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Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas Dress!

Season's Greetings! We had a white Christmas this year, did you?

Did you finish your Christmas dress on time? It seems like everyone in the sewing blogosphere makes a Christmas dress. I mean, who could forget Gertie's Red Lace Dress? This year I made the easiest dress ever - the Kwik Sew K3559. It's the same pattern that I used for my Eight Days a Week dress. It was so easy I managed to get it finished before I went on vacation!
I sure was glad to have this dress to wear on Christmas. So cozy!



Monday, 23 December 2013

Seasonally appropriate tutorial

Nothing says Yule time cheer like making your own beach cover-up. Enjoy this seasonally appropriate tutorial. Merry Christmas!


Cut out two trapezoids with the measurements in the illustration. Notice that the back piece is 1" longer than the front. Also cut neck holes front and back and raise the hemline on the front piece. Feel free to change any of the measurements to suit your size. 5/8" seam allowance is included in all measurements.


Make a 4" shoulder seam on each side starting from the neckline. You’ll stop a good few inches from the side edge of the fabric. Press open the seam and fold under the seam allowance from the neck hole all the way to the side edge of the fabric and top stitch to finish.
Use a rolled hem foot to finish the sides.
Finish the neck hole and the hems with bias tape, folding under raw edges and top-stitching down

Wrong sides together, align the bottom corners of the front with the bottom corners of the back (remember that the back is longer than the front? The shoulder seam will fall a little bit to the front of the garment.)
On the front, mark a point 13.5" down from the shoulder seam and 9.5" out from the centre. Connect the point to the bottom corners with chalk. Stitch the line from the point to 4" before the bottom corner.
You’re done!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Alooooooha!

Hey, when you sew, do you approach each project with a clear plan or do you kind of wing it?


I just spent two weeks on Maui!

OK, that's kind of a non sequitur but leading up to the vacation, I knew I wanted to make myself a beach cover up, I just didn't have a real clear idea of what I wanted it to look like; short or maxi dress? Knit or weave? Form fitting or billowy? All I knew when I started was that I wanted to look glamorous.

I didn't really enjoy the process of making this, and it definitely took longer than I wanted it to, but after a few false starts (owing to the fact that I was making it up as I went along) I sure am happy with how it turned out!



Oh, did I mention that Maui is paradise? I felt very glamorous swanning about the resort in this. I used a digital print Italian linen. So gorgeous! It had a little bit more body than I was originally picturing but I just had to use it.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sultan's Fine Fabrics, where have you been all my life?

Last weekend, instead of doing my Christmas shopping, I went up to Sultan's Fine Fabrics to indulge myself with some fabric shopping.

Worth it!

They've got tonnes of gorgeous fabric, all natural fibers. I can't believe I've just found them now.

I bought:


A delicious wool jersey in an inky indigo colour. It's soft as silk and was pretty overpriced at nearly $60 a yard but I've been looking for good wool jersey for years. I'm usually pretty good about bargaining but I just can't haggle at a wholesale place if I'm buying a yard and a half.


Also delicious, this super 150 suiting caused such a stir when I got to the cash register. It was a remnant of about 2 1/5 yards for $25. "Do you know how much this sells for?" Sultan was so excited he totally interrupted his own conversation to make a big deal of what a good deal I was getting. Apparently it's usually priced at $125 a yard. However accurate that might or might not be, this fabric is sumptuous. I could eat it with a spoon.

Altogether, I spent $125.

Anyway, Sultans - I'll be back, but not too often, I'll bankrupt myself. They have tie silk!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Mystery Stitch

My girl Kiren bought a skirt from a great second-hand shop that looks to have a lot of hand stitching. The story is that it was brought in for sale in the shop by a little old lady.

I noticed that there was an interesting stitch used to hold the hem.


Uh, yeah. The picture is upside down for some reason.

Does this stitch look familiar to you? See how it kind of doubles back on itself? But it's more complicated than a catch stitch.

I couldn't find it in any of my sewing books and a Google search mostly turns up decorative cross stitches and pictures of hands with sutured wounds. Yuck!

Help me out! Can you tell me what this stitch is called? How is it made?

Thanks!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Look at my new dress!

I finished this dress a week ago and I've been trying to figure out how I can make this post interesting and not just me bragging about my new dress but...

Look at my new dress! It's completely self drafted! It's perfect! I'm a genius.

I'm so glad I took the time to start drafting this year. Even though it ended up really slowing down my sewing, I feel like the results are worth it! I have a much better understanding of the principals of fitting and the results are better than any commercial pattern I've used.

I've removed recaptcha from the comments (thanks to a tip from the lovely lady at The Perfect Nose, whose name I sadly do not know), so feel free to let me know how impressed you are.

I think I get most excited about my most basic garments.

This dress is the pretty much the best thing ever. I used the self drafted skirt pattern that I used for my last two skirts and a self drafted bodice that I started back in March but hadn't made into anything yet. I just added a boat neckline using this tutorial and stuck the two together and bada bing bada boom. 

Oh, and I used pleats instead of darts.





God, I love this dress! I can wear it to work or out to dinner and it's comfortable. Yay!

The black wool crepe and other materials totaled about $60. No way would I have been able to buy a dress this nice that fits this well for $60.


Friday, 8 November 2013

Kill your darlings

This is nothing new in the sewing blogosphere. My sewing skills have evolved to the point where I'm re-evaluating some of the first garments that I made.

Do you upgrade your staples as your skills improve? What should I do with these old skirts? It seems like a waste to throw them out but they're really, really not very well made. (Oh, my God, the zippers!)

These are the first two skirts that I made:


Wow, what is up with those front darts?


Yikes, what a mess!

At the time that I made these, I was so happy with them! Now I see how much better I can do, I'm retiring them. You may notice that the first two skirts that I've made with the self drafted pattern (below) are like upgrades of the old skirts: basic grey and a dark purplishmaroon. They're real wardrobe staples for me!



Also of note: In the last couple of months I've spent $70 on a houndstooth marino wool sweater, $70 on materials for my most recent skirt and $80 on a new bikini (I'm going to Hawaii!!!!)

Monday, 4 November 2013

Uptown Manhattan


2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 dash of Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry for garnish

Combine first three ingredients with ice and stir until thoroughly chilled. Strain into cocktail glass and add a cherry.


Pegged silhouette
Interfaced hem
Back vent
Grosgrain waistband




What are your favorite techniques to make your skirts extra special?

Monday, 28 October 2013

Learning to teach someone to learn how to sew. AKA My girl Kiren is a badd b!+c#

About a year ago, Kiren was hired into the development department that I was working in at the time. She's pretty awesome and was super interested in sewing so we hit it off.

We've been meeting up on the semi-regular to make her a dress and a couple weeks ago, we finally finished!


Here's Kiren looking like the baddest bitch in the room in her new dress.

Helping someone through their first sewing project was a real learning experience for me.

Have you passed on your sewing knowledge to a newbie? What have you learned from it?

I'm almost entirely self-taught from the internet, so I thought that if I was there to guide her, that Kiren could skip a whole bunch of steps in the learning process. Like little projects that just get you used to sewing, and simpler techniques that make your project quick and satisfying.

Boy did I learn my lesson! I think I didn't give Kiren enough room to build her skills herself. I've just started sewing with another friend and I've steered her towards this project. And it's easy for someone whose never sewn before to be a little too ambitious in their first project. It's really hard to just jump into making garments if you've never used a sewing machine before!

Tell me about how you learned to sew! Did you have someone teaching you? What were some of the most important things you've learned over the years about helping others learn to sew?


Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Treat from my fairy godmother

My friend Susan is kind of like my crafting fairy godmother. Before I had a sewing machine of my own, she very generously let me use hers to make little crafts. Since I started sewing, every now and then she gives me something amazing (thanks to her, I own pinking shears!)

The other day I got an unexpected package in the mail. As if that wasn't fun enough, look what was inside!


How amazing are these? The Makeover Guide is copyright 1942 and the Dressmaking Guide was first copyrighted in 1936!

The Dressmaking Guide:
This has tonnes of detailed information. From how to set up your sewing room to step by step instructions for a bound buttonhole.


It's also chock full of the loveliest line drawings.


The Makeover Guide:

This one is pretty fascinating. It's really from a different time. In the opening paragraph they mention "holes in a 'teen age girl's blouse, or sweater, caused by gadget pins." Huh?

The design of both of these books is gorgeous. Look at this typeface!



And the above mentioned "Modern" neckwear:


Although the book starts off with your basic how-to-darn-a-sock instructions, it becomes pretty sophisticated pretty quickly, describing how to combine two old, worn dresses to make a new, chic one. Or how to add contrasting yokes and hems to keep up with the growing girl. Or how to turn a worn out men's suit into a ladies' skirt suit!




Look at the caption! "very little effort" my ass! Clearly, this was made for a generation of women with some pretty impressive sewing skills! 

I am pretty taken by the recon of this fur coat.


Have you ever attempted anything as daring as reconstructing a fur coat? How about re-purposing a man's suit for yourself? Or darning a sock? 

This book made me feel lazy and wasteful! But it got me thinking. I would love to make better use of the clothes I wear, but clearly, my sewing skills are not up to snuff.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Curtain Call

Where have I been for the last month, you might ask? Actually, probably not, though. More likely, you haven't even noticed that I haven't posted for weeks.

But I'll tell you anyway! I've been making curtains! I had to move all the furniture out of my living room. More than once. I'm so glad that's behind me.

Have you ever made curtains? I don't usually make home furnishings but I have some accent pillows in my future, too. What's the biggest project you've ever made?

Protip: it's nearly impossible to photograph curtains well with all that backlighting. Ugh.

I used this pleating tape that has cords in it that you pull tight to make the pleats. It's all premeasured! It made it easier in some ways and harder in others (like making sure that the seam falls between the pleats, and also that the flat edges on both curtains mirror each other.).

I love this fabric but it was a bit of a nightmare to work with. the pattern is actually sewn-on cording and the grainline was pretty wonky and I had to fudge a few things. I hate having to fudge things!


These curtains were one heck of a project but they sure are sexy! And we've finally been able to retire the bed sheet that was hanging in our window for the last year (and a half). In this last picture, in the top left corner you can kind of see the light fixture that made. Yeah. And I painted my walls a dark, dramatic grey. My bedroom is going to be so sexy.

Back to the actual curtains. I mostly used this tutorial and some videos from this Youtube channel. I didn't really find a lot of resources out there, though.

I can't believe they're finally done! I'm really excited to get back to sewing clothes!


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Style Crush: Diane Kruger

A year or so ago, I saw footage of Diane Kruger dressed like this to play bocci at some fashion show event.


Look how cute she is! Cute and sophisticated. It's just a black tank with an A-line skirt  but with enough of a twist to make it amazing!

She also sports some very fashionable arm candy.


I usually don't have an opinion about celebrity couples but I think these two are adorable. Look how much fun they're having!


She just always looks so pretty!



OK, maybe not always. But at least she takes risks, right?


And she's got street-style chops







Dang, this was a fun post! What do you think of Ms. Kruger's style?

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Victory!

God, I love those shoes.

After inching along for months, I've finally finished my Rundschau self-drafted skirt! Can you believe it? Neither can I!


I'm not completely happy with the fit or construction but I feel like it's the best I can do with my abilities and of course, I learned a lot!

I'm thinking I might make another skirt right away to solidify what I've learned and tweak the pattern now that I've worn the thing and seen it photographed. (Don't you hate when you think something looks good and then when you photograph it, you see all the issues?)

Here you can see the zipper and button
closure. My zipper-insertion-by-hand
skills need work.

I also want it on the record that I hand stitched this thing. Yeah. I kind of love hand stitching. I thought it would be a big mess but it turns out that it allows for a lot more precision. Yay.

The button hole wasthe last step and I kind of choked.
 Not my best work but in my defense, the tab I was
sewing through was really thick!

This skirt also feels delicious. I used a fine grey wool and lining that feels like Bemberg but burns like cotton. I bought it from Downtown Fabrics in Toronto and the guy swore it is cotton. Whatever it is, it feels great. I used a technique from Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Practical Guide for Women's Wear by Cabrera. It involves folding the hem over the raw edge of the lining, so it's all enclosed like at the bottom of a jacket. now that I've tried it this way, I don't know why anyone would ever have the lining hemmed separately. I've always hated hemming linings. Never again!

What project have you learned the most from?