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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Very Important News

My jacket is done! Well, it's at the tailor's to get buttonholes. It's looking really good, even if I do say to myself. (I'm going to wait until it's got buttons to take pics).

It took me about 6.75 hours to put in the lining, which I did it by hand. Not too sure why I decided to do it that way but there you have it. It does look pretty nice. Then I spent a bunch of time marking my buttonholes, which brings my total to 45 hours.

I had a bit of a difficult time trying to get buttonholes made. The first place I went to today could make keyhole buttonholes but they were so ugly and sloppy looking. It had this kind of vibe, but even shittier.


It was really uncomfortable for me to back out of getting them done once I was there, but I'm glad I did, because they would have been sooooooooo ugly!

After a little more running around, I tracked down a tailor that has a machine that can do a keyhole with a bar tack, and can do a proper lapel buttonhole. Like this, you know?


Oh, this contrast buttonhole reminds me. I really wanted to have a couple of contrast buttonholes but I ditched that idea when I thought I was going to get the ugly buttonholes, and then I was so happy that I found a place to do nice buttonholes I forgot to ask for it. So no contrast buttonholes for me.

Another bummer is that I have to wait for Monday to get my jacket done, because most of their staff is off right now. Still super grateful that they're gonna do it at all, though! I'm so excited to wear this jacket!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Oh my gosh another post about the jacket!

Ok, ok. I know it's only been one day but whatever. I'm off work.


I put sleeves and shoulder pads in and it only took me 3 hours! (I'm at 37.75 hours now)

I just need to hem it and line it and get buttonholes made! 

From these pictures I can see so many things that I want to change for next time! I think the bust is too full, causing the folds from my bust to my side waist. Also, the polyester didn't press very well for the lapels and didn't ease great in the sleeve cap. I used the bias strip way to insert a sleeve so it was still pretty easy.

I'm also a bit confused about the lapel pattern. On the pattern I used, there was part of the lapel that you were supposed to ease into the lapel facing, but when it came time to sew them together, there wasn't any ease. Not too sure what I did wrong but I'm thinking that might be part of the reason why the lapels aren't lying very flat. Or it could be because it's drafted to accommodate larger breasts. There also seems to be a lot of room in the upper shoulder. Hmmm...


Yes, I have a swayback. No, I didn't do anything to adjust for it on this pattern. I'm hoping that it will be less dramatic once I hem it. I'm also not sure that a swayback adjustment is the right move, since I don't really want to loose any length at the back. Next time I might just grade out to a greater circumference at the bottom hem. Or I might scrap this pattern completely. Who knows?

Before I line this, I need to decide if I'm going to put sleeve heads in. I'm thinking it might help the saggy-ness at the back of the left sleeve there.

Oh, and I just realized that the left sleeve is way too long. I think it's because my body is totally unsymmetrical. Well, there's nothing I can do about that now.

Man, I wonder whether I'll actually wear this or not. At least I'm in the home stretch!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Jacket progress

Hello! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

So the title of this post is pretty misleading because I've made barely any progress since my last post about it. In my defense, I spent a week in Mexico!

Lounging poolside at our swim-up room. In my self-made dress. Heaven.

We decided to go to an all-inclusive for a week instead of buying Christmas presents for each other. What a great idea! This is the first time doing an all-inclusive and it was just what I needed. So relaxing!

Of course, I wasn't able to work on my jacket while I was there so all I've managed to get done in, like, the last two weeks is to line the sleeves which took four and a half hours. Ugh. I'm so slow! I'm now at 34.75 hours. I just have to attach the sleeves and line it. What do you think? Over or under 60 hours? (FYI, since the fabric is so thick - and I want to have some contrast buttonholes - I'm going to have them professionally done, so that will significantly reduce the hours I'll spend at the end.) I'm hoping to have this jacket ready to wear on January 2. Wish me luck!



This is my first time attempting surgeon's cuffs. I had to alter the pattern I was using because it didn't include a sleeve vent at all but I think I might have drafted the vent too short. Now that the sleeve is hemmed, the actual opening is only about 2 1/2 inches. not sure if that will be enough.


I constructed the sleeve and lining according to the instructions in Classic Tailoring Techniques. The lining of the vent is almost exactly like making the vent in a skirt, but just different enough to completely throw me off. I think next time I might combine that technique and some of the instructions from Tailoring. The results that I got this time are passable but not exactly tidy.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Love at First Stitch

I've been very lucky in learning to sew that I learned everything I needed to get started from the internet (Like, 80% was from reading Gertie's blog from top to bottom. I'm sure I'm not the only one!) and the library has a pretty wonderful supply of sewing books for more in-depth techniques (several of the books that I test-drove from the library proved to be so valuable to me that I bought my own copy).

But I can totally see that appeal of having a beginning sewing book as you learn to sew. As I'm finding with using two books plus pattern instructions to make my jacket, too much information from too many sources can be confusing


Just for fun, I picked up Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes from the library and I can totally see the appeal of this book. The projects progress from silly-easy to a lined dress, with new techniques taught along the way (OK, not the most original concept, but it's well-executed). And it is such a cute book! The aesthetics and styling of this book really appeal to me for some reason. 

One thing I really like about this book is that there are suggestions for variations on each project to make it unique and these ideas can be applied to a wide variety of projects, you build up creative options as well as techniques. Fun!


There are also little interludes or articles in the book that talk about bigger picture stuff, like approaching sewing projects from a place of fun and exploration and play, or ways to find time to sew in a busy life. I think these mini-essays add a lot to the overall tone of the book, and take it beyond just an instruction manual. Its gives you a further glimpse into the author's personality and shares some of her enthusiasm for what sewing can bring to your life beyond fun new clothes.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Another post about the jacket I'm working on

Well, the work on my jacket continues. I've been really lucky in that I've had a lot of time to dedicate to it (although I haven't been able to get anything done in the last two days!)

Here are the hours that I've put in since my last post:

December 6 - padstitching and taping the lappels 4.5 hours
December 7 - finish taping lappels and add back stay, shape shoulder, sew side seams and fit. 3.75 hours
December 9 - attach under collar, assemble upper collar and facings and attach - 4.5 hours
December 10 - grade seams, turn and press  - 1.5 hours
December 12 - cut lining, assemble sleeves and baste lapel and front edge - 3 hours

So 13 hours from my last post, plus 17.25 hours in the last week. Over 30 hours so far!

This is what the jacket looks like right now:





When I bought this fabric, it was sold to me as wool, but I realized when I brought it home that it wasn't raveling at all, not even when it went in for dry cleaning. As soon as I started pressing I realized that there was  no way this is actually wool so I did a burn test and it's definitely synthetic. I've read up a bit about camel hair and apparently it's not uncommon to find polyester or poly blends with actual hair used for the texture on the right side.

Ordinarily I'm a snob about synthetic fibres and we'll see how this one feels when I'm wearing it but I have to say it's nice working with something that can take a lot of handling, since I'm pretty inept at the techniques and everything takes so much time. I'm still a little disappointed, though. I'm putting so much time in and I want to love the finished product!

Another issue with the fabric is the weight. It's pretty bulky and would probably be better suited as a topcoat. It can take a lot of pressing but I haven't been able to get the edges looking crisp and professional.

Well, I'll just have to keep working and see how it turns out!

I've also been spending some time re-watching this great series of videos. I'd forgotten it existed until Chris reminded me. Thanks Chris!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Friday, 5 December 2014

Slow and Slowly

It seems like every time I finish a garment, someone asks how long it took me to make. I ususally know when I started and when I finished (in days) but I never think to count how many hours!

When I try to estimate, it ends up seeming like a crazy lot of hours. So with my jacket that I'm working on now, I'm actually tracking the hours. I'm also hoping this will encourage me to get this project done fast. I can't wait to wear my new jacket!

Here's how much time I've spent so far:

November 30 Cutting fashion fabric and pad stitching undercollar - 5 hours
December 1 Assembling patch pockets, incl. cutting lining and interfacing - 2.25 hours
December 2 Put together front and side front, attach pockets - 2.5 hours
December 4 & 5, cutting out, preparing and basting the canvas to the front - 3.25

Holy moly! More than two hours to make pockets and another two to put them on! I look at other bloggers like Lladybird and Diary of a Sewing Fanatic and I just can't believe how fast they sew. I guess I dont really mind taking so much time. I really enjoy the process of sewing so it's not like a hardship but I'm just amazing at the amount of time everything takes!

In 6 days, I've spent 13 hours and this is as far as I've gotten.



Looking pretty good I think. When I made my sweetheart's jacket two years ago, I only used Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket. but now I've also got Classic Tailoring Techniques (I ordered it Friday and it came on Sunday, if you can believe it). It's nice to have more information but it also makes it a lot more confusing. Even with both books, I'm not 100% sure I did this basting right. Classic Tailoring Techniques doesn't really explain how the bust contour works with the basting. Like, when you're basting, you're supposed to make it smooth, but there's a lot of contouring going on in the bust area, you know? That shit's not gonna be smooth, but the book doesn't say anything about it. I did the best I could and I think it'll be OK.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Finally gonna make a jacket for myself!

I've spent a lot of time this year developing my drafting skills, which has been pretty wonderful! But lately I've been getting the urge to do something a little different. I'm not sure why I've been putting off finally starting my own jacket. Last weekend I walked past a second hand store in my old neighbourhood and spotted 2 yards of camelhair wool for $20.

I'm taking at as a sign to get this project started! Best case scenario: I end up with a super cute and very wearable jacket. Worst case: I waste a bunch of time and money having fun learning what not to do.


Yesterday I bought all the supplies I'll need, including these gorgeous bone buttons and navy blue bemberg lining. Yum!



I'll be using Butterick B4610, which is out of print but still available.

I made up a muslin in a straight size eight. It's actually a very nicely drafted pattern. with not too much ease and the sleeves are pretty perfect and the shoulder fits really nicely.



For my actual jacket, I'll grade out to a size 10 below the waist.

And, because I can't leave well enough alone, I'm going to add a centre back vent and surgeon's cuffs.

I should be finished in about march of 2015. Just in time for it to be too hot to wear this jacket.

Oh yeah, and I ordered Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Women's Wear. It was like, $13 on the Chapters website. Go me!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Silky floral shirt

I went over to Kiren's and imposed upon her to finally take some pictures of this shirt that I made a couple of weeks ago.


Now that it gets dark so early, it's even harder to take photos! Also, Kiren baked us cookies. Cookies are my greatest weakness.


I used the same self-drafted blouse pattern that I used to make this shirt and the bodice of this dress. I did lengthen it a bit, and made the curved hem a bit more dramatic. I think it's a really flattering look! A big reason for me choosing this pattern is that I wanted something with a simple shape that would be a good vehicle for the large, fairly busy floral print. This shirt fit the bill.

Though I have to admit, I'm not 100% convinced that I did the best job with print placement. I think I might have been a bit too careful about making sure that I didn't end up with a big gaudy peony on my boob. I guess it's better safe than sorry, though.

I used my new felled seam foot for all the seams (all four of them!). I tried using my new rolled hem foot but a combination of the fabric being shifty and me not having had a lot of practice with it made the machine rolled hem look terrible. I ended up hand rolling it, which I actually really enjoyed. There are facings for the neckline and armholes and the edges of the facings are finished with a silk Hong Kong binding. All in all, the finishing of this shirt is really nice. I'm very happy with it!



As I said, I finished this shirt a couple of weeks ago and I've already gotten so much use out of it! I like it because it's kind of casual (I mostly just throw it on with a pair of jeans) but still very pretty and luxurious. I used the same silk as my skirt.


I can actually wear these two together and they look like a dress (like one of my inspiration photos) but that would only be right in very particular (read: fancy) circumstances.

Speaking of particular circumstances, I got to wear my floral silk skirt out to dinner last week! It was our 8th anniversary (!) so we went out to a great restaurant. I felt very lovely wearing it.

God, did I use enough hyperlinks in this post?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Extremely glamorous and luxurious floral pencil skirt

It seems like a lot of the clothes that I've made this year are a little more glamorous than I really need. I just...really love beautiful things! Is there a name for that?

Oh, I just looked it up and there is a word for that.

It's aesthete.

You're welcome.

With that being said...


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Lap seam foot tutorial

Hello! Do you love specialized presser feet? I do. It's certainly a perk of having a Bernina. I ordered a couple of feet right away when I bought my machine, and they arrived this week! 

One of my very favorite feet is the lap seam foot (AKA the flat felled seam foot) so I've put together a little tutorial on how to make seams with these feet


The Bernina Lap Seam foot #70 (top) and the Pfaff 41242 Fell Seam foot (bottom)
 The two sides of a flat-felled seam


Flat felled seams are great because:
  • they're sturdy - the stress on the seam is distributed between two rows of stitching
  • they're clean - all the raw edges are enclosed
  • they're thrifty - the seam allowances you need are tiny
The downsides
  • its difficult to make alterations, plus the small seam allowances mean you can't let out no matter what
  • they can be tricky to make on curved seams

1. Prepare you pattern. This means adjusting the seam allowances. The two sides of the seam that you want to join together with the flat felled seam require different allowances. See that little channel in the bottom of the foot? The width of the channel equals the width of the seam (in this case, 4 mm). The seam allowance must be equal to this width on one side and double this width on the other. For example, one pattern piece would have a 4 mm seam allowance and it would be joined to another pattern piece with an 8 mm seam allowance.

2. Align your seam. Because the two pieces that you're sewing together have different seam allowances from each other, the edges of the fabric will be offset by the width of the difference, in this case, 4 mm. If you start with the right sides together, the double line of stitching will be on the inside. If you start with wrong sides together, the double line of stitching will be on the outside.



3. Sew the first line of stitches. Place the fabric under the foot with the lower layer folded over the upper layer. Use a stiletto or a pin to get everything lined up just right as you lower the presser foot.

Once you start sewing, the foot will continue to guide the fabric so that the lower piece of fabric encloses the edge of the upper piece. Sew that first line of stitches! Then press the seam open.





4. Sew the second line of stitches. With the two pattern pieces spread apart and the enclosed edge raised, guide the raised seam into the foot so that it folds over the remaining raw edge. Stitch and press!




Monday, 22 September 2014

...we must move foreward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling towards freedom

Uh, yeah, sometimes I feel like I'm not really making progress, or I'm not sure exactly what to do next to fix a fitting issue and my head just starts going around in circles!

In this case, I'm talking about by self drafted white button up. I think I might need to adopt a numbering system like computer programs to keep track of the different versions. Let's call this shirt v 4.2

Ugh, I am such a pear!

Thanks to Imogheena at Tropicalthreads,  I added some length in the front so that it doesn't flare out from my bust and make me look pregnant. Thanks Imogheena! The alteration I did looks like this.


 You can see that I slashed right through the bust dart and added 5/8", then re-drafted the bust dart to suppress the extra length so that the side seam is the same length as it was before the alteration.

Now that I've worn the shirt a few times, though, I find that I get strange wrinkles forming diagonally from about my armpit to about my belly button. Anyone have any idea what this might indicate? It sure looks like there's a problem, but I'm not sure that it is.

See the drag lines forming chevrons pointing down the button placket?


Beyond that, there are a number of other changes I will make next time I make up this pattern. I need to:
  • lengthen the arms by 3/4"
  • shape back - maybe a swayback adjustment? I feel like maybe I have too much length in the back and it's imbalanced with the side seams, so it's pouching out above my waist.
  • extend shoulder slightly
  • lower the point of the bust dart
Is it just my imagination? Is there too much length in the back above the waist? Maybe it's just because I have my hands in my pockets here? I'm so confused!


Oh man, I'm feeling pretty discouraged!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

It's really hard to come up with a title for a post about a white button up shirt

At least the visuals will be interesting, since I took pics while I was in Istanbul! I finished the shirt just before we left so this was my first chance to wear it.

Here I am in front of our hotel. The fit isn't perfect but I like that it's a very relaxed fit, which was what I was going for. This evolved from this muslin that I drafted.




Here I am (not looking my best - that fisheye is unflattering!) but I had to post this pic because this restaurant was wonderful! It's called Tavanarasi, which means 'in the attic' in Turkish. Located at Beyoğlu Asmalı Mescit Sk No:10, with no sign, you enter a tiny lobby with just an elevator, which you take to the top floor. The vibe of the place was amazing and there were lots of vegetarian options! We watched the sun set over the rooftops.


Uh oh! Our hotel had a crazy dessert bar every night (We only indulged once. Turkey is the land of 1000 desserts!). Here I am with half of the available desserts. Whew! Good thing I'm wearing a nice roomy shirt!

Friday, 12 September 2014

A Canadian Seamstress in Istanbul

I was in Istanbul last week!

Have you been? This was my first time.

The view from Topkapi Palace

What an amazing city!

We only had a few weeks to plan. I tried Googling to find fabric stores, but aside from the fabric section of the grand bazaar, I really wasn't sure where to go.

Me, distracted at the bazaar

Most of the fabric stores in the Grand Bazaar only seemed to carry very cheap or upholstery fabrics. I was starting to despair! And then, on my last day there, I found it.

Bagzibagli Nisantasi

(OK, I have to admit, I was too excited to take a picture while I was there, I had to find a pic on the internet.)

There were a bunch of other fabric stores in the neighbouring streets but I'm pretty sure this is the best store in the city. They had so many gorgeous fabrics, prices were flexible, the store was pristine and the staff were so helpful!

If you're ever in Istanbul, I would highly recommend visiting this store. They're just a block from Osmanbey Metro Station.



Seriously, if only we had even one store like this in Toronto!

Want to see what I bought?

 A gorgeous Valentino linen!


The linen will become a dress inspired by this Carolyn Schnurer dress that I've had on my mind for years.



This delicious silk!



The silk will be a pencil skirt like this.


But I might also make a matching blouse for this kind of look.


Oh la la!

Now all I need is a working sewing machine!