Thursday, January 26, 2012

I've Been Thinking...

I've been doing some thinking about which black slim ponte pants I'm going to sew.  I've narrowed it down to these two patterns:

Christine Jonson Patterns Travel Trio One
Travel Trio One - 1204

or McCalls 6404

I have both patterns in my enormous pattern stash, so I don't have to wait to order them.  I also have black ponte de roma in my even larger fabric stash (and I hope it is relatively easy to locate!), which is also ready to go.

Pants fitting has always been a bit of a touchy point for me as my size never seems to stay quite the same.  I really just need to buckle down and perfect a pattern, but I get bored of sewing the same pattern more than two or three times.  And I hate making a muslin, they always feel like a waste of time to me for some reason (quite possibly because I have limited sewing time and want to maximize the potential of that time), though it probably would go a long way in solving my pant fitting issues.

And in the "doing" category, I started the cream silky shirt/blouse.  I am absolutely horrified at how "loving hands at home" my collar stand looks.  I even went so far as to sign up for Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing Online School to watch videos of how Ron Collins makes his collars. Here's where you can link to the List of Shows. I am excited to try the method of altering the pattern for the collar to see how much better I can make it.

No sewing or knitting tonight, I've been sorting the candle orders from my recent Partylite party (eiyiyiyi - there was a lot of product!!!), and just hanging out with my daughter (who complains she can't hear the TV if the sewing machine is running).  She's coming around though, and has asked me to start sewing for her again. (Ah, the life of a college student who has no money for RTW fashions)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sewing Basics

Today was one of those Un-Enchanting Days.  Yes, with Capitals.  Not enough sleep, too many things going on, and just overwhelmed which makes for rocky relationships and difficulty coping.  Sigh.  I could dwell on this, but I'm writing my Five Things That I am Thankful For in my Gratitude Journal and I'm Moving On.  Yes, with more Capitals, because tomorrow will be a better day.

That said, I did buy a few new pieces of fabric over the past few days.  I wasn't going to, but really, I have a few things I've been watching for.  I got this from a local Fabricland (chain store here in Canada who is not necessarily known for their high quality fabrics, but if you browse on a regular basis you may be treated to some charming pieces at a really good price!).  One I've been on the lookout for both online and off is this, which I found for $6.00 CAD per metre!  SCORE!

Animal Print Knit.  SO soft!  Can't wait to whip up a twin set out of this!  And maybe an infinity scarf. I'm so in love with animal prints!  I'm also SO happy they are very in too - now my girls KNOW I'm fashionable. LOL.

I am slowly catching up on posting my finished items.  This one is the tank from Simplicity 2603, view E.  It is from the same fabric as the drapey cardigan from the same pattern.  It went together very quickly, I hardly looked at the instructions.  (It would have gone together faster if my sewing machine hadn't died in the middle of it!) Will I sew it again?  Most likely.  I love the soft gathers and the neckline yoke detail.  Just enough touch to dress up an otherwise plain tank.

The last finished item is a cardigan from Butterick 5394 B5394
View E.    It kind of looks like a bathrobe, but with the right accessories and fabric I'm sure it can shine!!  I used a black sweater knit with a hint of shimmer.  No idea when I purchased this, but I'm fairly certain it came from Fabricland, and I'm fairly certain the main ingredient in this fabric is polyester or acrylic, with some wool.  It took literally no time to sew, with the dolman/kimono sleeves.  The front and sleeves are finished with bands that go together very easily as well.  It is a cozy sweater, perfect for the miserable rainy dreary days we've been having recently.

Now that I'm caught up with my finished items posts, I've decided to join Lori from Girls in the Garden in her Basic Wardrobe Sewalong.  I am in dire need of updating my basics, and they'll fit really well with the things that I've just sewn (and have cut out!).  The wardrobe to be sewn includes the following:

1. Slim Black Pants (ponte pants) These will go perfectly with the knit wardrobe I've just sewn. Now to decide on a pattern - I'm leaning towards a pair of skinny leg pants, since I already have a few pairs of wide legged pants in my wardrobe.

2. Dark Skinny Jeans I purchased two pairs of new dark skinny jeans a few months ago, and these will work. I do want to try my hand at making a pair for this spring though.

3. White button shirt White makes me look like death warmed over, so I've chosen a subtle cream. It's already cut out and ready to go!  I'm also thinking about a soft blue chambray shirt, so if anyone knows of where I can buy some, I'm interested!

4. Black turtleneck I already have two RTW fine rayon sweater knit ones in my wardrobe

5.Camel - khaki skirt Already cut out from a camel ponte de roma!

6.Tie Waist Sweater I've just finished the cream rayon/lycra sweater.

7. Puffy Vest I have a great black one in my wardrobe that I love to wear.

8. Faux Fur Vest OH YES!!! Can someone point me in the direction of some faux fur leopard fabric??

9. Black Dress I've been pondering this one recently too. I do need another LBD, preferable not a knit one, and I've been collecting dress patterns lately too.

Non-sewn items:

10. Riding Boot Amazingly enough I've been thinking about this purchase too. I can't decide between black or dark brown. I've narrowed it down to a slight block heel though, but I need to do some more browsing before making my final decision

11. Black patent pumps I have an amazing pair of Mary Jane really really sexy shoes, but I have a hard time walking in these!

12. tights Check! I've been stocking up on these too, but I need to get some more in brown

Maybe my wardrobe isn't in such bad shape after all!

Well, I'm off to the studio to get started on that cream blouse.

I just wanted to say thank you to all those who have been leaving comments.  I'm still new to this blogging thing, and haven't figured out quite how to respond to the comments by email yet.  I'm SUPER excited that people are reading my blog and interested in what I've been up to! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why I like Quickies!

I've got a conundrum.  I'm getting further and further behind with my blogging, as I'm sewing faster than I can post!  I blame this on a sewing quickies, to quote Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic.  Sometimes after suits or a more intense sewing project, I just need to cleanse the palate, if you know what I mean.

Without further ado...the Quickies Collection. (and yes, that does make me giggle like a schoolgirl for some reason)

This outfit consists of a skirt from Vogue 8711, view E.  I used a knit fabric with a brushed wrong side.  I have no idea of what is in the material, but certainly some rayon and polyester.


I made the skirt as is from the envelope. The skirt went together relatively easily, with only minimal fiddling with the front insets.  Knits are forgiving, both for construction and for wearing.  Just mark your circles and notches well and the construction will be easy!  I've worn this once already, and it is comfortable, and sexy!  I was worried the brushed wrong side would stick to my tights and ride up, but I had no problems with that either.


The orange top (shown above with the skirt) is McCalls 6078.  I sewed View B, in size Medium, out of a rayon/lycra knit.  It was also a quick and easy top.  It turned out a bit too big at the waist, so I had to take in the side seams a little.  Amazingly enough the fabrics for the skirt and top were purchased at two separate times (probably years apart) and from two separate stores, and the colour matches perfectly!  I think the draping on the skirt and top compliment each other very nicely.

I also whipped together this, McCalls 6400.  Oh. My.  Talk about impact with minimal time invested!
I sewed View A, out of the taupe and lurex knit from Casual Elegance Fabric.  There's only one pattern piece for this top.  I used a size medium, which is still pretty form fitting.  I think I may order the pattern again in the next size up to go with the more relaxed fit for my next one, like Erica Bunker did. You can see hers at  I could probably just draft a larger size, but I'm lazy, and the patterns go on sale on a very regular basis for BMV members.

And finally, the skirt that almost wasn't.  i guess this isn't really a quickie, especially when you consider all the extra work I inadvertently put into it.  This is a McCalls pattern that seems to be OOP and delisted when I checked their website.  I don't have any other details on the pattern right now.  I've got to be better prepared at doing this!  I'm at my office on my lunch, hiding away in my office (it's miserable outside today, gloomy and rainy...anyway I digress).  This skirt is *supposed* to have buttons up the front.  For whatever reason, it simply does not fit me that way, despite me cutting out my usual size 12.  At all. An unpleasant sausage casing analogy comes to mind, but I'll spare you the details. So, I put it into my "needs thinking on" pile.  I love the fabric, with the faint baby blue stripe in the plaid, and I didn't want to throw it out.  Instead of pitching it (which is what I was inclined to do when I first tried it on) I improvised.  I put in a separating zipper (upside down the first time, then ripped out and inserted correctly).  If the zipper opens from the bottom, then I can have enough walking ease.  So, I have a skirt.  One that wasn't necessarily going to be.

I spent Saturday as a sew-in day, or rather more of a cut-in day, as I managed to cut out a large number of items.  More Quickies.  The box of fabric from my storage area that I opened contained quite a few pieces of Ponte de Roma, both in medium and heavy weights.  Colours include a heathered charcoal grey, olive green, varying shades of orange, taupe and brown.  These will coordinate nicely with all the browns, oranges and creams I've been sewing.  I cut some cardigan type jackets, a few tops tops, a dress, and a few skirts that I hope will be coming up shortly (but this is going to be a crazy week!).  And, oh yeah, I cut out a shirt that will require a little more time than the quickies, but it will help me  meet my January goal.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Variation on a Theme

So...I don't think I've really actually sewn anything since my last post.  Yikes!  I have just not been able to get to the sewing room.  I'm starting to go through a bit of withdrawal I think!  But, as mentioned in my last post, I have a ton of things in reserve to show you.  I'll start with the brown and metallic copper wool suit. See - more brown!

I used Butterick 5469, view D (the dark blue model) for the jacket.

It is a lined jacket, very straight forward.  There are no pockets or ruffles or extra details, so I decided to add a few extra buttons and buttonholes, as seen in a Basset-Mode catalogue from a few years ago (sorry - I don't have the picture with me at the moment).  I only plan on using three or four of the buttons, but I think they add a simple extra touch.  If I make it again, I'll make the view with the collar, but I think I'd also use a two-piece sleeve design, as I am finding these sleeves a little restricting at the upper bicep area.  The two-piece design just gives me more areas for adjustments.  The only alterations to the pattern this time were to add a 2" inches to the sleeve length.  Next time though, I'll have to add more as I hardly had enough for a 1" hem.

The skirt is McCalls 5523, view B with the pleated kick pleat inset (redundant much? lol)  I elected to line this as well.  I think that lining the garments makes them "float" more nicely over the body, and lining also makes the clothes wear better (last longer).  Other than adding a bit to the waistline area, I made the skirt as is out of the envelope.

With that hot off the presses, I finally got around to the drapey cardigan that everyone has made.  Everyone but me that is.  I had cut it out with the intent of taking it with me on one of my trips on October, know how it goes.  This is Simplicity 2603, view A in a rayon/spandex knit.  I ran into some trouble with the shoulder seams.  Following the instructions, I put the stay tape in the seam, but this caused puckering and issues with the seams lining up.  To solve this, I unpicked the seams, and simply continued on without the stay tape.  The most time consuming part of this patter was the hemming around the fronts, bottom and neck area.  That's a lot of hemming.  Maybe some day I'll be brave enough to try it on my coverstitch machine!  The only other alteration I made was not to make the tuck in the sleeves, and the resulting length was perfect for my long arms.

This just shows a few ways to wear it, and I'm sure there are a ton more!  It is definitely a versatile piece.  I wore it yesterday to work, tied as shown in the first picture, over a RTW charcoal fine knit turtleneck and coordinating RTW grey RPL trousers.  I felt elegant and well-dressed, and extremely comfortable.  I think I'd like a few more in other colours!  I can think of fabrics I have in orange and brown off the top of my head...

That's it for sewing today - though I do have a few other pieces still in reserve for upcoming posts.  It was a productive weekend!

And, on the knitting front, I actually worked on my Francis Revisited sweater last night, even if only a few rounds.  I was absolutely too tired to do anything else!  I don't think I've talked about my Francis Revisited sweater.  Briefly - it is out of a lovely heathered purple (more aubergine than royal purple) Berocco Ultra Alpaca.  I'm making it on the small-ish side for me, given my friend's experience with the growth of her Ultra Alpaca sweater after blocking.  It was coming along swimmingly, but took a break over the Christmas holidays.

January Goal Progress Report:

1.  Cream Cardigan - Simplicity 2603 (already cut)  Finished!
2.  Fix orange/brown herringbone skirt Finished!
3.  Cut and sew one dress (so many to chose from I'm having a hard time narrowing it down!) Finished!
4.  Cut and sew a cream silky shirt or blouse  Up Next - the biggest delay with this one is that I'm having a hard time picking a pattern - there are SO many to choose from for this item too!

KNITTING: (um...yeah...)
1.  Finish Circle Socks
2.  Start Gap-Tastic Cowl #2

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anything but Brown!

I have finished a ton of new projects (I'm amazed with how productive I've been at the sewing machine), but am currently working off another laptop, the one without my pictures.  So...unfortunately, you will just have to wait and see.  There will be a picture heavy post in the near future.  I promise.  I'm very excited about how my projects have turned out :)

Do you get to a point in your SWAP where you just can't sew any more of a certain colour?  I love, love, love sewing in SWAP format, so my outfits coordinate, with minimum work for maximum value but I've been sewing an exorbitant amount of brown lately.  I need to open a new box, this one seems to have more than enough brown fabric!   Next time I pack the boxes I will do a better job of coordinating instead of matching!  In the meantime because I was getting a tad bored with brown, I searched through my stash and found some lovely rusty orange coloured fabric.  This means I have finished a few lovely rusty orange coloured items and one cream coloured one.  But, you'll have to wait and see!  Sorry - I really really want to share with you!

In sad news, my favourite sewing machine - my Brother ULT 2001 is needing to go to the sewing machine hospital.  I was almost finished my latest projects when it just slowed down and stopped.  It was a heartbreaking sound.  I can't turn the flywheel, will need to go for a car ride.  Fortunately, I have another machine (and I really, really like it, but it has to live outside the spotlight of it's shinier big sister), so I will be back in action soon.

Up next, finishing my current cream coloured project, followed by  a cream silky shirt-blouse and maybe a tweed pair of pants. brown.

And still no knitting.  Absolutely none.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Still Sewing!

Yes, you've read that right - I've been sewing.  And not just on the weekends, I've been so bitten by the sewing bug, that I've been fighting off the usual end-of-day fatigue I feel after a full work day, and instead of collapsing on the couch, I head down to my studio after dinner.  I'm remembering that it's been a great way to decompress!  And, the best part is that I'm accomplishing things, like ripping apart the orange and brown herringbone skirt to fit a little better at the waist, and this:

 McCalls 6163, Knit Dresses.  I made View A.  Pattern Description:  Close fitting, above mid-knee length dress with mock front, gathered at left side with collar and raglan sleeves. View A has 3/4 length sleeves with elastic shurring, which I think adds a pretty feminine touch.  I used a graphic print ITT knit fabric I found in my stash.  I have absolutely no idea where I purchased it, but it was probably online a few years ago.

I found the instructions easy to follow.  I mistook one clip for the circle where I had to line up the mock wrap front and the gathering, but that was solely operator error (and trying to watch TV at the same time as sewing).  No harm, no foul though - I found it very quickly when I tried to sew the side seams together.  I sewed this directly as is from the pattern envelope, with the exception that I left out the side zipper.

The result is lovely, if I do say so myself.  Another sexy and feminine work piece.

I really do need to find a better way of lighting my pictures.  My studio is in my basement, which is a walkout with a glass patio door which lets in a lot of light.  Despite the large door, I'm often finished a project when it is dark outside, so the lighting is pretty poor.  I'm so eager to wear the finished items that I want to take pictures immediately when I'm finished because I know I won't take the pictures later!

When I'm sewing, I have a task light over my serger and another at my sewing machine to make it a little easier to see what I'm doing.  I try pointing these in the direction of the dressform, but as you can see, I don't think it is quite enough.  I've been toying with the idea of putting in more overhead lighting in the basement, but the previous owners had the foresight to install drywall as a ceiling medium which makes doing things like that a little more difficult.

Anyway...enough about lighting.

Up next in the sewing projects is a suit made from McCalls 5523, view B (the yellow model).  I'm really liking this pattern, and want to make each version.

The jacket is Butterick 5469, view D (the dark blue model).

I'm realizing that the lines of this jacket are remarkably similar to the last one I made despite it being from a different pattern!  For this version, I'm using a brown tweed with black threads and copper metallic shot through it.  The skirt is already finished (no photos yet), and the jacket just needs hems on the sleeves and buttons.  I purchased the buttons at lunch today from Fabricland.  Believe it or not, the only fabric I purchased was some hot pink silky fabric that was on sale for $3/meter for lining a charcoal grey jacket for my daughter (no, I haven't started that one yet, it's in the pre-design phase). Yay me for resisting all the lovely suitings on sale.  I kept reminding myself of my storage area :) (Oh yes, I am SO blessed!)

I only had four sewing goals I wanted to accomplish this month, and I've already accomplished two of them!   After the suit is finished, I'm going to sew the cream cardigan, and figure out what shirt pattern I want to use!

There is one downside though.  With all this sewing, I've done absolutely NO knitting.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Out with the Old, In with the New!!

Happy New Year! In with the new - My Sewing Mojo has Returned!!!  I am super excited about this, and have spent as much time sewing recently as possible.  When I'm not sewing, I'm thinking about sewing, or planning my wardrobe-to-be.

 I quietly rang in the New Year on my own this year (by my choice) and I loved it.  I spent the day sewing until about 10:30 pm before switching on the TV and picking up my knitting.  After a busy week with family, I couldn't think of a better way to enjoy myself.

On New Year's Day, I finished this:

 The skirt is McCalls 5523, view D.  I made the skirt as is from the envelope and added lining.  I'm discovering I like my jackets and skirts to have lining in them - they just feel better and skim the body better.  The fabric is a gorgeous quality brown wool heavyweight crepe that just flows beautifully and was so amazing to work with.  It feels luscious and expensive.  I *think* I bought this at King Fabrics on Richmond Street in the fabric district in Toronto a few years ago.  I also *think* I have exactly the same fabric in an aubergine/eggplant colour.

I believe the jacket is also a McCalls pattern, but I can't find it on their website, and the pattern is at home.  I'll have to update the post with the particulars when I get home.  I absolutely love the ruffle details at the waist, and on the shoulders.  Business suits can and should be sexy and feminine.

The shirt is a previously made one that I altered a bit at the waist so it just happened to be on the dress form.

I also finished these during the Christmas holidays:

Undulating Rib Socks, out of See Jayne Knit fingering weight wool, purchased during a yarn binge last year.  I used a free Wendy Knits toe up pattern for the base design, adding in the Undulating Rib pattern.  These were supposed to be my Halloween socks for Socktoberfest, but Christmas knitting took priority.

After I finished those, I started these:

Circle Socks, but again modified by using a Wendy Knits Toe Up Socks with a Difference pattern as a base. The yarn is Trekking Maxima, in pretty pinks, yellows, teals and reds.  I've already turned the heel and started working on the pattern, having only started the socks last week!  Yay for holidays.

I worked on this last night:

 The skirt is a pegged style skirt from Vogue 1127, out of a brown and orange herringbone tweed wool.  It was lovely to work with. I have made this skirt before, but can't remember which fabric I made it out of.  A couple of days ago I had made another skirt (from a different pattern) that was a little  a lot too tight at the waist (I blame the yummy holiday foods and lack of exercise over the holidays).  This one had been cut out of the same size.  So, I figured I would make the seams at the waist a little smaller, enlarging the waist size.  The only trouble is I thought I knew what I was doing, and didn't need to try it on as I was sewing...yeah, know that little voice in your head - LISTEN TO IT!! I should have!  When I put it on this morning while dressing for work, the darned thing slipped almost past my hips!  Yikes!  (instant diet plan?  Maybe I should market it.  LOL)  Anyway, it will take some work to get it to fit, I have to rip out the facings, the lining, the skirt waist...Ah, those old adages we learned growing up are true - haste makes waste.

As I said above, my sewing mojo has returned en force! I'm extremely happy about this.  I have a huge amount of fabric that I am looking forward to sewing (can you say SABLE - for the non-sewist - Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy), and some noticeable voids in my closet I need to fill.  I've been playing a bit of a game.  Most of the boxes of fabric I have are unlabeled and stuffed into a storage crawl space under my stairs.  Literally - you open the door to the storage space, and you are faced with a wall of boxes.  Fortunately for me, when I packed all these boxes up, I tried to do it so the fabrics were in a similar colour family.  The game is that I open a box, and plan a mini-wardrobe from those fabrics.  It's kind of like Christmas each time!

At one point, I was embarrassed by my stash.  When I was discussing this with my friend, she stopped dead in her tracks and told me that I was an artist, and the fabrics were my tools.  I had no reason to be embarrassed by the overabundance I had been given over time.  Her comment has stayed with me, and really changed my outlook on what I had previously acquired.

Because I am blessed with a huge fabric, pattern and yarn stash, it probably isn't necessary is absolutely  unnecessary for me to purchase anything new, with the exception of notions to finish projects.  I'm not going to say I can't buy fabric or yarn, because that seems to be a trigger for me to buy anything I possibly can get my hands on.  But, one of my goals is to get a better handle on my finances so I can do more travelling, and I truly can't come up with any reason why more fabric or yarn would be necessary.  At all.  None.  So, I am happy to work my way through what I've got.

I'm also hoping that this will lead to more regular posts here.

Goals for January

1.  Cream Cardigan - Simplicity 2603 (already cut)
2.  Fix orange/brown herringbone skirt
3.  Cut and sew one dress (so many to chose from I'm having a hard time narrowing it down!)
4.  Cut and sew a cream silky shirt or blouse

1.  Finish Circle Socks
2.  Start Gap-Tastic Cowl #2