Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Year in Review 2015

Well, it's the end of another year of sewing adventures.  Looking back, I noticed that I've had some difficult challenges and learned a lot.  One of the reasons I even do this blog is a kind of record keeping for myself.  For example, if I decide to sew something up again I can go back and see what adjustments I had made etc. Because after a couple of years, I may not remember exactly what I did.  The second reason is to inspire others to start sewing or continue to enjoy their sewing and perhaps see it as a continual adventure.  I know reading sewing blogs is initially what inspired me to challenge myself sewing-wise and of course, I love seeing what fellow sewists are making!  The third reason, which I recently discovered is that I get to look back over time and see changes and trends in what I've learned.

This year, I learned some new couture sewing techniques.  I kicked off the year by discovering the magic of underlining with silk organza.  I also got to practice some couture hand sewing techniques with my Garden Party Dress, complete with first-time ever hand picked zipper!  This book by Claire Shaeffer has been a fantastic resource.  It's a very high-quality sewing book for anyone interested couture sewing.  I pretty much devoured it as soon as it arrived in the mail! 


Secondly, I feel a lot more confident in the fitting process.  A few years ago, fitting used to be a complete mystery to me.  Other than lengthening patterns, I used to just hope that if I followed the instructions, maybe I'll get something wearable.  Ok, I am a HUGE advocate for learning to fit once you've learned basic sewing skills.  The reason is that it will make your garments look great.  If your garments look and feel great, you'll enjoy your sewing that much more.  So pleeeease, don't be afraid to learn fitting.  It's so worth it.  I promise!  Ok, I'll stop my rant now.  So, anyways,  I've been determined to get a great fit with each garment I made this year, and I made fitting the number one step in pretty much each project.  I made, at least, one muslin for each garment I sewed this year.  It was not entirely free of frustration as evidenced by my Granville fitting woes but in the end, it's worth it.  I know, it feels like a lot of work when you just want to get sewing, but if you slow down, focus on one step at a time, you won't feel rushed.  Also, the more you practice, the easier it becomes.  I'm sure I still have LOTS to learn about fitting because with sewing, the learning never stops.

In the quilting arena:  I couldn't believe it when I actually finished hand quilting my Sanctuary Quilt!  I've definitely learned a lot about quilting by hand this year.  Although I still like to quilt some projects by machine,  I've discovered I also love the look of hand quilting.   I haven't posted much about my quilting projects so I promise I'll post some soon!

This year I also started a bit of knitting which I hope to post more of as things progress. 

Overall a pretty good sewing year, I'd say!

Some Goals for 2016

1. Continue to make fitting a priority for all garments

2.  Learn some tailoring techniques

3.  Learn more couture sewing techniques

4.  Work on more intricate (and beautiful) quilts

5.  Draft my own bodice sloper

6.  Draft my own pants sloper

7.  Do some knitting but not too much!

I'm looking forward to a wonderful 2016.  I wish everyone happiness, health, and love.  And remember to enjoy your hobbies because hobbies are the spice of life, right?

Happy New Year and
Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Sneak peek Snapshot!

Here's a candid, unaltered snapshot of what is happening on my sewing table at this moment in time. Nope,  I didn't clean up my pins or my scissors.  Nor did I arrange anything specifically for this shot. This is an action shot!  A little window into the happenings, progress and mess on my sewing table.  Yes,  I'm showing the sewing world my messy table, and I'm proud of it.  So here it is!

Be proud of your messy sewing table and
Happy Sewing !!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Completed: Wool Dress

I finished my winter wool dress.  Yay!  This is McCall's 7014 view A. 

I finally got some photo's of myself wearing it so now you can tell what it looks like on a real person!

I made it in a stretch wool herringbone fabric and lined it with Bemberg Rayon.  When I ordered the fabric, I was not aware that it was a stretch wool; otherwise, I wouldn't have bought it.  But I decided to use it anyways and see how it goes.

Well, I think it turned out ok, but it was not my favourite fabric to work with.  It was annoying and didn't hold a crease very well.  It was thick and bulky too.  By the end, I couldn't wait for it to be finished.  The rayon lining was getting annoying too.  I think next time I'd like to try lining with silk charmeuse

Anyways,  Here's the full-length view.  So, when I first prepared the fabric, I couldn't decide whether to use the darker side or, the lighter side, so I used both!  This created a side panel look.  Pretty cool hey?

Here's the zipper.  I did a hand picked zipper, which I love because not only does it look good but I feel I have more control doing it by hand.

I also did some hand topstitching on the front and back princess seams.

Constructions Details!

So, I made two muslins before sewing this up.  I ended up using a size 12 C bodice grading to size 14 at waist and hip.  I did a 3/8" forward shoulder adjustment.  I lengthened the bodice by 1" and I bowed in the darts for a better fit.  I'll add some photos of me wearing it as soon as I get them.

I always love the part of attaching the lining!

Getting ready for fell-stitching.  I know they always call it slip stitching in the instructions, but I think mine is more of a fell stitch.

This is where I get to sit down and relax with some hand sewing.

Well, that about wraps up my winter wool dress.  I'm sure I'll have a chance to wear it this winter.  It was fun, but I'm glad it's done because I can't wait to get my hands on this luscious Liberty of London cotton lawn just waiting to be made into a gorgeous '50s apron!

Until next time, 
Happy Sewing and Merry Christmas!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Winter Sewing Plans

Winter is upon us, and there's a blanket of white snow now.  So, I'm definitely not in the mood for sewing summer dresses.  In addition to knitting, I've been thinking about planning out what to sew this winter.  Here are a few of my ideas.  I'm not sure if I'll sew them all but seeing as winter is the longest season for us; it's not entirely impossible.

The first one is McCall's 7014.  I've actually just started "muslining" this one.  I'm doing view A, which is the sleeveless straight skirt variation.  I'm also interested in view C and D or maybe even view A with sleeves.  This is a lined dress which, when made with wool and paired with cozy leotards would be perfect for winter!

 This is the fabric that I'm planning on using for the dress.  It's a stretch wool fabric.  This is a close-up photo to show the tiny herringbone pattern.  From afar it actually just looks like a dark brown fabric.

 I'd also like to make my husband a nice tailored sports coat.  I found this Burda pattern that I thought was nice.  I'm not so sure about the distracting fabric choice for the model in the photo for view B, but that's why we have line drawings, right?

 The next one is Vogue 8643 which is a vintage reprint. I've wanted to make myself this apron for a long time, but there's always something else that bumps it down the queue.  It should be a really easy project to whip up too.  I like view E, which is the full apron with the really cute front bib with eyelet ruffling.  I love vintage aprons, and I think it would look incredible in a small floral print.

Speaking of vintage, I really love vintage jackets.  In particular, 1940s jackets.  There are no modern patterns that can compare.  1940's jackets are very flattering.  They button up higher and have a more fitted feminine shape.  I have this pattern that I used to make my vintage wool skirt in a cashmere wool fabric.  I believe I have enough of that fabric to make the matching jacket.  I definitely would make the jacket on the left.

 And, last but not least if there's time, I would like to make a long sleeved dress like this.  Check out this fitting video by the designer Melissa Watson.  She's wearing the dress in the video, and it looks lovely on her.

That's about it for now.  Things may change, and I don't think I'll finish all of these projects especially with my knitting and quilting on the side.  But at least I have a general guide, so there will always be something on my sewing table during the winter.

Here's a photo of some of my succulents planted together in a little community.  They seem pretty happy together, and they keep me company in my sewing room.

Thanks for reading my blog and

Happy Sewing!

Friday, 23 October 2015

Northman Mittens

I finished my Northman Mittens!  I've wanted to make myself a new pair of fall mittens for a while.  The steering wheel is starting to get cold in the morning!  

Interestingly, the inspiration to finally knit these mittens came while I was on vacation recently in Turkey.  We toured a carpet centre where women demonstrated how they made carpets by hand.  Their work was amazing.  The silk carpets were amazingly soft and the colours were so vibrant.  Each carpet design was more incredible than the last.  You can see how they hang the pattern in front of them.  This reminded me of a Fairisle knitting pattern.

Seeing this beautiful handwork inspired the Fairisle knitter in me and I started these mittens soon after my return.  However, I don't think these mittens are technically Fairisle.

I did a two colour cast on and a Latvian braid which I really like.  I think I'll use this more often.  I even mirrored the braid direction on the other mitten.  I used alpaca yarn which is really soft and warm.  It's even warmer than wool.

Oh yeah and I also started off doing a lining but I didn't like the way it felt inside the mitten.  There was some wrinkling inside that drove me nuts.  It bothered me so much that I decided to frog the lining and forget about it altogether.  Even thinking about it bothers me.  It's kind of like nails on a chalkboard.  I don't know if this is normal but maybe the lining needs to be smaller.

I made excellent use of this magnetic pattern holder thingie-do.  You know how it's hard to follow a Fairisle pattern sometimes.  I used to fold a piece of loose-leaf in half and tape it to the chart and then move it for each row.  Well, this magnetic thing is so much more efficient.  I received it in a large bag of vintage knitting paraphernalia from my mother in law.  It belonged to my husband's grandmother so I'm very thankful to her.

Although I have some fall sewing projects in queue, my knitting phase continues!

Thanks for reading my blog and

Happy Knitting!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Tinder Cardigan

Wow, it feels like forever since I've held knitting needles, and I love every moment of it.  Knitting was the first craft I learned.  I was obsessed with knitting at age 8 or so when I first learned. Recently,  I've had to take a break because of pain in my wrist.  So, I just have to be careful not to knit too long or too frequently.   Anyways, this is my Tinder Cardigan, a project I just started.  It's a cozy warm cardigan for autumn.

 I love cardigans.  My Nettle Cardigan has been getting a LOT of use, so I figured I need another one.  This time, I found this lovely pattern by Jared Flood.  It has an allover waffle stitch which I really like.  The sleeves are in reverse stockinette stitch which I don't like because it looks inside out.  Yeah I know I'm crazy but I'm going to do them regular stockinette stitch because that's how I like it.  This cardigan is knit in separate pieces for fronts, back and sleeves then sewn together.  Should be fun as I usually do sweaters in the round.   Apparently seams add a bit more durability and structure.  In other words less stretching out of shape.  We'll see!

The yarn I'm using is Brigg's and Little Regal yarn in light brown which I bought from Ram Wools.  I've actually used this yarn for several other projects in the past.  I really like working with it.  It's fluffy and durable, and I like the heathered look of the colours.

I was happy to bring out the yarn swift.  I've always enjoyed this part.  It's also a good way to inspect every inch of that skein and make sure there are no breaks or knots in there.  Yeah,  actually it's just fun making things spin fast.  I'm easily amused.

Here's the pattern.  I really like the fit.  It's a slight A-line.  More fitted on the upper chest with a bit of ease in the waist and the hip area.  It would be perfect for layering.

I also love the high ribbed collar which makes it jacket-like.   I'm going to take my time with this so as to avoid a repetitive stress injury, but I'll do a post when it's done!

Happy Knitting!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Completed: Deer & Doe Bleuet Dress

I managed to squeeze in one more summer dress before I start my autumn sewing, and I'm so glad I finally sewed this one!  The pattern is Deer & Doe's  Bleuet dress which I've had in my stash for quite a while. This is my first Deer & Doe pattern, and I'm really impressed.  I'm glad I could make good use of my Liberty of London cotton poplin. 

I started with doing a muslin in a size 40 grading to 42 at the waist then back to 40 at the hips, but it was too tight overall.  So I decided to do a muslin in a straight size 42 with no grading.  Surprisingly, it fit perfectly! So, I went ahead with a straight size 42, simple as that.  I guess I'm used to lots of ease in patterns and rounding down my size.   I love the shaping and the details like the bow at the back waist. 

I love the fact that this pattern has a hem facing because it's so much easier to do than all that folding and pressing.  It also looks less bulky.  I zig-zagged the edge of the facing, and I catch-stitched it in place.  The stitches are not visible on the front.

Here's a close up of the collar.  There's actually no button on the collar stand because my machine didn't want to co-operate and make a buttonhole on the bulky edge.  Nevertheless, the collar sits nicely.  I was thinking I could always put a small snap in there that would be invisible on the outside.  

I REALLY love wearing this dress.  I think this is my new favourite dress pattern.   I feel like it was designed for me.  And I didn't even need any fitting modifications.  That rarely happens!  I could totally see this in a lightweight denim.  I may lengthen it to the knee next time.  Either way,  I can see more Bleuet's in my future!

Construction Details!

So this picture shows how the collar stand needs to be pinned.  Because of the three-dimensional nature of the collar, you can't just pin it flat.  I hold the pieces up off the table and pin them in a gentle curve shape.

To get a neat curve, I draw in the seam allowance with pencil first.  Oh and you can see I basted the pieces together first.  I know it takes more time to baste, but I find it helps me have better control over multiple layers of fabric.  Actually, I found sewing the collar stand to the body of the garment tricky.  I got a couple little puckers, even though I hand basted the thing. But it would have been even harder if I had a bunch of pins in there.  At least they are really tiny puckers and are not visible especially because there's a collar covering the area.

Here's my handy point turner.  The curved end actually worked well for the collar stand curve.

Well,  this may be farewell to summer dresses but I'm also excited to start autumn and winter sewing.  I can feel summer beginning to slip away and more cool days being interspersed here and there.  

Here are some of my plants sunning themselves in the remnants of summer heat before they have to come back inside.

Happy Sewing!