Tuesday, 31 December 2019

My Sewing Top Fives: Reflections & Goals

As the end of another year is quickly approaching with the traditional look back and reflect on the good, bad and the ugly from the sewing table in order to do better next year.  So here goes:

1.  Patterns:  

I will admit when there is a new release that comes out from one of the pattern companies I can't resist to take a look.  With the exception of the 2019 Fall Vogue line and discovering The Assembly Line's Tulip dress pattern, I wasn't really all that tempted by many of the new patterns.  I did pick up some patterns used for gift / charity projects and a few second-hand / vintage finds.  Reflecting back on 2019 most of my sewing projects were re-visited or mix-and-matched patterns and pattern pieces.  I honestly can do without any more additions to the pattern stash.  And I was most proud of the projects that came about by mixing favourite elements of various patterns.  So, that's a goal for 2020, no more patterns, I'm just going to be creative with the ones I have here.  Who knows I might even be tempted to draft my own based on vintage clothing details that I admire.  

2.  Sewing Projects:  

In 2019, there was quite a bit of Charity and Gift sewing.  A total of 37 items fell into this category and I found this type of sewing to be extremely rewarding.  One of my 2020 goals will be to continue to explore how I can give back to my community through sewing.

3.  Sewing IS Getting CRAZY Expensive:  

I was shocked to find Burda tracing paper priced at $24.99 Cdn + taxes at Fabricland.  That's just insane.  Even if you use a membership card that you have to pay a $25.00 annual membership to get a 20% members discount.  It's still insanely priced.  And it's not just tracing paper, it makes me feel sad to think about anyone starting out in sewing and has the desire to learn.  So, that being said in 2020 on the blog I would like to explore cost effective ways of sewing without sacrificing quality.

4.  Sewing From the Stash:  

In 2019, 23% of the fabrics used for the projects made were purchased during the year, 77% were from the stash and it felt great de-stashing. Another goal is to de-stash further by using 100% of materials from the stash, including fabrics used for interfacing and underlining to de-stashing notions.  I plan to go as far as redesigning a closure if I don't have the right zipper or buttons in the stash.

5.  The Trapping of Trend Watching:  

2019 was the year that I fell for the trapping of trend watching.  I should know better at this age that it will only lead to craziness in the sewing room.  Sure, Meghan Markle looked absolutely chic in that trench dress.  And I should have just admired it from afar instead of trying to create the look only to try to save it by refashioning the project into a skirt.  So that's my final goal for  2020, be mindful of what shapes fit my petite and unique shape and sometimes trends are meant to be a cultural and political statement that don't fit my own.

Well, that's all I have to say from this little corner of the sewing world.  I wish you and yours a blessed and happy New Year!  And raise a glass to a productive and joyful sewing journey in the upcoming year!

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 29 December 2019

The Year in Review...


Top L to R:  Reversible Little Girl's dress, out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 1455.  Striped men's shirt, McCall's 2447.  Terry bathrobe and tie belt, OOP Simplicity 7417, Blue men's shirt, McCall's 2447
January's Gift / Charity Projects:  3
Total Gift / Charity Projects:  3

January's Personal Clothing Projects:  1
Total Personal Clothing:  1

Out of all my years of sewing under my belt, I started the year with learning a new-to-me technique, the couture method of sewing a shirt yoke.  I haven't looked back since.  Most of the sewing this month was gifted items with the exception of a robe for myself.   


Cork handbag, McCall's 7851

February's Gift / Charity Projects:  0
Annual Gift / Charity Projects:  3

February's Personal Clothing:  1
Annual Personal Clothing:  2

This month was about discovering a new-to-me fabric, cork.  Who knew it would be so easy to sew?  This project was my most-complimented and requested item.  It became the first of four that I would make this year.  


L to Right:  Cotton sateen dress, Burda Style 6321.  Long cardigan, Butterick 6495.

March's Gift / Charity Projects:  0
Annual Total Gift / Charity Projects:  3

March's Personal Clothing:  2
Annual Personal Clothing:  4

This month I learned that I'm should just stick to the basics and classics.  That dress although on trend at this time was an epic fail on my body shape.  The cardigan was a win.  


L to R:  Pullover cotton sweatshirt fleece, Simplicity 8529.  Upcycled Burda Style 6321 because the style didn't work.  Another cork handbag, McCall's 7851.

April's Gift / Charity Projects:  1
Total Gift / Charity Projects:  4

April's Personal Clothing Projects:  1
Total Personal Clothing Projects:  5
Upcycling / Refashion Projects:  1

This month I tried to upcycle that dress and refashioned it into a skirt.  The top was a way to use up a remnant piece from last month's project and sewing for others.  


L to R:  White cotton shirt, McCall's 7904.  Winnipeg Jets shirt, McCall's 6548.  Pajama top, Butterick 6296.  

May's Gift / Charity Projects:  1
Total Gift / Charity Projects:  5

May's Personal Clothing:  2
Total Personal Clothing:  7
Upcycling / Refashion Projects:  1

This month was all about sewing tops.


Coat, Vogue 9367; Boy's Shirt, Burda 9794 and Men's Shirt, McCall's 2447

June's Gift / Charity Projects:  2
Total Gift / Charity Projects:  7

June's Personal Clothing:  1
Total Personal Clothing:  8
Upcycling / Refashion Projects:  1

I finally added a spring coat to my wardrobe, it might seem a little late, but surprisingly with all the rain, I actually got to wear it this summer.


Cork purse, McCall's 7851; Linen Slip, OOP Simplicity 6851 and Cotton Sateen Skirt, OOP Vogue 1247

July's Gift / Charity Projects:  2
Total Gift / Charity Projects:  9

July's Personal Clothing:  1
Total Personal Clothing:  9
Total Upcycled / Refashion Projects:  1

Really enjoyed sewing with these natural fibres.


Laptop cover, no pattern used; Striped Linen Pants, Vogue 1642; Wool Pants, Vogue 1642; Reusable Produce Bags, no pattern used; Red Cardigan, Butterick 6495; Boy's Sweatshirt, McCall's 6548; Linen Slip, OOP Simplicity 6851; Cork Handbag, McCall's 7851 and Linen Tea Towels, no pattern used.  

August's Gift / Charity projects:  15
Total Gift / Charity projects:  24

August's Personal clothing:  3
Total Personal clothing:  12
Total Upcycled / Refashioned projects:  1

The produce bags are the most used item of 2019.  


Boy's Shirt, Vintage OOP Simplicity 4166; Floral Pullover Topper, Vogue 1642; Polyester Cable motif Turtleneck, OOP Vogue 8939; Men's Shirt, Vogue 8889 and Wool pants, Vogue 1642.

September's Gift / Charity projects:  2
Total Gift / Charity projects:  26

September's Personal clothing:  3
Total Personal clothing:  15
Total Upcycled / Refashioned projects:  1

This month saw a few sewing fails at the sewing machine.  

Floral Robe / Housecoat, Vintage OOP Simplicity 6851; refashioned dress; Polyester Pull-on Skirt, OOP Vogue 5790; Cotton Knit Turtleneck Dress, OOP Vogue 8939 and Boy's Pants, Vintage OOP McCall's 8548

October's Gift / Charity projects:  2
Total Gift / Charity projects:  28

October's Personal clothing:  2
Total Personal clothing:  17
Total Upcycled / Refashioned projects:  2

This month's sewing was all about cozy things.  


Shirtdress, combination of Vogue 8934, McCall's 7546 and Vogue 1503; NHL Hockey Microwave Cozy, no pattern used; Wool Hat, OOP Vogue 8966

November's Gift / Charity projects:  1
Total Gift / Charity projects:  29

Refashioned project

November's Personal clothing:  2
Total Personal clothing:  19
Total Upcycled / Refashioned projects:  3

Not really sure what to say about this month's sewing, just filling some needs.  


Cotton Panties, Simplicity 8229; Men's Shirt, McCall's 2447; Boy's Pajama Top, combination of vintage OOP McCall's 8548 and McCall's 6548; Boy's Pajama Bottoms, vintage OOP McCall's 8548; Men's Pajama Set, vintage OOP Kwik Sew 1415

December's Gift / Charity projects:  8
Total Gift / Charity projects:  37

December's Personal clothing:  3
Total Personal clothing:  22
Total Upcycled / Refashioned projects:  3

Nothing says Christmas like pajamas and undies, right?  

So there you have it, most of my sewing this year were charity and gift projects.  The sewing that I did for myself were basics, nothing fancy.  I didn't really do anything too challenging or outside my comfort zone.  What 2020 will hold, time will tell.  Maybe, I'll finally get around to working on a toile for a new pair of jeans?  

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Would it be Christmas Without New Underwear or Socks? Simplicity 8229

I can still get away with mending my socks so it's a new batch of undies for Christmas. I used Simplicity 8229 and supplies from the collection and ta-da!

Simplicity 8229 has been my go-to pattern for sewing panties. My experience has been that this pattern is perfect but I've read reviews that said they fit is weird. Looking back at my reviews over the years and checking the sizing on the pattern piece, I did go down a size smaller than I would have thought would have fit me.  And I cut the waist length of elastic shorter than suggested in the pattern. Maybe keep that in mind if trying out the pattern. Otherwise, like I said, I think the pattern is perfect.  

The Stats

Fabric:  0.5 metres (I was able to squeeze out 3 pairs from this length)

Elastic:  4+ metres picot elastic

PatternSimplicity 8229

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Scissors, pins, cutting table, iron, ironing board, thread clippers, sewing machine, serger, screwdriver, walking foot, mini vacuum, lint brush, and thread (cotton for the sewing machine, polyester for the serger). 

Happy Sewing and Best of Holiday Wishes!

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Repeat: McCall's 2447

I might be ending the sewing year the same way it started, with McCall's 2447, circa 1999.  It's a button-down shirt with a back pleat and couture yoke. The pattern might be twenty years old but this one is a classic. 

The only change that was made to this pattern design was lengthening the hem by two inches. Otherwise, just the method instructed in the pattern for sewing the yoke I switched for the couture (known online by more hip-than-I sewists as the burrito) method outline in my Reader's Digest Sewing book, circa 1980.  I also chose to interface the top portion of the shirt pocket.

The fabric is a shirting fabric from the stash. It was pretreated with a tumble through the washing machine and dryer followed by a steam pressing before it hit the cutting table.  It handled the process well and even handled the cotton heat setting on the iron although I suspect that this is a blend. The cut edges of this fabric was prone to some fraying and it does have a light-weight drape structure to it. I don't have any record of a fibre content for this one.

The number of buttons were increased from what is recommended on the pattern envelope.  Instead of seven recommended, I used ten. The buttons was sourced from a big collection of odds and ends and I only had nine of the two whole buttons that I used in the front.  The cuffs have a matching colour but are four-holed buttons. I was just making do with what I have in the stash.

McCall's 2447 is a well-drafted pattern. I would highly recommend this one if you're in the market for a men's shirt pattern.  

The Stats

Fabric:  2.5 metres

Interfacing:  1 metre fusible

Buttons:  11 - 9 mm 

Pattern:  McCall's 2447

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, iron, ironing board, pressing mitt, sleeve ham, pins, measuring tape, measuring gauge, ruler, tailor's chalk, sewing machine, walking foot, buttonhole foot, cutting board, hammer, buttonhole cutter, serger, various threads, hand sewing needle, tailor's wax, thimble, tweezers, screwdriver, scissors, thread clippers and a tea break or two.  

Happy Sewing!  

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Challenging Sewing: Handkerchief

I can hear you asking, "do folks still use handkerchiefs?"  I sincerely hope so, since this is my latest sewing project and although it looks simple, it has proven itself to be a bit of a challenge.  

I have some left over fabric from some previous shirt projects.  The lightweight 100% cotton fabric is perfect for some handkerchiefs and I was able to cut four from the left-overs.  I pressed a tiny roll hem, changed the sewing machine needle and started mid-section on one of the sides.  Very slowly and carefully, I stitched until I came to the corners.  

With tweezers in hand and carefully trying to maneuver the corners so they didn't end up stuck under the metal plate, I still struggled.  Sure, you can't really tell unless you look closely but I just want to sew a hem that doesn't look like I'm learning how to sew a straight line.  

I'll try basting the corners with a long piece of thread hanging from each corner. This ideally will allow for something to hold onto and gentle tug from behind the presser foot and I'll see how that works out.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 16 December 2019

My Sewing Top Fives: Fabric Hits and Miss

Fabric Hits

Hits and Misses where not limited to pattern construction, fabric choice played a key role in the success or fail of a project.  

This medium weight 100% cotton shirting fabric finally made it out of the stash earlier this year. It was an absolute pleasure to work with and it only highlighted how much I miss the fabric selection offered at Mitchell Fabrics.

I couldn't imagine a life where one is allergic to wool. That would be so sad as there are so many wonderful qualities of wool and it is one of my favourite fabrics to sew with,

Cork fabric.  Who knew it could be this easy to sew?

I'm not a faux leather fan.  It's the real stuff that I want to sew. Sadly, it's difficult to find in this part of the sewing world.  Fabricland sold a prepackaged small rectangular piece suede for an arm and a leg without a membership (an arm with a membership). It's more economical to find an old leather jacket and salvage the precious fabric.

Linen.  Need I say more?

Fabric Fail

There were a few, maybe three items made with a polyester fabric which have all been quick to pill. I've been on a path to eliminate man-made fibres from my wardrobe but I do have a few pieces in the stash that were used in my 2019 sewing. It just highlighted how much I prefer to sew and create with natural fibre fabrics.  

I think what surprised me at this look-back is that I didn't manage to cut into some beautiful yardage from Emma One Sock.  I have a beautiful denim waiting to turn into a pair of jeans.  Maybe next year?  I still have to decide on a pattern and finalize a muslin.  

Happy Sewing!  

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Make Do, Mix and Match Pattern Pieces: Pajamas

I didn't have a specific pattern for this project but I certainly can make do with more than enough pattern pieces on hand.  I was able to mix and match to create a pajama set.  

The pajama bottoms were made with the pants pattern from out-of-print (OOP) vintage McCall's 8548, circa 1996.  They have an elastic waistband and are roomy enough for any little monkey who wants to jump on the bed.  

The shirt is a combination of McCall's 6548 and OOP McCall's 8548.  I used the collar, front and back from McCall's 6548 and used the sleeve pattern piece from OOP McCall's 8548.  It was a perfect fit! No tweaking necessary.  It was like the OOP McCall's 8548 sleeve pattern piece was made for McCall's 6548.  

Call me frugal if you must, but I'm super thrilled that I was able to create this pajama set without dishing out for a new pattern.  The only changes that were made besides mixing and matching pattern pieces was lengthening the hem on the shirt.  

The fabric might look familiar as these are the third pair of pajamas that I was able to make with this beautiful 100% cotton.  It was the last of this cotton and it was pretreated before hitting the cutting table.  The buttons are vintage from when Eaton's closed down.  It felt great to use things from the stash.  

The Stats

Fabric:  1.3 metres

Elastic:  1.15 metres 

Buttons:  3 

Patterns:  McCall's 6548 and OOP McCall's 8548

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Iron, ironing board, pins, scissors, tailor's chalk, buttonhole cutter, cutting board, clapper, seam ripper, sewing machine, walking foot, buttonhole foot, threads, hand sewing needle, measuring tape, measuring gauge, ruler, thread clippers, safety pins, and tea with cookies.  

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

My Sewing Top Fives: Sewing Techniques

Top Five Sewing Techniques

1.  This year I discovered the couture method (also known as the burrito method) of sewing shirt yokes with this shirt project.  And I have never looked back at my old method of top-stitching a yoke in place.  

There is a wonderful set of instructions for this sewing technique in the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing.  

2.  Clothes pins, they're not just for hanging up clothes to dry.  Paper clips could work just as well!  I learned this year that there are gadgets around us that can be adapted for use in sewing projects without running off to an overpriced fabric store for supplies.  

3.  Pad-stitching can be done by machine to save time.   

4.  Using a buttonhole cutter for opening buttonholes was a game changer.  

5.  Stay tape makes all the difference when it comes to sewing with knits, especially when it comes to sewing hems.  Stay tape stabilizes and supports the edges to they don't stretch out and gape.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 8 December 2019

My Sewing Top Fives: Hits and Misses

Over at the Sewcialists there is a prompt to share our Top Fives of 2019.  And even though there are another three weeks of sewing room blessings and mishaps to enjoy, I'm starting to reflect on this year's sewing adventures.

Top Five Hits

To be completely honest, it is tough to pick out only five, I could easily pick ten hits this year. And I will say that sewing up some produce bags to replace plastic bags in the supermarket was the best thing to come off the sewing machine.  But I digress.  If I must, here's a top five list.  

#1.  This is a shirtdress that I made using pattern pieces from three different patterns to create what is a favourite go-to item in my closet. 

#2.  Okay, I didn't make this dress in 2019 but it makes the list because it was altered and refashioned into a style that now works for the fabric and fits comfortably.  After sitting in the closet rarely worn it has become a go-to item post-alteration.  And it comes with that incredible feeling of saving a project.  

#3.  There has been a lot of joyful sewing for kids that were charity projects and gifted. By far this one, a shirt for an age five boy has to be my favourite for sure.  It's all about those sleeve plackets!  I'm not a fan of the encased slashed placket that this vintage shirt pattern was designed with and decided to go ahead and redesign the way the sleeve placket was finished.  I couldn't be more thrilled with how it turned out.  

#4.  The most comfortable pair of pants in linen and with pockets.  Need I say more?

#5.  A proper spring coat has been on my want-to-make list for years.  It was finally knock off the list this year.   

Top Five Misses

#1.  Oops.  Thankfully the hem length was a easy fit.  I wasn't so lucky with the pattern matching on this one.  

#2.  A retro look, but not in a good way.  This dress became a skirt.  

#4.  Pencil skirts don't work for everyone.  

#4.  Missed opportunity on making a Canada Day themed top.  

#5.  I made this turtleneck dress forgetting that not all fabrics are the same.  It was a struggle to get it over my head.  It has since become an elastic waist skirt.  

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 6 December 2019

Men's Pajamas: Kwik Sew 1415

Guessing by the illustrations on the front of the pattern envelope, this Kwik Sew pattern is of a certain vintage, perhaps the 1970's or 1980's.

Although there is no date stamp on this pattern there are some clues. It is a Kerstin Martensson design. Kerstin Martensson is the name and designer behind Kwik Sew patterns.  Her pattern company began under the name Sew Knit and Stretch in 1967 until 1974 when the company changed it's name to Kwik Sew. Based on the name, the pattern is obviously post-1974. Yet the design has an earlier vintage vibe to it when it came to the pajama bottoms. There is a upper back piece that I've not found in modern pajama bottom patterns.

There are only two pattern pieces used to create the bottoms.

It was an interesting design to sew, something new.  A few simple changes, there was a drawstring added to the elastic casing.  And the bottoms were lengthened by three inches and the hems finished with a rolled hem.

The sleeves on the pajama top were also lengthened and instead of piping throughout, I opted for a small piece of seam binding in the pocket design.  I really liked Martensson's instructions and her method for sewing the piping and finishing at the pocket and sleeve band.

The buttons were from the button stash, a score from the menswear department when Eaton's closed down many moons ago.  I added one more as three didn't appear to be enough. They happened to be a perfect match for this 100% cotton fabric.  The fabric was pre-treated with a wash and tumble through the dryer followed by a good old pressing before it hit the cutting table.

The Stats

Fabric:  3 metres

Buttons:  4 - 3/4"

Elastic:  1 metre - 1 1/4"

Twill tape:  1 metre

Bias Tape:  0.20 metres

Additional Tools & Supplies:   Pattern weights, scissors, tailor's chalk, iron, ironing board, pins, sewing machine, walking foot, buttonhole foot, hand sewing needle, screwdriver, threads, serger, buttonhole cutter, cutting board, hammer, safety pins, seam ripper, and some tea.

Happy Sewing!

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