Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I have not fallen off the face of the earth, despite what the lack of blogging may lead you to assume.  It's just the last several weeks have been that of upheaval and transition.

I think I've mentioned in the past that last January things transpired such that my mother in law moved in with us.  It was a fairly quick decision to have her come here, but we tried to make it work, feeling it a better option for her than a personal care home.  Unfortunately my MIL passed away on January 7th after a incredibly short two day illness, just shy of one year since moving in. It was completely unexpected in the manner that earlier that day she had been fine and talk was of her coming home from the hospital within a few days.  Needless to say it was a shock to get a call from the hospital three hours later asking my husband to come back as quickly as he could as she was in severe respiratory distress.

I also, of course, started back to work full time just three days prior to her passing away.  As a result of everything going on, I'm exhausted, have not even remotely figured out how to balance working full time and obligations at home and my creative side has been starved.

I know it'll all settle down, we will all adjust to the new routines, 5:00am won't seem quite so ungodly and I'll get the hang of things at work and feel like I'm making headway instead of floundering continuously as I navigate through inventory programs and figure out the differences between machine parts and gain some confidence. At least I know my way around the place now and am not too much at risk of getting lost anymore. It does help that I work with my husband and he often drops everything to come to my rescue with answers. (and directions along with a thorough tour those first few days)  Maybe some day I'll be able to stay awake past 8:30pm again.  Maybe some day I'll also be able do a bit of sewing or more than a row or two of knitting.  I just feel completely overwhelmed at the moment.

But I'm sure no one comes here to read about my whining and feeling sorry for myself. So moving along. I have done a very teeny bit of knitting since Christmas and I have big plans to get reacquainted with my sewing machine this weekend... I hope.

I made a pair of mitts.  They were more a necessity than anything.  All my mitts somehow ended up with holes in the thumbs at the same time (how does that even happen???).  Rather than do the quick thing and just re-knit thumbs, I decided a brand new pair would be much more fun.  And since I was in it for the fun, I thought colour work would be brilliant.

I chose Wolastoq, a pattern that caught my eye earlier in the fall when I stumbled across it on Ravelry.  I had lots of colours of Patons Classic Worsted in my stash so I didn't need to go yarn shopping.  Better yet was it gave me a reason to finally use a tiny ball of cashmere dk weight yarn I'd been hoarding in my stash for years since it was gifted to me.  My mitts have a gloriously soft pop of colour in the inner cuff thanks to that cashmere!

My only gripe about my mitts are that they are really thick (sounds like a good problem to have right?) so they do not easily fit under my super tight cuffs of my parka and either fold down or don't go on all the way making them like huge monster mitts on my hands.  I need to find a solution so that they are a bit more comfortable to wear.   Just to be clear it is totally a parka problem and not a pattern problem.  I've run across this particular nuisance with every single pair of mitts I knit that are thicker than fingering weight and lets just face it.  I live on the prairies.  Fingering weight mitts are never going to cut it in -45C.

In other knitting news, I've started knitting a new cardigan for myself as part of Andi Satterlund's Untangling Knots annual Selfish Sweater KAL.  I'm knitting an apple green Henriette in hopes I'll have it finished for springtime.  (Well, hopefully I finish it for the KAL deadline of mid-February, but since I'm barely knitting these days I'm not holding out much hope in all reality).

Monday, January 02, 2017

Happy New Year!

I hope that the New Year is finding you all healthy and happy and looking forward to the blank slate of possibilities that is 2017!!

Baby Boy - #7 Timbits Initiation 
I've not had time for much blogging for quite awhile now.  Life seems to have a way of getting increasingly busier every time I turn around.

Hockey seems to have taken up a lot of the spare time this fall.  Not that I'm complaining.  The boys love it and it's been great for them!  Little Man has finally started coming out of his shell at the rink and the day he was giggling with one of his team mates in the dressing room was a great day!  I love seeing him making friends on the team and gaining confidence on and off the ice!  However, it is a time consuming sport.  I'm at the rink three days a week with the boys for practices and then we had games every weekend, often a game in one town in the morning for one boy and another town and another game a few hours later for the other.  I had commented that I should just send out change of address cards listing the arena as my new home since I was there so often.

Funny story about that was when we bought our new truck last month every time we turned on the maps in the Car Play function it would reference a weird address as "home".  I couldn't figure out why or even where the address was originating.  That is until the day I was looking up the hours for public skating at the arena and realized Siri was using the arena's address as home.   LOL! I really must spend as much time as I feel like I do there.  Ah... the life of a "hockey mom".  Could be worse. I know some families are juggling around practices and games for four kiddos and their spouse.  I've only got two to manage and every second year they should nicely end up in the same division.  PHEW!
Little Man - #7 Novice 
In other news, tomorrow, I'll be heading back to work full time.  I'll be trading my sewing shears for work boots and a hard hat as I've taken a term position in a parts department!  I'm both excited and terrified all at the same time.  It'll be totally different for me, but I'm looking forward to a new challenge!

I'm not sure what time that will leave me for sewing, knitting and spinning, but I'm hoping I can still manage to squeak out a bit of time every now and again to enjoy my crafts.  I know I used to manage it.  I know that many people do manage it every day.  I just need to wrap my head around the whole time management thing that is working outside of the home again.  It's been nearly seven years, so I think I've just forgotten how to do it!

It's timely that Rochelle of Lucky Lucille has started her #2017MakeNine.  Inspired by the challenge and all the sewists taking part over on Instagram I've decided to jump on board.  Going back to work doesn't change my personal goal of having a self sewn wardrobe, so this feels like a great way to keep it going in a more manageable way.

For my patterns I've chosen the following:

By Hand London : Anna 
Closet Case Files : Ginger Jeans and Morgan Boyfriend Jeans
Colette Patterns : Myrtle Dress
Paprika Patterns : Jade Sweater and Dress
Sew Over It :  Anderson Blouse, Betty, Molly Top and Vintage Shirt Dress

I've already dived head first into my fabric bins and come up with some fabrics for my Make Nine projects!

The top fabric with the balls of yarn is for Betty.  It was supposed to be made last summer, then in the early fall, and then for Christmas and well... you know how it goes.  I already  knit a cardi to match it a few months ago (more on that in a future blog post - how am I so behind on blogging about my projects?!?).  The second from the top is a slinky, silky poly fabric that I bought ages ago for an Anderson Blouse or Pussy Bow Blouse and this is going to be THE YEAR that I get it sewn up.  I'm thinking of using a gelatine treatment to tame that fabric into submission for cutting and sewing.  Third in the stack is the denim I bought well over a year ago to make another pair of Liana jeans after I did the test for Itch to Stitch.  Obviously they never got made, so hello Ginger Jeans!  (another pattern I've had forever.  It's even been printed out and assembled for probably a good year and a half...).  The bottom fabric is another long time stash dweller.  I've got to take a better look at it, but if I think it'll drape nicely, it's going to become Myrtle for next spring/summer.

So those are my upcoming plans for sewing.  I'll have to catch up later with my annual round up of holiday crafting post and my plans for knitting and spinning, because I think I've prattled on far too long as is here today! (Thanks and congratulations if you're still reading!)

Happy New Year!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Secret Pyjamas... Only Better!

Oh my goodness.  I am so over the moon ecstatic about my new dress for fall and winter.  It's the newly released Heather Dress from Sew Over It and it's ABSO-BLOOMIN-LUTELY fantastic!!!

I want a whole wardrobe of Heather Dresses.  Seriously.  I could wear this dress every day I think.  After wearing it all day I actually considered the idea of wearing it to bed tonight too.  Then I decided that would be wrong, but this dress is like secret pyjamas.  Only better, because it feels really great and put together.

I was a bit unsure on the style for me, because it's so far from what I normally sew for myself, but really the pockets sold me.  I do love a good pocket on a dress.  Also the fact I had what I thought might well be the perfect fabric in my stash pushed the idea right over the edge and onto my sewing desk.

I had picked up the lightly quilted knit fabric a couple of weeks ago for about $7/metre at Fabricland with the plan to finally make my Paprika Patterns Jasper sweater, but procrastination being what it is, the fabric was still sitting there uncut when Heather came across my radar.  I definitely wanted to try the colour blocking and my fabric having the light grey side and the dark charcoal side seemed like the perfect choice.  The fabric itself doesn't have a lot of stretch because although it's essentially a jersey the quilting of the two layers with a thin batting in between them makes it really stable.  It also makes it really cozy.  And really, really comfy.

I had some troubles with my ridiculously slow internet connection that led to troubles downloading my pattern, but Rosie from Sew Over It - who is super duper awesome, by the way, fixed my woes immediately and got me up and running again.  I just feel it needs to be said, in this day and age when customer service just doesn't seem to be what it once was, that Sew Over It customer service is really, truly top notch.  I'm so impressed with the company as a whole.

Once my computer issues were fixed it took next to no time to get printing and assembling my pdf pattern and cutting it out.  Sewing it was a breeze.  I did use a t-shirt knit for the pocket linings to reduce bulk instead of using my quilted fabric and after one attempt in the quilted fabric for the neckline, I abandoned that for a strip of charcoal ponte that I had left from a project I'd made last winter and am really happy with the results.

My only issue, besides the whole computer one, was not pattern related, but iron related.  I really need to clean my iron I think because I had a moment of sheer dismay when it suddenly got nasty rusty coloured stains on my front of my dress.  I was so upset I put the dress aside for a few days while I decided what to do.  I was considering buying enough of the fabric to do a whole new front panel, but that seemed so silly and time consuming.  Not to mention annoying.  Finally I decided to just not worry about it.  The stain is right along the pocket opening's edge and I figured no one could see it really unless I point it out and if they did happen to see it they're going to have more to concern themselves with then a stain on my dress because quite frankly they'll be at risk of getting punched in the nose for being that close to me.  You really can't see it unless you're that up close and personal with it.

So there you go!  A total win for the wardrobe with this one! I'll definitely be on the hunt for fabric for more Heather dresses in the future!  It's the perfect dress for with boots and tights for the cooler weather and I think with shorter sleeves and lighter fabric it will be pretty awesome for spring and summer too!

Monday, October 17, 2016

City Break Molly

Last month I succumbed to the lure of Sew Over It's City Break ebook.  It was on sale when it was released and given it's a bargain at regular price I just couldn't resist it at the sale price.  The ebook has five patterns - the Alex shirt and dress, the Erin skirt, the Lola coat the Mia jeans and the Molly top and dress.  They're all pretty basic by the look of them, but with lots of potential for changing them up.  I love that each look other than the Mia jeans has an alternate version - whether it be a longer or shorter coat or skirt or the top or dress options.

The only one I'm not terribly keen on is the Erin skirt - possibly because I drafted almost the same skirt back in '86 during my first year in Fashion Tech only the buttons ran down the back instead of the front.  So I think I'm stuck on the Erin skirt screaming "1980s teenaged me" at the top of it's lungs.  Don't get me wrong.  It was an ok skirt back in the day.  Pale peach and perfect for my preppy self.  But perhaps, too, it might be that 80s teenaged me was a whole different build than 2016 mid-40s me and I would feel a bit like "mutton dressed as lamb" trying to get away with wearing a style that I wore as a teen and not sure if my ego can handle the difference quite frankly.  I don't know really...   However, watch this space because knowing me, the Erin will grow on me, I'll forgive it for being so similar to my '80s skirt, and next thing you know I'll be sewing up one of my own.  It's been known to happen before. LOL

So, that brings us to the rest of the patterns, that I absolutely adore. I decided to start off with the Molly top and I'm glad I did. I sewed it as drafted (except for adding a bit of length, because I eventually shrink everything and crop tops are definitely not my thing). The pattern suggests using a jersey with drape for the top and something a bit more structured for the dress, but I decided to go a bit on the border of both - is that possible even - with my fabric and chose a nice lightweight sweater knit. I wanted something that I'd wear, but wouldn't be totally devastated if it was a complete disaster.  The sweater knit was 70% off, so it fit my criteria perfectly.

I should have taken off some of the width in the hips (I never do on my first go around, and really almost always should), but I think it works fine with my well loved rtw skinny jeans. I will likely shave just a touch off my next version though I think so it's not quite as swingy feeling. But it's comfy, cozy and I think I'll probably live in it over the coming months. It was also incredibly quick to sew! Pretty sure it took less than an hour from start to finish! I'm on the hunt for the perfect stripey fabric for the next one I make.

I can't decide which pattern to try next from the ebook, although I think which ever one I choose might have to wait in the wings for just a bit. I'm in the midst of Halloween costume sewing, I have a few decorations I want to make for the house for Halloween this year yet, I need to be getting started on holiday gift sewing and knitting and I should actually make my Betty Dress that I have got no further than the muslin stage. (but am almost finished knitting a cardi specifically to wear with it and have already bought tights as well - not too mention the fact I spent a ridiculous amount on the fabric for it). So many projects. So little time.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Arenal Top

Kennis Wong's done it again!  She's come out with another fantastic wardrobe staple pattern and I was lucky enough to be one of the testers for it!  The Arenal Top* features two versions - one with long sleeves and a handkerchief hemline, and the one I tested, a straight hem, 3/4 length sleeve. Both versions have a front shoulder yoke that you can really play around with colour and texture to add interest to your top.  Of course, as always with Itch to Stitch patterns, it comes in sizes 00-20.  

Construction is really easy with this tee - the hardest part would be the v-neck, but I'm going to go out on a limb and promise you that Kennis has the easiest construction method ever for getting a perfect looking V.  I haven't willingly done a v-neck on a knit in about 20 years since an unfortunate mishap with a Kwik Sew pattern, that was so darn hard to do I ended up with a off centre v and scarred for the next two decades.  LOL

Arenal has changed all that.  I whipped up my second top yesterday from cutting to hemming in an hour and a half and part of that time was taken up with a serger that kept snapping the lower looper thread and a combination of my tension dial and twin needle that were pitching a fit over the fact I was using a spool and a bobbin instead of two spools of thread when I was doing the hem.  That's the first time my old workhorse Pfaff has ever given me a spot of trouble. (turned out I just needed to switch spots around for the spool and the bobbin and everything went fine.  Picky, picky machine.  Grrrr).

For my first version I used a really soft drapey jersey of unknown fibre content and a rigid lace for the contrast yoke.  I did the lace as an overlay rather than on it's own.  I was a bit worried about the fact there was no stretch in my lace - I actually hadn't even thought of it until I had already sewed it in - but there was no problem with the fit at all!  My only modification to the pattern was to add 3/4" to the length of it as I prefer my tees to hit a bit lower than the Itch to Stitch patterns usually come to on me as drafted.

For my second version, the only change I made from the first was to add just a bit more length.  I felt that my first one was still a bit on the short side for my preferences so added another 3/4" to make the pattern a total of 1 1/2" longer than drafted.  I also shaved a wee bit off the hips to make it a bit more fitted through that area.  Otherwise it's basically sewn as drafted.  My fabric was a cotton/spandex t-shirt knit and the contrast is a non-stretch crochet style lace.  ('scuze the wrinkles... probably shouldn't have worn it before taking photos!)

I highly recommend the Arenal Top pdf pattern as a great addition to your handmade wardrobe.  You can get your copy of it for 20% off right now on the Itch to Stitch website!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Afternoon Blouse That Took a Week

Well, a week and a half I think.  Maybe two.  I don't know.  I've lost track.  It sure as heck took longer than an afternoon.  Except it didn't need to, I suppose.  All I needed to do was sew a button on.

I tend to procrastinate heavily when things aren't going as envisioned and this project is one of those times.  First off, I blithely traced off my pattern, cut it out and started sewing my wearable muslin.  Only after I was well on my way did I realize that I had traced off the wrong size.  C'est la vie.  I decided to keep going because I was falling in between sizes anyways.  Once I was finished I realized it would be very much not a wearable muslin - nope, I'm not showing it off.  Bad, bad fabric choice.  BAD.  Looked horrendous.  But upside was the too small size actually fit pretty well. In fact the waist and hips needed a nipping in I thought.  Whoot! Whoot!

Feeling bold, I nipped in the waist to hip and cut out my new fabric.  Sewed it up quick as could be and ran upstairs to try it on.  WHAT THE EVER LOVING ----?!?!  

I felt like a stuffed sausage.  Then I realized, the wearable muslin was soft, drapey, have some give rayon.  My new blouse is no give peach skin (aka polyester).  Damn and double damn.  So I wriggled out, very narrowly escaping the need for the jaws of life to extricate me, went back down to my machine and ripped out the side seams and re-sewed them with teeny scant 3/8" seam allowances.  It's better, but only really when I'm standing up.  Sitting down is a bit stuffed sausage-y still.  But it'll do.

So all's well that ends well.  Or so you'd think.  But no.  Not for this blouse.  There's a weird gaping and wrinkling about the neckline despite the fact I ever so carefully stay-stitched.  There's also some weird gaping and bunching at the button tab despite careful stitching and trimming of seam allowances.

Wrinkling and gaping is hard to see in a selfie
- but apparently photo taking was a "waste of time" today to a certain seven year old.
At least I look relatively normal in this picture... can't say the same for the next few.
WHY OH WHY Afternoon Blouse???  WHY???? 

I've wanted this Jennifer Lauren pattern forever.  I waited ever so patiently for a sale and snapped it up as soon as it went on.  I even printed it out and assembled the pattern then cut out my muslin immediately after purchasing it.  (I almost never do that, allowing patterns to age suitably on my hard drive before I ever get to printing them out let alone making them up).

This is my "Fine then.  Just take the picture please" expression.
So I'm at a cross roads with this one.  I wore my blouse today after I finally sewed the button on this morning and it didn't feel terrible.  But I want one that I really love.  I think I'll start searching for new fabric, and for the next one I'll definitely size up to eliminate the snugness, but I'm not sure what to do about the neckline.  Common sense would say take a wedge out where it's gaping, but then I'm worried it's just wonky due to fabric or stretching or me trying to beat it into submission with an iron that was too hot. (oops!)

I don't even know what this is.  Let's just call this entire blog post
"bloopers" and be done with it.
Not sure.   My first sewing project in a while and I can't really call it a win at this point no matter how much I wanted to be able to.  Some days are just like that I suppose.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Finally, Anna

Let me tell you a tale of two Annas!
So, I really honestly believed that I was the very last of the sewers/sewists/seamstresses (whatever the heck you call us these days!) to make the By Hand London Anna dress.  Or at the very least I was the very last in the sewing blogosphere to make it, but I've been reassured there are others out there like myself that hadn't yet gotten around to making it for whatever reason.

To be honest when I first saw it a few years ago I was kind of underwhelmed by it.  It's not my usual style.  It's better suited to willowy figures.  It's almost $17 Cdn with the exchange.  I had reason after reason why Anna was not going to join the ranks of dresses hanging in my closet.  But over time I grew to like Anna.  Really like her.  Covet her graceful lines and feminine bodice pleats.  I had it BAD.  Every time another one popped up in my sights I was smitten even further.

Finally this spring in a moment of madness (and not terrible exchange rate) I snagged the pattern.  I don't know why it took me until now, at the end of summer to finally sew it up.  I kept waffling.  I was nervous after reading about so many fitting woes and then I couldn't find fabric I loved and again the reasons why not to dive in were popping up even though I really wanted an Anna of my own.  Some times I suffer a lack of confidence and it really does my head in.  But then the Maxi Dress Sew Along popped up on my Facebook feed and it was all the push I needed to get me going.

I hit up a sale at Fabricland at the end of July and what a sale it was!  I struck gold in the bargain centre where everything was 50% off, finding a quilt cotton that was reminiscent of the beautiful African wax prints I've been eyeballing for the last several months on line with its bright colours and interesting print.  At $2.50/metre I knew that even if Anna turned out to be my most hated sew ever (see - told you I was lacking confidence at the time!) I would have spent less than $8.00 on it.  I can do that.  I also got a great cotton sateen tropical print for 70% off that day that I'd been wanting for awhile but  was to cheap thrifty budget conscious to spend the money on.  With possible Anna fabrics purchased, washed, dried and stashed away at the ready there really was no valid reason for not giving it a go.

I muslined Anna and found that the fit issues didn't actually seem to be that ominous.  I wasn't experiencing any of the horrible back of neck gaping that so many did.  The neck line didn't seem too high.  The bodice was short, but bodices are ALWAYS short on me, so no big deal.  The fit felt good, although I was nervous about the snugness of the bodice.  I'm hard to please with that - I like to have a bit more ease in my clothes but there's a fine line between ease and sloppy and I hate sloppy.

I decided to cut out my quilt cotton first and make the midi-length version so that it wouldn't be such a fabric suck if things went south with it.  Sewing was super easy - except the zipper.  WHY do zippers always have to give me such fits???  That beast took one try for the first side (as always) and three tries and a chocolate bar for sustenance to get the second side looking decent.  I sewed up the side seams with a 3/8" seam allowance instead of the instructed 5/8" to allow for more ease and then I tried on my dress.  Dismay.  It felt and in my eyes looked like a frumpy dumpy sack.  Which in turn of course made me feel like a frumpy dumpy sack.

My zipper installing supplies at the ready!
I didn't know what to do to salvage it.  I consulted blogs, loads of pattern reviews and finally asked in one of my Ravelry groups where there is a super helpful, supportive lot of members who sew.  I took all their suggestions, thoughts and advice into consideration and decided to start with the easiest of them all.  I went back and stitched the side seams with the 5/8" seam allowance tapering out to a 1/2" allowance at the waistline.  Put the dress on again and couldn't believe the difference it made. I also made a mental note to stay stitch the heck out of the neck line next time, because I'm pretty sure that was part of my problem.

I wore the dress all day on Tuesday and while the neck line still feels a bit loose, it's totally wearable and what's better?  It's totally comfortable.  That dress is secret pyjamas I tell you!  I immediately cut out my tropical sateen when I got home and thought I'd finally tackle the maxi dress version for the sew along!

I have to tell you that I'm not sure I'm actually even a fan of maxi dresses.  I like them well enough on others, but for me?  I'm just not convinced.  Plus there's that danger of tripping and falling.  I have a history.  I once, during my ballet exam, when I was about 9 years old, managed to step on the hem of my circle skirt during the Italian Tarantella and instead of ending with a swish of my skirt and a clap of my tambourine, I ended up with the heel of my character shoe tangled in the skirt and me on my butt trying not to cry from the humiliation of it all.  Anyways.  That's enough traumatic wandering down memory lane for now.  Back to my maxi Anna.  I decided in for a penny in for a pound.  After all I had several maxi length dresses in the 70s as a little girl and I survived to tell the tale.  So I  spent Tuesday evening and yesterday afternoon sewing it up.

This time I shortened the boat neck line by about 5/8" inch on either side and stay stitched it.  I redrafted the facings and interfaced them right away so they wouldn't stretch out any on me.  I also had run low on printer ink so had Little Man measure from my hem of my first version to the top of my feet to know how much to continue down from the original midi length pattern (I also saved myself from having to reprint and assemble something like 43 pages just for the bottom half of the skirt that way).  Unfortunately, Little Man isn't necessarily the most accurate of measurers and my skirt is WAY too long.  Drag on the floor, potentially trip me up and make me fall down too long.  But he's seven, so you know.  You get what you get.  He did his best and I was glad for his assistance.  I'll just either wear stilts from now on or shorten the dress a few inches.  Oh!  I also, at the last minute decided to add pockets and just used the first pocket pattern I found in the disaster that I call my sewing room.  (It was the Emery Dress pockets in case you're at all curious).  I also tried the trick of putting a strip of interfacing down the zipper line.

I love the fit of this bodice even better than the first! My seams and pleats are a bit off (HOW?!?!), but they're symmetrically off so I'm just going to live with it.  My zipper oddly only took one try for both sides and turned out great!  The gods of sewing were clearly smiling on me.  I ate the chocolate bar as a reward instead of as a consolation like the first dress required.  My happy face seam ripper was not needed.

I'm ready for you invisible zip!
Anna.  She's a good one.  I'll definitely be making more of her.