Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Five of 2013 (Part 3)

The Goals for 2014

1. To sew one item a month
I could find a group on line that is doing this, but then I just end up with more pressure on myself!  I know already that I will not be able to sew (much!) in January as I will be away for 3 weeks and the first week will be getting ready for the trip! But I will try and do a least one item a month thereafter!


2. Try to use up my fabric  stash in 2014
Buying new only if I really need to. If it is a toss up between more fabric and a ready to wear purchase for a special occasion? Big decisions, but probably fabric!

3. Ready to Wear?
Think carefully before buying a ready to wear item in 2014. Goodbye Valentino is hosting a year long Ready to Wear Fast in 2014. I have signed up for this!

4. Me Made Months
Wear my me made clothing more often (that is why the Me Made months are so good!). I have taken part for the last couple of years and have learnt a lot. Thanks to So Zo... What do you know for hosting these. Hopefully she will again in 2014!

5. Continuous Learning
Take courses to improve my sewing. Given time constraints, I will probably look at Craftsy as you can do them in your own time and your own pace. I am currently working my way through a Craftsy course on tatting. After trying to learn with books and Youtube videos, I found this class and it is very good. I see there are a lot of sewing related courses as well.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Top Five of 2013 (Part 2)

Reflections and Inspirations

Hand carved wooden tailor at his treadle sewing machine
(from Malawi)

1. Time
There just seems to be never enough time. So I think the answer is to just relax and use what time I do have to the best advantage.  Even if just a few minutes a day, but very focussed.

Last year Kayotic Sewing hosted a 20 minutes a day Sew Along on Artisan Square. This was a great help, even when you are tired and don't feel like it, 20 minutes is not long and it is surprising what you can accomplish in a short period of focused sewing.

2. Being Realistic
About my sewing ability, my time (as above!) and more importantly what will be worth sewing for my body type. A case is point was a 1970's jumpsuit I planned to sew for a Disco party early this year. I found a pattern (picture above), bought the shiny blue fabric (think Abba) and proceeded to cut and sew the image on the right. I am 5.1" tall. When I tried this on, I looked like a fat clown with billowing baggy pants. I couldn't even bring myself to take a picture.

If I had looked objectively at the drawing I would have seen that this was not a style for my body type. Plus the line drawings are not realistic.

3. Why I sew
I sew because I can. I sew because I like to. Easy as that. It is also nice that I can wear things that no-one else will be wearing and it has made me more aware of the actual high cost of mass produced low cost clothing. But, sometimes I find myself getting stressed out (mainly due to point 1 above!) and need to remind myself this is fun. It is not a competition, this is not a race.

4. Perfection
Sometimes I can't move forward with a sewing project because it is not perfect. Many of my UFOs are just that because I can't get something perfect. I think I need to learn that in many cases (not all!) good enough is OK and just move along!

5. Comparing myself to other sewists.
While blogs are a great source of inspiration (see point 2 below), they can also be a great source of unnecessary competition if you let it. There are people out there who hold down full time jobs, have children and whip up new outfits all the time, and if you are feeling a little down on yourself for lack of sewing, can make you feel inadequate! Again, I need to remember that it is not a competition. It is FUN!


Limoncello, Ottawa St, Hamilton
November 2013
1. Sew meet -ups
Without a doubt meeting local sewists in person this year has been amazing inspiration. Very few of my real life friends sew, so to meet other like minded people is great. In the Toronto area I have been to three meet-ups this year. As well as the exchange of ideas, tips and hints, we have also swapped patterns and fabric. Great fun!

2. Sewing blogs
This goes without saying that sewing blogs are a great inspiration. There are those blogs where people are now pursuing their life long goals and selling their sewing patterns, sewing books or courses, but I also like the little blogs where I can identify with people like myself and gain inspiration. Those people who manage to past a couple of times a month but detail what and how they made something.

This is actually a fondant decoration that was  on top of my Birthday cake

3. "Did you really sew that yourself?"
I'm not going to lie, but I am inspired by people asking me whether I made something. But better is them not asking and then finding out later that I made it (then I like to think it looks professional enough that they assumed it was store bought!

4. It's in my genes!
I was taught to sew mainly by my maternal grandmother and helped along by my mum. My grandmother used to take my sister and I out and choose several pieces of fabric every year and she made dresses for us.

I reflected on this earlier this year as part of the Sew Grateful Sewing Week.

Part of my fabric stash. What doesn't get used I should look at donating
5. Those that want to sew but can't
I joined Kiva a while ago and because of my interest in sewing I choose to loan money to those setting up sewing businesses. It makes me realise how little it take to help someone change their life. Closer to home I want to try and donate or recycle by unused fabric and patterns/ notions to those who can't afford their own.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top Five 2013 (part 1)

Thanks to Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow for hosting this Top Five of 2013. This a reflective time of year.

Here are the"rules":
Basically, between now and the new year, think back over the year and blog Top 5 lists about the following five topics: 
  • Top 5 Hits: Favourite Creations, most worn or most loved
  • Top 5 Misses: Sewing Fails, UFOs, worn once, or complete disasters
  • Top 5 Reflections: What did you learn about yourself or sewing this year? 
  • Top 5 Inspirations: What books, people, blogs, trends etc motivated you this year?
  • Top 5 Goals for the New Year
Today the top 5 hits and the top 5 misses

The hits

1. Grainline Moss skirt. I love this skirt and have lived in it since I finished it in late summer. For winter I wear it with black tights and boots.

2. Mathilde blouse. A very practical blouse, especially as I made it in white, so goes with basically everything in my wardrobe.

3. The Hedera socks I knitted by Cookie A.

4. Colette Patterns, Beignet skirt was a great skirt to sew. I had picked up the striped fabric in England last summer. I was very proud of my stripe matching efforts!

5. Portrait blouse from Gertie's New Book For Better Sewing. An easy blouse I find my
Self wearing time and again.

Honourable mentions to the following 2 dresses:
Birthday Party dress. Butterick 8852

Burda 8072

The misses

1. Fall Essentials Sew Along, hosted by Rhinestones and Telephones. I had the fabric, the patterns and then life got in the way and only one item got sewn, the Thurlow trousers.

2.Thurlow trousers. I don't know what it is, maybe my fabric choice, navy blue twill, but these trousers are not for me. As always with Sewaholic patterns, it was a well written pattern, but as I said, not me!

3. The Japanese Coat book. Some great blogs out there who have tackled this book with stunning results. But I think with a general lack of time to sew, I need clear and precise instructions in English! Not a total miss though as I bought the new Walden (Colette) pattern, Albion, (Thanksgiving sale!!) and have recut the Japanese coat I was attempting and so far so good!

4. The Sewaholic Robson coat. This is just a UFO and I can't wait to get this finished for Spring 2014! I bought the grey fabric in Seattle so the coat will remind me of my trip out West.

5. Another UFO (actually a group of UFOs). Undies. I have two bras, two pairs of panties and five pairs of men's boxers, all cut and ready to go and they keep getting put aside for other projects. I have no idea why!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Toronto Sewing meet-up

It has been so busy that I have hardly seen my sewing machine in a while and  I think we can safely say that the Fall Essentials Sew Along (FESA) was a bust! One pair of pants, a scarf and a pair of gloves!

All the fabric has been put away for another time (SWAP 2014??? I don't know but I am thinking about it as I have the fabric and plans!!). But I was not going to miss the opportunity of a meet-up.

So on a cool Saturday afternoon in late November,  8 Toronto sewists met at Limoncello on Ottawa Street in Hamilton.

We had lunch and then got down to business. Pattern and fabric swapping. I scored two very nice summer dress patterns as well as a piece of pink, black and white knit fabric and a heavier beige fabric (I am thinking Grainline Moss Skirt ask live in the denim one I made a while ago)

Then off to the shops, we were in and out a number before we ended (or at least I ended!) in Fabricland.

I ended up purchasing 3 pieces of fabric. Why would I be purchasing fabric when I just said that I have put away all the used fabric that was for FESA? Well I am making summer dresses. Yes I know that it is minus 5 outside and we are in winter, but I am lucky enough to be spending 3 weeks in Australia and New Zealand in January. A family wedding and general catching up with family and friends.

 And here are the gloves (actually they are called wristlets!) that I knitted. I used left over yarn from my Owl Sweater. Thanks to Tracey for sending me this pattern after the first Toronto Sewing meet-up!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thurlow Trousers

I finished the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers the other day. An item for FESA.

However, I am not sure if this is a pattern for me.  I have made trousers before, I have made two pairs of Jalie jeans, both with stretch denim which is very forgiving.  I used blue twill from my stash for these, so not sure if I have got the fit quite right or whether the twill is too heavy a fabric for these trousers. Something is just not right!

I also think that at my height (or lack thereof!) I should stick to straight leg trousers for a more flattering look.

But I have to say that this was another great Sewaholic pattern to sew. Clear and precise instructions.

I love the individual features such as the welt back pockets ( a first for me) and the nice front pockets. I lined the waistband and did the pockets with a lovely blue floral fabric that I have had in my stash for years

So all in all if nothing else, this was a great wearable muslin and I will actually be worn! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

NYC Garment District

One of my many excuses as to why I haven't been sewing!!

My sewing has been very slow (read non-exsistent!) recently, between work, running and a recent trip to New York I just have not had time to sew.

I started the FESA Challenge with great intentions and I have made one scarf and a pair of Thurlow trousers is on my sewing table waiting for a waistband. But I am nothing if not determined, I just might need a little more time!

New York was amazing, as always. I ran the NYC marathon (another main reason my sewing had taken a bit of a backseat!) and it was the best marathon EVER.

There was a free drink for those who wore their Marathon finisher's medal!!!
No "me mades" for the race, I still have not had much success with active wear, but I did wear the Portrait Blouse (from Gerties New Book For better Sewing) one evening out for dinner.

I also wore the denim Grainline Moss Skirt that I sewed recently. I love this skirt, so easy to wear. With the cooler weather in New York, I teamed the skirt with tights and boots.

And what about the Garment District? Well of course I had to spend time here! Oh my goodness, after two hours I came to the conclusion that if you can't find what you are looking for here (sewing related!!), then it has not been produced yet!

I was actually so overwhelmed with the choices that I didn't even buy any fabric, I just could not decide!

I ended up buying 6 hand carved bone buttons. I have a vague idea that they will be nice on a plain black or white blouse. I also bought some fancy closures for my son's coat (still a WIP) and a little metal handle for an evening bag I plan to make. Last of the big spenders!!!!

Buttons, buttons and more buttons!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

FESA 2013

My first finished item for FESA 2013! And it was a real quickie.

I had purchased another ball of Sashay yarn as it is very quick to knit up a scarf in an evening and adds a nice pop of colour to an outfit. But the band around the yarn had a pattern for a "Quick and Sassy Chain Scarf".

Oooh, something new to try! You basically make a long length chain stitches using your fingers instead of a crochet hook. They suggest using two or three fingers depending on how big you want the chains to be. I used two fingers and used the entire ball. Then I draped it round my neck several times and once I had it the lengths I wanted. I then tied it off at the back, ensuring that the end of the yarn wrapped several times around all the strands. It is now easy just to slip it on over my head.

I am wearing this with one of my wardrobe staples, one of my Sewaholic Renfrews. I love that pattern!

The bracelet is also Me-Made, from my beading years! Also a very quick and easy project. You take safety pins and put beads on them. Then thread these pins (alternating tops and bottoms of the safety pins) onto elastic with beads in between.

I was meant to knit gloves for FESA and then this was to do after that if I had time!!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Plan for FESA 2013

While I might not have got round to sewing as yet (which may have something to do with the fact that I forgot that I had promised my son a coat and he will be home at Thanksgiving which is next weekend in Canada!!).

I do have a plan in place and all the fabric is washed and ready to go! So I hope to be able to make something from each of the categories:

Fashionable Foundations
Navy blue Sewaholic Thurlow trousers. I haven’t used this pattern yet and have been looking forward to trying it out.

My stretch goal for this would be to also make a caramel / brown Grainline Moss skirt. I really like the denim one I made a few weeks ago.

Chic Chemises for Cool Climates
I took part in a spring swap challenge earlier this year and received among other things a lovely pattern for a top, from a pattern company I have never heard of, Silhouette patterns. I thought this turquoise would be nice and bright for Fall weather.

My stretch goal would be to also complete a button down shirt either a Grainline Archer Shirt or a Burda one.The fabric was bought about 3 years ago from Joanne’s, on a cross border shopping trip.

Fabulous Frocks
As part of the previously mentioned Spring Swap, my partner sent me a lovely piece of grey knit fabric which I am going to underline in a plain tricot and use this wrap dress pattern that I bought on sale the other day.

Underneath It All
Two pair of panties and two bras, fabric already purchased and partly cut out from last year!

Tender Handies!
I plan to knit to a pair of Owl gloves. Using a free pattern from Mollie Makes magazine. These gloves will match my owl (“nice hooters”!) sweater that I knitted last year as I have left over yarn.

Also a another Sashay scarf as they are quick and easy and add a pop of colour to any coat or jacket in the fall. I picked up a ball of blue Sashay yarn.

Those Cozy Nights
Not exactly cozy PJs but I got this red fabric from out first Toronto meet–up (I think 
from Seraphinalina) and picked up this pattern earlier this year when they were on sale.

Baby It's Cold Outside
I have a grey Sewaholic Robson trenchcoat cut out and partly sewn. This needs to get finished. 

Then I also plan to make another  Sewaholic Minoru coat as I live in the one I made in 2012.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Moss Skirt

I finished a Grainline Moss skirt last week. What a nice pattern! It was a pleasure to sew and I really like the fit. I happened to be in Niagara Falls on the weekend, so couldn't resist the opportunity for a photo op on location!

I sewed a size 6 and it fits perfectly, I did not need to do any alterations. I used a medium weight denim that has a bit of stretch to it. I picked the denim up a few weeks ago on a trip to Len Mills Store in Hamilton.

I added the "modesty" hem band onto the bottom as I am way beyond the age when I can wear my skirts up to there! It now sits just on the knee.

This is going to look nice in winter with stockings and boots and a little sweater.

I did a lot of top stitching using orange thread to finish things off. I will definitely be making this again, in fact I picked up a piece of brown twill type fabric at value Village the other day which will look very nice as a Moss skirt.