Category Archives: Sewing

Wadders

I was planning on posting a previously finished project this week but instead I decided to talk about a more recent failure – a stinky old wadder.

It happens – you spend hours on something that just doesn’t work out in the end… and regardless of how you try and reassure yourself that it was good experience or whatever, it still sucks, and for me, saps my motivation for a time.

In this case the problem was that I sewed too many times while hungry & tired and thus, dumb mistakes were made over & over, resulting in frayed and destroyed seam edges too far beyond the hope of salvation.

Finally, in disgust, I threw the whole damn thing away.

Yes, I will make this pattern again out of a different fabric, but there wasn’t enough left to salvage of this one, and I’m still slightly pissy over the hours & fabric wasted.

So I’m taking a sulky break from sewing for a little bit – but hopefully I can get my mojo back soon, and if not, I have that finished project waiting to be blogged still, so at least that’s something 🙂


Pants!!

… or trousers, depending on who you are 😉

So far this year my making has primarily consisted of something I’ve previously more or less untried in: pants! 🙂 I am LOVING making pants!!! I’m really behind in my blogging so I’m catching up today by showing you three pairs, which I made between November of last year, and February of this year.

Pants are what I wear most often to work (and play) 3 seasons of the year and one of the things I despise shopping for most, because it’s super hard for me to find a good fit in a style I like, in fabric that’s quality, or even partially natural fibers. I end up spending WAY too much money on one semi-decent fitting pair that I subsequently wear to absolute shreds, and this is where I’ve been stuck for some time.

SO! Sewing & fitting skills to work!

The one futile attempt I made  previously (a couple years ago) met with sad failure due to my lack of experience and understanding, but this time, I was determined to make a decent fitting pair of trousers.

I decided on a Burda pattern based on Anne’s glowing reviews and numerous wonderful pairs, and with some tweaking and fiddling (and a LOT of head scratching at those instructions!) I managed to eke out a couple muslins, the last of which produced a fit I was really happy with.

I then took that tweaked pattern and some trouser weight wool I had in my stash and went to work. End result? Slightly askew waistband & messy welts aside, I have a pair of black wool dress trousers I absolutely love – the fit is awesome and I am truly proud of my fly insertion 🙂 As my mum (wisely) said, if the fit is good, the rest will come in time 🙂 (practice DOES make perfect after all!)

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So I was hooked!! Next came my Holly jumpsuit. Armed with my new knowledge, I had little trouble fitting this one, and was pleased with the outcome. So much so I decided to make a pair of trousers from the pattern. However, I prefer my trousers to sit lower on my waist/hip so I slashed off 4.5″ from the top of each pants piece, then drafted a 1.5″ 2-piece waistband based on the top part (folding out the darts and adding seam allowance, and an overlap of course)

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I did not use instructions for this one as most of it was invented by me anyway – instead I constructed them how it made sense to me, and when it came to the zipper I used a regular zip with a lapped installation, placing the lap from front to back as I thought it would be more flattering. Waistband and zipper turned out great, and the dropped waist was exactly what I was aiming for! Second win!! 🙂

I was getting pretty excited by this point – I mean never in my life have I had pants that fit this well – and in lovely wool no less – I was in heaven!

So it was time to test my mettle on a new animal – the skinny jean.

Friends, I’ll be honest – I am a boot cut gal through & through but I’ve been informed that’s not “cool” anymore lol (not that that’ll stop me) but if I was gonna go there, there was NO WAY I was going to attempt squeezing into a pair of skinny jeans in a public changing room; the only way it was happening was on MY terms!

Enter the Named Jamie jeans!! (already blogged here but forgot to add some construction/process details so I’ll g on a little more LOL) What a fun project! I was tempted by all the fun jeans threads but since my chosen denim was a soft, sleek black, I opted for a charcoal topstitching thread instead, for a subtler look. Also the only 4″ zipper had an ugly pull so I bought the next size up & resolved to find a way to shorten it. (yes, I’m particular lol)

I executed the exact same flat pattern adjustments I made on the previous 2 pairs, and made a quick muslin of the top part from a test stretch fabric before proceeding.

Putting both my machines to work made the construction process a cinch – the body of the jeans were done in one afternoon, as I used one machine for construction and the other for topstitching.

A quick try-on prior to fly installation revealed that the legs of these were VERY tight – luckily my denim was pretty forgiving – should have realized I would need to adjust for my massive muscular calves haha. Will definitely adjust next time lol and as Mrs M has pointed out, I may also need a thigh adjustment as well 🙂

Cons: Slightly wonky waistband – totally my fault (seriously, what is my problem with waistbands, anyway?) and an evil buttonhole; my machine was NOT cooperating with the buttonhole on the stretch fabric!
Pros: I made JEANS!!! Of the skinny variety! And they fit, are comfy and I love them!!

Next up on the roster was a pattern I’ve been itching to try out for some time: Vogue 1051. I love all the details of this pattern: the lower rise and wide waistband, the welt seam pocket in front and the welt with button closure in back. After making the (now) usual pattern adjustments I squawked out a quick shorts muslin & bravely (arrogantly?) proceeded to move on to the real deal. I say bravely because for these I had a special piece of fabric in mind: a lovely red Italian wool gifted to me by Andrea of Stitch Parade for the Christmas swap a couple (few?) years ago. I’ve been saving it until my skills were a bit better and I’m glad I did; I love these trousers, and I even eked out just enough for a bonus skirt!! (coming soon! LOL)

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The construction was a bit more challenging than my previous pairs but I think I am getting better each time 🙂 I did have to unpick a couple times on the back pockets because I did a few upside down things lol, and ONCE AGAIN the waistband was a problem but not as bad as the black ones & I think I figured out why 🙂

And yet more trousers in the works but before that, a few more finished objects yet unblogged and coming soon, a HUGE project I’m finishing up now; my DREAM JACKET (or one of them… I love jackets!) and then (jumping on the most recent bandwagon) LINGERIE!


Named Jamie Jeans!!

Ok so let me start off by saying that there are two revelations in this post:

  1. I made jeans
  2. I am wearing skinny jeans for the FIRST TIME

I have been a boot cut girl for as long as I can remember and always thought that skinny jeans would give me the dreaded ice cream cone figure LOL. To my surprise, not only do they flatter the figure, but I love the way these feel AND look!!

(sorry for the poor photo quality; it was raining and I had a tough time getting full cooperation from my photographer LOL)

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Named Jamie Jeans – front view

 

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Named Jamie Jeans – back view

The pattern is awesome; especially being a first jeans attempt for me it was a great way to ease into the craft. I found the instructions very good, and the pdf pattern was easy to work with. I actually love that Named uses as little pages as possible. There is a bit of overlapping on some pattern pieces but the up side is you don’t have to match and tape as many pages, which means better accuracy overall.

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slanted front pockets, center front topstitching and jeans button and fly

I absolutely love the slanted front pockets. You can use a contrast fabric for a different detail but I wanted these to be a bit more dressy/subtle so I could wear them with a blouse or jacket to the office.

There is a lot of topstitching involved which I LOVE. I’m a weirdo – I adore topstitching and I do it all by eye, as I don’t have any special feet. I have a second machine so I loaded her up with the topstitching thread and was able to swap back and forth construction and topstitching without switching threads every five minutes. Bonus 🙂

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check out that yoke topstitching matching awesomeness – yeah!!

My fabric is a wonderful stretchy dark black cotton denim. It is a bit more dressy than a traditional blue jean, washes and wears beautifully, and was a dream to sew 🙂

Closeup front and back just for fun:

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I will DEFINITELY be making these again!!! I think I will give myself a bit more room in the calf area on the next version, as I have pretty beefy calf muscles LOL. I have a wonderful brocade that I think would look smashing in this style, for a bit of a dressy casual look 🙂


Vanamo in action!

Hi guys! I know I’ve been a bad blogger – I’ve been making but not photographing, which means there’s stuff to blog about but no point in blogging if there’s nothing so show, so – SORRRRRYYYY!!! ^_^

I did finally get the chance to wear the Vanamo skirt that I blogged about here – while it’s been fairly mild for winter (especially compared to the East coast!) it is still a little too chilly for sleeveless crop tops but I was able to successfully pair the skirt with tights, boots, and my favourite wardrobe staple – a black tee! LOL

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I’ll try and get some of my recent makes up soon! Stay warm everyone! 🙂


Blog Hop!

Hi All!

I was nominated A LONG TIME AGO by my lovely friend Janene of Oobop to participate in this little challenge whereby one answers some questions and then passes on the torch, so to speak.

Well I am REALLY behind in my blog reading apparently and so I’m very late to the party but I am no less determined to make up for it so here we go! ^__^

Q1. What are you currently working on?

Pants!! Lots of them!! I haven’t blogged any of them yet but it’s on my to-do list. I have so far made a pair of Burda trousers, a BHL Holly jumpsuit (blogged here) and a subsequent pair of Holly trousers (not blogged yet) as well as a pair of Named Jamie jeans – hurrah! Making pants is ENORMOUSLY satisfying. Even though I’m still nailing down the finishing details, I’ve been getting a pretty darn good fit on all accounts and as my mum says “the rest will come with practice”. Love that – it’s so true! I have been trying not to get caught up in the minutiae, and instead of beating myself up trying to get the details perfect, to just let myself learn naturally 🙂 It’s MUCH more fun that way!!

Q2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?

Work as in sewing? Or work as in work? LOL.

My sewing differs maybe in that while I used to follow sewalongs and pattern trends in the beginning (which really helped me learn), now that I feel more comfortable learning independently as well as confident in the skills I have learned, my focus has shifted more to creating wardrobe items that actually suit my taste and lifestyle. Much more satisfying, although it’s sometimes tough not to let myself be led astray with the latest patterns or trends – that said, I’ve made enough wadders following other people’s styles that it’s getting easier to remember that 😉

And as for my work, well as Janene mentioned, like her, I am a graphic designer and illustrator. I guess where I differ is that much of my work has been focused on packaging design and print, whereas many designers these days are heading to the more digital realm; websites and the like. I have done that, but my true love is ink on paper (or paint on canvas, as it were LOL) 🙂

Portrait of H.R.Giger and Li – watercolour and ink on illustration board

Package design for Western Family product line of teas. Illustration and packaging design for this and many other Western Family product lines by Amanda Russell, through 612 Creative.

Q3. Why do you write/create what you do?

I started this blog as an online journal of sorts – a place to record my creative endeavours. Over time it became rather sewing heavy, so I assume it is perceived as a sewing blog but I don’t hesitate to blog other creative projects if I get a mind to 🙂 I create what I do as a release from projects which are client-driven to projects which are ME-driven.

People often think that having a creative job must be a creative person’s dream come true, and it can be sometimes, but not in the way you might think. Success in graphic design is much more than being visually adept. You also have to be an amazing negotiator, communicator, and compromiser, and at the end of the day, because it is such a collaborative process, success can be measured only in part by (your own opinion of) the visual outcome. The result is that, as an artist, I am often left with a desire to create something that is 100% MY vision. On the other hand, there is often not much remaining of one’s creative energy at the end of the day for one’s own projects. So sewing kind of works for me in that it activates my analytical brain a bit more and tricks me into being creative even when I don’t feel like I have much creativity to give ^__^ (and knitting is just downright therapeutic)

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Q4. How does your writing/creative process work?

I take notes for myself along the way so I have something to refer to should I ever choose to revisit a process or pattern. Sometimes (usually with sewing projects) about halfway through, I begin drafting the blog post and then I refine it when I do the final draft. The worst part for me is taking photos – it’s really time consuming and tedious, but of course it is also the best part of READING a blog at the same time – nothing is more fun than seeing pretty pics breaking up those walls of text! LOL. This is where I feel my blog could use the most improvement. It is ironic, really, as I of course possess the skills to design, style and shoot professionally but I fall short when it comes to my own blog, partly due to limitations in my environment, but mainly due to lack of motivation because I actually really dislike being the subject in photos ^__^

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me and my man at a Vancouver Canucks hockey game – because hockey is what we do, and this is how I feel about having my picture taken LOL

 

 

I do not photoshop or enhance my images (even though I could, quite believably LOL). I do correct colour, contrast, cropping, etc, however I make a point to do that as little as possible. If I were a fashion blogger or I was marketing a product, the artistry of the photo would be more important, but for documenting a process like sewing, I believe it’s more important to show it simply.

My process for writing on other topics is different. I will usually get inspiration to write about something, with no warning, and I will just go for it. Generally these types of posts start off being written on my iPhone, edited and posted while I’m on the go.

As for nominations well, I’m not sure if these ladies have been stung by the blog hop bee yet but I’ll take a chance because each of them has inspired me through their blogs and their personalities:

Annabelle because she is one of the most generous and genuinely lovely people I know, and is inspiring both as a person and in what she makes 🙂

Andrea because she is incredibly inspiring and courageous in her creative endeavours and in life 🙂

Sallie because absolutely everything she makes looks like it leapt off the pages of a fashion magazine, and so does she… and her photos are gorgeous 🙂


Happy New Year Holly!!



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And here, my friends, is my TRUE holiday outfit – the By Hand London Holly jumpsuit. Continuing the tradition from last year with my Anna dress, the moment I laid eyes on this pattern, I was in LOOOOOVE!! I immediately purchased a good length of sumptuous navy blue silk duchesse which for once went right into use rather than lingering in my stash LOL. Holly did not let me down – like my beloved Anna, she was a joy to sew as well as to wear. I was suspicious of her wily ways at first, knowing full well I would have to make alterations to the pants bit, but she surprised me by fitting perfectly with just the slightest waist adjustment – beauty!!

I also did an FBA as per usual, and because I have to do a fairly big one, instead of rotating the extra bits into the cowl, as suggested, I chose to keep the bust dart. Super glad I did this, as it works well for me, and I would prefer not too much extra fabric draping around the girls.

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The only little thing I would do differently next time is to finish the whole bodice top the same as the front cowl – with a turn, press, turn and catch stitch. The pattern calls for a bias finish where the bias turns into the straps but a) I found this far too fiddly for my taste, and b) sorry, but a bias strip isn’t nearly wide enough a strap for my chest LOL. I would prefer it to be just a little wider, so I would draft and sew separate, slightly wider straps next time I make this.

Which there WILL be another time, in fact, I love the fit of the pants so much that I am going to be making a pair out of a lovely lightweight grey wool suiting. I am going to try and drop the waist and draft a new waistband though, as I prefer my trousers to sit below the waist. Will let you know how it goes.

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Speaking of trousers, I finished up my first real pair of wool trousers today and I absolutely LOOOOVE them – will get to posting those in the new year – in the mean time, Happy New Year’s everyone, and hope you all have a wonderful, safe evening!! (and pancakes for breakfast tomorrow of course! ^__^)


My first LBD!! (what the??? right?)

While working on my planned holiday outfit this year, I came to the realization that a) I might not get completed in time, and b) I wanted something more modest for my staff party than I had originally planned.

With just over a week to go, I knew I needed an easy TNT pattern & fabric from my stash to make this work. Inspired by Winnie’s lovely recent LBD, and realizing I was devoid of an LBD of my own (the horror!!) I decided to shamelessly copy her with my own (already altered) Laurel pattern & some embroidered border print silk-cotton I had been hoarding 🙂

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closeup of border hem - lovely embroidered silk cotton! :)

closeup of border hem – lovely embroidered silk cotton! 🙂

I just love this pattern – not much new to say on it as I’ve already done the fit adjustments before – all I did differently here was to shorten the sleeves.

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I’m still working on the original outfit I’d planned (in a sumptuous silk duchesse!!), but it’ll be for New Year’s; much more party and much less work appropriate! ^_^


Pinkness meets Vanamo!

Recognize this fabric?

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How bout now?
The Pinkness

Yes, that’s right – this is the FAMOUS fabric that the amazing Oonaballona used in her Pink challenge for Project Sewn!!! 🙂

When I found out was the lucky recipient of “The Pinkness” I knew wanted to make something really special & I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and planning the perfect project to both express my own style & do homage to the great Oona’s fabric at the same time 🙂

After careful consideration I chose the Vanamo as my pattern: I adore clean, classic designs that show off great fit & fabric and I felt it would be the perfect way to let the fabric sing, and still be a silhouette that reflects my personal style.

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I absolutely love the marriage of the clean, elegant design, and intricate textural brocade.

The fabric is a poly brocade from Mood; it has a great texture & colour, on both sides – I actually had a hard time deciding which side to use, but settled on the blue as I felt it would fit into my wardrobe better.

I am admittedly kinda fanatical about pressing, so as the fabric is polyester I knew it would be tough to get a good press but vital to a good result, so I researched pressing methods for poly & discovered vinegar water solution – I just sprayed it before pressing & it works a charm!

The downside of this lovely fabric is that it is SUPER fray-ey, so I serged every edge but the serged finish pulled away in some places so the insides are not perfect. Also the skirt insides are imperfect as post-sewing fit adjustments I made on the side seams (due to turn of cloth) meant that the facings no longer fit. Still, I’m very happy with the outside of the garment as I took extra care on the fit & finish.

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*** I apologize for the lack of modelled photos: my hairstylist has been off sick for several weeks & I desperately need a cut! Will update with modelled shots when I get them ^_^ ***

I love the pattern’s covered zip detail & clean finishing. I love the curved hem at the front of the skirt as well; it’s a beautiful detail that elevates the classic pencil skirt to the next level. The pattern is an excellent draft; just my regular FBA & waist adjustment was all I needed on the bodice; it fit perfectly across the upper back without adjustment, even with the stiff fabric.

I also love that Named’s printed patterns don’t include seam allowance; I much prefer thread tracing seams & adding my own SA (FYI the PDF versions do include it) – for me I find thread tracing both satisfying (like romancing my fabric before getting into the serious sewing relationship lol) and much more accurate.

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So I confess: I have had a HUGE crush on Named patterns & their sleek stylish aesthetic for some time; I’ve bought several and have them in the queue but this is my first I’ve sewn… next up is the Andy Coat; stay tuned! 🙂


FINALLY!!! I have a body double!!!

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I won’t go into the 2-month saga that went into her acquisition, or the complete halt it put on my sewing… all I’ll say is now that she’s in my life, life is SOOOOO much better!!! 🙂

So what shall I call her? ^_^


Experimentation & Personal Style

I’ve been quiet on the blog lately but busy nonetheless. I’ve found myself wandering down a lot of rabbit holes lately, as is wont to happen when one is part of an online community; I am inspired by what others are wearing, new patterns released, trends and so forth, and despite me knowing what’s best for me, I sometimes need to try new things out.

There are goods and bads in this, for me. The main bad of course, is that I spend a lot of time constructing garments that I ultimately find uncomfortable or unflattering, and thus, unwearable. The main good is that I’ve strongly reinforced in my mind what I really love wearing, and also what really doesn’t suit me.

Lessons learned:

BAD: I recently made both the Colette Moneta and Myrtle, both of which feature a softly gathered elastic waistband which does absolutely NOTHING good for my figure, despite how pretty and flattering they are on seemingly everyone else.
GOOD: I like the Moneta bodice & the Myrtle skirt, and i do like wearing knits, so if I can splice them together without the elastic waistband we may have a winner.

BAD: I recently made two different pair of pants – both with a slim fit & side zip; in addition to the numerous woes we all feel when attempting to fit pants, the realization is that I simply cannot comfortably wear anything at or higher than my waist; I just hate the way it feels & looks. Also, personally, I think invisible zips on pants is just stupid. Maybe it’s just me but I break them every time.
GOOD: I’ve identified the main few fit issues I have with pants & I think if I stick with low rise styles I may be able to get at least wearable (if not perfect) pants block with a bit of work – and that would be spectacular because I do love pants 🙂

GOOD: I recently made the Papercut Patterns Midsummer’s Night Dream dress out of silk I got in Australia & it’s wonderful; I totally love wrap & V-neck bodices. Will post soon.

BAD: I stink at the narrow hem foot lol
GOOD: I have a narrow hem foot, and the more I practice the better it gets; even imperfect edges look pretty decent – and less fussy than bias edges on delicate fabrics 🙂

In conclusion, while I don’t have a lot of tangible successes lately, my mind is more focused and I have a clearer idea of what I need to spend my time on. I’m working on three projects that are much more my own style so I hope for some successful, blog-able projects soon 🙂

And since i have no garment photos to show, here’s a photo of lovely white fabrics I’m working with – perfect for this summer heat!!

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