Sunday, December 16, 2012

dec 2012

dec 2012

Glamorous peplum top
$48 -

VILA woven shirt
$40 -

8 Button Shrug in Black
$14 -

Chanel quilted handbag

Silver jewelry

Pearl necklace
$510 -

Collar necklace

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kayak purse

I have an obsession with purses.  However, I don't own many purses because (a) I have very expensive tastes in purses and (b) I am too cheap to spend a fortune on a purse.

imgres.jpgavailable at

So, after a summer-long yearning for an amazing Coach purse with a hefty (for me) price tag, I decided that if I wanted a new purse I was going to have to make one.

I used OOP Butterick 4624View C, but I changed the pocket options. I used the navy, tan and orange colour scheme from my dream bag (though the only orange I could find to include was a bead I added to the zipper pull!).


 The main body of the bag is prequilted denim fabric from Fabricland.  I usually hate what I find there, but this is actually quite nice.

I love long straps because I can only manage cross body bags...that leaves my hands free to hang onto each of my kids. I even added on a leather shoulder pad detail to the strap.

The front of the bag has a zipped exterior pocket that I framed with leather.
 The Kayak detail is blue faux leather, with a black leather reverse applique for the kayak cockpit.  The camel/tan coloured leather is from my camel leather jacket that I made last year.

 The tassel is made from leather remnants, with some glued on "jewels" at top.
The back has a pocket as well, with a snap closure so I can quickly jam in my car keys/kids mittens/toys/ get the idea.

The bag is large enough to hold my iPad, plus all the other assorted junk that moms seem to need to carry around.  The colour doesn't show dirt and the quilted fabric didn't require any interfacing.  So far, this is the favourite bag I have made (the rest are pre-blogging, so no other photos for comparison).

I have been up to a lot of sewing lately, so I have some Halloween costumes, tops and even a pair of jeans to show you.  Also, a wool jacket is in the works, though it is currently just a heap of fabric on the cutting table with pattern pieces laying around, in need of muslining and adjusting.

Chat soon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sewing Updates soon to come!

We are in the throes of summer here on the rock, and though I have been off on vacation for the past 3 weeks, I feel busier than ever.  I have been sewing, but I have also been guiding kayak groups, did my first multi-night kayak trip with my young children, running, swimming, paddling, and doing lots of reading.  (Fifty Shades anyone?)

One of my favourite summer past times has been to find a shady, cool spot and read sewing sites and blogs on my iPad.  Just this morning, as I sip my coffee and gear up to take out a group of kayakers for an introductory lesson and paddle, I found a new-to-me blog.


Karine is a blogger from Montreal.  That's all I have learned so far from the couple of posts I have read.  And she sews.  AND she knits the most amazing things ( as a knitter I AM PATHETIC, so I have knitting envy of others who can knit beautiful creations).

Her latest post about running is what drew me in.  I am a recreational runner (I run because I eat!) and she is currently sharing her journey about training for an upcoming race. I thnk today's lazy reading will be her blog.

Whenever I run out of blog updates to read on my google reader, I visit . This site lists updates of sewing blogs of all sorts.  When looking for blogs to read, I tend to get excited to find other Canadian sewing bloggers out there (mostly because they are a rare breed).

I must head out to my kayaking gig, but I do promise I have SEVERAL sewing projects to share.  As soon as I enlist one of my kids to take photos I will get posting.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bikini skirtini

I have always wanted to be small-busted, but that dream was gone in my teen years.  Now, after two children, not only am I endowed, but the girls seem to have headed south.

Swimwear is a nightmare for me.  I have never been able to find RTW that fits properly, that doesn't cost a fortune.  I need bust support, I am long-waisted, and have had the blessing of cellulite since I was 16 (yay genetics).

I live on an island, and spend my summers with the kids at the lake, and also spend my time canoeing and kayaking.

I have decided to come up with mix and match pieces that will suit a variety of water activities.

This is one iteration of my summer swim wardrobe:
The top is bra pattern  Kwik Sew 3620. This pattern is quite ideal for swimwear since the cups in the pattern are lined, and it uses underwires for support. I sewed a 34D and the fit is fine. I am pleased with it as a first attempt, but want to make note of changes I made and wish to make in future.
  • use wider elastic for straps - all I had on hand was 3/8 so I need to order 5/8 swim elastic
  • use wider elastic for back band - I need to cut the band wider to accommodate 5/8 elastic here
  • underline the back band pieces, either with self-fabric of powernet - I definitely need a more supportive back band
  • add 1/4 inch elastic along the front inside cup seams to add support there - sew on the elastic after stitching the seam and then flip (this is the first seam you sew when you follow the pattern instructions
  • add 1 inch to the back band pieces to allow them to fold over to hold the G hook closure
  • use a 1 " or larger G hook - I scavenged one from an old swimsuit but if I had a larger hook I could make the back band wider at the center back
  • I zigzagged elastic to wrong side, then flipped and coverstitched it to finish the edges - I find this is faster than using the elasticator on my serger
The skirtini is Jalie  3023. I goofed a bit when I used the mesh print on the band since the elastic would have shown through.  I eliminated the elastic because of this but haven't yet swam in this and worry that it may slip down when wet.  I have a feeling I may be adding the elastic and not worry about show through, in order to avoid "putting on a show" of sorts.

  • These bottoms fit very snugly and the sizing seems to run smaller than some of the other Jalie's I have sewn.
  • zigzag and coverstich elastic
  • swimwear lining in front of the undershorts under the skirt

I have also sewn a sports top to wear with this suit, and a matching mesh coverup top.  I will post when I get pics taken.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Style Arc pants

My latest pattern order is from Style Arc.  I decided bite the bullet and actually order 4!!!!! patterns for bottoms.

Here are are my new patterns:
Katherine Pant and Jilly Jeans

Karen Walk Shorts and Tori Crop Pants

I can't wait to try these patterns.  If they fit as well as the other Style Arc pants (I've tried the Linda and the Elle so far) then I will have a wonderful stable full of TNT pants patterns soon!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sewing plans

Yahoo, school's out for summer!  The past few weeks have been full of end of the year craziness, but happily, I now have two months of vacay.  I have done a lot of mental sewing (and virtural shopping), but not been near the sewing machines for a couple of weeks, which is a long time for me.

My sewing plans/goals/dreams/wishes are as follows:

Must do:
  • quick dry camping pants for DD, out of navy quickdry fabric from Fabricland

Should do:
  • rain jacket for DD out of waterproof/breathable hot pink fabric
  • sun shirt for me from Jalie button-up pattern with sun fabric from Rockywoods (red, white and black are the colours that I bought)
Want to do:
  • a supportive bikini top, using a bra pattern and underwires
  • peplum top (a great one on Shawnta Sews using New Look 6130 )
  • shorts with the new Style Arc Karen Walking Short
  • start planning and pulling fabrics for my fall wardrobe, and actually start to sew it before fall is over!
  • to catalogue patterns and fabrics and store on my iPad in the Sewing Kit app
Of course, I always tend to get very derailed with my plans and head off in different directions, but that's all right, that's what makes sewing a hobby!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline: book review

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion is a just-been released book about today's garment industry. June 14th was the release date, and it thrills me that I got on the bandwagon right away rather than hearing about it months or even years later.  (I do live on an Island, in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest book store 2 hours away ya know)  I had to have this book as soon as I heard about it on the Patternreview   I grabbed my iPad and downloaded the book from iBooks, then proceeded to read the book in a day.

I loved it!

In fact, I loved it so much that I had to talk about it non-stop as I was reading it, to whomever was nearby to listen.

Unfortunately, the 4 and 6 year-olds didn't really understand what I was talking about.  My DH appeared to be patiently listening, but I think he was just playing Mahjong on his iPad.  My mother, when she happened to call, made all the appropriate noises, and as a the person who fueled my sewing interest, was actually able to make conversation about the book, until she got onto more pressing matters such as where she was going for lunch.  And the dog?  She at least looked at me with a quizzical expression, but it was impossible to tell whether it was interest or if it was her 'do I get cookies if I pretend to care' look.

Undeterred, I finished the book and have ruminated over the contents for the past few days.

Perhaps the biggest reason I love the book was that it cemented in my mind the reasons that I sew.  When I first took up sewing as an adult, when I was at home with my youngest on maternity leave, I decided that it was a greener way to look at clothing.  My very first project was a refashion of a quick-dry shirt.

Overdressed looks at where our clothing is coming from, and explains why it is we can buy t-shirts form big-box retailers for $5 or less. The reasons are many: inferior materials, cheaper overseas labour-forces, shoddy sewing, and perhaps the most concerning of all, the fact that we, the consumers, are driving this problem by demanding cheaper clothes, and then happily buying more than we need.

I will admit that I don't always buy secondhand clothing: with two growing kids and limited access to thrift stores, it is sometimes far more practical to shop mail order. I try to purchase items which are Made in Canada, and the U.S.A., though they are very difficult to find and the prices are often prohibitive. However, I do try to limit this, and after reading Overdressed, I will try to be even more conscientious.

The end of the book does give me hope.  Elizabeth Cline notes that there seems to be a shift, and clothing prices are slowly starting to rise, as labour laws become more strict overseas and some manufacturing is shifting back to North America.

So what influence will this book have in my life?  For one, I will even more determinedly continue to sew most of my own wardrobe, and as much as possible for my kids.  I will also be more aware of the clothing I do purchase, its origins, and whether or not it is a necessary purchase.

The only downside of this book is the fact that I purchased an ebook instead of waiting a week or two to get my hands on a hard copy. This is definitely a book that I want to pass along to others to read.

And maybe get someone to have a conversation about it with me :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ottobre 03-2010-35

Ottobre Designs 03-2010-25

This was the dress design that my DD chose for her end-of-the-year celebration for her Senior Kindergarten class.   They are having a tiny in-class graduation, but I will take any excuse I can get to make a fancy dress.

Last year I bought some Betsey Johnson  stretch cotton butterfly fabric that she has had her eye on ever since. I believe it came from Elliott Berman in their annual 50% off sale.  Originally, it was to be for me, but I just couldn't find something to make that wouldn't look too "cute" for a woman well into her thirties.

So, she won, I lost, and she has a pretty sweet dress.
Of course, I couldn't get her to model it.  It was enough of a battle to get her to try it on for fitting.  The white fabric for the top of the dress was a 50 cent rummage sale find.

I lined the bodice with some cheap poly cotton broadcloth, since the fabric was so wrinkle prone.  I left the skirt unlined as there was no real need for a lining.  I simply serged the seam at the waist to connect the bodice and skirt.  I didn't feel there was any great need for special finishing.

  I used an invisible zip in the back, and defined the waistline with a pink strip of leftover bias tape in stash.  The tape and the bottom hem both have a decorative butterfly stitch from my sewing machine in white thread. Hopefully, I will get some pics to post at her "graduation" in a couple of weeks. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Luscious leather and other fabrics

I see that Fabric Mart Fabrics has new leather in stock.  Wow, there are some gorgeous options.  I am especially partial to the white lambskin for a great summer jacket for chilly evenings, and the blueberry would be fun for a back-to-school (aka work) wardrobe in the fall.  Unfortunately, the shipping to Canada is high, and since I recently placed a huge Fabric Mart order, I can't justify the purchase right now.  However, if anyone else purchases some, please let me know what "awesomeness" you plan to sew with it so I can live vicariously through you.
(fabric links as of June 11/12)

Below, I have some new, but unfortunately not leather, fabrics for my overwhelming stash.  For the record, I can't believe how quickly stash can accumulate in just 3 short years of sewing.

Fuschia Ralph Lauren waterproof fabric from Fabric Mart

In my recent order, I ended up with 8 yards of Gore Tex.  Rather unexciting, but highly practical.  You see, besides sewing, my other love is paddling.  We are a paddling family and we spend our summers kayaking, canoeing, and guiding and teaching these amazing watersports.  My kids are taking up the paddling schtick (like they had a choice) and they need gear.  It is nearly impossible to find, and incredibly expensive to buy, outdoor gear for young children.  I am planning a rain jacket for my daughter  out of the pink fabric above and I will stash the rest of my waterproof-breathables' purchase for future rain pants, jackets, mitts, hats and so on.

I did spring for a freebie Fabric Mart bundle (which is not so free when you factor in the very expensive shipping to Canada, so not always a gamble I take) and these are some of the pieces I ended up with:

The fabric on the left appears to be some sort of heavier polyester, blue on one side and greyish on the other.  I will likely use it as a purse lining.  The black lace on the right, with a fun circle design, will likely be a top of some sort.  It would make a great dress, but in my world of elementary school teacher and mom by winter/outdoorsy sporty paddling woman by summer, I can't see getting much use of a dress with lace overlay.  I do love it though.
I also ended up with this.  It is some sort of backed/bonded brownish knitish thing.  It will make either a costume of some sort, or some type of soft jacket, though I can't see me wearing this since it feels bizarre to the touch.
This is not a fabric purchase, but rather, a find at our local church rummage sale.  It is handmade and vintage, a knit with very little stretch.  It is too small as-is, but if I redesign it from tunic length to shorter top I think I can make it work as a fun tank/shell.  Hey, you can't go wrong for a whole 50 cents!

This final fabric is a lightweight cotton that I actually purchased at my nearest (meaning a two hour drive away) Fabricland, the Canadian chain store. I don't buy many prints from there because I rarely find anything that I like, but for some reason I couldn't leave the store without this one.  I'm not much of a dress person for most of the year, but in the summer, they are my favourite type of clothing.  So easy to wear and very cool in warm weather.  This will definitely be a dress, but I have no idea which style yet.

I have finished several projects lately but haven't had time to photograph or post them as I've been in the midst of report cards and all that other busy end-of-the-school-year stuff.  Hopefully life will settle down soon and I can get some project details recorded here before I forget them.

Finished project updates to come soon, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Reliable Sensor Velocity 200

Sensor Velocity 200

I see this is coming out fall 2012. They are available for preorder on the site, but apparently haven't been reviewed anywhere yet, that I can find . My current iron is held together with scotch tape and works, well, intermittently.

I currently have a Reliable iron on my birthday wish list for July, but I am wondering if I should wait until the 200 is available.

In the meantime, I guess I will wait to find some reviews.

Ruffle leather jacket complete!

My Mad Hatter

I did it!  I completed my ruffled leather jacket!  Though you can't see me I am jumping up and down at my computer.

I had my DD who is 6 yrs old snap some pics before the school bus came this morning...not professional quality but they will do.

The lining is so fun.  I got a lot of positive comments from the girls at work and they loved the lining. It is Alice in Wonderland/Mad Hatter themed.  These leather ruffles nearly did send me completely "mad", and the leather ruffles certainly add a bit of "wackiness" to offset any potential biker look.
I even added an inside pocket for messages/notes at work, with my Shiny Green Penny label affixed.

The lining is 100% cotton and the sleeve lining is black rayon to allow the jacket to slide off and on easily.

Here is the back view.  I really do love the fit of this jacket.  It is fitted and yet so comfortable to wear.

I even added a hanging chain so that I can hang up my jacket in my locker at work.
The leather neck facing I drafted myself because I think it makes the jacket look more polished on the inside, plus the leather seems to  make the collar more stable.

Overall, I love my jacket.  My DD does too, though she has a ways to go before she grows into it!
 I think that this has been my favourite sewing project ever.  It was a challenge, and I ended up with a very unique, yet wearable, finished product. Yay!

I did enter my jacket in the Pattern Review contest, and my review can be seen here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ruffle Leather Jacket - in progress

So, I have decided that I need to sew another leather jacket.  Pattern Review is having a Natural Fibres contest and that is serving as motivation for me to actually cut into my leather that I have had stashed since last year's leather sale at Fabric Mart.

After searching the web for hours for inspiration, and trying out a wide variety of trims such as lace, zipper tape, metal chain and a variety of adhesive studs and bling, I settled on a ruffle design. But not without much trepidation, that's for sure.

It seems that my hesitation was warranted.  I have discovered that there is a reason that there are few, if any, patterns for jackets with ruffle trim of leather.  I have also discovered that any such jackets available in RTW are in the $500-$1000 range and up. Sewing leather ruffles in NOT easy.

The reason that I settled on ruffles is that I didn't want it to look too "biker" because I want to wear it to work and dressier venues. A little bit girly and a little bit tough, I guess, was what I was going for.  For me, casual wear is paddling and outdoor quick dry clothing. Leather jacket = dressier attire in my world (small town, small island, where dressing up means wearing your best black running shoes and your cleanest ball cap).

First of all, you don't want too many basting threads to ruffle the leather due to the fact that holes will be left behind.  Secondly, when you sew leather ruffles to other leather, it makes for a whole lot of layers of leather for your sewing machine to get through (yay, Bernina 550, I love you!).

The pattern is McCalls 6171, with the 3/4 sleeve length.  I added ruffles along the front yoke seam.
Here the sleeves are ready to have the seam allowances glued in place. I use contact cement (outdoors so the fumes don't poison us all) to glue any seams that I don't topstitch, such as the sleeve seams and the side seams.
The binder clips in the image are my #1 favourite tool for sewing leather. The small size can be clipped onto seam allowances and allow you to leave them in place as you sew, with enough room for the presser foot to stitch the seam. I used about 10 clips on the armscyes when I set in the sleeves and they went in without a hitch. (plus I had already trimmed all the excess ease from them when I first made a muslin of this pattern.

In the 3 years that I have been sewing, this is definitely my most challenging project to date.  However, I have been enjoying the challenge and the sense of euphoria of  being able to do it!

I began cutting out my leather Saturday morning, went for a ten km run, played with the kids and gardened the rest of the day, then sewed Saturday evening for a few hours. This morning I set in the sleeves and completed the ruffles around the zipper and collar, and even got the zipper in without a hitch.

Some notes for myself:
Size 90 needle
seam stitch length 3.0, topstitching length 3.5
leather ruffles.....been there, done that, never again
Here is a quick lazy to put it on the dressform so it basically looks like a blob of leather.

Next Steps: the lining!  More to come.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Camel leather jacket knockoff

Joie jacket

Joie jacket                                                                                                     My Jacket!

Since I first began sewing, when I was on maternity leave in 2009, one of my sewing goals was to sew a leather jacket. During one of Fabric Mart's great sales I scored several leather skins, embossed and camel coloured. I wanted to sew something simple, so I read reviews on Pattern Review and decided on McCall's 6171.  I figure I made this jacket for between $20 -$30.
Line DrawingPhoto
This great pattern, which comes with pattern pieces for different cup sizes A,B,C,D, was easy to sew up and achieve a great fit because they did the bust adjustments for you. I sewed a size 12 with the C cup and it was a great fit in my first iteration of this jacket, a grey faux suede. I did take in the seam allowances an extra 1/4 inch on the leather version to accommodate the stretch of the leather. I also left off the collar because I was copying a RTW version that I found on Polyvore

I did come across an error in the pattern, luckily on my first attempt and not on the leather. One of the front pieces is too short (it is actually the size of the lining piece).

I am happy that I obtained this pattern before it disappeared (it is now OOP) because I'm sure I will make it up again and again. Great fit, quick to sew...who could ask for more?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Plaid cape frankenpattern

 I have wanted a cape since they were heavily featured in my first ever Burda issue, 08-2009.  However, It wasn't unti this winter that I actually got around to create my ideal cape.

First, I had a lot of criteria:
  •  it couldn't have droopy bits that would get caught in car doors or dragged through soup
  • it had to have some fitting so it didn't look like a tent on my large frame (my waist is my only narrow part
  • it had to be warm enough to suffer through an early spring yard duty or a stint at arena as a skating mom
  • pockets!
So this Burda 08-2009 pattern provided the "sleeves" for my cape.
This Vogue 8674 pattern was used for the body.
Line Art

I used the longer length of view C.  I detest the sleeves on the Vogue, as all I could think about was all the things I would drag them through and get them caught in. However, the body is nicely fitted and I like the high collar.

Here is what I ended up with:
 For the back view I decided to not have the sleeves meet, similar to a RTW cape that I saw - I can no longer find the link to the image anywhere.  The belt detail I got from there as well.  My belt is "faux" as it only goes to the side seams, not around the front. It is made from thin black leather with encased elastic to give it a gathered/elasticized effect. I decided to put the sleeves on the bias to get the neat effect with the plaid.  Unfortunately, it didn't dawn on me that the plaids were almost squares, but not quite. This meant it took me forever to match them up until I realized what the problem was.
The fabric for the coat is some sort of blend (more poly, very little wool) from Fabricland that I got on deep clearance. I lined it with Kasha to make it warmer.  There are inseam pockets and I used windowpane-type buttonholes for the HUGE buttons that I found. 

I love to throw it over whatever I'm wearing for an extra served me well during late winter/early spring weather.

It took a lot more time and futzing than I would have liked, but it ended up being well worth it...I've received lots of compliments and unsolicitations.