Monthly Archives: December 2012

SWAP Fall/Winter update

Back at the end of September I posted a pretty lofty sewing plan for fall/winter, especially considering fall was well underway! lol

My initial plan was as follows:

••• black linen dress pants
••• blue Anise jacket
••• navy print Jasmine
••• red Renfrew
••• navy wool skirt or shorts
••• vintage gray shirt dress

Of those six pieces I’ve completed three, but I also added in a silk dress for Christmas, a dress shirt for my man, and yoga pants. So the number of projects is on track but I’ve still got a ways to go to finish my initial plan.

There was a second part of that plan involving another six garments for winter but I think that will require some revamping now. I think five per season is a more realistic base, and allows more time for muslins & test garments.

So I removed the wool shorts & added them to my Spring plan instead, for starters. Then taking the two remaining pieces on my fall plan and adding three from my winter plan, this is my new updated Winter SWAP:

••• navy print Jasmine
••• red Renfrew
••• self-drafted wool pencil skirt
••• navy cigarette pants
••• red cardigan

I chose the most practical items from my winter plan to add. I’m dying to make the Tiramisu dress but I’m gonna be strong and add that to my spring plan instead, which is already in the works!! (wait til you see my colour palette!!)

LOL so many ideas… so little time!

One thing I’ve come to realize is I’ve improved my productivity; at the beginning of the year I was lucky to make one thing every month or two – now it’s an average of two per month!! Much better! 🙂

I’ve also learned that I need to plan in shorter sections to allow for seasonal needs (like Christmas), test garments, and extra necessities (like comfy clothes and maybe lingerie!)

I’m definitely still learning, but I can see progress and that’s pretty awesome! ^__^

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McCall’s 4261: The Perfect Distraction Pants

So in order to keep the secret that I was making a shirt for my man for Christmas, I had to be working on something else so he wouldn’t wonder why I wasn’t sewing. (The sewing equivalent of ‘sleight of hand’ lol)

I had recently tossed a couple pairs of old ratty yoga pants; well loved but finally dead, as I wear them CONSTANTLY when I’m at home, so I decided to replace them.

Enter McCalls 4261. Everything about this pattern was awesome. First of all, three words:
ONE PATTERN PIECE.

Secondly, the fit and style are perfect, no alterations needed. I made a straight medium. The only change I made was to use ribbon for the ties instead of cord; I like that little touch of girly-ness ^_^

Thirdly, it was an incredibly fast make; even faster with a serger. This was great because the shirt was really time consuming and it allowed me to do one step a day without adding too much to my schedule.

I made a pair of shorts as kind of a muslin from a scrap of white cotton stretch knit I had on hand. I just estimated the length, as the pattern has cut lines for capri length and pants but not shorts. I sewed double seams, as called for in the pattern on these. I didn’t bother to hem them though 😛

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I loved the fit so I went straight to the pants, sewing all seams but the hem & waistband on my serger. I used a poly-rayon jersey which is so soft and cosy 🙂

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Believe me, I will be making these again and again!! The pattern also includes a hoodie, tshirt, workout bra and skirt, which will ALL be sewed up eventually! I’m sure I’ll need other distraction projects in the future, not to mention great workout/lounge gear 🙂


Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap

So this Christmas, I participated in the Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap hosted by Vicki Kate Makes, and was partnered with the lovely and talented Andrea of Stitch Parade 🙂 It was so great getting to know her and I’m really looking forward to getting together with her after the holidays for my first blogger meetup! ^_^

It was super fun shopping for a fellow sewist, and really exciting knowing I had a fabric gift under the tree! 🙂

Andrea sent me a beautiful length of dark red Italian wool which I have so many ideas for!! She also sent two of her very finely crafted creations: a travel tissue holder and change purse. Beautiful!! I used the purse today (on my annual boxing day trip to Opus for good deals on art supplies), and received a lovely compliment on it ^_^

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Thank you Andrea! And thank you Vicki for hosting the swap; it was a blast!! 🙂


Christmas Sewing & Gifting

This Christmas saw me making my first unselfish sewing project! I chose Burda 7359; a shirt for my man. It was my first, not because I’m selfish (lol) but because I wasn’t confident enough with my sewing skills to make something for someone I love.

But after many gentle & sincere pleas from my beloved for a shirt made just for him, I couldn’t resist any longer and decided to surprise him with one for Christmas 🙂 I selected the pattern because of the dressy casual style, which he favours, and the fabric because of the colours and the fact he loves plaid. I used a contrasting dark blue thread and buttons to enhance the light blue in the pattern and to show the topstitching more clearly.

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(hehe… Christmas morning; he’s not fully awake yet!)

Dontcha love it with the clashing plaid pj’s? lol

I have to say… this was the most challenging and time consuming project I’ve done yet: aside from the Bombshell dress, that is! ^_^ Cuff plackets, in particular, were a pretty big learning curve for me!

FYI, that’s a fabric quirk there on the sleeve placket – that looks like a stray white thread… this fabric has character! lol

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I will make this again for my man but probably not in plaid because it’s just too tough to get all the seams pattern matched. There’s a yoke, two piece collar, front and cuff plackets, etc, and flat felled seams on everything. That being said, I like the way it looks on him – you don’t notice the non-matched areas, and it does match better than a LOT of his RTW garments! 😉

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He wore it all day Christmas day and it wound up here:

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… which is where all his favourites wind up lol. I take that as a good sign 😛


Hart’s Fabric Shopping Spree!

As some of you may know, Hart’s Fabric has been generously supporting the Sew Colette sewalongs, hosted by three of our favourite bloggers: Erin of Miss Crayola Creepy; Sarah of Rhinestones & Telephones, and Rochelle of Lucky Lucille 🙂

For the Peony sewalong I was the very lucky winner of the $100 Hart’s Fabric gift certificate; and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how supremely giddy I became upon finding out I’d won!! 🙂

Having recently lost my job, fabric shopping has become more or less nonexistent for me, except for my (perhaps bizarre?) habit of filling up shopping carts on my favourite sites and not clicking ‘submit order’ lol. Kind of like virtual window shopping 😉 I’ve been doing ok sewing through my little stash but this lovely surprise couldn’t have come at a more welcome time 🙂

Where I live, the only fabrics that are tough for me to find locally are silks (my favourite!!!) and knits. So I decided that would be what I’d spend my gift on 🙂 Hart’s has an amazing selection of both, and there are a few I’ve eyeballed for awhile so it was lovely getting to finally click ‘submit order’!! 🙂

I really love how the online swatches are folds of the fabric so you can see how the light hits the colour; plus you get a much better idea of drape than you can with a flat swatch. The descriptions are thorough and very helpful as well 🙂

The customer service was amazing! Both Amy and Alexis were so helpful and friendly!! They were out of one of the fabrics I ordered so Alexis called me directly and she was awesome – she helped me pick out a replacement and I’m really excited to sew with it! 🙂 They also very kindly arranged to have my order shipped via USPS, because as any Canadian who shops online knows, UPS gouges you on the brokerage fees, and that plus shipping costs is the main reason I don’t shop online nearly as much as I’d like…. but now I guarantee I’ll be back to Hart’s for sure !!! 🙂

Without further ado, here is what I selected:

2 y crimson silk habutai:

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2 y. charcoal silk voile:

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2 y. copper silk cotton sateen (I’ve been drooling over this for a long while and I almost wept when I saw it in person… it’s SO beautiful!!):

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and last but not least, a beautiful plum bamboo knit – I was going to get the dark plum, but they were out, so Alexis helped me pick this one! I’m gonna make a Tiramisu dress out of it! 🙂

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(all images are from Hart’s Fabric and I’ve linked each fabric description to the appropriate page on their site ^_^)

Thanks again to Amy and Alexis at Hart’s Fabric, and to Sarah, Rochelle, and Erin for hosting Sew Colette – can’t wait to see what we’ll be making next year! ^_^


The Starsky Dress

The Starsky Dress – Simplicity 2406 Cynthia Rowley (View C)

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(me & the mister at my Christmas party; sorry for the shit quality; we didn’t get any pics of our own so I grabbed a screen cap of this one from the slide show)

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Firstly I’d like to explain the name of this dress. During its construction I tragically lost my beloved best friend & fuzzy angel, Starsky. He happened to be in cat form but he was one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever had the joy of knowing. I was blessed with him in my life for eight years and my life will never be the same without him. In my grief, I only had the strength to finish this dress by deciding to do it in his memory. It’s made of silk: soft, and precious, like him.

This was my first project using an expensive fabric, so I decided to make a full wearable muslin as practice before cutting into my beautiful silk crepe.

The dress has no waist seam or darts, thus no shaping, except for the sash. However I still need to do an FBA even on loose styles like this, because my upper chest is much smaller than my bust, so to get a good fit there, I cut a 14, grading to a 16@ the hip, and did a 1″ FBA, adding bust darts.

It’s a great pattern; well drafted, simple construction, and great fit.

The instructions were fine, though I only followed them loosely, due to replacing the facing with bias tape. Also, as others have mentioned, the pocket instructions are odd; I did not include pockets on the final dress but for the muslin, I followed the Reader’s Digest Sewing Book instructions.

On the muslin, i sewed the back shut, omitted facings, and finished the neckline with bias binding.

Even still, it was really hard for me to cut into this silk. I second, third, and fourth guessed myself so many times! I have a real problem with that if I love a fabric – it’s hard to give it up and decide on just one thing to make out of it.

I angled the bust darts up, and made the sash longer for the ‘real’ version in silk crepe. I did French seams, and I also left the back open on this one, omitted the pockets, and replaced the facings with self bias tape.

(please excuse the wrinkles & crappy pics; I shot these hastily after it was worn – I haven’t had the heart to press it & wear it again just yet)

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I will definitely make this pattern again; I love the cold shoulder sleeves and the sleeveless version for more summery weather – but this particular dress will remain ever Starsky’s.

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Colette Anise: My First Jacket!

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Yeah!! I made a jacket!! I’m a real sewist now! Lol

First off, thank goodness for my stash, even as meager as it is! after losing my job, my fabric budget is pretty much nil, so I was only able to make the Anise with stuff I already had 🙂

The outer fabric came from the haul of remnants I scored from the OSF sale I blogged about (here). I wasn’t sure if I’d have enough so I cut the collar last in case I had to omit it. I was so happy it turned out I did, I BARELY had enough & was able to just squeak out every piece. Good thing too; it’s getting colder here & I wanted both the collar and the longer sleeves.

The underlining is cotton batiste, also from OSF.

The lining is rayon bemberg, from my stash.

This project required lot of cutting! My fabric was so hard to cut I needed two hands, even using my best scissors, so I switched to my rotary and it went smoothly from there.

Hand basting the underlining was a slow process as well, so I did it in two stages.

I’ve never sewed this many layers of thick fabric at once; sewing was interesting but my old sewing machine is a super trooper & handled it with ease. The really thick parts, I hand cranked lol. The only tricky bit was the button holes; I’ll probably hand sew them next time, as I had to do them freehand due to the thickness of the fabric making my buttonhole foot useless.

I know this is a swing jacket but I knew if I didn’t do an FBA and add a bust dart, this style would be super unflattering on me. So I did the muslin & was pleased to see that even with the addition of darts, on me, the jacket was the shape it was supposed to be without them.

I made an 8 with a 2″ FBA. The only other adjustment I made was to lengthen the sleeves. The fit of the final jacket is looser in areas than I expected but I’ve also been losing weight so that could be partly why.

Thanks to Sarai’s informative posts for the sewalong (which I followed after the actual sewalong was over lol), I learned about turn of cloth in making the collar. I also did my first welt pockets, and my first full lining!!

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<img src="https://symondezyn.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/20121203-131324.jpg" alt="20121203-131324.jpg"

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As jackets/coats are pretty much my favourite garment type, I am excited to have finished my first one, and I will DEFINITELY be making many more

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Please excuse my wrinkled disheveled look – I promise you, my collar lies flat and it’s smooth and even; this is just me, tired after a crazy morning of shopping! lol