Named Rene Maxi Skirt

Hola amigos! I am so excited to show you this fantastic skirt – the Named Rene maxi skirt, which I’ve long LONG adored, and which i bought immediately after they did the re-release of their first season on pdf.

Rene-maxi-skirt-linenprint-2

Named Rene maxi skirt in linen-viscose blend

This skirt has everything I love: firstly, it’s a maxi skirt, which I pretty much live in, in the summer. It’s a simple long line, slightly flared at the bottom, without too much fuss; has long vents up each side, is partially lined, and has a clean, semi-high waistband with zipper closure. I did not take pics of the zipper or the lining, sorry! LOL You’ll have to take my word, it’s a lovely style. The second I put it on, I was in love, and wore it straight away – that NEVER happens with new makes, for me – usually they need some time in the magic closet, as I’m kind of turned off by it by that point LOL.

Part of it obviously has to do with the wearability of this great pattern, but the other part is this fabulously bright fabric from Blackbird Fabrics – a gorgeous linen/viscose blend which is absolutely heaven to wear in hot hot weather: it’s soft and cool and flowing, just as a summer fabric should be. Sorry peeps, I bought it all – but they always have great prints in lovely fibers available :)

Here’s a little peek at how the vents show when the wind blows it around:

Named Rene maxi skirt - vent action!

Named Rene maxi skirt – vent action!

The pics here are taken the second time I wore it, when the weather hit 35 degrees Celcius just over a week ago – yuck!

The first time I wore it was the day I finished sewing it, and I wore it for a very special occasion: to go visit our NEW KITTENS!!! Yes, we are adopting two beautiful rescue kittens, and we are so excited! They are still too little to leave their foster mommy, and need to be spayed still before we can take them home, but the adoption date is scheduled for July 24th, just over a week :) We are counting down the days!

Happy Forest Kittens - Cricket & Katydid

Happy Forest Kittens – Cricket & Katydid

The little calico is named Cricket, and the sweet Siamese is named Katydid (or Katy for short). All four kittens in the litter were named after forest bugs/animals, since their mama is a forest feral – part of the TNR program in Langley (Trap-Neuter-Release: a program designed to reduce the feral animal population in the most gentle, humane and stress free manner possible). One of the toughest parts for them is trapping the pregnant moms, because they are understandably very skittish, and if they have their babies in the wild, the mama hides them, and many of them do not survive :( But luckily they were able to nab these babies’ mama while she was still pregnant, so the kittens could be born in safety. Mama has since been spayed and released back into her colony, and is living happily ever after :) These little ones will have a much more pampered life, but we know they’ll always have roots in the wild! ^__^

If you’re interested in learning more about the program, the website is www.tinykittens.com. There is a writeup on these kittens’ story, and you can watch them on Livestream :) There are also write-ups on all the past kittens that have been fostered in this program as well. They really do unbelievably amazing work, and so many little precious lives are saved because of all the wonderful work they do! :)


Oh la la – I made a bra!

Yes, the bra making adventures continue! :)

  
So after I made that first Watson bra, I adjusted the fit on the cups, ripped it apart & re-sewed. Probably should have just re-cut and re-made the whole thing from start to finish, just salvaging hardware, but now I know better ;)

Next, I made the Pin Up Girls Classic Bra, following the Craftsy course – it’s a fabulous course & taught me a whole bunch! :)

The fit was not ideal on my first draft. I was actually pretty upset at first because I thought I might need another cup size, which would mean I’d have to buy a new pattern, but the lovely and wise Beverly suggested I might just need a little extra added to my upper cup so, just like you would with any other garment muslin, I cut a slice into my upper cup and bam!! I had a better fitting bra – it was pretty comical how my bust just kinda sprang into place with that little extra room lol. The wedge I added to the pattern is pretty big – 1.25″ – and I haven’t sewn it up yet but when I do I’ll share my findings :)

Next I decided to try the Orange Marlborough Bra. I love the style and had a kit from Merckwardigh I was willing to sacrifice for a test run lol. The lace is a stretch lace, white with black detail, so I decided to play with this by lining the lower cup, bridge & frame in white, the power band in black, and leaving the upper cup unlined. You can see the contrast better from the inside but the subtle contrast is nicer on the outside.

  
  
I doubled up the lace for the band, and used the lace scallop as the bottom trim on the back band, but finished the frame at the bottom in band elastic as normal. I also had to cut the width at the back band down quite a bit to fit the 2×3 closure on.

I would probably prefer the feel of the band being in powernet next time but otherwise, I love the way it looks and feels! :)

  
I was thrilled that the bra fit and looks great on without adjustment so I bar tacked the underwire casing closed and sewed on a pretty jewel at the center. Will DEFINITELY be making this beauty again!! :) 


NL 6096 & Shiseido Event

Recently, I entered to win an invitation to a VIP event in Vancouver, presented by Shiseido Canada in partnership with renowned beauty expert Dave Lackie and celebrity makeup artist, Nina Westbury. When I  learned I was one of the lucky recipients, I could hardly believe my luck! Back in the day, when I was a makeup artist myself, I would attend product launch events sometimes (and loved them!), so it was a really lovely treat to be able to meet these wonderful people in person and participate in an evening celebrating beauty once again :)

As the event was hosted in a lovely candlelit room, my pics are a bit grainy, but I wanted to share them anyway as I think they will get the point across, and you’ll forgive the image quality, right? ;)

I had never been overly familiar with Shiseido products, but my perception was that they had quite a good reputation for quality, and I was not wrong. They place a lot of focus on research and technology, employing over 1000 scientists purely for the field of research into skin care breakthroughs, and even have their own wing at Harvard.

lovely packaging for a lovely product

lovely packaging for a lovely product – Shiseido Ultimune

The event was held at a hotel downtown Vancouver and the care and attention put into the decor and presentation was impressive :)

florals

Raspberry flavoured champagne and peonies by candlelight :)

The gorgeous table settings and room atmosphere

I was fortunate after the event was over, to have the opportunity to chat one on one with the hosts – all absolutely LOVELY people and so generous with their time, taking a moment for everyone who wanted to talk :)

portrait-collage

Me getting to meet some of the loveliest people in the beauty industry! Clockwise from top: Elaine Shigeishi, Shiseido Vice President; Dave Lackey, beauty editor, and Nina Westbury, makeup artist

swag

Sweet, sweet loot!! A swag bag for everyone attending, including eye shadow palette, mascara, eye makeup remover, eyelash curler, and a generous sample size of the new Ultimune Eye. We also received a lipgloss, which has already replaced my previous favourite and taken up permanent residence in my purse LOL.

And for anyone who is interested in what I wore, I made New Look 6096 in a lovely cotton eyelet from Blackbird Fabrics. It was a pretty quick make, but because of the construction method, you really can’t check the fit until it’s done. The top of the bodice and waistband use elastic for fitting, but there is SO MUCH EASE built in that the fabric poofed out quite a bit, between the waist and the bodice top edge. I pinched out a 2″ wedge on each side and sewed it down, elastic and all LOL. Thank goodness my machine is a beast, and can handle half an inch of layers! It’s not perfect, but makes the dress wearable, and I think it works well enough. Obviously, were I to make it again, I would adjust the flat pattern considerably to ensure a better fit.

The bodice instructions call for the fabric to be self-lined but because I was using eyelet as my main, I used a cotton batiste to back it (which I was going to do anyway LOL). In addition, I drafted a short lining for the skirt bit, because, eyelet LOL. I left the lining short enough to allow for several inches at the bottom where the eyelet could shine on its own.


NL6096-1

All in all, a pretty wonderful evening was had – I met some great people, had an excuse to make a cute new dress, and I am looking forward to trying all the new products!! :D


My first Me Made May – a brief recap

I know there are mixed feelings out there about Me Made May, but I was kind of excited to participate in it for the first time this year, because this is the first year I’ve felt like I actually have enough self made garments to make it plausible.

That said, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do daily photos, but since the point of MMM is not necessarily to share your daily outfits, but to challenge yourself and learn something, I did want to find a way to make it worthwhile. So I decided to keep a journal, noting what I wore, and what (if any) lessons I learned along the way.

The lessons I learned were interesting. Early on I realized I wasn’t going to be able to put together an interesting variety of cute outfits like many bloggers do. I simply don’t make certain aspects of my wardrobe. Like t-shirts. I wear them all the time, with everything, but I don’t make them. Why? It begged the question: is having self-made items the important part for me?

The honest answer is that I didn’t get into sewing because making is the important part. I got into sewing because first and foremost, I was tired of never being able to feel good in my clothes. I could never find anything that fit me properly, in fabrics and styles that felt like me. I also make for the joy of learning, and I’ve found myself being stuck in a bit of a planning rut at times, following a list I made instead of making what feels right. I’ve begun to change that, and follow my instincts instead, which is working out quite well :)

Ultimately, knowing it’s handmade is a bonus for me, not the main goal, so if areas of my wardrobe are not covered, it’s not a big deal (ie: tees, workout wear, lounge wear, bras & undies). That said, with thought and attention, I’m beginning to notice where these “missing” areas could use improvement, i.e.: the length in my pj pants (which, like trousers, in RTW, are always at least 3″ too short LOL)

I had pledged to wear at least one self made item per day. Except for two days in the beginning, I was able to achieve this. That said, there were a LOT of repeats. I mean, a LOT. As in, if it wasn’t for those PJ’s I made, I would have only made it about half the time. The rest of the time saw me choosing comfortable, easy basics and separates most of the time. Other than my PJ’s I wore my Alexandria trousers to death (I even inspired a woman at the fabric store to make a similar pair!! LOL)

Inspired for my obvious need for easy-to-wear basics, I also managed to sew a couple new things while I was over-wearing my favourites LOL. I made a pair of black linen trousers (unblogged), a white acetate cami (self drafted, shown below) and another Mission Maxi from some delicious bamboo knit (my beloved black one needs a break after being over-worn every summer for the past three years LOL.)

Mission Maxi in stripy bamboo jersey

Mission Maxi in stripy bamboo jersey

stripe matching win! not so easy in jersey :P

stripe matching (almost) win! Not so easy in jersey :P

self-drafted cami in white acetate

self-drafted cami in white acetate

getting better at the narrow hem!

getting better at the narrow hem!

So I feel like it was worth my while to participate in Me Made May. It challenged me to put some extra thought into why I make things, and what I should focus my attention (and precious time) on, going forward. I have also learned to let go of my very rigid and structured way of planning things, and allow myself to make what I FEEL like making, because ultimately, those are the things I enjoy both making AND wearing… and really, in the end, if it’s not enjoyable, what’s the point? :)


Black Sheep PJ’s for Mum’s Day

My beautiful mum loves sheep, and she has always said she is the black sheep of her family… and while our family was considerably smaller, I grew up feeling the same way. My mum taught me it was ok to be different, and sometimes even a good thing; as long as your values are solid, which because of her, they are :)

So for Mother’s Day this year I was inspired by this fabric from Blackbird – it’s a Japanese cotton with little sheeps all over it – I thought, what if I made her some pj pants, and coloured in just one little sheep to represent her black sheep persona? :)

And what if, I made myself a matching pair so we could be black sheep together as mum and daughter?

So with this idea germinated I went forth and did just that :)

(pic of me in mine… no pic of mummy in hers, but she was pleased with them nonetheless)

sheeps

Closeup of the two black sheeps:

black sheep

I did some test sheep first, to decide what medium to use to colour them in, and did a wash test to determine which would wash the best. I chose to use acrylic because it gave a kind of wooly look once it had been washed:

washed-sheep

And just because it’s been a trend lately, I’ll include another pic of Lola:

lola-in-a-box


It’s Elementary, My Dear

So no big deal, I just sewed a bra & stuff ;)

  

Yes, this is the oh-so famous Watson by Amy of Cloth Habit :)

Because of my love of corsetry, I have been tempted to try sewing lingerie for awhile but nothing has motivated me enough to actually DO it (I hate sewing knits lol) until I saw this pattern. They just don’t make soft cup bras for large cup sizes, so I was really intrigued to see how the fit & support worked; at least for lounge purposes.

According to pattern I’m a 36F, but there were no pattern pieces for that so since my RTW size is 36DD I cut a 36E.

It is still a little big: there are some vertical drag lines at the top of the cup (which you can see more on me than on Patience); a little gaping under the arm & the top of the cup sits a little too high: all indications I need to go down a size, according to the sewalong – so next time I’ll try a 36D.

Construction was pretty straightforward: the instructions are thorough, illustrations were spot on, and really clear & helpful. However (as a noob) I was still a bit confused on the strap construction. My straps ended up too long, for one thing: there is a guideline for length at the beginning but no provision for adjusting later if you’re like me & do something wrong lol: I inserted it through the slider wrong like a dope, so I just went back & fixed it after I smartened up ;)

Also, the outside gives a nice finish with the topstitching but there is no accommodation for inside seam finishing in the pattern so my insides look a bit messy; no biggie but I might serge my edges before construction next time.

As a side note, I later discovered quite a bit of extra info was all covered in excellent detail on the sewalong including fit adjustments & more details on construction. Very helpful & answered some of my lingering questions after I’d finished :)

I did find when attaching the cups to the cradle that I had 1 cm extra on the cups at the side seams; I ripped out & inserted the first cup twice, ensured the center notches were matched, and I still had this on both sides so not sure if the pattern has an error? I trimmed them off flush with the band & it worked fine :)

The nitty gritty: it’s comfortable – much more so than an underwire bra lol. Support for large cup size is not bad! – definitely less than what an underwire bra gives, but more than braless lol; it gives a more natural silhouette – kind of “support lite” – definitely nice for lounging & looks seamless under tshirts.

The back sits quite low and the front is a nice deep V, which i quite like; would be great option for a lower cut dress in front or back; something I’ve never even considered as a larger cup size since the only other option is braless and that’s not an option at all lol.

One last thing: my supplies ;) I want to shout out to Caroline from Blackbird Fabrics – I purchased one of her kits to make this one & not only was it lovely & of great quality, she is just a peach to deal with :) I love being able to support a local company and my credit card hasn’t cooled off since my first purchase there lol ;)

In conclusion: my first foray into bra making was pretty successful! I learned a lot and am looking forward to perfecting my fit (I’ve started critiquing my RTW bra fit now too lol) :) I also really loved that it was so space friendly: tiny pieces mean less fabric consumption too, and there was still enough room for Lola to share my sewing table ^_^ 

  


Named Alexandria Pants (and shorts!)

Further to my adventures with skinny jeans, I decided it was time to explore the non-bootcut style trouser in a new way :) Enter Named’s Alexandria Trousers/Shorts – a pattern I fell in love with immediately and had to bump to the top of the queue.

The first version of these I made from a mystery fabric in my stash, what I thought was perhaps a linen. It frayed like the dickens and pressed well, so I was probably not far off LOL.

Alexandria-detail

(Here you can see the cool pleats that fold over the side pockets. Those are SO MUCH FUN to sew, and they give the garment movement and visual interest that I absolutely love.)

They turned out PERFECTLY except for some tightness in the calf (which I should have anticipated after the same thing with my Jamie jeans), alas, the first time I wore these, I knelt down to grab some shoes from the closet and RIIIIIPPPPPPP – out blew my right knee. (the pants knee, that is LOL).

I was pretty shocked, to say the least! We were on our way to do groceries so I figured, ok, I’ll wear them out for that, and then cut them into shorts when I get home, because it was probably the calf tightness that did it. But nope, shortly after I first sat down, RIIIIIPPPPPP – out blew the butt. Seriously LOL. THE BUTT. So serious, guys. I was super upset at the time, because I put a lot of work into finishing all the seams neatly, and pressing the pleats perfectly, but even though it’s a shame, it’s pretty funny now thinking about that fabric just blowing up on me LOL ^_^

So I took the opportunity to add some width to the lower part of the flat pattern, from the knee down; about 1.25″ tapering to 0 at the knee. And then I made the most comfortable, stylish black pants anyone has ever made, ever. Ok maybe not anyone, maybe just me :P

Alexandria-black_pants

These are made from a lovely black rayon which is wonderful to wear, but was a pain to cut and sew. I admit, I was still traumatized over the amazing exploding pants, so I didn’t take as much care as I should have, and I partly botched the waistband, in true Amanda style, and wound up with a narrower waistband than called for, so I omitted the waistband ties, which is fine – I’ve been wearing them as a dressy-casual pant like in the above photo, or with socks and heels when it’s raining, which is always these days ^_^

I also made the shorts version, in a blush pink rayon, which I haven’t had the opportunity to wear yet, as our weather has been pretty unpredictable, and not quite shorts-time. Also hence the grainy indoor pics – I continue to lament my lack of a decent photography spot…. it’s really appalling.

Lola wants them because they match her nose ^_^
Lola wants them because they match her nose ^_^

Will I make these again? Damn straight – probably the next time I spy a fun print in a lovely drapey fabric – and since I wear the black ones all the time (ALL the time) I’m guessing I’ll probably have to make another pair of those too ^_^ :D


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