Wednesday, November 30, 2011

when your set design is a-wash

Hey, do you think Roger and Shirley will show up for cards?

There's nothing like flood waters to keep your cola cold!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


So technically I'm into the 1970's for my 8/100 Project, but I am having a LOT of trouble finding a pattern from the 70's that I like.

So tell me, what is iconic in fashion from the 70's?  Is the bell bottoms, the peasant dresses, the mini skirts & vest combos with platform shoes?  What screams 70's to you?

Friday, November 11, 2011

blue glass

I have, for a long time, loved mason jars - especially the blue ones.  They have been something of a trend in recent years in weddings and decor, most popularly used as vases and lighting fixtures.  

When we visited the in-laws this summer, my love of blue mason jars came up and I was promptly lavished with an assortment of sizes and brands that made this girls' heart go pitter-pat.

On the piano.

Mine right now sit prettily in a location where they are visible through most of our living space.  They gently emphasize a vintage blue colour that is a running theme throughout, and until I find a use for them that inspires, I'm content to have them rest as a generous gift that brings me endless amounts of visual pleasure.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I have about 15 posts currently in draft form, but generally have had little energy (or nerve?) to hit publish.  Soon.

In other news I have decided that markers, washable or not, are the devil, and consequently I think we will become a crayon/pencil house only.  I'm hoping that that will significantly reduce the amount of time I spend scrubbing walls/cupboards/counters/floors/children, and contribute to my sanity and well-being.

So sorry markers.  You were colourful and provocative, but you are going the way of glitter and toys with batteries that only play one song over and over again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

So whatever happened to that summer dress I was working on with my friend, Nathalie?  Well, it's currently in pieces in a brown paper bag - the languishing of a garment unfinished before school started.  That and I have made so many mistakes on this dress that now I'm feeling weak-kneed about finishing it. But now that we're in the swing of things, I might just have a regular day to sew - Thursdays (which is tomorrow) and I thought, what a good day to keep working on the dress!

And then it rained.

And all I wanted to do was curl up in a window seat somewhere with a cup of Earl Grey and read a book, ala Anne of Green Gables.

Lesendes M├Ądchen - Otto Scholderer - 1883

It is so very hard to want to sew a summer dress with it is nippy and wet out, but I might just make myself.  (Then next on the list, a white gown with a copper sash...)

Monday, October 3, 2011

We are huge fans of the Take Away shows at our house.  Here is one that has sparked our imaginations recently.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Happy Friday

School started this week - I have two in school now so it makes for a little more coordination and planning, especially with a toddler!  So at the end of a big week, I was quite cheered to find this video show up in my reader via A Cup of Jo.  I hope it cheers you too!

Monday, August 22, 2011

90's dress

I finished it a while back but neglected to take pictures until we went on vacation a few weeks ago.  Back into the swing of things with school starting, I thought I should show you the results.

Project 1 in the 8/100 Project was this one, Vogue 9479:

The white dotted Kaufman fabric I used was a bit sheer, so while the bodice was self-lined, I had to line the skirt also.  Fortunately I had enough fabric!

 It is, of course, still too big for her, but that didn't keep her from grabbing it every time it got a wash, often before I could iron it.

The invisible zipper was completely unnecessary.  I could have saved myself a ton of trouble trying to line up seams, but I learned a lot about handling an invisible zipper with a lining, and it does give a lovely clean finish.

The pattern itself was easy to follow.  The only trouble I ran into was finding a 16" white zipper - my local fabric store didn't sell any in that size - I went with a 14" instead and can't notice a difference. Being from the 90's it was fairly challenge-less, apart from my self-imposed invisible zipper, and in the end, not really distinguishable as being from that decade, but I think I'm ok with that. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sewing In Art

I've always found the way sewing (and other crafts) have been portrayed in media a fascinating thing.  Many other bloggers have looked at the changing face of sewing over the last century or so, and I've very briefly touched on it here, but I thought it might be fun to look at sewing even further back than that - through art.

So the first installment in the "Sewing In Art" series:

This is a book scan from the Tacuina Sanitatis, a 14th century book on health and well being.  The description reads "Linen Clothing".  

The fabric, if it's proportional looks to be a very narrow bolt - and look at the size of those shears!  Also, proportionally, the figures sitting and sewing seem to be smaller than the ones standing.  I wonder if this signifies status or importance.  Notice that the girl sitting with her back to us in the green dress is wearing her differently to the other women.  I wonder if she is younger, perhaps some kind of apprentice?

See lady standing in the white gown?  I wondered at first if she was a teacher, but I think she's the customer!  The fabric of her dress looks similar to the fabric on the table, and the stuff being worked on by the seated ladies.

Now if I can just figure out why this house of couture is perched on the edge of a cliff! ;)

So... what do you see in this picture?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Happy Heart Dress

I wrote earlier this year about the Happy Heart Dress.  A week before her birthday Miss I, my middle girlie, asked me again about her dress...  How could I say no to the birthday girl?  It was a close call - I was sewing on the last button right as her first party guests were arriving. 

My hand stitched buttonholes imperfect but functional, and the buttons cover them well.  I'm also pretty sure I did the continuous lap incorrectly, but it works so perhaps not?  The bodice is underlined with some cute paisley fabric, and the stretch cotton sateen was wonderful to work with.  I really love the fit of this dress and with the skirt starting at the natural waistline, it's a very flattering silhouette.

Naturally, for the red & white striped under blouse, I managed to find a pattern for the most complicated construction I've ever seen, so on short notice my friend Steph suggested the $4 Victory shirt.  It worked great, and the birthday girl didn't mind at all.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Dresses - Vintage Dress Fabric Folly

It nagged me for a week.

It hit me in the shower.  (Steam does that to me.)

The fabric is all wrong for that pattern.  I consulted with Nathalie.  She agrees.  Ordering replacement now.

Sigh.  So much for stash busting.

The one ray of sunshine is I have a different pattern that would suit the original fabric perfectly.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I Will Wear Dresses - Part 2

Part Two - The Vintage

I agonized over this pattern for about a month or more:

I put it up on FB with some others and let the comments roll in.  If there is one thing I can count on with my friends, it's their honest opinions, for which I was very grateful. 

Interestingly enough, out of the voting also came an idea from my friend Nathalie - a vintage summer dress sew-along!  We have a lot of things in common - including girls the same age, and it serves as a great excuse to regularly get together over the summer.  She is going to make different pattern, also a vintage Butterick.  

I looked high and low for fabric.  Originally I needed a fabric that went with either a black or lavender cardigan, but in the end my fabric choice was neither.  Oh dear.  And another popular one.  I'm losing my edge :P  

Lizette Medallion Blue Sateen

I saw the fabric for 1/2 off at my local fabric store, and I was able to squeeze some end of bolt pricing as the remaining yardage was in two pieces on the bolt.  Otherwise, it would have been prohibitively out of my price range.   (Although, in it's defense, it's sateen, and it's gorgeous.  Seriously, the hand on this oozes quality, and it's probably worth it even at full price.  I'm actually tempted to go back and get some of the black dot poplin.)

So... is sewing a white cardigan in my future?  Is my vintage dress going to feel gorgeous but look like dullsville?  Lay it on me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I Will Wear Dresses - Plan 1

I have been trying desperately to finish the dress from the 90's.  It turned out to have a heck of a lot of hand sewing - not a big deal, it just took me longer than expected.

I've also been thinking about some summer dresses - something easy you can throw on with a pair of flats and some accessories and feel mostly put together.

The goal is breezy and bright.  The first plan - The Moderne:

From the stash - Butterick 5456

I liked the keyhole detail in the back, and it looked 1) comfortable and 2) breezy for the CA heat.

I found this gorgeous fabric at Emma One Sock and loved it right away.

Definitely bright, 'eh?

Then the following weekend I walked into a certain favourite retailer that I love so much and saw this: 


It took me a minute but the bells went off and when I got home, promptly contacted Linda who fortunately had another roll coming.  Not long after, a popular sewing blogger did a write up about the connection and I hear the fabric got pretty popular. I still don't mind, I love it that much.

So I have a muslin all cut out and ready to sew, I'm just trying to use this tutorial for a different method of construction for the bodice and haven't managed to get the computer and the sewing machine in the same general vicinity.  I know I'll have two dresses in the same style but the mock-up is a solid and then I'll have the floral.  I'm deficient enough in the dress department that I can live with a double up.  Or can I?

What about you?  Have you ever loved an item so much you've made or bought yourself two?  Am I going to regret this decision of an empire style floral?  Is the style too breezy?  Will I look like I've been knocked up frolicking in a field of hyperactive wild flowers? 

Tell me what you really think...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I am not a cat person

The end of school was to be celebrated by the memorial day weekend away with friends up the central coast of California.  All the school crazies ended, and I was going to sew at my leisure, bake some traveling treats, pack up my house in a stress-free fashion, and enjoy the long weekend.

Then this happened:

Tentative names were Buddy, Rover, and Twinkle

My husband found her in our front yard one night when he went to get the mail.  She started playing with the girls, then I realized it was hungry and thus began the downward spiral into cat ownership.

Needless to say my house did not get cleaned, nor did I bake the treats I'd hoped to take up north, I did not sew, and I certainly didn't pack until the last minute, managing to leave the toothpaste behind.  What I DID do was learn the spanish for "Is this your cat?" and "Have you lost a kitten?" and I door knocked up and down our street looking for the owners.  I called vets.  I made appointments.

I had some rules about the kitten, mostly trying to dissuade the growing feelings of attachment and hope.

We could not keep it if:

It's a boy.  She isn't.
It is aggressive towards the kids.  She wasn't.  Instead she was sweet, affectionate and patient.  
It's microchipped. She wasn't.
It's fatally sick. She is in perfect health.
The owner of our place says we can't keep her.  He said we could.  (!!)

And my last ditch attempt - if she is named after a Barbie movie cat: The girls instead chose "Rosie".


And so we became the owners of a 2 1/2 month old kitten who is pretty much perfect, and just landed on our doorstep.

Apparently I'm now a cat person.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Weekend Perk-Me-Up

My sister is younger than me, smarter than me, has fewer children, and is thusly far more conscious creative than I am.  Consequently she finds little gems like these, and then I steal share them.  Thanks, Sis!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shoe Candy

On the up side, they would go with everything.

These however... might only wear with jeans.  Or not.

These are for when you might want to channel your inner candlestick.

Or, for your urban elf self...

But it's these ones that I wish would come and live in my closet, and on my feet this summer:

Yes please!

However the likely scenario would involve me, with incredibly stylish feet, rushed to the ER after some sort of perilous fall.

These are the more likely scenario, and I love them.

I really, really love them.

You can see more of the awe-inspiring Jeffrey Campbell here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Funk Folly

Lately every project I've started in the last two weeks has been foiled in some way - it's been quirky!  It started with my "sewing time" babysitter going on vacation - how dare she! ;)  Then, a missing pattern piece, fabric too short by 1/4 yard, no thread in the right (or coordinating) colour, lack of trim to make up a birthday pattern...  And then, when I wore my one finished item on Mother's Day, we were so busy we didn't snap a single photo!  It seems I've picked all the wrong projects to get much done!

No yellow or gray thread.  Fabric is cut though!

So for all the work I've done ironing and tracing pattern pieces, sizing, prepping - I have nothing to show for it. Any suggestions for some instant gratification?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Flu Folly, and Onesie Love

Sorry I have been gone a while - the whole family came down with the stomach flu - again!  From what I hear this has been a pretty common occurrence amongst other young families too.   If that's you, you have my condolences.

Here is a treasure I found for you.  I was going to make it up for the hubby, but he wasn't so keen.

But what's not to love about a men's onsesie?

Friday, April 22, 2011


This last week has been busy!  Did you know that in this month we have 3 birthdays and our wedding anniversary?  Coupled with Spring Break and Easter, it's made for one of the busiest periods of the year!

There has been shopping, eating, sewing, baking, visiting, planning and lots and lots of prep!  But then there are the rewards:

Lemon-lime cupcakes, with lemon-lime mascarpone frosting.
I found the cupcake recipe here.  As a side note, the ingredients list didn't include the butter mentioned in the directions, so I winged it with a stick and a half.  These two-bite cupcakes are between the usual mini and regular cupcake sizes, and baked for about 18 minutes.  I also added an extra cup of icing sugar to the frosting mix to firm it up a bit.  The result was mighty tasty, if I do say so myself!  Do try them if you get a chance!

A peaceful weekend to you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

When Victory is $4

So I found a super soft rayon jersey remnant in the bin at my local fabric store - you know the one, it rhymes with Schmoschmans.  It was 50%, and I figured that was cheap enough for an experiment - I desperately wanted to make a batwing sleeve top for one of my girls.

I hate drafting patterns, but I wanted the batwing sleeve top more...

So this is what happened:

The neckline is a little janky - I sewed it while comforting a toddler on my lap, but she still payed me the ultimate preschooler compliment by refusing to take it off!   A small price to pay for overcoming an irrational fear, wouldn't you say?

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Summer Dresses

So as I'm working on my 8/100 project, I knew there would be some side projects on the way.  I still want to go back and use the sew-a-longs in the side bar - and there are other kids asking for items :)  But somewhere in the mix I'd like to sew up some summer-ish dresses for me.

But here's the kicker about dresses and skirts.  I rarely wear them.  Amongst my many (apparently irrational) fears, I live in constant fear of this love/folly scenario:

If only we could all looks so fabulous in granny panties.  Or is that a girdle?  

Either way... it terrifies me.  So either I must get over my fear, carefully choose my skirt options, or avoid subway grates at all costs.  What's a girl to do?  (Aside from making sure her underwear is all in clean, working condition?)

Do you like dresses and skirts?  Full/straight/in between?  Had any love/folly moments my underwear drawer needs to be aware of and prepared for?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Back to the Future T

All the way from 1983, Simplicity 5859 "One Yard Tops"

Revisited in 2011, "Back To The Future T"

One day, she might stand still...

All in all I'm pretty happy with this one.  Naturally, it's too big for her yet (all part of the plan!)  I finished it slightly differently to what they had in the instructions, omitting facings where possible, or trimming them.

I also:

- left off the shoulder ruffles.

- reduced the sleeve ease so that the gathers & sleeve cap were flatter.

-  reinforced the shoulder seams using clear elastic and secured the seam allowance at the sleeves so that they couldn't sit out (this was altering the appearance of the gathers).

- used a fabric loop for holding the button.

- added an applique.

I do intend to make this again in a different view, but I'm considering reducing the depth of the V opening in the back.  I'll also attach the button loop before applying the neck bias trim and hide it inside the seam.

And I think the ruffles will have to make a comeback!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thrifty Finds Part 3 - Where We Set Things On Fire

Burn tests... I've heard about them.  I've heard that phrase thrown around by the ones in the know, "Oh I did a burn test..." and suddenly all the mysteries of their fabric universe were unfurled.

Pretty much every piece of fabric I've purchased has had the content known, and in handling it or working with it, there have been few mysteries at all.  So of course, given the opportunity I jumped at the chance!  

(And just for the record, I was very careful, especially with my (older) kids around, to make sure this was all carried out in a precautionary fashion.  I would suggest the same to anyone trying this.  Safety first!)

I used this handy-dandy chart to help me navigate the results:

As suggested, I used small parts from the cut ends - although let me tell you it was tough to cut even a little off - I'm pretty frugal when it comes to my fabric layouts and layout paranoia set in who knows what I might need?

A reminder:

I was pretty confident the red and the floral were mostly cotton.  The white and blue stripe was the most mysterious to me.  Cotton/poly blend?  It reminded me of unwashed linen, but it was a tad bit slubby and I didn't want to get too excited.  I'd been hunting for a striped linen for my summer dresses project for a while...  It would be too crazy to find some in a thrift store!

And the results?

Red first:

This burned like cotton in burn quality, odor and ash colour.  I did notice that the ashes were stiffer overall and had some very black streaks.  My best guess is that is due to the melted lurex threads.

The Floral: 

This burned exactly how cotton/ramie/rayon is described.  My daughter even commented (without knowing the chart) "That smells like paper!".  The print seemed to leave an interesting burn pattern on the ash.  Given the feel of it I'm pretty sure this is a brushed cotton, and after laundering it, I'm almost positive.  It's probably the softest woven fabric I've ever felt!

On to the mystery fabric.  I was expecting some sort of polyester deal - self extinguishing, dark beads of melted plastic.  Oh well, and I'll re-thrift.  Nothing lost.  

The Blue & White Stripe:

On first try I didn't believe my eyes, so I tried it again.  This wasn't polyester.  It was a natural fiber.  The charring, the odor, the palest of the gray ashes... delicate almost.  This wasn't cotton... this was linen!

Now granted, it might not be the most awesome quality Irish linen you've ever seen, but for 2 1/4 yards at $1.99, I was pretty happy!  My hunting for a striped linen for summer just went up in smoke! 

Have you recently done the happy found fabric dance?  I want to hear about your fantastic fabric finds!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thrifty Finds Part 2

After dismal results at the local thrift stores, and only buttons to be had at the antiques mall, I decided to pop into a thrift store across town next time we were that way.  As it happens our dentist is right nearby, so that worked out nicely.

Let me tell you, I found some things, but wow-ee I had to hunt.  They were all hidden, and by hidden I mean they were actually shoved in the back of other used linens like bed sheets, and tablecloths and other fabricy things that looked funny and smelled weird.

I dug this one up - the red with the gold lurex, and the girls all squealed.

Red!  Shiny!
43" x 2.5yds and scraps - $2.99

soft and brushed floral
56" x 2yds 30" - $1.99

blue and white mystery
58" x 2 1/4yds - $1.99

The first two I figured were probably cotton, the last one - the blue and white stripe - I wasn't so sure.  It had an almost stiff hand and an obvious slubbed texture.  I wondered if it was home dec, so I figured a burn test when I got home might be in order... and I have to say, I was surprised by the results!

what do YOU think it is?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thrifty Finds Part 1

It seems that thrifting has taken on a whole new life with the resurgence of vintage patterns recently.  People are now hunting down not only fabric, but notions also.  Inspired by some of the thrifty finds I've seen in the blogosphere, I thought I'd poke around at some of my local spots and see what I could dig up.

The area I live isn't especially crafty - also it's a new-ish area, not so many estate sales etc and nothing in the thrift stores, but we do have a fun antiques mall nearby so I took the girlies for a hunt one Saturday.  There were 3 stalls, out of about 80-100 that I found that had vintage notions, and two of them were well priced.

At the first stall:

giant, and luscious red! 

a collection

(I needed the one little charcoal gray one, right in the middle for a current project, and I knew I'd be using the little yellow one soon, so it seemed wise especially with making kids clothes, to have some single buttons on hand.)

And at the second stall, hidden amongst a giant stash of other brown and orange buttons:

gentle teal

sweet blue

I got all of these buttons for about $6 including tax, which was a pretty good price considering the variety, and practical application.

Do you thrift for crafty supplies?  How are the options in your area?