Sunday, June 28, 2015

Shorts on the Line 2015

I had all sorts of plans for Imaginegnats Shorts on the Line this month.  The first one being that I was actually going to participate.  I need new shorts so it seemed like a perfect idea to sew them all during the month of June.   I was going to try out a few different patterns I have - Winter Wear's Real Deal Jeans, a short version of Closet Case Files' Ginger, the Purl Bee's City Gym Shorts.  Oh the ideas I had...

What ended up reality is that today, a mere two days before the end of the month, I finished up my first (and likely to be only) pair of shorts for Shorts on the Line 2015.  And it's not even a new pattern.  Or even a new twist on a pattern.  I made another denim pair of Filles A Maman Clemence Shorts.  Ok.  There is a slight difference.  I used gold jeans topstitching thread and did the rectangular front flap detail instead of blue topstitching and a scallop.  Ooooh Boy! I know!  I'm livin' on the edge!

They went together well this time, since I wasn't trying to confuse the heck out of myself on the lapped zipper.  I also went ahead and immediately did an elastic reinforcement of the back waistband.    I even added jeans buttons on the flap just for kicks (and only broke one in the process of hammering them in!) What didn't go well was that I somehow broke more than six needles - I stopped counting -in top stitching and finishing the damn things.  WHY?!?!?!  It's not as though I was using "The Goodtime Gal" Singer (sometimes also known as the #@*%$ Singer).  I was using my new to me 40-something year old work horse Pfaff that can normally sew through about six layers of denim like butter.  So, so frustrating.  I likely should have just stopped and given up, but you know.  Shorts on the Line only goes until June 30th.  I had a deadline.  (and I'm just crazy like that)

Anyways, so at least I got one teeny tiny goal accomplished - well two I guess if you count the fact I actually participated and finished one pair of shorts.  I've been pretty much living in my first pair of Clemence since I added the stabilizing elastic to the waistband, so it'll be nice to have a second pair of go to shorts in my wardrobe.  I'd say that I'd make the other shorts I had planned to do soon, but I don't know if it'll actually happen without the motivation of the sew along.  I've got so many other projects to do that they may just slip on by into the wayside for the time being.  I've got to get cracking on a bunch of sewing and alterations to do for G on her highland dance costumes before she heads east to ScotDance Canada Championship Series and Canadian Championships in a little over a week and then of course there's my Outfit Along cardi and dress to do as well as a test sew I'm working on.  In between all that of course there's things like gardening, yard work and well, the rest of life to get done.  Busy, busy times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Still Lovin' My Dress

Actually, I think I may love my second version of my Love Your Dress Modcloth knock off more than my first one!  I made the first one when the Scientific Seamstress Lab Group on Facebook hosted the "Just for Me January" challenge this winter.  The fourth week was called "Knock it Off" and we were to create a knock off outfit at least partially using a Sis Boom/Scientific Seamstress pattern.

I really fell in love with the Modcloth dress, but really could never have justified the price for basically a t-shirt dress.  Especially when you factor in the exchange and shipping. So I mashed up a Simplicity pattern that I'd used for a prior Modcloth knock off dress a few years ago and Sis Boom's Jamie dress.  I adore my "Love My Dress" - it's one of those comfy like pj outfits that I can throw on and feel great in.

Shortly after making my dress I started coveting the cherry blossom cotton jersey on the Girl Charlee site.  I kept envisioning it as a perfect fabric for another Love My Dress and finally a few weeks ago I succumbed to it's siren call and ordered a couple of yards.  I fixed up the few fit issues I had with my first one, tweaking the back neckline, the armscye and the waistband and I LA LA LOVE the result!

I also am pretty tickled with the wavy orange plaid I chose for the neckline facing, armhole bias and hem facing  Ok. I didn't actually have a hem facing in mind when I bought the cotton but apparently cutting a rectangle is beyond my capabilities for some reason and I ended up cutting one side of my skirt a whole freaking 1 3/4" shorter than the other.  Once I evened it out the length was exactly the way I wanted it, with no room for a hem.  Granted I could have left the hem raw given it's a knit, but, GAH, raw edges! YIKES!!!!! I can't handle a raw edge.  They make me a bit crazy.  So, hem facing it is.  With an added bonus it gives a wee bit of weight to the skirt and maybe the next time a gust of wind comes out of nowhere while I'm buckling Baby Boy into his seat in the truck I won't flash the entire town.  (apologies to whoever had to witness that unfortunate wardrobe malfunction last week...)

I'm squeaking this one in just under the wire for a final entry into the Dress Up Party that Sara is hosting over at Sew Sweetness.  I had hoped to get a few more entries in, but as per usual the minute I decide to take part in any sort of sew along or challenge like this I suddenly have no time to actually sew.  (Hello, Kids Clothing Week Challenge. I'm looking at you!).  I did get four entries in between my Jenny Dress, my Gathered Raglan Tee, my Clemence Shorts (which by the way I fixed and they fit like a dream now! Whoot!!!) and now my Love my Dress.  So I think I did pretty well after all.

Next up is finishing up work on a test sew, then charging full steam ahead into the Outfit Along, which I'm really lagging behind in this year having barely made a dent in my knitting and a just finally deciding on a dress.  First things first though, I've got a billion little things to get done before the weekend for Little Man's school friend birthday party.

If you don't hear from me for a while, maybe send someone out to check on me.  I might be buried under paste and newspaper trying to finish up a piƱata for the party.  I've never made one before and I think I now know why...

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Plum Blossom Tee

Well, it only took me one year and two Tops, Tanks and Tees Knit Alongs to do it, but I'm finally finished my linen Plum Blossom Tee!

I'm absolutely thrilled with how this turned out and so very glad I didn't give up and rip it all out like I briefly thought I should do figuring I'd never finish, it wouldn't fit anyways and I'd be wasting my time.  I LOVE this top!

I had started with great gusto last year during the Very Shannon Kal, but quickly lost steam when I realized I'd made a terrible mistake in gauge. (Oh gauge.  How many times you vex me.)  I don't know how or why it happened, but I had got about 10 inches or so in when I realized my error.  My top was huge (like fit two of me in it huge) and upon careful investigation of gauge swatch, which at that point I thought was bang on, and the pattern I noticed I had only seen the gauge listed for one needle instead of both and had smartly achieved the larger needle's gauge on the smaller needles.  What is it about following simple directions that gives me such trouble???

The gauge issue had also come on the heels of a yarn winding mishap that led to a four hour linen rat's nest untangling marathon.  Linen is a slippery little devil to contend with.  It doesn't like to be wound on a ball winder, oh no, it prefers special treatment and likes to be wound by hand.  For me, who can tangle a skein of yarn just by looking at it, the fact I was using Euroflax Linen at all was some sort of miracle.  In the end a well worth it miracle, but at the time I wasn't as enthusiastic, that's for sure.  Euroflax Linen really is a gorgeous yarn to work with (once it's wound that is!). It was a bit hard on my hands at times, but the fabric it creates is wonderful!

Between the wasted knitting time spent untangling and the gauge disaster requiring me to restart, I was about ready to throw in the towel on the project.  However, Plum Blossom had been in my queue for quite some time and I had the yarn and since I knew what I was doing I figured I might as well try, try again.  The fabric was definitely looking better at the right gauge and my short rows had vastly improved, but I was frustrated though for being so behind in the KAL and in the end I gave up around November, having not worked on the top in ages and threw it in the back of the closet in my knitting bag and ignored it.  Come spring I thought I'd try again to see if I could get some motivation going, but I'd knit a row or two here or there and give it up again feeling like no matter how much I knit the darn thing didn't get any longer.  2 3/4mm needles and sport weight yarn will do that to a girl used to knitting sweaters and tops in worsted weight.

Then Shannon announced the TTTKAL and I figured in for a penny, in for a pound, pulled out my top, found some determination and got going again.  I was going to finish it this time round come hell or high water.  And oh my goodness there was a lot of hell going on once I got to the lace.  Nothing to do with the pattern, I assure you.  It was all on me.  I couldn't keep straight what row I was doing, or what stitch I was on for love or money.  It was knit three rows, rip two back, knit a row, rip it back halfway.  On and on.  But I plugged away at it and finally finished the front lace yoke.  Thank goodness I had knit the top in the round up to the armholes, because if I'd had to start an entire back of the top at that point I really would have given up.  With the lace done I was able to try it on and really get a good idea of fit and how I liked it.  Motivation sky rocketed.  I immediately dove into doing the back.  Then had to rip it out.  Then started again.  GAH!!!! But I finished the lace on the weekend, tried it on again and set to work doing the applied i-cord edging.  The neckline went beautifully.  Can't say the same for the first armhole edging.  It was a Goldilocks moment getting that sucker to fit.  The first time was too small.  The second time too big.  Third time was the charm though and was just right!  Phew.

What a crazy ordeal for one little summer tee, but so well worth it and I am so happy I persevered!  I wanted to get some photos quickly today before it starts to rain again so I ran outside with my camera and tromped around the yard until I got a couple shots with the timer that I thought were decent enough.  I will just say it's not easy getting photos of oneself.  I had the camera precariously perched on the slanted roof of the shed behind the barn at one point as I twitched and flailed about smacking mosquitoes while waiting for the timer to go off.  I'm pretty sure my neighbours, who are out planting their garden right now, wonder what on earth crazy and possibly evil antics I am up to, given the odd looks they were shooting at me from across the field.  I'm sure it was a sight to behold.  Ha ha!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Me Made May 2015 - Week Four

Well, it's June 1st which means Me Made May is done and over for another year.  I'm sure that those who follow my Instagram, unless they're Me Made May-ers as well, will be happy to not be subjected to a daily, "Hey, look what I'm wearing today" picture from me.  It's been a fun month though, and I've really enjoyed the challenge.  It's definitely shown me areas that I can work on improving in my wardrobe and really shown me the go to pieces that I've made that I truly love and feel great in.

How did my final week (plus two extra days) go?  Well here's the run down.  I started out figuring I'd go out with a bang and not do any repeats all week long.  I'm pretty sure that lasted until day two of the week.  The weather continued to be at odds - some days sunny and hot, some days really cold.  We even had frost warnings for heaven's sake (but thankfully no more snow! Phew!!!!!)

May 23rd -  I chose my short sleeved, blouse length Patricia tunic top on Saturday as we were headed out to supper and I wanted to be dressed nicely, but comfortably.  I like everything about this version of the Patricia.  Too bad my recent one didn't work out.  (I'm still feeling a bit bitter about last week's sewing fiasco)

May 24th - the sun was shining so I decided to pull out my Washi Tunic that I made a couple of summers ago.  I like the ease and comfort of the shirring along the back and have been thinking it may be time to make another version of this.  


May 25th - Ok.  So I made it until day three of the week before I reached for a repeat.  This is, of course, my Hetty cardi and my "Love My Dress" that I made as a knock off of Modcloth's Love Your Dress for the Scientific Seamstress Just for Me January challenge.

May 26th - This is another Modcloth knock off that I made a couple of summers ago.  I used the same Simplicity pattern bodice for both this and my Love my Dress.  This one has become a smidge tight on me (ahem... too many snacks!) though and felt a bit like a corset.  I'm not sure how much wear it's going to get this summer, which is too bad because other than the corset-y feeling of the bodice, I really loved this polka dot dress.  I've paired it with my Miette cardi, that was my first ever Andi Satterlund pattern that I made.  Sadly, it is also a bit snug.  Sigh...

 May 27th - Hello, again my good friend, Onyx!  I really, really could live in this top.  (I'm actually wearing my Diana Ross version today!).  I've started thinking I need to make another one soon!  You've seen this photo already in my last post, because this was the day I finished my Clemence Shorts.  You remember?  The ones that are too big... sob...  I still haven't decided what to do with them yet.

May 28th - I had a busy day planned of getting things done around the yard and house so didn't put a whole lot of thought into what I was going to wear, but I did grab my new Gathered Raglan tee that I made a week and a half ago.  As much as I was feeling sort of meh about this top when I finished it, it has grown on me and I like it more and more.  I do not like that I have to always iron the sleeve hems though when I pull it out of the drier, because they flip out every single time.  

May 29th - It was another chilly day again.  The sort that you curl up in your favourite sweater and drink cup after cup of tea in hopes that you'll thaw out eventually.  In my case that meant my Laura Aylor Beach in the Winter and Earl Grey Tea.

May 30th - It was still cool out, but nowhere like the day before and at least the sun was shining!  I decided on my Sew Liberated School House Tunic.

May 31st - After puttering about in the garden and yard most of the day, I washed the mud off of me, changed out of my tortolla tank and shorts, and put on my comfy like pjs cotton lawn Jamie dress that I made ages ago!  This dress sees so much wear every summer that it's starting to show that use.  I think it might be time to make a new one for kicking about it!  Little Man was insistent that he take the photo for me and wanted to play around with the different filters on my phone.  I like what he chose for this one.

So that's it for my first ever Me Made May.  I am really happy that I did better than I really had expected.  I was sure at some point I would take the lazy way out and say, "Oh look here, I'm using my handmade bag or wallet" but I really felt that wouldn't be much of a challenge given that I don't actually own a store bought bag or wallet. I was glad that I put more effort in than that.  How about you?  Did you do a Me Made May challenge for yourself?  How did it go?  Do you plan to participate again next year?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Clemence Shorts for Women

At the beginning of the month I took advantage of the Bundle Up Sale's women's bundle.  It's a great way to get patterns at a fantastic price and this time there were enough patterns in the bundle that I loved that I thought it really worth it.  I've only ever bought one other bundle - the boy's one last year - and haven't made any of those patterns yet so I made a little agreement with myself that if I was going to spend the money on the bundle then I HAD to sew at least one item from each pattern, because really, if the patterns are going to just sit on my computer and never be sewn up, then it's not much of a savings after all is it?

I've really wanted to start making pants for myself, but I'm always put off by the dreaded fitting nightmare they can become.  I haven't sewn bottoms for myself in YEARS for that very reason.  Looking at the patterns I'd chosen for my bundle, I thought that the Clemence Shorts for Women by Filles a Maman might be the best place to dive on in.  

I have a couple of lengths of stretch denim in my stash from the sale bin at Fabricland, so figured it was as good a time as any to start my wearable muslin.  I hummed and hawed about sizing, but figured the way the pattern is designed there was lots of room for fit corrections as I went.  So I picked a size based on an average between my waist measurement size and my hip measurement size.  I traced the pattern, adding about two inches in length to the short version.  I didn't want bermuda length - they seemed really long, but I definitely didn't want to go as short as the short version's length.  

The first part of the construction went swimmingly well.  But then for some reason I could not wrap my mind around the lapped zipper.  Every time I tried the shorts on for fit, the lapped portion would stretch open leaving the zipper exposed.  The shorts were pretty loose fitting already, so I didn't want to go any bigger, but yet didn't want the zipper showing.  I must have ripped that damn thing out ten times if I did it once.  Then I finally, in a fit of temper decided to heck with it. I'd just iron the thing to death and hope it lay flat, and if it didn't oh well.  Too bad, so sad.  What a waste of effort and energy.  As soon as I got to one of the final steps in the pattern construction - top stitching the lapped part - all my flipping out zipper woes were gone.  All those times ripping it out were absolutely unnecessary.  Some days you just can't see the trees for the forest.

Worn here with my Onyx top
I really love the look of the Clemence Shorts.  I did the one scallop detail on the front and I think it adds a nice finish to the look of the shorts.  Although would be a much nicer finish if I actually could make up my mind and choose some buttons to put on them!  I'm super happy with the length I made them, they're pretty much perfect for what I want.  I also really like that they come up higher in the back, so no risk of having "plumber butt" when I bend down.  (Big, huge bonus points for that!!!)

Scallops and top stitching!
What I am disappointed with is the sizing of my particular pair - I'm sure the overall sizing of the actual pattern is great.  OH MY WORD.  These are wear for half a day and fall down kind of shorts.  They are ok, right out of the drier, although on the relaxed side of things.  However, the stretch on the denim is a bit ridiculous.  As much as I loathe the teenaged boy "pants slung too low" look on teenaged boys  I absolutely detest it beyond reason on myself for reasons I'm sure are fairly self evident.  I should have known better and definitely sized down. I have far too many pairs of ready to wear bottoms that have this exact problem, which is the whole reason I wanted to start making my own in the first place.  Live and learn. 

I am in the process of debating whether or not running some elastic in the back of the waistband will suffice to allow me to wear the shorts without being at risk of losing them or if I should just toss them into the goodwill bag for someone else to enjoy and make myself a smaller size.  I absolutely want these to be in my summer wardrobe, and now that I've sewn them once I'm sure I can whip up a couple pairs in no time.  I just need to remember to be aware of the percentage of stretch, the recovery of my fabric and my actual size.

I also made myself a new Patricia tunic this week but I'm not going to bother even showing that one to you here.  It is on Kollabora if you want to take a peek at all.  I HATE it.  I absolutely La La LOVE my other Patricia I made and I fully expected this one to be just as awesome.  Unfortunately the gauzy, puckery, floral fabric I chose was a full on sewing nightmare.  It pulled, snagged and frayed (along the seams) as I sewed.  I'm not convinced the top will hold up to wearing, let alone being washed without disintegrating. And to top it all off I must have cut it off grain because the princess seam is slightly twisting on one side and then I hemmed it too short.  So, so disappointing.  

So all in all not a stellar week in the sewing room for me.  I feel a bit discouraged by the whole business to be honest and think I'll take a bit of a time out from my machine and focus instead on finishing up my Plum Blossom Tee for the Very Shannon Tops, Tanks and Tees knit along that is wrapping up next week.  I'm so close to being finished it'd be nice to make it by the deadline!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Me Made May 2015 Week Three

How are we already at the end of another week??  Is it just me or did the week just fly by?

We had some crazy weather over the last seven days - it started out gorgeous and spring like on Saturday, but by evening the temps had dropped, the rain clouds rolled in and things went downhill from there.  By Monday morning there was snow on the ground.  Thankfully things improved fairly quickly and today is glorious once again.  Sunny and summery.  It's wonderful... and gives me so many more me made wardrobe options (although I ended up with a repeat today anyways.  Ha ha!)

Here's how my me made week three looked!

May 16th - Was an identical repeat of May 1st right down to the jeans I paired with my Honey Blouse.  I think I should have probably ironed it before wearing.  OOPS!

May 17th -  It was pouring rain out making it the kind of day you want to curl up on the couch and do pretty much nothing at all but be cozy and comfy.  I wore my Sis Boom Tortola Top and my Jocole Yoga Pants.  The temperature dropped considerably again by the end of the day and the next morning we woke up to this... (which was actually a bit of a relief to only see that and not the 10-15cm they were forecasting. Still. Yeesh. Mother Nature.  Cut it out!!!)

May 18th - The snow was finally melting away when I got this photo of my me made (but somehow never blogged) Raglan Gathered Tee that I modified from a Simplicity pattern last year and an Abalone Cardi I knit forever ago.

May 19th - Little Man took this photo of me Tuesday morning before he went off to school.  It was still pretty cool that morning, so I grabbed my Hay Cove cardi to ward of the chill before heading out the door.  Have I mentioned just how much I love this cardigan???

May 20th - What a difference in weather a few days makes!  Wednesday was definitely flip flop weather!  I am wearing my new version of the same tee I wore earlier in the week.  Haven't blogged about this one either (obviously).  I'm not sure how I feel about it to be brutally honest.  The fabric is super soft cotton spandex, but the recovery isn't great (despite being advertised as having great recovery. HA!) and by late afternoon my tee was doing some pretty heavy duty sagging and bagging.  Also odd was the general looseness of it from the start given I used the exact same pattern pieces I'd used to make the black one.  Did I shrink the black one that much over the course of the year?  I fought and fought with this blue version taking it in here and there, reworking bits and generally spending way more time than anyone ever should on a t-shirt.

May 21st - I know you just saw this just yesterday, but here it is again, because I really, really love this top and I was so happy to finally be able to show it off since Paprika Patterns released the Onyx pattern yesterday.  (Remember - you still can snap it up for the intro price for the next couple of days!)

May 22nd - Another repeat day today.  It's gorgeous out and I'd planned to wear a dress.  I took no less than four out of the closet this morning, but they all needed a good pressing if I was going to wear them and well, I just didn't feel like doing that, so I went a different route instead and grabbed my Jocole Yoga Skirt instead.  No ironing, no fuss and it's comfy like pjs.

So that's been my week.  I'm still doing well with my challenge and managing to wear at least one me made per day even if they are repeats.  I have a few projects on the sewing desk right now - a wearable muslin of the Clemence Shorts for women that I snapped up in the Bundle Up Sale as well as another Sis Boom Patricia.  Hopefully I will get those finished up or at least iron some dresses and have some variation in my final week of Me Made May for next week.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


I'm back today with another test that I've been eagerly waiting to show you!  This time it's sewing, though, instead of knitting.

Several weeks ago I got an email from Lisa at Paprika Patterns asking if I would like to apply to test a new pattern.  After sewing up and reviewing the Jade Skirt I jumped at the opportunity and sent an email back right away.  I was super excited to get an email back a couple days later saying I was in.

It was a great testing experience and I ended up with a garment I absolutely love, that fit pretty much right off the hop.  The Onyx top is a carefree easy woven tee.  It has a gentle hi-low hem and comes with two options: a cropped, sleeveless variation and a longer short sleeved version with a cute button treatment on the sleeve. The neckline (and the armholes for the sleeveless version) are finished with bias tape.  So, so easy!!! Of course like the other Paprika Patterns available it comes in a great range of sizes (bust measurements from 31 1/2" all the way up to 49")!

My first one I made out of a polyester crepe-ish fabric.  I've no idea what it actually is or where it came from, but I thought it might look kind of neat with its vertical gradient striping.  Also? The selvedge edge said "Diana Ross", which made me happy.

...More childhood memories.  This memory of a gong show in the school gym, velvet trousers and a completely made up disco song with possibly the world's lamest lyrics - in fact there may have only been one line, that's all I remember anyways - Come on disco woman, baby, come on baby dance with me - but my friends, Madeline and Patricia and I channelled our inner disco diva and strutted our way around the stage to the end of our song being the only group not being gong-ed off stage, so there was that... Ah.  Grade three.  It was a good year.  Anyways that's enough of a trip down memory lane for now.  Back to my Diana Ross polyester and the Onyx now that you know why the fact my fabric was Diana Ross was making me happy!

Onyx sewed up like a dream.  I'm pretty sure the pattern took longer to assemble and cut out than to sew.  I made it exactly as written figuring it would be an excellent jumping off point for any fit issues that might crop up given it was a test sew.  But there really were no fit issues.  It was great.

I knew that I would definitely make more down the road and I did.  One evening I decided on a whim that I felt like sewing something.  I didn't have a particular project in mind, but went down to the sewing room and rifled through my patterns and quickly settled on Onyx.  I grabbed the cotton lawn that the little boys had chosen when we'd had our big shopping trip and my pattern and got started.  I went downstairs at 10pm.  By 11:30pm I was tucking into bed with a brand new top hanging in my closet.  INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

The only thing I changed with my second one was to add a bit of length, because I have a excellent talent for shrinking things and although I'd preshrunk my cotton lawn when I first bought it, I didn't want to take the chance on having it continue to shrink and be too short for me to wear eventually.

I'm pretty sure there will still be more Onyx tops in my future.  It's such a blank canvas of a shirt that the possibilities really are endless!  You can buy the just released Onyx top pattern over at the Paprika Patterns website.  I highly recommend it! And if you hurry, you can get it 15% off for a short time.  You can check out the details here.

Update: I just have to say how incredibly honoured I am to have been featured on the Friday Spotlight over at Sew Can She!  Thank you everyone who dropped by the blog and to Caroline for her kind words!!!