Just a wee bit tight

A few years ago I made New Look 6968 View A (without sleeves) out of a Navy stretch cotton sateen. It was a lovely fabric to work with, the neckline was lovely (even if I did have to sew what felt like too many neck darts, and have them evenly matched) and I followed the instructions and fully lined the bodice.

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The skirt portion is a pencil skirt; an unlined pencil skirt. This means I can NOT wear any tights without the dress riding up. Not what I intended. There was also the issue of the dress being a tad roomy between armpit and shoulder seam. Nothing I noticed before completing the dress in full, and between those two things, the dress ended up being a miss for me. BUT, it was so close to being something I saw myself reaching for time and again for a simple work dress. Therefore, this dress made its way to a good friend and I made the what I assumed were simple changes and left the pattern for about a year.

Then I got a great dark grey polka-dot wool blend yardage at a steal and thought – this is perfect for the dress pattern I  modified last year – just a perfect, easy sew. I was being aware and remembered to cut out a lining for the skirt portion too and went to work.

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Well, I adjusted for the shoulders alright, but forgot that that would inch the waist line up too… so the waist was sitting too high – not a problem, let’s splice in there a waistband – it’ll look cuuuuuute! Oh, and I also forgot to lower the curve in the armpit too, but of course this I didn’t realize until I had completed the dress. Of course. Add to that the fact that I was lazy and didn’t redraft a lining piece as nicely outlined by Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch, and did I mention that the wool blend has zero stretch to it? Well, it doesn’t. And therefore that nice sleek, but still comfy fit, has eluded me. It’s a lovely dress – to stand in and drink, but don’t even think about sitting or eating, or breathing really… It’s just not gunna happen.

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All that being said, I did have fun with the insides and the finish is pretty spot on. It’s fully lined, everything matches up nicely and I have mustaches as the waistband lining. Who doesn’t love a good ‘stache?!

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Also, I must not be remiss in mentioning the lovely wine that is pictured above. For my birthday over the Summer, my lovely mister planned a little bike to wineries tour in Oliver, BC. I must admit we didn’t end up going to many wineries as I blew my entire wine budget at this gorgeous place; Le Vieux Pin. I dare you to try their wines and not love every single one.

Not perfect, but I think after making the above mentioned changes I might give this pattern one last go…

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Camas Blouse: a Thread Theory Winner

When I was making jeans for my husband, and then myself, I looked at a few different companies to source the different notions I would need/want. One of these companies was Thread Theory, a wonderful company run from Vancouver Island, by an outdoorsy couple (who have an extremely cute pooch). As I was browsing and filling my online shopping cart with jeans kits, I was also adding to it the Jedediah Pants (for him) and the Camas Blouse (for her!). The Camas Blouse is, from what I can tell, the first women’s pattern put out by this company. I really liked the design details and I was interested to see how their patterns fit into my lifestyle.

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I love it.  The pattern, the design, the final product. It’s all very me.

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I actually started off using the most lux of fabrics; a cut of amazingly drapey, yet not see through, bamboo jersey (a lovely gift of a cut of fabric) and some black raw silk (for the yolk), and inky blue light weight silk (for the yolk lining).

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The pattern is a PDF, but I think well worth the hassle of printing, taping, and in my case, tracing. I actually traced the pattern out when I was in the middle of my jeans sewing bender and it was a refreshing change of pace from denim.

Based on shoulder measurements, I cut a straight size 8 and made no alterations (cue fanfare). I followed the directions right up until i got to the front placket. I’m sure the directions as written are great for this section, but I decided that I wanted to assemble the placket first, including trimming, notching and serging the edge of the band before I attached it to the shirt. That way there was a lot less bulk to deal with.

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I sewed the hem of the sleeves and the shirt with just a standard straight stitch. This worked well for me as the bottom is drapey, and the sleeves are loose enough to pull on without needing any stretch. If you like a more fitted sleeve I would recommend either a double needle, zigzag stitch or coverstitch machine as a finish.

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For the second version I used more of my Deer Head Dotty fabric (100% organic cotton) and a 100% Rayon Slub remnant that I think was from Girl Charlee Fabrics. There is a very subtle stripe in the slub that I loosely tried to match up.

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I did also have some fun with converting the gathers into pleats in the front and a box pleat in the back. I think Morgan mentioned doing a blog post about this so keep an eye on their blog.

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I really like the shirt with either the gathers or the pleats and see making this again. I would like to try it in a full woven and will likely play around with this in the next little while. Also something to note, I sewed the buttons right through the placket and didn’t bother to create button holes, so the buttons are completely for show. I find the neckline is more than generous to get this over my head comfortably. The buttons on my first top are from my local chain store, and beige buttons are from my Grandma’s stash that I inherited a few years ago.

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How do you like your tops? With a little deer here and there or straight up classy silks?

Silk: worth the wait

I am lucky enough to have good friends that know me well. They know my personality, my disposition, and my complete and total fabric snobbery.

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I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. I use to sit at my Grandma’s machine and sew up all the scraps she had pulled from old garments. It was a machine that had the “pedal” to the right of the knee, not on the floor, thank goodness or I would have had to wait until I was 12 to start sewing!

For many, many years I use to find the least expensive fabrics possible to whip up into clothing. I just wanted to churn out clothes. The fabric I used, the fit or even the type of garment I made really wasn’t important.

A few years back I stumbled into the world of sewing blogs – I was fascinated by them. One of my favourite finds was the blog Sallieoh. I did the normal stalker thing and read through everything I could find on her blog and I came across this post. It completely spoke to me. And it completely changed how I looked at my hobby, my art.

All this to say, I am now firmly rooted in the fabric snob category and I want to love wearing the fabric that I wear.

So, back to my girlfriend; she was on a trip to LA and visited the garment district. She also has a love of fine fabrics (this would be the friend that came for a visit) and spoiled me with 2 cuts of silk and a generous cut of bamboo jersey.

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I have a RTW top that I love to wear and thought would be a fantastic shape to showcase the fabric. Since it was precious fabric, I didn’t want to jump straight to cutting into it. I decided that instead of spending the time pulling a pattern from my perfect fitting top, I would go the easier route and buy a pattern. I hunted around and finally landed on McCall’s 6927. So I grabbed some silk blend stash fabric (purchased at a great price) and got to work. It was a disaster. The head of the shoulder would.not.fit. I ended up taking most of it apart (french seams and all) and re-cutting the sleeve head down.

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Back together it went but it wasn’t quite perfect. Enter fabric number 2. Stash fabric, but again the fit was just off.

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Finally I decided that the best course of action was to pull a pattern from the RTW shirt I loved. Now by this point I was determined to get the fit exactly the way I wanted and was not going to cut into my silk until it was spot on. This time I went to my scrap bin and found some floral poly silky fabric and set to work. The fit was spot on.

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And then it was time, time to cut into the precious yardage and voila.

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Let me tell you, I have nothing but bitty pieces of scraps left of this fabric.

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Have you ever had a vision of a garment in your head that you didn’t give up on? Did it turn out or did you end up with a wadder?

Jeans: Ginger is my number one

I did it – I made myself jeans! Well, I actually made myself two pairs of jeans (what a shocker right?! I had no idea prior to blogging how I make things in multiples!) with dreams of a few more pairs to come!

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These bad boys are the first pair I made for myself and have been in heavy rotation. They are View A of the Ginger Jeans that was created from the brilliant mind of Ms. Heather Lou. This first pair was a straight up size 8 – no alterations done.

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I ended up not even looking at the instructions as I found the sew-along that Heather posted so informative. If I’m being honest here, I actually followed her sew-along steps when sewing jeans for my husband (the first 2 pairs of jeans I sewed were for him) and it was far, far better than the instructions that came with his pattern.

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I decided on tone-on-tone top stitching for my first pair, and thankfully had my husband on hand to help with back pocket placement, and to mark a wedge of fabric that I wanted to remove. I ended up removing 5/8″ from the pattern (a total of 1 1/4″) at the top of the waistband tapering to nothing by the top of the back pockets pockets. I also didn’t take up the hem at all, so they are good with heels, and a little slouchy with flats, but don’t drag, which is what I like.

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I added a bit of colour to the outer edge of the back pockets of the jeans I made, just to put my own little spin on them, and the rivets and jeans button were from Taylor Tailor – Taylor was crazy quick at answering my questions and shipping out my goods, and I had a great time with the rivet insertion process. That being said, I certainly managed to mangle a few rivets before getting it just right.

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Version 2.0 went well and the fit is spot on. I decided on a dark gold top stitching thread to change things up a bit. Again, this is View A, the low rise version. Keep in mind that I have a very shallow rise, so these will likely sit lower on most people.

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I decided to change up the pockets on this version, and copied a pair of RTW Rock & Republic jeans that I own. The original pockets are great, but I love the way that these ones make my backside look.

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As you can see, still have the coloured thread on the back pocket, but decided to change up the colour a bit.

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Look it matches the zipper and pocket bags! The zipper was part of a Jeans kit from Thread Theory (you guys, these guys are the best – I have seriously never had such fantastic customer service before, ever).

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And the fabric for the pocket back is from Spool of Thread. This stuff was purchased over a year ago, so I’m not sure if they still have it in stock, but when I purchased this stuff, they also had it in about 3 other colourways.

Have you sewn your own jeans? What’s your favourite pattern? Do you add any fun details to make them “your own”?

Woven maxi dresses: love or want to love

I do love wearing a good knit maxi dress in the summer. I work from home, and sometimes popping on a long knit dress is exactly what I want to feel pulled together enough to pop out when needed, but still comfy enough that it’s great to work in.

Since I loved my knit maxi dresses I figured I would also love woven maxi dresses and proceeded to make not one, but you guessed it, two of the Simplicity 1801 View C.

I took a lot of volume out of the skirt portion; around 10 inches at the waist if I remember correctly and I find that it is still full enough to have a good swish factor.

This first fabric I made the dress up in was a 100% rayon printed panel fabric. It is fully lined in 100% rayon bemberg, with the skirt portion just lined to the knee – it gets rather hot here in the summer and I wanted to be sure I had maximum breeze-ability. I had fun with print placement, but I did over fit the dress in the midsection – I ended up going back in after wearing it a few times and let out the side seam as much as I dared.

The photo above was taken on a trip to Puerto Escondido with my husband and another couple we are super close with. This is after I let out the side seam a bit – still tight, but wearable for a dinner. Incidentally I also made my husbands shirt. It’s a Negroni by Colette Patterns

After version one was finished, I moved directly onto version 2.0 – made up with a poly cotton blend fabric that my grandmother picked up during her travels in the early 1980’s. The fabric had the most amazing border print that I just had to use, but had been saving for years until I found just the right pattern to showcase how marvelous this fabric is.

Version 2.0 is not as tight in the mid-section (thank goodness!) but I realized shortly after making it that I have a hard time wearing a floor length white dress, even if it is summer casual with a great border print. Version 2.0 is also fully lined, with a knee length lining for the skirt.

What about you? Are you a floor length white dress kinda gal? Or a floor length dress fan?

Visits

I don’t have many friends in real life that sew. Most of my friends are unbelievably flattering about what I make, but none of them sew themselves. I do have one girlfriend that I have gifted a few items of clothing to. She and I like to talk fashion, almost always over wine (a nice bold red please – maybe a Cali red blend or a nice full Okanagan Cab Sav), and have a great time shopping with each other and for each other.

She mentioned in passing an interest in learning how to do some sewing one time and I pounced! I did a bit of looking around and decided that the perfect place to start would be with a Colette Patterns Moneta. It’s an easy to make knit dress that is very forgiving in fit and precise sewing. She made a plan to come and visit and we spent a good portion of the weekend drinking wine and perfecting the fit of the dress for her.

I made dress #1 which was the grey poly blend knit, she sewed a good portion of #2, the blue and white dot dress and then I finished it up with dress #3, the black and birds dress. Dress #3 fits the best, as is expected when you sew and tweak a pattern.

The weekend was lovely, though I’m not sure that she will be signing up to sew all her own clothes anytime soon. I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to share my sewing experience with someone else. I hope we get a chance to repeat the weekend in the near future. Though after rapid fire sewing of 3 Monetas in a row, I think I’m ready to move onto a different pattern for the next weekend adventure.

I didn’t realize I was such a pattern monogamist

I’m here once again to talk about another pattern that I have sewn. This skirt, New Look 6899, hasn’t been made all that many times, just 6 so far. But, in my defense, 4 of them went to other people!

The first few in a knit were made with an easy wide unenclosed elastic which means that it was a 2 seam, one elastic and a hem jobby that was very quick to produce. These were made up with mystery knits and I really don’t expect that will last all that long. More of a fast fashion fix.

I had been hankering for a relatively uninvolved sew, and I really wanted a new little flippy skirt in a grey. I really do love grey – such an east colour (tone?) to wear. With that in mind I looked at my stash and found some perfect grey, but it was a knit. I could have done up a quick skirt, but the fabric screamed just a smidge more class than an exposed elastic waistband, so I decided to just interface the hell outta it and see how holds up. That and a silky lining – I hate having my skirts stick to tights.

I enjoyed that skirt so much that I decided to have a go at a woven for me. I had a great turquoise silk for a lining and then picked up a perfect dotted chambray from Spool of Thread in Vancouver. They have a huge selection of quilting cottons and have been picking up more apparel fabrics as well.

Apparently I decide when I make a pattern, that if I’m going to spend the time to fit it properly, then I’m going to make it numerous times. Who knew??