Monday, June 25, 2018

My Current Favourite

While scrolling through my photographs recently, I realized I had a couple of finished items that I haven't yet posted about.  I felt compelled to write a post about this particular finished object because it really is fast becoming one of my favourite things to wear. It truly is a multipurpose dress (that's a Kinsey Milhone reference for those who enjoy Sue Grafton's novels as much as I do!). It can be dressed up or down, depending on the accessories.  It has no defined waistline, which for me at the moment is great - hello winter of too much lazing about combined with changing hormones!  That also means it is super cool and breezy to wear in the heat of the summer.

My current favourite multipurpose dress is the shorter version of McCalls 6559.

Image result for m6559 pattern

I've made this dress three times now, once as the maxi and twice as the shorter length.  While I love the maxi, I feel too warm when I wear it in the summer.  I honestly also feel rather disproportionate with the swath of fabric emphasizing my long legs and shorter upper body (I'm 5'9" with a 35" inseam).

The shorter versions, though, have been worn a few times a week.  I'm also gravitating towards them when I come home from work and need to get into something comfortable.  I made a black one a few years back out of a cotton/rayon/lycra jersey.  My most recent make is out of a chartreuse green microfibre jersey.


This is great fabric.  It feels so dressy and sexy to wear, it skims the curves and just hangs so nicely.  I had some trouble with the photographing of this dress, as you can see - the photographs came out in all sorts of different colours.  The truest colour is the photograph of the back view on the right.

I finished the neck and armholes with strips of self-fabric cut on the cross-grain.  I cut the strips 2" wide and just shorter than the length of the opening.  I joined them in a circle, then folded them in half, wrong sides together and stitched them to the right side of the openings.  A light press with the iron finishes them off.  I think it is just a more professional finish than the turn-and-stitch hems often recommended in the pattern.

I also made the longer cardigan that is included with the pattern out of the same fabric.  I opted not to hem it at all because the topstitching of this fabric was giving me FITS.  It was easy enough to do, I used a rotary cutter to cut it out and make the seam edge very even and clean.  It made the cardigan a super-quick project.


I wore it a lot on my recent vacation, including a dinner at the Zofin Palace in Prague!

I'm sure I'll be making more of these this summer - in fact, I already have some treasured souvenir fabric from my vacation last summer pulled for this!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

We're Halfway through 2018!

Well, my friends, it's been a while since I've done a check in.  Funnily enough, when I (mostly) finished my Spring in Prague SWAP, I told my mom I don't have any sewing plans and it felt really odd.  So, I figured I should do another check-in to review my goals and see where I'm at.

My May goals were these:


1.  Finish the Custom Comfy Fade Cardigan I've been working on.  Gosh, I'm loving the way this is turning out.  I want to take it with me on my upcoming vacation, so there's a deadline.  I'm on the first sleeve, so it's still do-able! Well, I didn't finish this for my vacation, but I'm currently working on the second sleeve, so it's getting closer to being done.  It was too hot to wear on my vacation anyways...


1.  Keep working on the Spring in Prague SWAP.  I don't have *that* much left, and I'm planning on a full sewing retreat weekend this weekend! I pretty much finished the SWAP in time for my vacation, with the exception of one top.  I did a post on the items I actually took along with me - which varied a bit from my original plans.  You can see that post here.


1.  Finish Three Days Road by Joseph Boyden. Done!  While not a happy read, it was an excellent book that kept my interest until the very end.  I highly recommend this book.
2.  Load up the Kindle for my upcoming vacation (any recommendations for books taking place in Prague?) Done!  I ended up starting The Early Investigations of Joanne Kilbourn by Gail Bowen (not related to Prague at all, but one my mom was reading as well and recommended), and I started reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain after I heard the horrible news of his untimely death.
3.  Continue reading Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg Done!


1. Be more diligent about what "fuel" I put into my body, and my reduce sugar intake. Well, vacation kind of did me in on this - I mean, beer in Prague, wine and Aperol Spritzes in Austria, "German" style potato salad and schnitzels, and the cheese, not to mention the daily cakes at coffee time! Walking between 10-20 km a day really helped me maintain my weight while I was away (yes, I am super proud of that!).  Mom and I often only ordered an appetizer each at lunch and split them, and typically only one piece of cake for the two of us at coffee time.  I am learning I am very rigid with myself and feel a large amount of guilt if I vary from my perception of what healthy is.  Being in Europe helped me realize that I can absolutely enjoy a lot more variety, but moderation is key for a healthy lifestyle.  Guilt is not helpful in any way.
2. Continue with my yoga practice, daily if possible. I did yoga once with Mom while we were away (and loved it - thanks Adriene!), and have already gotten back into my practice when I came back home. It makes a huge difference in how I start my day.
3. Add kettlebells and kickboxing into my routine. I haven't done this yet, but the intentions are good!
4.  Continue walking, daily if possible.  Today was absolutely ridiculously too hot for walking outdoors of any kind, but walking is another thing that makes me feel good.  I don't have to reach the 10-20 km a day that we were doing while I was away (yes, I absolutely am proud of that!) but certainly a few km in the morning and again at night, weather permitting make me feel better.


1. Continue cleaning and purging in L'Atelier.   I was amazed at how much stash I used for my Spring in Prague SWAP.  It feels good to work through it.  Being apart from my "stuff" while on holidays always makes me wonder how much of it I actually need, but coming home to it always makes me appreciate what I do have.  

Goals for June


1.  Finish Cupcakes in Vienna socks - these are my current mindless knit which are awesome for my jet lagged mind, and I'm loving The Yarn Jar's base and colourway.  You can find her shop here.  Also the memory of knitting on them on the rooftop terrace in Vienna, overlooking the spires of the Mexican Cathedral is inspiring me to finish.
2.  Continue working on the second sleeve for the Custom Comfy Fade Cardigan.  It's currently too bloody hot to wear this (or even knit on it) but I will need (and want) it at some point this summer, and just can't wait to wear it when it's cool enough.
3.  Continue working on my April Switcheroo Socks - I need to recover from jet lag first as I do need to think a little while working on this pattern, but maybe I can get them done before July rolls around.
4.  Start my May PSC socks - the yarn was wound before I left...


1. Sew a pair of cropped Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers - these would make the perfect summer pants in a medium weight cotton, IMHO.  They would go very nicely with the new ballet flats I've purchased.  Plus I've got these on my #makenine2018.
2.  Sew a Sew Over It Ella Blouse to coordinate with the aforementioned SOI Ultimate Trousers.  I have the perfect fabric picked out already, I just need to find some coordinating fabric for the pants.  Also on my #makenine2018.
3.  The Beverly Bikini by Named Clothing.  While packing for my recent trip, I discovered I was woefully short on bathing suits I want to be seen in public in.  This would be perfect for a beach trip (yet to be scheduled, but now I've got an incentive for both!)
4.  McCalls 7387 shirt dress.  While in Europe, I noticed SO. MANY. DRESSES.  I've wanted one of these shirtdresses forevahhh, and even have fabric already pulled.


1.  Finish the third book in the first Gail Bowen trilogy (Joanne Kilbourn mysteries).  I've got the next anthology on hold from the library, but who knows when I'll get it...
2.  Finish Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.  Anthony, I'll miss you.  You've got an amazing point of view on life, food and travel that I discovered only a few years ago.  I devoured your TV shows and now I'm working my way through your books.  Thank you for all you've shared.  I'm so very sad you struggled and couldn't carry on.
3.  Start another book by Anthony Bourdain (I purchased a few upon hearing about this death)
4.  Read Sisi by Allison Pataki.  Sisi was a beloved yet eccentric Austrian-Hungarian Habsburg Empress whose apartments I toured when in Vienna recently.  I read the first book about Sisi by Allison Pataki, called Accidental Empress and couldn't wait for the next book, Sisi, to be released.  Seeing her apartments reminded me of the release of the book, which I also subsequently purchased.


1. Continue yoga 3x/week.
2.  Start kickboxing and kettlebells workouts.  Dragonboat season is upon us and I really need to kick up the core workouts (see what I did there?! Kick...kickboxing...haha)
3.  Focus on incorporating more vegetables into my diet.  I am typically woefully short on them in my daily diet, and summer is the perfect time to enjoy them.


I'm going to quit saying "Purge L'atelier."  It's starting to become one of those "Shoulds."  I want to enjoy the time in my sewing room, and sewing because I "hafta" isn't a reason to continue on with this hobby.  Yes, I have A. LOT. of stash.  Do I love it?  Mostly.  Will I use all of it?  Maybe.  So, I've decided that if I come across something I no longer love, I'll use it for a toile, or get rid of it without any guilt.  Mostly, I just want to sew when I'm down there.

What ya working on?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Spring in Prague SWAP Wrap Up

So, despite the uninterrupted posts from my blog, I am back from my vacation to Prague and Vienna.  So recently in fact, I'm still going to bed at 9 pm and waking up at 3 am.  Jet lag is an unavoidable evil when travelling to Europe!  I don't seem to have much trouble with it while I am away - mostly because we packed our days so full of exciting things to do and walked so much (about 10-20 km a day), and it was SO hot, we were worn out by the end of the day and slept like babies!  Any ideas on how to re-assimilate into real life would be very much appreciated!

Real life while away - here I am hard at work (I am actually checking work emails)
at a cafe in Prague wearing Infinity Dress B5606
I thought I'd do a little summary of my wardrobe and how my plans turned into reality and how my wardrobe actually worked  out while I was away.  I varied a little from my SWAP plan, and I can honestly say I brought too many clothes. 

Mom and I on the St. Charles Bridge in Prague
I'm wearing a self drafted shirt over a RTW cami and brown cotton skirt
In reviewing my photos, I've noticed that despite my intentions to have each outfit photographed, that never truly materialized, this despite taking a million selfies to document the trip. 

Mom and I at the Schonbrunn Palace Rose Gardens in Vienna
I'm wearing a Loes Hinse Perfect Tee in a shear animal print
with a beige cami underneath with a beige cotton skirt
So, after a distinct lack of me modelling my clothes for you on this blog, this post will contain *a few* of these selfies and that will hopefully give you at least a bit of the flavour of my travel wardrobe.  And my trip :) 

Marillen weiss gespritzt on a boat on the Danube,
wearing a RTW top - it's too hot for a necklace!

Here's a list of what I brought:

- KS moto jacket in sage green cotton twill blogged here
- Helen's Closet Blackwood cardigan sweater in dark khaki lacy sweater knit blogged here
- V1291 top in blush pink blogged here
- self drafted men's style shirt in natural linen blend
- B5678 in black lightweight cotton voile
- self drafted men's style shirt in snakeskin print poly georgette
- New Look 6068 sleeveless top in brown and blush print (also blogged here)
- New Look 6068 sleeveless top in green and black print
- RTW sleeveless top in leopard (or some type of animal) print (very similar style as New Look 6068)
- RTW camis, one in beige and one in chartreuse microfibre knit
- three RTW cotton tees in rose pink, blush pink and olive green
- two Loes Hinse Perfect Tees in cocoa with gold lightweight knit and one in sheer animal print
- RTW cotton tank in olive green
- M7686 view A off-the-shoulder top in light olive green microfibre knit
- Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans in beige stretch cotton/poly blend
- V8330 jeans in blush stretch cotton
- McCalls miniskirt in beige stretch cotton/lycra blend
- McCalls miniskirt in textured brown cotton/lycra blend
- McCalls miniskirt in green cotton/lycra blend
- RTW grey running shorts
- RTW grey/black lightweight pullover sweater
- self-drafted olive green yoga pants
- B5606 infinity dress blogged here
- M6559 dress (shorter length) and matching tie front cardigan in chartreuse microfibre knit
- M6886 dress, sleeveless in black and white stripe medium weight microfibre knit
- one piece bathing suit in totally uncoordinated colours of turquoise and red (the only one I have that I really want to be seen in public in if I'm not swimming laps!)
- dark olive green pashmina
- cream cotton/linen/rayon blend lightweight scarf
- pink/gold cotton blend lightweight scarf
- two pairs of wool handknit socks, various shorty socks, undergarments & toiletries
- various jewelry
- burgundy lightweight Reebok running shoes (fitted with my orthotics!)
- beige heeled Rockport sandals
- beige ballet slipper style shoes

Entering the Subway in Prague to travel to Vienna with all my luggage
wearing Blackwood cardi, New Look 6068 top and blush V8330 jeans
I wore the beige jeans, moto jacket, cream shirt, brown and blush top, heeled sandals and olive green pashmina on the plane.  Believe it or not, the rest of this wardrobe fit into a standard carry-on bag.  I fill my shoes with small clothing items (underwear, socks, camis) and put them into my suitcase first.  I use the rolling method of packing - I roll everything and literally compress it into the suitcase space, starting with the large items and filling the gaps with the smaller items.   

I also carry a standard day-size back pack with organizing pockets, which had my small size travel umbrella, camera bag, knitting projects (socks because they're so portable!) and extra yarn, iPad, Kindle, various chargers and electrical adapters, maps, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and wipes and my (very small) purse.  When touring around during the day, I leave some of that stuff at home, bringing my camera, umbrella, one sock knitting project, maps, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, wipes and my purse.

Cafe in Prague, New Look 6068 top with green cotton skirt
Ready for the day in New Look 6068 top and
McCalls stretch cotton skirt

I always research the anticipated weather before I travel.  I expected the temperatures to be about 20-23 degrees Celsius in both Prague and Vienna while we were there, with a few days of rain.  Despite my research, it was unexpectedly unseasonably hot and humid (about 30 degrees Celsius or more most days), so my two pairs of pants saw very, very little wear (only on the train and plane). 

Lunch in a monastery/brew pub in Prague
wearing a Loes Hinse Perfect Tee in a cocoa/gold knit
and the brown cotton skirt
A sleepy me, first thing in the morning wearing a RTW
lightweight knit sweater and self-drafted yoga pants
I wore the jacket once and the cardigan two or three times. I wore the grey/black sweater and yoga pants in the mornings when I woke up if it was cool.  The running shorts and grey cami/tank were worn as pajamas. 

St. Peter & Paul Cathedral in Prague, wearing
B5678 shirt over New Look 6068 top
Overlooking Prague, wearing B5678 shirt over New Look 6068 top
I threw in an extra skirt at the last minute; all of the camis and two of the sleeveless tops were last minute additions as well.  I'm very glad I had my "extra items" - they got a lot of wear in the hot weather.  While the camis were quite bare, I wore them under the shirts with the sleeves rolled up - loose and cool, yet covered from the sun.  If I went into churches or galleries, I would button up the shirt or tie the shirt tails at the front.  It was so hot, I often wore two or three tops throughout the day, so I'm really glad I had them all.  We had laundry facilities at the AirBnBs where we spent the majority of our time and the camis and tanks got washed a couple of times. 

Dinner in the Zofin Palace in Prague, wearing M6559

At the operetta Gasparone in Vienna, wearing B5606 Infinity Dress

I also wore both dresses a few times - we went to a fancy dinner in the Zofin Palace in Prague and we also went to an operetta in Vienna (amazing, particularly because it had a screen with English subtitles), and I wore the dresses on days that we were sightseeing and forecast to be particularly hot.  The dresses turned out to be very cool as they had no defined waistline or belt, and could be dressed up or down depending on what I wore with them. 

Infinity dress B5606 
I didn't use the olive green pashmina at all, except on the plane to Europe, but the cream scarf came with me everywhere.  It was great if there was an unexpected draft from air conditioning in galleries or museums, or if I wanted to protect my shoulders from the sun.  The pink scarf didn't get out of the suitcase at all.  Not sure why, it would have worked just as well as the cream one. 

Stairway to Klimt exhibit in Vienna
wearing a RTW olive tee with the cream scarf

Rose garden in Vienna near the winter palace
wearing Blackwood cardi with the cream colour scarf

I only wore the off-the-shoulder top once which also means I only wore the specialized undergarment (strapless bra) it needed only once.  I never wore the bathing suit but knew it was only "just in case."  I also didn't wear any of the pink tees - they just felt too heavy and hot, even first thing in the morning.  I never wore the ballet flats either - I opted for the lightweight running shoes almost every day.  They were very breathable, and I needed them for all the walking!

Ready for Dad's conference opening ceremony
and reception, wearing M7686 View A
As noted above, I often throw in extra things at the last minute, just in case, particularly if I have the room in my suitcase.  This worked out really well in the long run for this trip, but I had a lot of things I really didn't particularly "need" but ended up being really nice to have.  I did however expand and check my suitcase on the way home, and bought an inexpensive bag to carry a few souvenirs with me (ahem, yarn, ahem, sewing magazines and some new scarves that worked really well with the colour scheme of this travel wardrobe along with some books and clothes for my grandson) that I couldn't resist.  I almost regretted the decision to check my bag when waiting for half an hour around the luggage carousel waiting for my bag to come out, but souvenir yarn and La Maison Victor!!  Need I say more?

Aperol Spritz on a HOT day in Prague, wearing M6886 dress
I love planning travel wardrobes.  I love feeling prepared for the adventure of a trip, and I absolutely love that we were mistaken for locals many times on the trip (until we opened our mouths to say anything, that is!). 

Lunch at a pub in Prague with Mom, I'm wearing a RTW olive
tank top with a beige cotton skirt
The one take away for me is to be a bit more ruthless when packing and not throw in things at the last minute, just in case, which will leave some room in my carry-on bag for the inevitable souvenirs.  Then I can truly say I traveled carry-on.

Travelling from Vienna back to Prague on the train, wearing
one of the new scarves I bought
What an amazing trip.  I am truly blessed.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Deep Stash Diving!

While I love intricate sewing projects that take hours and hours of sewing time and teach me new skills, there are times when I just love to hear the whir of the sewing machines as I blast through a project or two.   This was the case recently when I only had a short period of time in the sewing room, and I'm working towards some deadlines and wanted some new clothes.

I chose a few TNT patterns and one relatively straightforward project for a new outfit.  And here's the result!

So let's start with the cardigan.  It's the Blackwood Cardigan from Helen's Closet.  I've made this pattern four or five times already and wear the cardigans to death, literally - one looks a bit like a rag already.  I didn't refer to the instructions at all - it's a super easy make.  I love the lines of it, it makes me feel svelte and sophisticated.  The fabric is a really unusual lacy sweater knit that kind of looks like velour in the raised lacy bits with just enough stretch to make my standard size work.


The top is another pattern I've made multiple times, New Look 6068.

Image result for new look 6068 

This is a picture of the pattern cover that I snagged off the internet because my copy of the pattern is beaten up and written on with so many notes about fitting.  I've had my copy for at least five years, which is as far back as my notes on the cover date.  I've made this top over and over again - I'm pretty sure I've made all versions of it.   It's a classic silhouette. It has a centre back seam, which I love because I have such a swayback that it really helps with the fit.  I added 2" to the length as I found the original pattern a bit on the short side (and I'm short-waisted).  I cut this out in a single layer to pattern match as much as possible with my very small yardage. The fabric is an ITY knit, which is old, old, old stash - I have no idea where I bought it or when.  It was a very small piece, which makes me think I may have picked it up as a remnant. 

I used 2" wide self-fabric bands cut on the cross-grain to finish the hems at the neckline and the armholes. To do this, I fold the fabric strips in half wrong sides together, and stitch them to the right side of the garment, using a 5/8" seam allowance (the regular seam allowance on the original pattern).  Then I turn the seam allowance to the inside of the garment and press.  Super simple, but I think it adds a level of sophistication that the turn and stitch hems don't. 


And finally, the skirt. I wanted something a little casual.  In the warmer months, I wear skirts instead of shorts, especially when I"m travelling.  I find skirts to be cooler and more dressy than shorts.  I chose Vogue 7805, which is reminiscent of jeans styling.  I believe it is out of print as I can't find it on the Vogue website.  As an aside, I love the detailing on the leg of pants and the vents and have added these to my list of "want to makes".

I chose a sage/olive green very stretchy cotton/lycra fabric.  Because the fabric was so stretchy, I sized down a size from my normal 16 to size 14.  I ended up taking in the side seams substantially - again because the fabric was so stretchy.  I really like how the front carriers are integrated into the patch pockets.  The waist is finished with a facing that is topstitched at the bottom, which adds another cool detail.  I used a "jeans" button that is hammered into place to carry through the jeans styling.  It looks a little wrinkly in the photographs, but  I think that's a result of my flash because it doesn't look that way IRL.  It turned out to be a very fitted skirt but that's the silhouette I was looking for.


These pieces will be coming with me in my carry-on bag for my upcoming vacation.  I think they'll work really nicely with the other pieces in the Spring in Prague collection.

Monday, June 11, 2018

It's All about the Base

Sometimes I have a make that I'm not too sure about.  I fall in love with an idea during the concept phase, but when it comes to reality, it just doesn't come out quite the same as the vision in my head.  My latest make is something like this.

I had a length of fabric leftover from my latest makes on my cutting table, the same olive green lightweight cotton/lycra jersey.  These makes turned out pretty great, IMHO.  So, I figured instead of putting it back in my overflowing stash, I would just use the fabric up. 

I chose McCalls 7441 because I fell in love with the drape at the back.  I was originally thinking I'd make the view D vest, but when I laid out the pattern pieces, I didn't have enough fabric left, so I chose View A instead.

And here's how my version turned out.

It's ok, but not amazing.  It feels a bit uninspired to me.  I'm not sure why, maybe the fabric is a bit too stiff for this particular pattern?  I'm usually pretty good about being able to match fabric to patterns, so I'm struggling with why I'm not loving this make.

The back drape requires some futzing to get it to sit "nicely."  But the maybe the real reason I'm not loving this make is the side view:

The fabric settles on my butt, and not in a flattering way.  I'm not taking this with me on my trip, but it is cozy to wear, so I'm sure it will be put into rotation with my in-home lounge wear.  Onwards and upwards to my next make.

Friday, June 8, 2018


I'm well on my way to finishing the Spring in Prague SWAP, which is good, because my travel date is fast approaching!  My latest FO is a top from New Look 6648.

Image result for new look pattern drapey top

I chose View C with the wrap front and flutter sleeves.  I must have misplaced the waistband pattern piece the last time I sewed this as it wasn't in the envelope with the other pattern pieces, so I drafted one that I thought would be similar.  As luck would have it, I found the pattern piece tacked up to my bulletin board in my Atelier after cutting everything out, and it was remarkably similar to what I had suspected it would be.


My self-drafted waistband turned out to be longer than the pattern piece, but I really like it this length, which hits at the high hip.  I used the same olive green lightweight cotton/jersey that I used for my last make, the Infinity Dress.

I will definitely have to wear a cami underneath to keep the girls from showing themselves, but I like using camis as an accessory and to add a hit of colour.  And it has a great neckline for statement necklaces, which I love!

I finished the neckline with a self-fabric strip instead of the turn and stitch hem they recommend.  I just like this style finish better.  The pictures show a bit of wrinkling, but mostly because I've lightened the photographs to show the details better.

I love the loose style and feminine sleeves!