Friday, July 26, 2013


I keep meaning to come here and post something, as a means of staying connected with you guys, but it feels silly to post without some progress to report. But I'm done with feeling guilty about that because honestly, if there's not enough time to sew then there's certainly not enough time to feel guilty. I do manage to find the time to lurk on most of the blogs I read, though some days it makes me feel pretty inadequate. Is my life really this busy, or am I just really unproductive? Probably a bit of both, I suppose.

Anyway, I have actually been sewing, but what I do finish hasn't really been blog-worthy, for one reason or another. One major reason being that I keep sewing unnecessary baby things as a way of trying to indulge the baby-rabies. I call it "prototyping" - I'm not making things and stashing them in a little secret hope-chest-of-shame, so much as I'm knocking out muslins to figure out what sort of things I like to make, what might work for us one day (as best as you can tell that without actually having any full-time experience with tiny humans), etc. Basically, I've spent some evenings making cute diapers and onesies and whatnot and squeeling "it's so cuuuuuutte" at myself and then flinging it to the far corners of some closet and not telling anyone, lest they think I'm crazy. (I'm sure that in an act of total irony I will sew nothing when we actually get to the reproducing stage of our lives. Just wait.) But I guess I just told you so... feel free to judge, lol.

I have, however, been hoarding patterns and fabric (very unlike me, but I'm having an alarming amount of fun with it). I decided the best way to approach this is to try to bulk-cut and prep patterns and get all the notions assembled, so when I have an hour or two to sew I can just get down to sewing. So I don't have any garments to show you but I have about six or so with all the bits and pieces ready and about four of those are cut and waiting.

Here's hoping I'll have something to show for it soon, because let me tell you, I am SICK of shopping. Sick of it! Whole days wasted in malls or shops only to come home empty-handed. A whole weekend of beach time wasted to acquire one crappy dress. Seriously, I need to figure out this fitting business so I can actually sew my own wardrobe because this is killing me. How do people dress so well without losing their entire lives to the hobby of shopping? I must just be very bad at it because I don't get it. Ugh.

Anyway, coming up: lots of dresses (hopefully - I've realized how much happier I am in dresses as opposed to pants) and some self-drafted basics. If I can dig my camera out from the mess we made while moving. (Oh yeah, we moved! I have a sewing room now! WOOOOT!)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sunday Evening



Not sure where this one is going to end up. It's ridiculously simple, but I kind of love it. That being said, how many quilts does one little family need? I made this to prepare for teaching a quilting class recently (the same class I made the previous chevron quilt for - hey, I like to be prepared!), so with no particular purpose in mind for the end result. I'm thinking of donating it to the children's hospital. We shall see.

In the meantime, Hobbes likes it.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Back to Basics

I have a few things on the sewing table, but for the moment I'm just going to share this one:


It's a beginner's quilt - super simple. I waffled on the fabric choice because chevrons are beyond trendy right now - until I remembered that it's just as silly to avoid something because it's trendy as it is to do it only because it is. Hopefully this little quilt will last long after the world has forgotten that Pinterest told us all that we Must. Love. Chevrons.

I'm making the quilt for a class that I'm auditing in order to prepare to teach it later in the year. Super excited about that! I'm thinking this wee quilt will be the first item I stow away for our future children. I hestiated to write that - it seems like nowadays people think that's either A) bad luck B) crazy or C) too risky in case anything goes sideways in the family planning department. But critics be damned, I'm starting a for-future-baby-box. (Which can always become a ready-made-gifts-box if need be.)

The textured shawl is coming along just fine as well:


I am absolutely IN LOVE with this yarn (Aslan Trends King Baby Llama and Mulberry Silk). In fact, I'm in love with this yarn company. I have a few skeins of their Royal Alpaca waiting in the wings and I cannot WAIT to make something with it.


But for now, I'm just enjoying this knit.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I called this scarf the Bandwagon Scarf because everybody's knitting it. With good reason!


I used Cascade 220 in an ivory tone and some pinky-purple Noro Silk Garden. I LOVE the end result. I was a little worried because some have said that Noro is quite scratchy, but now that I've worn this I can safely say that I don't find it scratchy at all. Win!

I knit this quite long because I wanted it to be super cozy and wrap twice around my neck. It's on the narrower side (5") but it's over 8 feet long! I finally invested in a digital kitchen scale (on sale for $10!), so I know that this took exactly 1.17 skeins of Cascade 220 and 2.34 skins of Noro. I really lucked out because a good friend happened to have some Noro scraps from her own striped project that matched my scarf perfectly! Otherwise this would have been too short to wrap twice and I don't think I would have been even half as happy with it.


The bind-off threw me for a bit of a loop. I generally start all projects with the long-tail cast-on and finish with a regular ol' knitted bind-off (unless otherwise instructed), but they look waaaaaayy different from each other and this is the first time it has been important to me that the edges match. After some failed experiments, I landed on this video and it worked like a charm.

So, on to the next! I'm thinking I might use the remaining Cascade to make an ivory hat to go with. (Is that too matchy-matchy? The only hat I wear at the moment is black and cabled.) In the meantime, I'm working on finishing up another WIP - the Textured Shawl Recipe in this gorgeous stuff:


(And there's some sewing on the horizon, too. But more on that later.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy New Year :-D

Hey friends. It's a gorgeous Saturday morning and I feel compelled to swing by here, dust off a few cobwebs and let you know I'm alive and well. Happy new year!

I've spent a lot of time in the past analyzing the concept of new year's resolutions. I'm not going to do that this time around - I'll just tell you where I landed. This year, I decided to stick with the idea of "intentions" rather than firm resolutions/goals... but rather than stating specific intentions (which, really, is like goal-setting without being SMART and none of the follow-through) I decided to go with words. Two words, actually (well, three, if you're being persnickity): efficiency and problem-solving.

Basically, I'm trying to keep these words in mind every time I feel challenged, frustrated, bored, dissatisfied in every day life. And you know what? So far, it's working out pretty awesome and the Mister is totally on board. We've tackled a bunch of sources of day-to-day stress and focused on behaving a little more like grown-ups. I'm not sure this is the place to report in detail, but needless to say I'm feeling a bit more in control of my time and hopefully the trickle-down effect will be more sewing/knitting in 2013.

(There actually was quite a bit of sewing/knitting that just didn't make the blog at all towards the end of 2012... so I'll try to be better about documenting the coming year. I miss that.)

So, for now, just a quick update on what I'm working on:


Noro striped scarf. Originally this was meant to be a pattern-less project I could just tote to knit group and not worry about making mistakes or losing my place, but recently I've become a little obsessed with it and I'm dying to wear it. I'm making it nice and long so I can wrap it twice around my neck. I've run out of Cascade with about 8 inches to go, so it's off to the yarn store with me today. Last night I actually wore it all evening watching movies with the knitting needle still holding the stitches on one end! Like I said: can't wait.

Hope everything is good with you and yours this gorgeous new year.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thinkin' Thoughts

So, something miraculous happened.

I took the photos for my Renfrew post this past Thursday morning. Then, I walked out the door and wore it to work.

Yes, it is both sad and hyperbolic to call that a "miracle."

But that experience of so effortlessly wearing something I’ve made has led me to do some thinking about why I sew, why I choose the patterns I do, and the clothes I wear versus the clothes I want to wear.

I’m very motivated by the idea that sewing would allow me to wear a lot of items that I have difficulty fitting RTW. But there’s a big assumption going on there: that I don’t wear these items because I rarely fit them and, therefore, if I had more versions that fit I would wear them.

I’m starting to debate the extent to which this is true.

Reflecting on my wardrobe, I’ve come to a few conclusions:

1. Dresses:

I LOVE wearing a good dress that fits well. However, I really don’t like dressing to be noticed. The number one reason I don't wear the dresses I own is because I feel like I stand out too much in the print. If my goal is to incorporate dresses into my regular wardrobe (rather than “special occasion”) then I need to be sewing them in solid colours. (At least until I become more accustomed to wearing them and those around me become more accustomed to seeing me in them.) I also need to develop a much better understanding of my own sense of style, so I can better know which prints I will actually feel comfortable and confident wearing (as opposed to just thinking they look great objectively on the bolt).

2. Blouses:

Woven blouses are tricky. It’s a rare blouse that fits me in a way that I feel comfortable and attractive wearing. That being said, I really do enjoy the loose and easy fit of the Sorbetto tank (my oh MY how I wish my cat hadn’t eaten the pretty and well-fitted one!) and it provides a really welcome break from the boring old jersey tanks that I wear under my cardigans (which is basically my uniform, it seems.) I think that with some careful attention to detail I could make a blouse with sleeves that works for me. But I also need to remember that there are certain details I will probably never like on myself, such as the traditional dress shirt collar or any kind of shoulder embellishment (particularly sleeves with even a hint of puff. Not my thing.)

3. Pants:

If I want to wear a more handmade wardrobe, I need to start sewing pants. The truth is that I live in pants, and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. I also seem to have a terrible time finding any that fit me the way I like, so the sewing experience isn't likely to be that much more time-consuming or frustrating than the shopping experience.

4. Knits:

The first point above for pants also applies to knits. Even when I have well-fitted woven tops in my wardrobe, I go for the knits more often than not. So I really should start focusing on this in my sewing.

5. Jackets:

I don't have enough warm layers and jackets, and that is mostly because I just can't find anything that fits me. I really need to tackle my fear of the jacket and just jump in, because a good wardrobe for a temperate climate probably includes at least a few jackets in various weights and I have precisely four. Lest that sound like a lot, be aware that this consists of: a Gore-Tex rain jacket, a snowboarding coat, an ill-fitting blazer and one linty old peacoat. (And really, as much as Vancouverites like to think that Gore-Tex can be dressy… let’s stop fooling ourselves, shall we?)

All that being said, the biggest takeaway from this reflection was the realization that the best-loved items I sew, for myself or for others, are almost always pajamas - and that I’m totally okay with that. Mostly, I just really want to sew things that I wear, love, and prefer to a store-bought version. I’ve suddenly realized that as much as I aspire to sew well-fitting dresses and winter coats, I’m also just a product-driven crafter who wants to make stuff that actually gets finished and worn. And while I don’t care to be noticed in it, or singled out for making it, I do derive a lot of satisfaction from putting on a handmade garment and knowing, I made this.

Thursday, September 27, 2012



I bought this pattern on impulse last weekend and boy, am I glad I did. Mostly because it really helped draw me out of this funk I've been in, sewing-wise.

I'm not sure if I've ever emphasized this point, but I am not a fast sewist. (Likely exaggerated by the fact that I'm not a patient one, either.) But sewing with knits is a big revelation. This top probably took me about... 6 hours? That includes all the prep work, cutting, fitting, and altering. I feel like, by some people's standards that might be a long time, but for me it's pretty damn fast.

(By the way... "prep work" included a step that I'm not sure was necessary. This fabric is an interlock knit that came in a tube, rather than a flat piece with selvages. When I pulled it out of the bag I realized I had no idea how to work with it. Some impatient googling led me to believe that I had to take the time to cut the whole 2+ meters down a single channel to establish grain... and guys, this is a TINY knit. Is that seriously the only way to establish grain on a tubular knit? Did the internet lead me astray? Anyway, it worked great but took forever.)


So here's the lowdown:

the fabric is a nice, substantial 50/50 poly/cotton blend interlock knit. You guys know I'm not really interested in using poly, but the choices for non-poly knits at my nearest fabric store were pretty slim. In any case, the fabric actually feels seriously awesome and was a pleasure to work with. That being said, I think the result looks a little more casual than I would like, due to the lack of drape in the fabric... a bit sweatshirt-y, if you will?

When looking at the pattern, my high bust puts me at a 10, my full bust puts me at a 12 and my hips put me at an 8. So I decided to follow the Lladybird method and just grade the pattern. I did a 10 for the shoulders/arms, 12 for the bust, 10 at the waist and 8 at the hips. Easy peasy.

This ultimately proved totally uneccessary. The whole thing came out too big, for one. For two, it must be years of squeezing my boobs into RTW tops, but I actually prefer a super tight fit on the bust in knits, so I think I would have been better just to leave the grading and cut a true size. (well, grading down the hips was probably wise.) The construction of the pattern is awesome, though, in that you sew up the arms and side seams in one step, so it's super easy to take it. I ended up just taking in 1/2" on each arm seam and at the bust, tapering out to nothing at the waist.

I think the fit is now totally wearable, although I still find the shoulders to be too wide and the whole thing still feels a tad loose. Additionally, the bands at the arms and hips (which, yes, I did remember to adjust accordingly) are not tight enough at all. I would prefer if bands of this nature were actually tight against my body with negative ease. Finally, I find the sleeve length isn't quite right for me... I think it needs another inch or so in length, or to be shortened to just above the elbow.

(Just a word about those fit comments... part of why I maintain this blog is to keep notes to refer to in the future. I'm not trying to dwell on the imperfections. And in truth I pick the photos that show the garment to its best advantage when possible, so the things I discuss might not always be visible. You'll just have to trust me :D).

Overall, I think this is the BEST pattern and I can't wait to make more of these. But, I think my preference would be to throw the whole "stable knits" thing out the window and start playing around with jersey, because ultimately I think this garment would suit me with a lot more drape to it. (Viscose knits, I'm looking at you.)

Be prepared for a whole host of thoughts on the idea of sewing cake... I'm sold.