Friday, September 30, 2016

September Goals Revisited

September didn't really feel much like September in my mind.  It certainly was a busy month - I rang it in by spending a weekend at a friend's cottage (which was amazing - kayaking, tubing, boating, dock sitting, reading at the lake, swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and going to the fair with rides and cows and chickens and fair food!!).  September also saw me become an auntie again, re-certify for Ski Patrol (for my 13th season) with a day of examinations, host a sewing retreat weekend and travel to New Orleans for five days.  All this thrown in with my "regular" daily activities!

Add to that the fact that the majority of the month was still quite warm out (the daily highs were well above the average for this time of year), so it really didn't feel quite like fall - I'm not wearing my hand knit sweaters yet!  Still, the calendar says that September 2016 is coming to a close, which means it's time for my goals check-in.

My goals for September were:


  1. Finish the Asymmetrical Ribbed Vest I've been working on.  I feel like I might be playing a game of yarn chicken though, I will keep persevering to see what happens. Done!  My visualization of yarn chicken was realized, and I lost by A LOT.  Fortunately, I had something similar in my stash and while I know that it was finished with a different yarn, it's on the back portion of the vest and the yarn is very very close for not being the same.  I feel like it's a design feature!
  2. Finish the Trillian shawl I'm working on in Misti Alpaca Pima Silk.  Love knitting this - its almost mindless, and perfect for the end of day knitting.  Done!  I absolutely love this cotton and silk scarf. The colours coordinate very well with my casual summer wardrobe.
  3. Finish the Agatha sweater for Melissa.  Really.  Bwahahahaha...though it is currently sitting beside the chair I sit in in the yarn room, and mocks me every time I sit down.  I'm wondering if I can finish this for Christmas?!
  4. Start and finish two pairs of plain vanilla Christmas socks as a present for one of the people on my list. I've started two pairs.  But I am nowhere near finishing either of them.  
  5. Start and finish a baby sweater for Sara's baby. Nope.  I will have to get a few of these done, but Christmas knitting comes first.
  6. Design and machine knit a black bulky weight cardigan for myself.  I did swatch for this.  I need a new handknit black sweater, so hopefully I can get to this, but it is currently on the backburner due to the Christmas knitting that has started.
  7. Attempt to machine knit socks.  Nope.  See #6.  When time is at a premium, I can't mess around with trying out new things.  Maybe in January I'll revisit this...
  1. Finish The Big Easy SWAP 2016 for my trip to NOLA I did get a lot done on this, but as with all plans, it wasn't 100% realized the way I had originally thought.  I made some tweaks along the way to the planned patterns and edited a few fabrics, but am very happy with the result.  It worked really well as a travel wardrobe.  Despite sticking to carry-on, I brought a few too many clothes, but the temperature varies so much from inside to out, and the activities are always quite varied in New Orleans too (think boardroom to the bayou to Bourbon Street), so I had to be prepared for pretty much anything.  I'm thinking a post on the outcome would be a good idea.  
  2. That's a pretty big goal, so I'll leave it at that  Can I just cross this off?  I'm obsessive about checklists and crossing things off feels really good. :)
  3. Oh wait - I have some sports "tops" (aka bras, Jalie!) cut out - I need to finish these so I can kick up my exercise program (literally, cuz I like kickboxing!) Done!  Guess I should do a post on these too?!
  1. Read The Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts, which I've started already :) Done - super fast read.  Magic, werewolfs, warlocks, mermaids, time travel, and a bit of romance thrown into the mix.  I immediately pre-ordered the next book in this trilogy which is scheduled for a December release.
  2. Finish Sales Bible by Jeffery Gitomer - I started this a million years ago, and would like to get back to reading a bit every morning before I start work. This book is currently sitting on my desk at work, staring at me every day.  I think it's more of a read a bit here and there to pick up some concepts type of book rather than a read straight through type of book.  I do read it regularly, and am learning a lot.  It also reinforces the power of positive thinking, which is a fantastic reminder whether you're in sales or not.
  3. Find a trashy southern Louisiana-based historical romance to read.   Something preferably with vampires, voodoo and/or witches.  I'm looking for something gripping yet easy to read as an escape.  Any suggestions?  I listened to Nine Lives by Dan Baum. Definitely not a historical romance, but a really interesting story about nine people who live in New Orleans and a good look at life there, and a look at how Hurricane Katrina impacted their lives.  I also read The Collector by Nora Roberts - an easy read modern day detective/crime type romance novel, which was a good book for reading at night.

Goals for October


  1. Finish three pairs of socks for Christmas knitting.  I'll be travelling a lot for work and for pleasure in October, so these are great portable projects and I need to get them done!
  2. Get at least one sleeve done in Melissa's Agatha sweater.
  3. I totally got sidetracked in September from my knitting goals (I am a self professed magpie and love starting new projects) and started the Sugar Maple sweater.  You can see my Ravelry page here. I'm almost done this sweater and would like to finish this before the weather gets too cold.

  1. Sew the Mia Jeans from Sew Over It City Break e-book - I think this will be a great pair of casual pants and I'm really lacking in that department right now.  Plus hello, Sew Over It City Break.  Because I'm crushing hard on these patterns right now.
  2. Sew a Jean Jacket  (maybe out of twill, not necessarily out of denim) - I need a semi-casual fall coat and this would fit the bill.  And go with my Mia Jeans.
  3. Sew the Lola Coat from Sew Over It City Break e-book - I need a good fall coat that's a bit dressier for work.  Because, again, City Break!
  4. Start planning my Christmas party dressing - pick a fabric from my stash and search for a pattern

Can I just mention here how much I am enjoying the goal of reading a bit of fiction as well as a bit of a self-improvement book each day?  I forgot how much I love the story telling/reading process. 
  1. Continue reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield - I'm currently working my way through this and it is changing the way I think for the better.  Can't wait to see where it leads.
  2. Pick the next fiction book to read.  Another New Orleans based one perhaps?  Or maybe one based in Newfoundland since I'll be travelling there this month? 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

FO - Sew Over It City Break E-book Alex Shirt #2

As part of My Big Easy SWAP plan (link to the post with my plans is: here), I had wanted to make a rust/mustard coloured shirt.  When I first tried the Alex Shirt from Sew Over It's City Break e-book, I loved it so much, I immediately cut out a second one.  I finished it just in time to take with me to The Big Easy.

Pattern Description:  from the Sew Over It website (Sew Over It City Break):

Alex Shirt & Dress
Two-in-one, the Alex Shirt Dress is a versatile, classic pattern that will take anyone seamlessly from day to night. Although always loose and comfy, this pattern can look completely different depending on fabric choices. Made in linen, the shorter Alex Shirt is ideal for exploring the city in the daytime. But choose a lightweight crepe, viscose or georgette and you have a glamorous, knee-length evening shirt dress, perfect for that special restaurant.

Pattern Sizing: UK 8 - 20.  I chose the size 14.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, I would have to say it does!

Were the instructions easy to follow?  I used them for my first version, but did not use them this time.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I love that this is an easy to sew pattern for a very versatile basic item of clothing.  I can see wearing this as a shirt/blouse, buttoned up and tucked in or worn out over the waist band of the skirt or pants I'm wearing, or open as a jacket, over a tank top or tee-shirt.  Each of my versions look quite different, because of the fabric I used.

Fabric Used: a gorgeous silk georgette with a raised floral pattern in a dark mustard yellow colour

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I shortened the sleeves to accommodate the yardage I had.  When I tried it on, I decided to make them into cuffed 3/4 length sleeves.  As a result, I decided to leave the sleeve tabs off this version.  As I did on the first one, I also took the side seams in by about 1-1/2.  Next time I'll cut a smaller size and do a full bust adjustment.

I also folded the front bands to the inside instead of the outside like I did with my first Alex Shirt.  This was because the wrong side of the fabric would have been too apparent at the centre front.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes, I will definitely be sewing this again, and I certainly recommend it.  I need a black shirt/blouse and I also have been searching through my stash to make another in the dress length.

Conclusion:  Sew Over It has done a great job on this pattern.  It has become a TNT (tried'n'true) pattern for me that I cannot wait to sew again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

FO - Simplicity 2728, NOLA SWAP The Big Easy

It would seem that a sewing retreat weekend can be super productive.  I finished five tank tops (not really worth a blog post since I've made a zillion of them and they're pretty straight forward), almost two Sew Over It Alex shirts (see my previous post here) and a jacket.  I love tailored jackets, and feel that every capsule wardrobe needs one.

For my NOLA The Big Easy SWAP, I chose a simple cardigan style jacket that is pretty modern in styling.  I used Simplicity 2728.  This is not a TNT pattern for me, but going with the theme of the weekend, I based decisions for pattern alterations on my historical standards (and even forgot some, which resulted in a design feature - see the details below).

Simplicity 2728 is out of print (OOP), but details can be found on Patternreview here.  

Pattern Description:  The description on the envelope is very plain, "Misses' Jacket with collar and sleeve variations."  As a Project Runway pattern, this pattern contains a lot of collar, sleeve and pocket variations, as well as front button placement options.  I chose to use the relatively "plain" version of the cardigan style front with three quarter length sleeves with fold-back cuffs, and pleated front rounded patch pockets.

Pattern Sizing: 4-22.  I chose size 12 based on the fact that was the largest size in the pattern grouping that I had.  I graded up at the waist and hip to about a size 16 (standard adjustment for me).  In retrospect, I would have preferred to use a size 14, but just didn't have that pattern available to me.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, I think I did.  At least one of the many artist's versions depicted!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, though I really didn't rely on them that much.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I love the variety of options.  This way once you get the basic jacket fit down, you can make up a number of jackets pretty quickly - and they won't all look like they're from the same pattern when you vary the design options!  Simplicity even includes a croquis template in their directions so that you can play designer very easily.

Pleated patch pocket with rounded corners

Fabric Used: Black and tan check wool boucle suiting from my stash.  I believe it is well aged, and I have no idea where I purchased it, though something says I bought it online.  The buttons also came from my stash, though the lining I bought last week on sale at my local Fabricland chain store.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  Because I started with a size 12 (and typically would have started with a size 14), I increased the waist by adding to each of the seam allowances.  I also used a smaller seam allowance at the front vertical darts - this helped accommodate my bust cup size.  Next time, I will probably add a bit more to the shoulder width, as this one seems just a bit narrow for my taste.

I will also need to do a swayback adjustment next time on the pattern.  I'm not sure why I didn't do it on this one initially, as this is a standard adjustment for me.  Since I forgot to do it before I cut the jacket out, the first time I tried it on, I noticed quite a bit of fabric folding at the small of my back.  I decided to "save" the jacket by sewing a horizontal dart across this area from the side seam to the other side seam.  The pattern of the fabric, along with the boucle texture and the tab that I placed over it (which was planned even before this on-the-fly alteration) hide this alteration quite nicely, ifidosaysomyself.

I chose to do a fair bit of speed tailoring techniques with this jacket as well - using a few different weights of fusible interfacing to mimic hand tailoring.  After receiving my tailoring degree, I've really noticed how much I like to wear a decently tailored jacket, but didn't want to take the time to hand tailor a pattern I hadn't used before.  I interfaced the entire body with a very lightweight fusible interfacing, both the fronts and the backs.  I then used a heavier weight fusible interfacing over top of the lightweight interfacing on the seams at the neckline, centre fronts, and upper back area (instead of a back stay).  I also used a narrow cotton twill tape over the seam at the centre fronts and at the centre back to stabilize the seam.  I find it adds a crisp-ness to the edge of the garment that I really like.

I used a bias cut length of tailoring canvas for sleeve heads and I sewed narrow cotton twill tape over the seams around the armholes for support.

Lining pieces are also included with this pattern, which I really appreciate since I prefer my jackets to be lined - and often have to make my own lining pieces based on the jacket pattern.  The instructions are included for a bagged lining which, in conjunction with the speed tailoring techniques, makes for a pretty fast tailored jacket!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes, I will sew this again.  I need a plain black jacket but want a cute (aka not boring) design.  As I mentioned above, you can change the design details such as the sleeve length, button placement, back tab, collar details and pocket styling to create a very different look without the hassle of fine tuning the fit again on another pattern.

Conclusion: A cute jacket pattern with lots of options.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

FO - KZJO Studio Genavieve Dress

I have very exciting news - my daughter Sara is pregnant, which means I'm going to be a Gramma!!  As the result of growing a human, she doesn't currently have a lot of clothes, and has resourcefully asked me to help her out in the maternity wardrobe department.

They attended a friend's wedding last weekend and Sara needed a dress - something simple and comfortable but a little more glamorous than what she currently has in her wardrobe.  I suggested KZJO Studio's Genavieve pattern, which can be found online here.  We went stash-diving (well I did while she sat on the couch and browsed through patterns) and I came up with a pretty lightweight polyester fabric in emerald green.  We purchased a half meter of black lace and a gorgeous zipper with rhinestones for teeth to ritz it up a little.

Pattern Description: From KZJO Studio's website:

Whether your style is edgy, classic, bohemian or somewhere in-between the “Genavieve” easily takes you through your daily adventures with the ability to transition to a night out on the town. Mix and match prints and solids or fabrications (like leather, lace, or silk) to create your own unique look. Use the tank, tunic, or dress lengths with the 3 different back yoke styles for a total of 9 stand-out looks.

Pattern Sizing: XX-Small to XX-Large.  I used size X-Large.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, I believe it does.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  I didn't follow them much given that I substituted one layer of lace for the upper back portion.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  This is a simple pattern that has a wide variety of options included with it.  It is very easy to wear and works well as a maternity style dress.

Fabric Used: Emerald green very lightweight polyester

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I added 12" to the length for a more formal look.  I also used a single layer of lace for the upper back.  Instead of following the pattern directions, I used tricot seam binding to finish off the edges of the lace after staystitching.  I turned these to the inside and topstitched the seam binding into place.

I also added a self-lining to the lower back and the front by sandwiching the single layer yoke in between the outside fabric and the lining fabric to enclose the seam.

We also chose a length of black ribbon for a belt to help define her waistline a little.  It added a certain bit of glam as well.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes I would recommend this pattern.  I am planning on using it again for a tunic length top for my daughter for fall and winter to wear with a cardigan and tights.  I think it would make a great breezy swing dress for myself for the hot weather as well.

Conclusion:  This is a great dress pattern with a lot of options for length and upper back designs.  A wide variety of looks can be achieved by using different fabrics.  The photographs are from the final fitting, so make up and jewelry were not yet chosen or done the way she would have for the wedding, but I think she still looks beautiful!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FO - Sew Over It Alex Shirt

I suffer from insomnia.  Over the years, I have learned to deal with this by napping, sleep therapy, and medication.  But, sometimes there's nothing to do except get up out of bed, make a cup of tea, and read, sew, browse the internet or knit.

That's exactly what happened last week.  I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, made a cup of tea and opened up my emails where I found the e-mail announcement for the release for the Sew Over It City Break e-book.  OH MAN.  This fits my sewing philosophy to a Tee! (See what I did there?!)  I love Lisa Comfort's aesthetic and patterns, and this e-book is no exception. And with the fashion photographs for the e-book being taken in Paris, there was nothing to do but grab my credit card and make a middle of the night purchase.  I then been dreamed about sewing a wardrobe based on these patterns and travelling to Paris!

This past weekend, a sewing friend of mine and I planned a sewing retreat of sorts.  Basically, we got together at my house, just the two of us, with assorted sewing machines, patterns, sewing necessities and fabrics for an entire weekend of just sewing.  We only stopped long enough to eat pre-planned quick meals.  Well...maybe some wine and a margarita or two - but only as a celebration of finishing a long day of sewing!

Because I had just gotten the City Break e-book and was SUPER excited about it, I couldn't help but incorporate one or two items of clothing into my NOLA Big Easy Swap plan, replacing the originally planned shirt pattern.  I chose the Alex Shirt & Dress pattern, printed it out, taped the pages together, traced off the pattern and jumped right in.

Pattern Description: From the Sew Over It website:

Alex Shirt & Dress
Two-in-one, the Alex Shirt Dress is a versatile, classic pattern that will take anyone seamlessly from day to night. Although always loose and comfy, this pattern can look completely different depending on fabric choices. Made in linen, the shorter Alex Shirt is ideal for exploring the city in the daytime. But choose a lightweight crepe, viscose or georgette and you have a glamorous, knee-length evening shirt dress, perfect for that special restaurant.

Pattern Sizing:  UK 8-20.  I chose the size 14 comparing my body measurements to those written in the pattern.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, I believe it does!

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Yes, very easy to follow.  I actually used them, thinking I would write a review.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  The instructions are very well written, and Sew Over It offers a lot of support on their website.  They even have a tutorial for putting PDF patterns together here:

The patterns are included as separate files from the e-book, which I really liked as well - this makes it really easy to figure out which pages you need for the specific item of clothing.

One thing I had trouble with was the tabs for the sleeves.  I'm sure this is operator error.  Mine turned out pretty narrow and a bit bulky, and as a result I had a great deal of trouble putting buttonholes into them.  I think next time I may attach them to a piece of stabilizer using temporary adhesive spray before trying to make the buttonholes.

As much trouble as the tabs gave me, I really like the end result.  They offer a bit of versatility to the shirt, and give it a designer detail.

Fabric Used: I used a dark navy poly lightweight, almost sheer georgette with white polka dots.  I was hoping this would be a wearable muslin.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I chose the pattern size 14 by using the measurements included with the pattern directions.  I added 3" to the length of the sleeves, based on my arm measurements, but I ended up removing about 2" of this when it came to hemming.  I also ended up taking in about 1-1/2" off of the side seams below the underarm.  I think next time I may size down one or two sizes and do a full bust adjustment to keep it from being quite so voluminous.  But for a wearable muslin, it turned out just fine.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I highly recommend this pattern and I did immediately sew it again out of a dark mustard yellow silk georgette with a raised floral pattern.  I just have to do the buttonholes and sew the buttons on, and then I'll write a post on it too.

Conclusion:  I can see this pattern as a TNT (tried 'n true) pattern in my wardrobe.  I am already searching through the stash to make it into the dress length!  I am also excited to try the other patterns in the e-book as they look like great basics too.  Lisa has really nailed it with the wear-ability of these patterns as a travel wardrobe.

I can see wearing this shirt with a pair of stretch jeans in mustard yellow with a chunky knit infinity scarf in cream or even a plaid blanket scarf for fall.