Thursday, 28 February 2019

February in Review

As folklore would have it, some rodent predicted that we would have an early spring, retreated back to it's cozy den to chuckle at the notion of peoples' superstitious beliefs. And then this well-humoured rodent went back to hibernate until this crazy winter is over.  

Sewing or the Lack There of It

As well, this month was all about hibernating in the sewing room. I took my inspiration from the groundhog.  There wasn't a great deal produced, rather more consideration of what do I really need. It was a month of sticking to the classics when it came to my sewing life and getting dressed.  Although I do love the "art teacher chic" look, I've been noticing that I've been reaching for more conservative practical looks for my work life. It's not fun standing in a dark parking lot, all alone, scraping the car for the slippery ride home if you're wearing Vogue 1410 and the wind is whipping around snow at your feet. And sometimes it's cold in the office. It's all about dressing in layers.

So my creative side wasn't inspired until this project. And then my creativity went back into hibernation mode. Yes, that means that I haven't even started the jeans toile or completed the urban print pencil skirt. It could also be recovering from all that snow shovelling? Or perhaps the mending pile that needs to be addressed. After, I'm done hibernating.

Happy Sewing!  


Saturday, 16 February 2019

Sewing With Cork Fabric

I've been asked a lot of questions about sewing with cork since posting photos of the handbag. So here's a bit of information I've gathered that might help you decide if you want to consider a project with this fabric.

My Top Reasons Why to Sew with Cork

  1. It's crazy light-weight.  Did you know that 50% of cork's volume is air?  This is the lightest weight handbag I've ever owned and my back is thanking me.  
  2. Despite the fact that it's light-weight, it's also durable.  Cork's resistance to moisture means that this fabric will likely last longer than any other fabric that I'm aware of and durability is good for the environment. 
  3. It's sustainable.  Did you know that the cork trees are never cut down for their bark and cork is the only tree that regenerates stripped bark. The bark can be harvested every nine to ten years. 
  4. This is the perfect fabric for people with allergies (moi!) because of it's unique honeycomb cellular structure the surface of cork is antistatic, antimicrobial and water resistant.  
  5. Cork is naturally fire resistant, containing a waxy fire-resistance substance called suberin. Gotta love nature.   
  6. Cork's beauty is unique.  No two pieces of bark are the same. 
  7. Cork is an Eco-friendly product.  According to the World Wildlife Fund, "cork oak forests support one of the highest levels of biodiversity" (second to the Amazonian Rainforest) "among forest habitats, as well as the highest diversity of plants found anywhere in the world."  
  8. Cork fabric production is chemical free with a non-toxic sealant. I've discovered that the backing can be made up of natural or a blend of man-made and natural fibres.  
  9. Cork is a low maintenance fabric that can be cleaned with water and soap.  
  10. And it's easy to sew.  

Where to buy cork fabric?  

I found out that Northwest/Marshall Fabrics had cork fabric in stock via Instragram.  But cork fabric has been on the scene for many year.  Just not locally.  A few years ago a read an article in Vogue Patterns magazine about sewing with cork fabric.  Even though it wasn't until I actually was able to see and touch it that I was sold.  I'm a reluctant online fabric shopper.  I like to feel a fabric before I commit.  

There are many online sources for cork fabric as well.  Here are a sample:  

Habitus Cork Fabrics offers a unique line of cork fabric sold in rolls of 10 yards each.  The backing on their cork fabric selection is 100% cotton.  

Flare Fabrics offers cork sold by the piece, pre-packaged cuts and half yard options.  The backing on their cork fabric selection is 15.5% polyester / 29.5% cotton / 55% polyurethane.  

Sew Sweetness offers a large selection of cork by the piece.  No additional information on the backing. 

Printed cork fabric from Thachery.  

Thachery Thoughtful Products offers cork by the piece, yard and rolls.  The backing on most of their cork selection are 50% polyurethane, 35% cotton and 15% polyester. They also carry cork piping.

How hard was it to sew with cork?  

Easy and I'm not kidding. I don't know why, maybe because it was a new-to-me material, but I thought it would have been difficult to sew.  It wasn't.  Honest, it's just like sewing any other fabric, except for velvet.  Sewing velvet was tricky. But I digress...

And it was easy to cut as it was to sew.  I made my handbag using my Janome 4120 QDC sewing machine and the walking foot.  I had a roller foot and gave that a try because one side of the straps were cut out of suede but it was a waste of time.  The walking foot worked the best.

Okay, there was one part of the construction that was different than sewing any other fabric. Pinning.  Just like pinning velvet doesn't work, cork does require some special consideration in this aspect. It's not recommended to pin your cork fabric and instead clipping works best.  Use whatever you feel most comfortable with, if you have those fancy quilting clips, hair clips, paper clips or if have clothes pins hanging around, they will all work.

What needles and type of thread were used?  

I was sewing suede with this project and chose a size 100 Klasse leather needle on my sewing machine.  And I chose denim thread for no other reason than the colour matched best. I kept using these throughout the project since my interfaced lining was a canvas fabric. But sample sewing with just the cork fabric proved that a universal needle and regular cotton thread was sufficient for successful sewing.


I finger-pressed my seams and it worked fine.  I also tested the iron to my cork fabric since I was working with canvas as my lining.  No damage to report.  It must be that fire-resistant property that allows it to take the heat.

I think that covers it.  Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Cork Handbag: McCall's 7851

This is my first attempt at making a handbag and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I'm not quite sure if it's the pattern or the cork fabric that has me more smitten at the end result.

Let's talk about the pattern, McCall's 7851, first. It's a keeper. The pattern pieces fit together beautifully. The only complaint, and it's a minor one, is that there is no mention on the pattern envelope that the fusible interfacing is optional. This information is listed inside the envelope on the pattern directions. It would be nice for us Canadian shoppers who are not given the inner contents of a pattern, until it's paid for and we're on our way out the door, to have access to this information via the back of the envelope. Goodness knows there is ample room for the word "optional." That said, I did use interfacing and I'm glad I did.  

I also found it curious that the list of fabric choices only mention synthetic leather or synthetic suede and I found this quite sad. I'm not a fan of the synthetic stuff. And you can still find the real stuff. I know it's trendy to be vegan and a push to the synthetic materials but no one seems to be talking about the environmental impact of all this synthetic materials.  

Yet my cork fabric does have a synthetic backing. Other than that and the fusible interfacing, it's made with natural fabrics. The cork I found Marshall Fabrics along with the 100% cotton canvas I used for the lining.  

Sewing the cork to the suede pieces for the loop handle was tricky in that I couldn't use pins.  Instead, I used basting tape to hold the pieces together. I stitched the bag with a size 100 Klasse leather needle and denim thread throughout. I thought that a roller foot would work best but I was wrong and it was the walking foot that made things come together smoothly.  

Since I'm not rolling in the in money, using basting tape throughout this projects was a luxury indulgence that I wasn't willing to make.  

Clothes pins worked out to be a more economical and practical choice.

It worked. I'm sure paper clips would work out as well.  The sales person who cut the fabric said she used hair clips when she made her cork wallet. 

Have you sewn with cork?   

The Stats

Fabric:  0.40 cork fabric 

Lining:  0.4 100% cotton canvas

Handles:  21.5 x 28 cm 100% Pigskin suede leather piece 

Interfacing:  0.8 metres of fusible  

PatternMcCall's 7851

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Anything I could get my hands on weights, pins, scissors, cutting table, sewing machine, screw driver, tailor's chalk, basting tape, clothes pins, thread, walking foot, leather needle, hand needle, roller foot, iron and ironing board. 

Happy Sewing! 

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Maxi Skirt: OOP Butterick 5790

Sometimes you need a basic piece and you just happen to have some fabric that will work. That's how out-of-print Butterick 5790 made a reappearance on the cutting table.  

The Butterick French Connection skirt pattern, circa 1998, is easily made for a beginner but it's a good one as well. The close-fitting, tapered, ankle length skirt has elastic waist.  Easy peasy.  

The Stats

Fabric:  1.1 metres Ponte knit

Elastic:  1 metres 

Fusible Tape:  1.2 metres

Pattern:  OOP Butterick 5790

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, serger, walking foot, threads, pins, measuring tape, and Chai tea.  

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Sewing Thoughts...

Dressing in winter, oy!  

Foolishly wearing the pencil skirt toile to work, the reason for not wearing pencil skirts quickly revealed itself.  

Honest, not trying to be punny.

Maybe it was the mix of opaque tights and an unlined pencil skirt that caused the rise in the hemline?

Or perhaps it was that rolled hem that caused it to roll in the opposite direction.

It was an evening of wardrobe malfunctions every time I tried to make any significant movement.

You know, like walking, breathing.

That sort of thing.


Time to pack it up and try wearing it again in the summer.

Without opaque tights.

And to put my thoughts into engineering the perfect pencil skirt before I cut out the panel fabric.

Slip alternative, Vogue 8916 is a lined skirt pattern.

Lining will be a must.

But, I've also experienced lining riding up.


I'm thinking about a hidden snap, closer to the hemline at the side seam to hold the lining to the skirt for some added security.  

Lengthen significantly.

Below knee length.

Two inch hem.

And hem weights.

Now pockets.

Maybe something like those welt pockets on OOP McCall's 6757 but not near the side seam.

More like a mid-twentieth century vibe.

Yup, definitely pockets.

And more work to do before I cut that panel fabric.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Pencil Skirt: OOP Vogue 8916

If a skirt is not fitted can it still be called a pencil skirt?  This one has a bit more ease than what is typically considered to be a slim-fitting narrow skirt. I need ease. Another reason to sew, you can make things however you please. 

This is actually a toile as I was testing out Vogue 8916 before I cut out this fabric.  

I need a simple design so to not distract from this print. And I think I found it in out-of-print Vogue 8916. It's almost perfect. I just want to lengthen it a bit.  

And I think I actually have a wearable muslin. A little shorter than I prefer to wear but it's conservative enough to wear to work. 

The Stats

Fabric:  1.1 metres

Zipper:  8" invisible zipper

Interfacing:  1.1 metres

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Sewing machine, zipper foot, invisible zipper foot, serger, threads, cutting table, iron, ironing board, scissors, pins, pin cushion, thread clippers, tweezers, hand sewing needle, thimble, and tea.  

Happy Sewing!  

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Paco Peralta

It was this blog post that sent me searching for confirmation that it wasn't true that the world lost another creative giant in the sewing world. Instead, I found a McCall's Pattern Company's announcement that Paco Peralta passed away yesterday.  

His kindness towards others passionate about sewing is that of legend. May he rest in peace knowing that he made the world joyful for many in the sewing community.  


Friday, 1 February 2019

January in Review

There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bitterness of January wind chills and frostbite warnings, sewing and the release of the new spring line. Okay, I might be joking but not about the cold. Perfect temperatures to test out my winter coat if I weren't so afraid to spend time out there. But I digress...


This month was all about sewing with previously used patterns. I didn't try out any new-to-me patterns this month. And other than a robe and pair of knickers for myself, the rest of the sewing projects were to be gifted to others. 

I did, however, try out a new-to-me sewing technique. It is called the couture method in one of my sewing books or as Susan refers to it as the "burrito method" of sewing a shirt yoke. I have to agree with Susan, it is tidy.

Super thrilled to have completed a project that has been sitting around for years. Well, it felt good to check one unfinished project off the list.  

This month, eleven and a half metres of fabric, two point ten metres of interfacing, two point four metres of ribbon and twenty-four buttons were stash busted. I would say that it was a good month sewing wise. I still haven't got around to sewing a toile for those boot-legged jeans that I keep thinking and talking about. Maybe next moth.

Spring Pattern Release

I have to admit, it has been awhile since Vogue released patterns that I really want to try.  Even though I was disappointed with the fit of the last Marcy Tilton dress I made, I would like to give this one a try.  

Thrilled to see that designers are pulling up their pants when it comes to where the waistband sits.  

The coat pattern is quite nice too.  

There was much a do about this Meaghan Markle inspired look but it actually reminds me more of a DKNY design with the skirt drape.  

View C caught my eye, maybe it's that it has pockets? Otherwise it's a pretty classic design. Its a toss-up between this and Paco Peralta's design.  

It's nice to see the spring offerings but when you're piling on the layers to keep warm, it's hard to wrap your head around the thought that spring might just be around the corner. In the meantime, while I'm waiting for spring to get here. I hope to get to work on those jeans and something with sleeves.  

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...