know I'll be wearing this shirt again and I think I might have to revisit out-of-print McCall's 8943 now that it fits well without the tucks.  

Happy Sewing!  

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...