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Friday, 22 April 2016

Style ease life


Friends, here are my photos of the giant oversized Chambray shirt-dress! I'm wearing it as a shirt because it's still chilly and it might actually be a bit short to wear as a dress. I'll have to see how I feel once the weather heats up!

This week I attended the Alan Baker Memorial Lecture "From Dinos to DNA" at the ROM. Very interesting stuff, though some of it was over my head. And of course there was a reception afterward! The ROM really is an exceptional building, on top of being a great and engaging museum. So glad we were able to snap some pics there!

As I said in my last post, I used the BurdaStyle Boyfriend Shirt. I don't know about you but I always wish BurdaStyle would provide more information and pics of their patterns! So I'm going to try to include in this post some of the information at I would want to know if I was shopping this pattern.

I used size 40, which was the middle of the size range available for this pattern. My measurements are 34-26-39 with a height of 5'4". According to the size chart the size 40 is drafted for someone with measurements: 36-29-38 and the garment's finished measurements are 49-46.5-51.5. So much ease! These measurements are pretty rough, though. It's hard to accurately measure such a gigantic garment!

Feeling my little booties!

Oh, I should also mention that once the shirt was finished I just sewed down two tucks - one on each side seam to take in about 5 inches. I found that when I wore it with a belt the bottom hem would kinda flare and these tucks fixed that. The shirt is so big the tucks just get lost amongst all that fabric! See on the side there?

This pattern also includes the BurdaStyle Safari Jacket, so I used the longer pattern pieces to make the dress (I shaped the hem like the shirt but used the length from the jacket). I didn't make any other changes to the pattern and it sewed up quick and easy. I follow almost all the techniques in DPC's Shirtmaking, so I was thrilled that the arm-body seam matched up perfectly for a flat construction. It drives me crazy how many shirt patterns have sleeves that are meant to be set in.

I did make a little mistake in that I cut the collar and collar stand too short. I measured before I cut out, but when I went to sew it together, it was all wrong. I ended up just re-cutting the whole thing.

And, of course, what's a trip to the ROM without a nightcap at the Museum Tavern? This place is so gorgeous and they have delicious cocktails. The style really knocks my socks off! The whole bar top was copper (it matched the copper cups).

As always, credit for the great pics goes to the fantastic Brian Chambers. Thank you Brian!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Shirt dress obsessed

Oh hai there!

It's spring, you guys! And for some reason a couple of weeks ago I suddenly got obsessed with oversized chambray shirt dresses. So obsessed that I finally caved and joined Pinterest so I could keep track of all the pictures I was pouring over.

Pics like this:


So pretty, right?

I don't normally go for volume and I don't normally go for short but I'm so feeling this look.

I've already put a lot of work into about 5 different shirt patterns but I realized that I wanted something that was pretty different from the patterns I had used in the past.

So I created another Pinterest account to keep track of all the patterns I was thinking about using!

I mostly looked at BurdaStyle. Partly because I love that I don't have to wait for shipping but also because they always have so much wearing ease. Have you noticed this, too? It was actually one of the things that made me start drafting my own patterns. It was just so frustrating that I was swimming in even their smallest sizes. Every time I got a new pattern I had to spend hours altering patterns just to get them small enough, and I'm pretty average-sized! 

Anyway, I ended up going with the Boyfriend Shirt because I wanted a shirt with traditional details and that was drafted for traditional construction techniques - things like a flat constructed sleeve and a yoke. 

I really love making shirts! I love that all the raw edges are enclosed. I love that they're versatile (Work, Weekend. So sharp.). I love that they can just go in the washing machine! 

So many of the dresses that I've made have to be dry cleaned and clothing guards only do so much.

Anyway, I was really pleased because I managed to whip up my shirt dress in a weekend! I've noticed lately that I've gotten a lot faster at sewing. Wheeeeeeeeee.

I've been wearing my new shirt all week even though it's a little cold. I just wear it with jeans! This week I wore it to a lecture at the ROM and snapped some photos at the reception afterward. I love being a ROM member!

I can't wait to show you guys the photos!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Inner Beauty - Lining a dress with sleeves

I love making a dress that's as pretty
 on the inside as it is on the outside!

Way back when I started this blog, one of my goals was to make the insides of my garments as pretty and finished as the outsides. I've definitely come a long way! Mostly because I'm getting a lot better at wrangling slippery lining fabrics and partly because I've gotten good at predicting and avoiding situations where a finished inside would be beyond my skills.

Trying to show off how nice the lining is but damn
it's hard to photograph something that's all white! 

I've also started using more tried and true patterns, which I've cut out of card stock. This lets me trace the pattern more easily for cutting out the pieces.I just trace around it! As opposed to putting the tracing paper over a paper pattern and tracing over the lines, you know? All this to say that tracing, cutting and assembling a lining used to seem like such a huge task that I always tried to avoid it. Now I've gotten quicker at sewing and found ways to make it less of a chore. Trying to work smarter not harder!

Using a pattern piece made of card
stock to trace the pattern in seconds!

Another trick that I love is to enclose the raw hem edge of the lining within the folded hem of the garment. It makes it so the lining doesn't hang free and ride up or get twisted when you wear it. Best of all, none of the dicking around required to hem the lining. I always found that to be the biggest pain in the ass and it never turned out as clean looking as I wanted to. Learned tthis from Cabrera and it was totally game-changing for me.

Here's the hem, with a Hong Kong finish on the raw edge of the fabric
and the lining edge enclosed in the hem. Gorgeous!

Anyway, I was thinking about all this stuff because the Iznik dress that I made was my first time lining a dress with sleeves. Crazy, right? I've been sewing for like 5 years. I still have no idea that the right way to do it is. I tried looking it up in my books and online and what I ended up doing was basically what I do for lining a jacket. I sewed the sleeve lining to the sleeve hem before attaching the sleeve to the rest of the dress, then I attached the sleeve, then I hand stitched the sleeve lining to the dress lining at the armscye. I even used the jacket lining instructions to cut the sleeve lining for the dress (basically adding a little extra fabric at the top of the sleeve, especially in the underarm area). Seems to have worked out fine so far! Is there a better way to do this?

Here's the sleeve seam, The sleeve really, really
didn't want to turn inside out to get photographed!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Iznik Style

Hi friends! How has your winter been? 

I've been slow in both sewing and updating the ol' blog but I really wanted to do this dress justice with great photos! Getting professional photos is the best! I'm so lucky to have a friend who's so talented and is a great hang. Thanks Brian!

Last year I started going to the gym and did a "cut" to drop 15 pounds. I can't believe what a difference it has made to how I feel and how I feel about the way I look, if that makes sense. The one downside is that not only are my clothes too big, but my patterns are too! I'm still wearing much of my old wardrobe, because it's not such a big difference, but I know my old clothes don't fit the way I want them to.

With this dress I finally took the time to re-fit my pattern. It's still not 100% perfect but it's getting there!

I'd been planning this dress since last summer when I bought this fabric from I'm pretty shy of pattern matching. This pattern has a waistline seam and a centre back seam and I was a little worried how the fabric would look. I had seen this version on Diary of a Sewing Fanatic but the pattern she used was more of a shift dress, without the waist seam. Luckily, the pattern is so busy and bold that you can hardly see the seams.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Construction Details for Vogue V8626 Coat

Now that is a dry title! In reality, making this coat was a roller coaster. Mostly it was fun and interesting and I learned a lot but there where a couple of times when I was just like

... ! >:(((

You know?

One was when I sewed up my side seams a tried on the coat for the first time.

Super weird ugly silhouette! I nearly shit a brick. It took an extra couple of hours but I was able to fix it by taking 6" from the width at the hem, tapering to just below the waist and eliminating the unflattering hip bump...thing.

...Anyway, the other thing that tripped me up needed some serious surgery.

I had constructed the lining with the lambswool interlining (all in one day. I was seriously on a mission!!!!) and attached it.

I was all ready to hem it when I realized the problem:

My pleat goes right to the hem, so for me to enclose the raw edge of the lining in the hem of the coat, the lining has to be, like, folded into the pleat. but because the coat and lining were separate, the coat pleat and the lining pleat are stacked on top of each other. I needed to treat the lining and the coat back as one. How the hell is that supposed to work???!?!

I scoured the internet but couldn't find anything that was helpful. The instructions that came with the pattern just said to hem the lining and the coat separately. Which is totally gross. Seriously. Ugh.

It took about 15 hours of stewing on it but I came up with a plan that I thought would work.

So on the off-chance that someone else encounters that same issue, here's what I did:

(Side note: Everyone else should stop reading right now because this is boring unless you're actually making the pattern. Thanks for stopping by!)

Okay, so for those of you (are there any of you?) who are making V8628 and want to enclose the lining in the hem of the coat, read on.

I you haven't sewed the coat yet, listen up: BASTE THE BACK WAIST SEAM when you sew across the back pleat. Coat and lining. Okay? Okay.

If you're reading this, chances are you're way beyond that. Don't worry though - everything is going to be okay. Your first step will be to undo the gorgeous feather stitching you did when you put together the lining.

While you have your stitch ripper out, open the back waist seam in both the coat and the lining to release the back pleat. (You might want to baste the back bodice pleat first but if it's been pressed you're probably fine.)

Once the lower back pleats are released, treat the back lower lining and the back lower coat as one. According to the pattern instructions, you would have made the lining pleat and the coat pleat as mirror images of each other. You might want to re-press the creases in the lining so that they match the creases in the coat but I didn't and everything turned out fine. I just gave it a nice steam after I was all finished.

So at this point you've refolded the lower-back pleat, treating the lining and coat fabric as one. Baste, and then and sew it to the back coat bodice. Leave the back bodice lining free for now. Press the seam upwards.

Re-sew your feather stitches to tack down some of the bulk of the back pleats. Fold the back bodice lining hem allowance over the back waist seam. Slip stitch or fell stitch the bodice lining to the lower-back lining.

Boom. Done.

...Well, hem it and then you're done.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

The Adventure of the Ulster Coat

Happy new year friends!

You may have noticed that it's been very very quiet around here. Well, here on the blog. Things have been very busy in the real life, what with Christmas and being the best sew-er evar!!!

I finished the coat on Christmas Eve, just in time for the unseasonably warm holiday weather!

I'm so happy (and surprised) with how well it turned out! It's so comfortable and cozy.

While working on the muslins, I was having trouble telling whether or not the proportions were going to be flattering, but I think it looks really smashing!

You may recall that this is very much inspired by Sherlock's Belstaff Ulster. I immediately fell in love with the pleating in the back of his coat and I think my version stands up admirably to the original. I only wish I had included a pleat in the back bodice to match the back of the skirt, but I was unsure of how to line it so I kept it simple. As it was, I had to really wrangle the lower lining to get it to work with the pleat and the enclosed hem, which was non-negotiable. I'll be posting a step-by-step of what I did. I have no idea if the way I attached it is conventionally acceptable, but I couldn't find a satisfactory answer online, so I had to improvise.

Speaking of Sherlock, did you guys watch the Abominable Bride yesterday? I'm still trying to decide whether or not I liked it. There was definitely some stuff that happened that had me like "what's the point of this?" and then there were the scenes with Moriarty, which I thought were brilliant and hilarious. Man, that Andrew Scott is an absolute nut! Such a good villain.

Speaking of villains, here I am acting mysterious and turning my coat collar up so I look all cool. Tragically, The fabric I used is a little too soft and drape-y to keep my collar popped. I'm also missing the cheekbones necessary to really do this look justice. Such a pity.

I ended up using three different patterns, plus adding my own drafted pockets. After lengthening and fitting Vogue V8626, I was having trouble finding the collar shape I wanted. I just didn't really know what the type of collar I wanted was called! I posted on reddit and someone suggested that I wanted a peacoat-type collar, so I bought the Burda Style pattern for "Navy Peacoat 10/2014 #125." 

Turns out what I wanted was just a wide peaked lapel with a very deep notch. This was my first time sewing a peaked lapel but things went pretty smoothly, thanks to Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket. Finally, I added cuffs by modifying a pattern that I found at Value Village - McCall's 5524.

Of critical importance to the success of this coat was its movement when worn. Early in my research I saw something - I can't remember where - that recommended the use if drapery weights in the hem. This is absolutely genius. I'm so happy with the way this coat moves that I had my wonderful photographer/cinematographer friend, Brian, make a gif for me!

(The ground was soooooooo slippery!)

I should mention that Brian Chambers took all of my photos for this post and is an absolute champ. I knew that I needed photos to do the coat justice. Thank you Brian!!

Edited to add: I just watched TAB again and I totally do like it.

Sunday, 29 November 2015


Well hello! Long time no see. I've been so mired in getting my pattern ready, I couldn't for the life of me be bothered to post on my progress. Ugh.

But in the last week, I've finally started the actual sewing!!!

And not a moment too soon because I was right on the brink of saying to hell with the whole project. So many endless tweaks!

But now I've started I'm so excited for this coat!! I'm hoping to have this finished by Christmas. That's about as much time as I took to make my jacket last year, but this coat will be a lot more work. I'm underlining the whole thing (except the sleeves. or should I include the sleeves? I have no idea what I`m doing) with horsehair canvas, plus I'll be interlining it for warmth.

What do you think? Can I make it?