Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Hallo'mas! a Glow in the Dark Skeleton Dress

skeleton sultry sheath gerties book for better sewing

This was meant to be my Hallowe'en dress, and I had it all finished in time for Halloween except that I needed to buy and put in the zipper but then I ended up getting sick on Halloween. So since then its been hanging in my closet neglected. However I think now I've talked myself into believing that I can wear this dress just as everyday casual wear. I was pretty fond of goth looks in high school anyway.

Pattern notes:
This is the bodice from the Sultry Sheath from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing again. Pretty much I was in a hurry so I used something where I'd already corrected the fit. The skirt is a simple dirndl. I like the combination of the very feminine neckline with the macabre print.

skeleton sultry sheath gerties book for better sewing close up

Fabric notes:
This is a quilting fabric from timeless treasures which I bought online from ebay. It's an anatomical skeleton print, and oh yeah it glows in the dark! I recommend this bodice pattern with a dirndl skirt as a good one for using quilting cottons you want to wear, it came together really easily.

skeleton sultry sheath gerties book for better sewing print

Sewing notes:
As I said above, this pattern came together really easily with the quilting cotton compared to when I made it with double gauze - definitely beginner friendly and a good match for hard to resist quilting cotton prints.

skeleton sultry sheath gerties book for better sewing scallop finish

I used the scallop edge to finish my facing, but having yet to wash it you can still see fray check here - more of a precaution then anything it won't be visible to the eye after the first washing.

skeleton sultry sheath gerties book for better sewing hem finish

When I tried on my dress to hem it I realized I was really happy with the length it already was. In the spirit of stash busting and cheapness I used some cheap poly ribbon to finish the hem. It actually adds some extra body to the hem, which I like in a '50s inspired dress like this. The poor women's horsehair braid?

Looking forward to Christmas week, starting with a date at Casa Loma which should be all decked out for the holidays this weekend. I think I might wear this dress!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


fair isle mittens


toronto trinkets

me hoi toronto button

1 Hand Knit fair isle mittens for my sister made with this pattern and motifs from 200 Fair Isle Motifs by Mary J. Mucklestone
2 Awesome beer labels from Bellwoods Brewery
3 Toronto themed trinkets for my sister in BC, a wizardwolf patch from Bellwoods Brewery and a button from the David Bowie Is exhibition at the AGO
4 Cute Toronto button from this artist that I bought at the One of a Kind Show

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tiny baby Moccasins for my new niece

Knitted Baby Moccasins

I've been trying to make all my presents for my family this year, both as a means to save some money and so that my gifts can be more meaningful. I came across the pattern for these baby moccasins on raverly, and luckily the Toronto public library had a copy of the book they are from, Knitting Gifts for Baby by Mel Clark. My sister recently had her second daughter, my new niece Sequoia. I haven't met her yet because my sister lives in far off British Columbia. Partially I think my desire to create all my gifts this year comes from the realization of the distance that separates my family and handmade gifts seem to me a way of forging a closer connection. Hopefully I get all my projects done in time!

knitted baby moccasins

Monday, November 25, 2013

Light Stripes Colette Hazel

I was having a hard time getting proper pictures of this dress because the print is so light, plus before I could take pictures I spilt wine on it and wore it with a red vintage sweater that rubbed red dye on it. Blerg! The Hazel dress pattern is my favourite dress pattern offered by Colette patterns. Even thought my body is pretty far from the type this line of patterns is designed for I think the bodice on this pattern is just too flattering to resist.

Fabric notes:

The fabric is a reproduction from the 1800 hundreds (which speaks of my totally contemporary fashion tastes) which I bought in downtown Toronto for about four dollars a yard. It is a quilting cotton, so a bit stiff, and the winkles in the fabric have proven hard to get out. I really love the way stripes emphasize the lines of this bodice design though.

Pattern Notes:

hazel 04

With Colette patterns I have to make a small bust adjustment, which is what is shown above. I used the method outlined by Anna here. I also lengthened the bodice by an inch, and shortened the straps.

I'm thinking a version in a wool crepe with a half circle skirt might be a good wintertime project!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Project Complete: Scout woven tee

I actually finished an item for a sew-along! I'd been eyeing the grainline studio patterns for a while now, so when I saw that there was a sew-along for the scout woven tee, I was excited to give it a try. I don't generally find loose styles very flattering on me (short with a small frame), but I was interested enough in this pattern to try something outside of my comfort zone. I'm glad I did! The floaty style is lovely in this heat!

This is actually a make do and mend type project - I was worried enough about the style suiting me that I thought I would try and make it out of an old mens skirt I had lying around. It is a poly/cotton blend and one of the softest drapey fabrics I've ever worked with. I tend to be a bit of an anti-poly snob, but this fabric is lovely.

Here's a close-up of the print - a very small scale plaid.

I had to do some creative cutting to have enough fabric, but I actually like the look.

Patterns notes:

I used size two on the top, and traced out to 4 on the bottom, other than that no changes!

Just to prove I'm serious about this sewing blogger thing I present a picture of my cat getting in the way.

Thanks for checking out my post!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Project Complete: Burda Bodice and half circle skirt

This is a Burda pattern from the 04/2013 issue. When I first bought this issue this pattern was one of my favourites, but a pretty impractical choice for me seeing as how it needed to be matched with a high waisted item. This inspired me to make a simple half circle skirt (my first!) to fill in this hole in my wardrobe. I also have a few nice vintage blouse patterns which I have been wanting to try out, so this skirt will hopefully come in handy. I used the awesome drafting instructions from this post at byhandlondon, and construction tips from elegantmusings. I used some light chambray I got downtown for 10$ a yard, and the skirt took about 1 1/4 yard to complete. Making this was incredibly easy and relaxing and I definitely plan on making more. I really like the more casual silhouette of the half circle skirt. 

For the Burda pattern I used some fabric from a damaged yukata I found in my highschool stash, which I recently had to sort through as my parents are selling their house of 21 years. Pretty much my stash just doubled - one thing that prompted me to join the stashbusting challenge! I am fast running out of space in my shared one room apartment... 

Wish I'd noticed how wonky the buttons looked before I took this picture.

Pattern notes:

Like I generally do with Burda patterns now I made it in the size down from what my measurement would call for as the correct size, in this case 36. Instead of using hook and eye tape like the pattern called for I added a button placket, and am still not positive I did it correctly (I think I might have added too much to the front about an extra inch? I ended up taking out an inch dart in the back - opps). I aligned the straps in 1/2 inch and removed 1/4 inch slant at the shoulder seams for to sloping shoulders. I also lowered the back panel 2 inches, and took 1/2 inch off of the sides on both centre panels. I think that's all?

I've been reading a lot about fitting methods lately so I think I went a bit overboard, I'm not certain beyond the back centre piece anything really needed to be messed with so much. It's funny that in the image above the top has gotten caught on the waistband of the skirt and looks so sloppy! But I only took a couple pictures of the back and this the better one.

I also noticed I actually have a few followers on bloglovin (!) - so I'm going to sign up and add a link, even though since the demise of google reader I've been following people with feedly.

Thanks for checking out my project!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Vintage Kimono Fabric Bag

Since I have not managed to actually finish any garments since I last posted I thought I'd share some pictures of a bag I made my mother for mother's day.

I used some vintage kimono silk fabric that I bought off of etsy... I have a mini horde of the stuff now, because if you're like me and love both vintage and Japanese textiles this kind of etsy buying is hard to resist.

I used a modified pattern from a Japanese sewing magazine called Pochee from the spring 2007 issue. This is one of the few Japanese sewing magazines I own and none of the garments I've made from it have ever turned out (I can't pull off the charming sack look!), but this one magazine has a lifetimes supply of lovely and simple bag patterns so it was worth the purchase.

My only real changes to the pattern included using a sewn button instead of a knot to join the straps and adding inner pockets. I also interfaced the bag section with old pants wool and fusible interfacing to give is a sturdier body.

I really enjoyed turning the old textile into a new object. My mother seemed to like it, though she might be biased! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

"The Sultry Sheath" from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing

First finished project from the book! All in all a good sew. Weekend date, summer nights dress? After this one I need to make some more casual pieces. But this was one of my favourites from the book and I felt it would be a really good fit with this fabric so I couldn't resist giving it a try.

Construction notes:

I made this in some Nani Iro double gauze fabric I had been hoarding for a couple of years. When I made my muslin I noticed that the shoulder straps were sitting on my outer shoulders but looking at the photo in the book I decided that was how they were supposed to look. That was a mistake, as when I made my original bodice the straps kept slipping down my shoulders! I think the fact that the double gauze was softer then my muslin made the problem worse. I often sew using my high bust measurement because I have narrow shoulders so I'm not certain this would be a problem for everyone (due to my fit issues) but it's worth looking out for. Luckily a poster on who had made the pattern mentioned taking a wedge out of her shoulders to draw them up, so I decided to try a similar tactic:

I drew a wedge which was 1" at the neckline on both front and back and then cut out the wedge and closed it. I then traced the new pattern. I also lowered the armhole by about 1/2" using my french curve. Once I did that (and tried it out on a new muslin) I luckily had just enough Nani Iro fabric left for a second bodice.

The Fit is still not 100%. I traced the pattern using my high bust measurement (size 2 in the book) and tracing out to the next largest size for the waist (4), and then went from 4 in the waist to 2 in the hips. I should have just used a 4 in the hips as well because I think the pulling in the back is due to it being a bit too tight (it also feels a bit tight in the hips when I sit, but nothing that will stop me from wearing the dress). I'm closer to the listed measurement for 2 so I guess my advice would be to size up if you're between sizes unless you like it tight.

I didn't follow the instructions to the letter, as can be seen here with my invisible zip. I'm not sold on lapped zips unless I'm trying to make something completely authentic to a period. Plus I need to use up my collection of invisible zips. One side of my zip top is a couple of millimetres longer then the other! erg. "Only I will notice" is my sewing nitpicking mantra.

This was actually my first time making an all in one facing. I think it's a new favourite way to finish a garment. I did a kind of time consuming and fiddly finish to it where I used my decorative scallop stitch and then trimmed it down. I've actually done this before and it held up well, but it's hardly efficient, I just like the look!

And finally, I used a trick I read in Lynda Mynard's Couture Sewing Techniques and reinforced the back slit with a metal hook and eye bar. 

Final Thoughts:

I think I'm definitely going to come back to this pattern again! Other then the issues with the straps and the fact that I should have used a larger size hip, the pattern was very straight forward. The instructions were easy to follow, although I did not to use some of the more 'couture' techniques.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Bombshell" Tiki Dress done at last!

Hello abandoned blog, nice to be back.

After working on it tiny increments at a time I'm finally finished my Bombshell dress from Gertie's course! This project took me almost a year to complete? Not that the construction was quite that time consuming, but I kept forgetting to get certain materials or having to order things online and so it just kept getting put aside in favour of other projects. But finally everything came together and I have a lovely and impractical dress perfect for pretty much one thing only, visiting my local tiki bar. A good excuse to drink zombies I guess!

Looking Cross.

And trying to smile.
 I really need to get better with the self timer. It's pretty awkward. Songza has a tiki playlist which I listened to while taking these pictures but I'm not sure if that made me feel less silly or just made it worse. Nerd out here if you want. 

This dress was a lot of fun to make, and I definitely recommend the course. I held off for a while because I wasn`t sure how much I liked the pattern but I really wanted to take it, and the dress has grown on me. I was worried that a bustier style like this would look odd with my A cup, but all in all I think its pretty flattering. I prefer how it looks with the halter strap, however it stays up really well as a strapless dress thanks to all the construction details. 

Construction Details:

Might miss some notes since this took such a long time to complete... 
The material is a cotton I bought off a seller on etsy. I think it was a nice fit with the pattern because it has a tiki vibe without being a straight-up Hawaiian print. I messed around with the fit of the cups a lot. Once I had taken out fullness from across the cups as directed in the videos they were scandalously tiny so I redrew the  bustline of the top cup peices. I did not lengthen the bodice but I`m a bit short waisted so I think it turned out fine. I was not sold on the side gather when I did it, but after several tries I just accepted it and now I think it looks good, so I suppose that's a lesson not to get too critical before I see the final piece.

It's lined with the finest vintage sheet cotton. The spiral steel boning was expensive, I had to cut corners somewhere! The grosgrain for the waist stay was sent as a bonus from a etsy fabric seller! I also could not find thin batting for lining the cups as described in the course so I used knit sweatshirt material. 

I spent a lot of time trying to match the floral pattern for my bodice only to have it fail. Oh well! Also, I made   lapped zipper even though I was using an invisible zip. lol!

Final thoughts:

All in all, had a lot of fun making this dress and am quite pleased with how it turned out. Might finesse the cup fit and make another in a more casual fabric with a dirndl skirt and sewn in halter straps. Learned a ton in the course!