Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thinkin' Thoughts

So, something miraculous happened.

I took the photos for my Renfrew post this past Thursday morning. Then, I walked out the door and wore it to work.

Yes, it is both sad and hyperbolic to call that a "miracle."

But that experience of so effortlessly wearing something I’ve made has led me to do some thinking about why I sew, why I choose the patterns I do, and the clothes I wear versus the clothes I want to wear.

I’m very motivated by the idea that sewing would allow me to wear a lot of items that I have difficulty fitting RTW. But there’s a big assumption going on there: that I don’t wear these items because I rarely fit them and, therefore, if I had more versions that fit I would wear them.

I’m starting to debate the extent to which this is true.

Reflecting on my wardrobe, I’ve come to a few conclusions:

1. Dresses:

I LOVE wearing a good dress that fits well. However, I really don’t like dressing to be noticed. The number one reason I don't wear the dresses I own is because I feel like I stand out too much in the print. If my goal is to incorporate dresses into my regular wardrobe (rather than “special occasion”) then I need to be sewing them in solid colours. (At least until I become more accustomed to wearing them and those around me become more accustomed to seeing me in them.) I also need to develop a much better understanding of my own sense of style, so I can better know which prints I will actually feel comfortable and confident wearing (as opposed to just thinking they look great objectively on the bolt).

2. Blouses:

Woven blouses are tricky. It’s a rare blouse that fits me in a way that I feel comfortable and attractive wearing. That being said, I really do enjoy the loose and easy fit of the Sorbetto tank (my oh MY how I wish my cat hadn’t eaten the pretty and well-fitted one!) and it provides a really welcome break from the boring old jersey tanks that I wear under my cardigans (which is basically my uniform, it seems.) I think that with some careful attention to detail I could make a blouse with sleeves that works for me. But I also need to remember that there are certain details I will probably never like on myself, such as the traditional dress shirt collar or any kind of shoulder embellishment (particularly sleeves with even a hint of puff. Not my thing.)

3. Pants:

If I want to wear a more handmade wardrobe, I need to start sewing pants. The truth is that I live in pants, and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. I also seem to have a terrible time finding any that fit me the way I like, so the sewing experience isn't likely to be that much more time-consuming or frustrating than the shopping experience.

4. Knits:

The first point above for pants also applies to knits. Even when I have well-fitted woven tops in my wardrobe, I go for the knits more often than not. So I really should start focusing on this in my sewing.

5. Jackets:

I don't have enough warm layers and jackets, and that is mostly because I just can't find anything that fits me. I really need to tackle my fear of the jacket and just jump in, because a good wardrobe for a temperate climate probably includes at least a few jackets in various weights and I have precisely four. Lest that sound like a lot, be aware that this consists of: a Gore-Tex rain jacket, a snowboarding coat, an ill-fitting blazer and one linty old peacoat. (And really, as much as Vancouverites like to think that Gore-Tex can be dressy… let’s stop fooling ourselves, shall we?)

All that being said, the biggest takeaway from this reflection was the realization that the best-loved items I sew, for myself or for others, are almost always pajamas - and that I’m totally okay with that. Mostly, I just really want to sew things that I wear, love, and prefer to a store-bought version. I’ve suddenly realized that as much as I aspire to sew well-fitting dresses and winter coats, I’m also just a product-driven crafter who wants to make stuff that actually gets finished and worn. And while I don’t care to be noticed in it, or singled out for making it, I do derive a lot of satisfaction from putting on a handmade garment and knowing, I made this.

Thursday, September 27, 2012



I bought this pattern on impulse last weekend and boy, am I glad I did. Mostly because it really helped draw me out of this funk I've been in, sewing-wise.

I'm not sure if I've ever emphasized this point, but I am not a fast sewist. (Likely exaggerated by the fact that I'm not a patient one, either.) But sewing with knits is a big revelation. This top probably took me about... 6 hours? That includes all the prep work, cutting, fitting, and altering. I feel like, by some people's standards that might be a long time, but for me it's pretty damn fast.

(By the way... "prep work" included a step that I'm not sure was necessary. This fabric is an interlock knit that came in a tube, rather than a flat piece with selvages. When I pulled it out of the bag I realized I had no idea how to work with it. Some impatient googling led me to believe that I had to take the time to cut the whole 2+ meters down a single channel to establish grain... and guys, this is a TINY knit. Is that seriously the only way to establish grain on a tubular knit? Did the internet lead me astray? Anyway, it worked great but took forever.)


So here's the lowdown:

the fabric is a nice, substantial 50/50 poly/cotton blend interlock knit. You guys know I'm not really interested in using poly, but the choices for non-poly knits at my nearest fabric store were pretty slim. In any case, the fabric actually feels seriously awesome and was a pleasure to work with. That being said, I think the result looks a little more casual than I would like, due to the lack of drape in the fabric... a bit sweatshirt-y, if you will?

When looking at the pattern, my high bust puts me at a 10, my full bust puts me at a 12 and my hips put me at an 8. So I decided to follow the Lladybird method and just grade the pattern. I did a 10 for the shoulders/arms, 12 for the bust, 10 at the waist and 8 at the hips. Easy peasy.

This ultimately proved totally uneccessary. The whole thing came out too big, for one. For two, it must be years of squeezing my boobs into RTW tops, but I actually prefer a super tight fit on the bust in knits, so I think I would have been better just to leave the grading and cut a true size. (well, grading down the hips was probably wise.) The construction of the pattern is awesome, though, in that you sew up the arms and side seams in one step, so it's super easy to take it. I ended up just taking in 1/2" on each arm seam and at the bust, tapering out to nothing at the waist.

I think the fit is now totally wearable, although I still find the shoulders to be too wide and the whole thing still feels a tad loose. Additionally, the bands at the arms and hips (which, yes, I did remember to adjust accordingly) are not tight enough at all. I would prefer if bands of this nature were actually tight against my body with negative ease. Finally, I find the sleeve length isn't quite right for me... I think it needs another inch or so in length, or to be shortened to just above the elbow.

(Just a word about those fit comments... part of why I maintain this blog is to keep notes to refer to in the future. I'm not trying to dwell on the imperfections. And in truth I pick the photos that show the garment to its best advantage when possible, so the things I discuss might not always be visible. You'll just have to trust me :D).

Overall, I think this is the BEST pattern and I can't wait to make more of these. But, I think my preference would be to throw the whole "stable knits" thing out the window and start playing around with jersey, because ultimately I think this garment would suit me with a lot more drape to it. (Viscose knits, I'm looking at you.)

Be prepared for a whole host of thoughts on the idea of sewing cake... I'm sold.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Welcome, Fall.

Hello, anybody out there? I wouldn't be surprised if not, it's been such a long time since I've updated. I've been busy the last few months. I've been bumbling around a bit in the career department, which has been frustrating but also very empowering. There's something to be said for establishing your boundaries and goals and not settling for less. I've recently started a new position that feels like a much better fit. More flexibility, shorter commute, more responsibility, etc. Here's hoping the bumbling is over!

You might be wondering what's been going on in the craft department. The truth is, not much. All my yarn and fabric ended up in the freezer while we had a long and drawn out battle with moths in our apartment building. It seems they're gone now, so I'm slowly starting to unpack. However, what I have been doing regularly since the spring is teaching sewing! I teach mostly introductory classes at this awesome little local sewing lounge and it's so great sharing the sewing fun! So, most of my crafty energy has been spent helping people make pillows, tote bags, aprons, and pajamas, among other things. There is seriously nothing better than watching people realize that they can do it!

Anyway, now that we're settling into fall and the destructive pest situation is under control, I want to get sewing again for real. (I know, you've heard this from me before.) I have a lot of thoughts about this (as usual) but in the meantime I've decided that it's time I finally tackle the Perfect Fit Bombshell Dress class. I've already paid for the class and bought all the materials save for the boning (including real muslin!). No reason not to jump right in, practicality aside.

But if anyone is still reading, I would very much appreciate your advice. My one reservation about this pattern is the fit of the bust. It seems, when viewing the finished projects, that some look lovely and some look... well, not as lovely. In particular, it just seems that if not done right, the bust can end up decidedly... un-shapely? Or, at least, not the shape that I'm hoping for. I imagine this may be a major hurdle for me, being full-busted. 

I'm sure the best way to approach this is just to embrace the muslining process and see what happens when I adjust the fit. If it ends up looking frumpy, I'll have to re-assess. (I'm curious if the three-piece cup pattern is just inherently difficult to fit well to a fuller bust in a non-stretch fabric? I've inspected my lingerie drawer, and the most flattering similarly-constructed bra I own is actually five pieces per cup (one top and four bottom, vs one top and two bottom on the bombshell pattern).)

Any thoughts or wisdom on this particular issue would be most appreciated. I'm definitely thinking of this particular project like a puzzle and I'm looking forward to figuring it out.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


So, when life hands you lemons you're supposed to make lemonade. But mostly I just want to pick up a lemon and chuck it right back at life, hitting it square in the kisser. Or, you know, just cry about it. (Let's be honest.) Things aren't so bad, but the past week or two has been annoying exhausting and infuriating. In particular, I've started a new job which has a few, *ahem*, problems to overcome, and our building has developed a moth problem. Yes, you read that right, a moth problem. Clothes eating moths.


Thankfully, we caught it early and notified our landlord, who arranged for pest control to come take care of business. We only had a very small number of things really damaged. (Unfortunately, including my gifted vintage 100% cashmere sweater... *sob*.) However, I did lose the last three days of my freedom unemployment to running around purchasing vacuum storage bags and laundering every freaking textile in our house at the laundromat. THREE FULL DAYS peeps. (And a few hundred bucks, too.) I was not amused.

Anyway, pest control sprayed the building today and set traps, so HOPEFULLY the problem gets solved. I have no faith though... how do we know for sure that they're gone? When can we stop living out of plastic bags? When can I remove all the wool sweaters from my deep freeze?

Once again, I feel affirmed in my decision not to really stash wool or fabric. In fact, my small stash of quilting cotton (inherited from my mother) was culled to about 50% (at the end of a very long day 2 in the laundromat). I totally, TOTALLY understand all the positive feelings that come from stashing and don't judge anyone who does it - on the contrary, I get it. It's just that, for me, the negatives and risks completely outweigh the positives. I'd rather hoard small, un-infestable things like nail polish. (Don't you wish they sold nail polish in smaller bottles? There are so many pretty colours and I never use any of them in any significant quantity.)

So, I haven't been sewing too much, to say the least.

I have sewn a few non-clothing items lately, and I have to admit, I find it way more rewarding right now. I feel a bit accountable to this blog to continue with the clothing, and I know I want to, but honestly I kind of want to make simple, practical things these days. If I had the funds I would dive into quilting full-force, I think. And I have a (not no) secret idea about making "hope chest" items (i.e. baby items, long before any plans for babies happen in this household) which seems practical to me but I fear will seem crazy to others. (Thoughts?)

So, I guess the gist of it is: I'm not sure what direction my crafting and blogging will take in the near future, but I'm kind of excited to find out. That is, if the damn bugs will vacate the building already.

Monday, May 21, 2012

In Progress

I think I mentioned wanting to do more in-progress posts a while ago, but I've clearly failed! To remedy that, here's what I'm working on:


That's my Lonsdale (version 2.0) with the zipper basted in. I kept looking at this dress sideways once the bodice was sewn up, because it looked impossibly small. (I had elected, after my very first bodice muslin, to go with the size 8 rather than the 10, despite the fact that the waist measurement listed is smaller than my own by an inch. I suppose we could chalk that up to a preference for less ease?) Anyway, thankfully the thing zips up fine, although I will admit that it probably is a smidge snug. When I finally sew it in for good I think I'm going to use 3/8" seam allowances instead of 5/8", just for some breathing room.

 I have to admit, this dress is making me feel like a total sewing goddess yet a total fitting failure. This fabric is a dream to sew and I'm really proud of my work. That said, the bodice is seriously out of whack. This is most embarrassing considering that I made both a muslin and a previous, failed version of this dress. However, I think the things that failed about the first version (mainly, too-short fixed straps) distracted me from seeing other minor flaws.

Firstly, the FBA. The proportions are spot-on, but my dart placement and execution could be improved. Thankfully, this busy print seems to hide that so it doesn't really bother me, even if the stupid dart points will not stop puckering. Secondly, the bodice length. I thought I had it right the first time - in fact, I even lengthened it slightly on this version. (The first incarnation was shortened by 1.5". This one was shortened by 1.25".) However, it definitely needs another full inch removed from the back and sides. Unhappily for me, it definitely doesn't need that inch removed from the front - so I suppose my FBA actually wasn't that great after all, because it didn't add enough length to compensate for my bust.

OMG, how to deal with this? I have no idea. Can I just taper down on an angle from an inch up at the side seam to nothing at the centre front? Will that result in a triangle-shape at the bottom or will it all even out once worn? I have so much trouble with spacial thinking! Anyway, I'm a bit dispirited that I have to basically rip this thing to shreds and then put it back together again, but whatever. I just need to remind myself that I actually like sewing. (And seam ripping for that matter. Honestly it's just the moving target of a finish line that bothers me.)

In other handmade news: all of a sudden I'm desperate to knit. Unlike most people, I get most enthusiastic about knitting when the weather turns nice. (As K.Line observed, it's probably because we can do it outside. Also, I can tote it around without also having to tote around coats and umbrellas and other winter accessories.) The yarn for two new sweaters is calling from my cupboard, but I don't have the headspace for them at the moment. Instead, I decided to cast on a Noro striped scarf:


I've also decided to join a Ravelympics team this year (Team Canada! Woot!) and I'm pretty excited about it. Excited enough that I wish the Olympics were longer so I could plan on entering more projects! I'm not sure what my strategy will be yet... one big thing or lots of little things. Sadly, I think I would probably get more satisfaction from the latter. I really am a project (as opposed to process) knitter.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

While I Was Away....

... one of my assistants had a birthday! Now, you might think that this little milestone needn't be revisited for the blog, but you would be wrong. Firstly, what sort of self-respecting crazy cat lady would I be if I didn't? Secondly, we did a post for the other assistant's birthday, so it's only fair.

Now that we've got that cleared up, let's commence with the cute kitten photos, shall we?


Here we are on the night he came to live with us:


It's a cute story.

2007-2008 were tough years. During that time I experienced a lot of loss, including both a very close friend and my Mom. By the time 2009 rolled around, I was feeling a little worse for wear. Mr. Modiste wanted to do something to make me happy. Back then he was working for a small regional airline, and they sometimes shipped kittens for the SPCA. One day, he came to work and his plane was full of kittens. Most were all bundled together in group crates, but there was this one little scruffy, wire-haired, broken-tailed white-and-ginger guy in a crate all by himself. He was a frisky little thing, taking swipes at people who walked by. Something about his attitude won my Mister over.


(Little did he know that this ragamuffin would grow up to be the quietest, sweetest, softest cat we've ever met. But I digress...)

So, he brought the little guy home and surprised me. Let me tell you - best present I have EVER received.


Okay, I know I probably seem a little too attached to my cats. The thing is, they came into my life at a dark time and made it brighter. It might sound silly, but this little cat was sure to make me smile every day, even on bad days. He kept me company when my Mister had to be away for work. He was someone for me to take care of. I'm not even sure my Mister realizes exactly how big of a success his gift was.


Hobbes is the kind of cat that likes to sleep on your lap, but only between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Otherwise, you'll usually find him sprawled fast asleep, belly-up. He loves to sniff anything, no matter how gross, especially your breath. He will try to cram himself into any empty box, Maru-style, and prefers to drink only from the bathroom faucet. His sole mission in life is to eat human food. When you touch him, his motor instantly turns on and he still purrs at that loud kitten volume. When he's frisky, he likes to chase wine corks and rebounds off the walls at alarming heights.


When he made it clear that he was lonely, we adopted Johnny Cash. Then Hobbes became the kind of cat that's always trying to take care of everyone. Well, always trying to bathe everyone, anyway.


(He still does this to Johnny Cash every day. Actually, he does this to us, too.)

He's also very handsome.



Happy 3rd Birthday, Hobbes!

Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm back! (Well, almost.)

Alright, I'm putting an end to this little self-imposed blogging sabbatical. (Probably a week or two sooner than I really should, but I can't resist.) I must say, though, that the time away was good for me.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of taking a class at Spool of Thread, Vancouver's awesome sewing lounge and fabric store. I was pretty excited about this, because I've been in there to buy patterns but I've never tried using the space! I have to say, it did not disappoint. Their equipment is great and the class was so well done. It was really nice to do some sewing along with other people, too... I'm so used to sewing being a solitary activity.

Here's what I made:


Isn't it adorable? Just a little reversible tote bag for shopping.

I couldn't stop thinking about sewing when I got home, so I decided to set about improvising a little pouch to stow the tote in. I find that super useful, so I can always have a shopping bag handy in the bottom of my purse. I took some quick measurements, pulled out my scraps, scrounged up an old button and sewed this little baby up:



When it's all packed up it's about four inches square and an inch and a half thick... so, not the tiniest tote bag I have, but by far the best! Spool of Thread sends you home with the pattern, so I'm thinking I might make a few more to match.


I'm in the midst of studying for a big test on Wednesday (Occupational First Aid 2 - ack, so hard!) and juggling a few other things, but I'm planning on trying to incorporate crafting back into my schedule because I've missed it dearly! I've still got the bathing suit in the works (being thwarted slightly by my serger's tension...) and fabric for a fashionably late arrival to the Pajama Party. And a few other exciting things, but you'll have to stay tuned for that...

Friday, March 23, 2012


Just a quick note to say that I'm taking a little hiatus from crafting and blogging. I'm still hopeful about finishing the swimsuit (it's going well!) but no promises. I have no idea if this purposeful hiatus will be longer than any previous unannounced extended period of silence around this blog, but I hope you'll all keep me subscribed in your readers. I'll be back before too long.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Twin Needle Fun (and a Lonsdale update...)

I went out and purchased a twin needle for my bathing suit project, because (and I hope I don't offend anyone here) I think zig-zagged topstiching looks kind of cheap/homemade. I was a little scared to give it a go, but I'm so thrilled with the result! It looks so clean and it stretches SO well.

(Excuse the iPhone photos...)

 The only issue is the back side. It seems as if it's skipping stitches or failing to catch threads or something... can you see what I mean in this photo, or is it too far away?


I'm assuming this is a tension issue, but I'm not sure how to fix it. Do any of my wise blogging friends have any advice? (In case it's relevant, I was using a walking foot.)

In other news: I basted the zipper into my Lonsdale muslin last night, and I'm sorry to say that it's entirely unwearable. The saddest part is that it's only really because of two relatively minor issues in execution, which I just don't really have the energy to try and fix. I'm a bit sad, because I really loved the fabric (butter yellow linen), but at least it was on clearance so it's not a huge loss financially. On the bright side, aside from those issues it actually fits really well, so at least I can try again with different fabric sometime in the near future.

(I'll post some photos and discuss in greater detail tomorrow. Although, I can't promise that I'll be able to post anything unflattering, which might defeat the purpose? Apparently I might have a few more self-confidence issues then I'm willing to admit...)

On The Table...

I'm this close to being done the Lonsdale dress. Seriously, I just have to insert the zipper and hem the outer skirt (lining is already hemmed. Win.) Despite being another "wearable muslin" I'm actually hoping pretty badly that this will be... well, wearable. Fingers crossed!


After that's finished, I'm going to attempt something pretty ambitious: swimwear. I'm not sure if this is crazy or not, but I'm going for it. We're planning a trip somewhere warm at the end of the month (thank you, tax returns!) and I've had to admit that my favourite suit is really past its prime. I've bought another one in the meantime, but I'd really love to be able to recreate my old one. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm for this project I neglected to take a "before" photo, so I can't really show you what I'm going for. This is where it's at, currently:


I've never cared much for the colours or print, but the fit was beyond perfect. It was the first time I discovered a "D-cup" top in a swimwear store that didn't obviously look like a D-cup top, if you know what I mean. (Don't get me started ranting about how things start to look different in larger sizes. Maybe I'm a rarity in that I have a large bust - F-cup - but need relatively little in the way of "support". That's not to say that my bust is enviously perky; it must just be rather light, as I definitely don't require extra-wide bands/straps, "full coverage," or any of the other modifications that bra companies seem to make for every style of bra above a C-cup.)

It's a triangle top, but the triangles were fixed together and to the string, rather than moving freely. Upon ripping it apart I discovered that the elastic is actually in perfect shape with great recovery, so I'm going to re-use it. I just so happened to have some swimsuit fabric lying around in a pretty awesome shade of blue, plus some white athletic fabric for the lining:



And, I have enough of both to screw this project up about ten times. Win!

My other plan is to take a stab at testing the new Suzy Patterns design. I'm not going to be overly ambitious and buy fabric; instead, I'm going to commit the cardinal sin of garment sewing and dive into my Mom's quilting cotton stash. I'm not 100% sure I have enough, but I think I'll be able to squeeze it out of this white floral (I'm going to go sleeveless, so that will help):


Compared to some of the other quilting cottons in my stash, it actually has a relatively nice hand. Hopefully it'll be a wearable muslin in the end!

So, that's where I'm at.

As an aside, I recently discovered I was kindly nominated - twice! - for the Liebster blog award:


For anyone who hasn't yet seen it, it's an award for relatively new bloggers with less than 200 followers. I'm so honoured that my peers would pick me! Particularly these two lovely ladies. After hemming and hawing about it, I've decided I don't want to nominate five others as per the rules (I'm such a rebel...), but instead I'd just like to implore you to go visit the talented sewists who nominated me:

Amy at Sew Well
Andrea at Four Square Walls

Seriously, go! They're two of my favourite bloggers, you won't regret it. (If you're not already a big fan like me!)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lonsdale Progress

Finishing the Beignet really improved my outlook on sewing and provided a much-needed kick in the pants to dive into the Lonsdale project. As you might have noticed, I've been somewhat dishonestly displaying that sewalong badge on the right panel over there for about six months now. Oops.


I'm happy to report that things are going swimmingly. Today I traced off the bodice front pattern piece in order to complete the FBA. I did it pretty much as Tasia described in her sewalong post except that, rather than shave off the excess waist width on either the centre or the side seams, I opted to create a vertical waist dart in addition to the horizontal bust dart (which I believe is how Sarai handled it when she made her gorgeous floral version). Also, like Sarai, I had to shorten the bodice by a whopping 1.5"!

After all this, I did a brief tissue fit and then cut into my fabric. After sewing it up and trying it on, lo and behold, it fits perfectly. Major relief for this non-muslining girl.

I've got all the other pieces cut out and ready to go, so hopefully it won't be too long. Unless, that is, I let the hemming drive me to throwing it into the back of a cupbard. (Does anyone else despise hemming?)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


After languishing 99% finished in the cupboard for a few weeks, my Beignet skirt is finally finished.


I'm absolutely in love with this skirt. It's by far the best and most comfortable, wearable thing I've ever made.

The fabric is a wool crepe I picked up on clearance in the summer. Locals might recognize it - there were still bolts of it available at the Boxing Day sale! Either they had stocked way too much of it, or I'm just the only person in Vancouver who actually wanted to buy bright fuchsia wool. In any case, it was the best of all worlds because it was a fabric I actually wanted to work with at a price that let me justify approaching this as a "wearable muslin."

I'm very glad I approached it that way, because this project felt so much more straightforward and fun. I fall between a size 8 and 10, but closer to the 10, so I followed Colette's advice and cut that size. In the end, it was too large and I had to take in two inches all over (I simply took in the side seams). Otherwise, the fit is perfect. The proportions are correct and I absolutely love the straight silhouette - not pencil, not a-line. I love it so much, I plan to turn it into a TNT pattern with a solid front and a side zip. I also want to make another true-to-pattern version in a more neutral colour.

I lined it with bemberg rayon and actually really enjoyed working with it - perhaps I'd just heard too many horror stories so my expectations were low. The only real mistake I made was picking too dark a colour. In person you can see where the lining meets the facing although, happily, the belt distracts enough that it's not really an issue. I had already hemmed this once, before realizing it definitely needed taking in, and I did the machine "invisible" hem. It was a little too visible, so this time I did it by hand. I chose to omit the twill tape in the waist, which I may regret, but I didn't have it on hand and wasn't willing to make another trip!


My next project is a dress (Lonsdale), and I'm trying to decide how to approach it. After this experience, I'm really keen to continue forgoing the muslin altogether. It really does drain a lot of the fun out of sewing for me. I suppose ultimately it depends on the complexity of the pattern and the cost of materials. Since the Lonsdale is relatively simple and the fabric was on sale, I think I'm going to go straight to fashion fabric. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


My first knitting project of 2012:


It's the Lotus Hat (pattern is free and available here) made up in Malabrigo Merino Worsted. The pattern was a breeze to make, very fun and straightforward. I cast on Saturday and bound off Monday, with no marathon knitting required. The charts were easy to memorize - in fact, it was so easy to "read" the knitting as I worked it that I'm not sure memorizing the charts was even necessary. I love the end result.


My only word of warning: this pattern comes out small. I obtained gauge and followed the instructions for the "long" version (four repeats of chart A, rather than three) and it still came out so short that it popped off my head prior to wet blocking. Now, that being said, I do have a rather large head. Still, it barely covered the tips of my ears, let alone my earlobes (as it said it would)! Luckily, this was made as a gift for my mother in law, who is rather birdlike in stature. Also luckily, I didn't bother to wash and block my gauge swatch, so it had some room to grow. Hopefully it fits her correctly!

In sewing news: my Beignet skirt has been finished for forever, save for the hem (which I just haven't had time to sit down and take care of). It's hard not to use pressure to update this blog as an excuse to craft, but I really do have other things on my plate at the moment. Hopefully you'll be seeing it sometime this week!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


As promised, here's a sneak peek at my next project. Can you guess what it is?


Well, no need to guess, because I'm going to tell you. And, what better way to tell you than via croquis?

Beignet by Colette Patterns

I'm making this out of a length of bright fuchsia wool crepe that I picked up from Fabricana on clearance. I originally had it in mind for a dress, until I realized the likelihood of my ever wearing a fuchsia dress with regularity was pretty slim. A skirt, on the other hand, has potential. In the past the high waist would have worried me, but I've been trying to wear more skirts up there and get used to it, and it's going well so far.

I've been trying to get better at moderation, and I'm pleased to say that I haven't put more than 2-4 solid hours into this baby in one sitting. That's a big step, for me! I'm surprised at how much more I'm enjoying the project by handling it this way. No more burnout or frustration. Win!

This project has been pretty fun to make, although attaching to the lining to the facing did intimidate me into procrastinating for a week or two. (In the end, it wasn't so bad.) I'm almost finished now - all that I need to do is cover the buttons and sew the buttonholes. Here's hoping I don't garble the whole thing! I used the blind hem foot on my machine for the first time, and while it's not exactly invisible, I can handle the imperfection in exchange for the ease and speed. Ten minute hem? Yes, please!

As usual, I find understitching magical

I have one confession that I may regret admitting - I didn't do any fitting. At all. Not even a tissue fit, let alone a muslin. I realized that all the obsessing about fit really stole the joy from sewing for me last year, so I resolved to scale it back a bit. Obviously I wouldn't take this route for a more complex or fitted pattern, but I figured a straight skirt that matches my waist and hip measurements was a relatively safe bet. (Especially knowing that other Colette patterns I've tried have fit large, rather than small.) I'm pleased to report that it seems, so far, like a success! But I suppose I should reserve judgement until I get the buttons on. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Paper Dolls

The act of drawing a dress on a croquis reminds me of playing with paper dolls when I was little. Which suddenly makes it a lot more appealing!

In general, I consider myself to be much better at manipulating than I am at creating things from thin air... but I suppose trying to copy a line drawing freehand isn't exactly high art, and I should be able to get the hang of it eventually. Right?

With that in mind, I tried to draw a little something on my croquis, loosely following this tutorial from the lovely Alana of Lazy Stitching. This is what I came up with:

I can immediately see the benefit of this activity. It's so much easier to visualize what the proportions of the garment will look like on my figure! (In this case, I feel much more confident that B5707 will look good on me.) Between the paper-doll-esque fun and the practical benefit (and the fact that this actually took very little time), I can see this becoming something I will actually take the time to do.

I'm very grateful for my little tablet, which was a gift from my fantastic brother a few years back. Until now I've used it exclusively for photo editing, but it definitely made doing this about 100x easier and would be well worth the price if you were interested in digital drawing!

Anyway, lest you think I'm just piddling around on the internet these days, I actually have a skirt nearing completion. Tomorrow I'll take some in-progress photos and show them to you. I fell into the habit of only showing finished objects last year, but I'm thinking this year a little more detail might be fun. (Even if it means actually owning up to project failures!) So, stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Croquis Bandwagon

I've been intrigued by all the little personaized croquis drawings that have been popping up around the blogosphere. I wasn't sure if I wanted to try my hand at it, but then Lladybird posted a tutorial on how to make one and I had to give it a go. I didn't want to bother taking a new photo, so I just picked the closest thing I already had on file. It's missing my head and my legs below the knee, but otherwise it seemed like a good shot to use as a rough draft.

I'm surprised how naked this makes me feel, lol.

My inner photo-editing dork enjoyed making this, enough so that I think I'll take a better photo and try again later. But the real question is: will it actually prove to be useful? To date I haven't bothered doing things like making digital colour palettes or Pinterest inspiration boards, so my track record doesn't bode well. But hey, you never know until you try!

Have you made your own croquis? Do you make inspiration boards and/or colour palettes, or otherwise organize your creative self digitally? If so, have you found it useful?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Johnny Cash!

I can't believe it was nearly two years ago that he looked like this:

(He weighed two pounds when this photo was taken)

And now he looks like this!:

(I haven't weighed him recently, but my educated guess would be 12-14lbs)

Around here, we have a bit of a good-child/troublesome-child stereotype happening. Hobbes is the good child; there's no way around it. He's super quiet, rarely complains, makes this squeeky little chirping sound instead of meowing, is literally the softest cat I've ever met, purrs like a super-loud motorboat at the drop of a hat, and spends a good portion of his day trying to take care of people. Case and point:

(That's a bath. He's always trying to give everyone a bath. Us included.)

Johnny Cash is our troublesome child. He meows, loudly and often, and complains (mostly to be let out). He eats clothes. And shoelaces. He's the most likely to get frisky and accidentally claw you. Hobbes has always seemed to understand that you don't ever scratch a human's face when playing... Johnny Cash does not know this rule.


But regardless of all of that... he's also the sweetest cat I've ever had. He makes the most eye contact. When he meows at you and stares into your eyes, you can almost feel him trying to speak English. He's smarter than Hobbes. (Sorry, but it's true. And I suspect it's why he complains more.) He takes his collar off for fun and hides it around the apartment. He plays intense games of monkey-in-the-middle with us. When the Mr. is gone on overnights, he curls up on my shoulder and snoozes with his little chin resting on my arm. He's always the one still sleeping at the foot of the bed when I wake up in the morning. His purr is quiet and he reserves it for moments of true happiness, which makes it more rewarding. Maybe I just love an underdog, but I think he's pretty awesome.


Happy Birthday, little cat.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Patterns & Planning

I thought it might be wise to take stock of my dress patterns. Surprisingly, I have quite a few! I'll admit, I did impulsively purchase a few this year when they were on crazy sale. But I also have a small collection of vintage patterns which I inherited. I don't normally like stashing, but patterns are small and my collection still fits in a shoebox so I'm not too worried about it.

Before I dive into showing you everything I've got to work with, I wanted to highlight a pretty exciting discovery. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me post about my love of this little number, from Modcloth:


Well, I spotted this Butterick Retro reprint at the fabric store the other day. Pretty close, wouldn't you say?


I was pretty excited.

So, what else do I have to work with? First, there's the patterns I bought this year that I'm still pretty in love with:






Then, there's these, which kind of leave me kind of scratching my head about why I bought them. But hey, they might have some potential:




But the most exciting bunch is the inherited vintage. I actually originally had quite a few more, but I culled the collection a while ago. These are all in the 14-16-18 size range. Unfortunately, most of the ones I like best are 14-16 and my measurements indicate that I'm an 18 in vintage sizing (as opposed to a 16 by today's Big 4 standards). I'm not sure yet if it'll be possible for me to grade them up, but I'm sure I'll develop that skill sooner or later?

First, my very favourite. (Why, oh why does it have to be a size 14?):


And, all the rest:








(That last one is particularly awesome, isn't it?)

I think it's safe to say that it's unlikely I'll need to buy any more patterns this year! Especially if you consider that I also have to do the Lonsdale and the Bombshell dresses (for which I already have the fabric and everything).

I'm pretty excited to get going... right after I finish this skirt I'm working on. (More on that in a day or two!)