Excitement in my sewing room

Imagine!My serger gave up it’s ghost last week, and I am in the throes of costume making.  The last big PR Sewing Bee project was made with just my regular sewing machine, zigzagging all the seams instead of serging them.  But today, I just felt desperate at the thought of zigzagging all those costume seams when what I really would like is properly serged seams.So I took my faithful old White Superlock into Joe, who has been keeping my machines healthy for the last 25 years.  He has gently suggested trading in my old serger for a new one every time I’ve seen him for the last five or six years.  Well, look what came home with me today!

new sergerAnd now I can happily get going on this little gem for DD2.  Can you guess what it’s going to be?costume

Drop Dead Buttonholes

These make-me-drool buttonholes arrived in my mailbox this morning from the blog Made by Hand. They made my jaw drop.


So I finally got around to purging my closet the other day.  It’s been gnawing at the back of my mind for a few months, mostly… well, because I’ve expanded slightly, and things that should be wearable, aren’t.  It felt good to sort through everything and make some decisions.  Ruthless decisions, I might add.  Garments were sorted into “doesn’t-fit-and-I don’t-care” for giving away; “doesn’t-fit-but-it-may-before-I-die-so-I’ll-keep-it-because-I-really-like-it”; and “alterations required”.

This is my “keep” pile.keepI confess to never wearing two of the three silk blouses in this pile.  But I like them, and maybe they’ll be wanted someday.  Most of what’s in this pile has been blogged in the previous couple of years.  But it doesn’t fit either my lifestyle or me these days, so it’s going into storage.  I just can’t part with garments that I’m proud of from a construction point of view.  Perhaps they’ll be used again in future….

This is the “alteration” pile.  Only six garments made it into this lot.

alter pileI can’t part with Liberty fabrics, so I’ll be changing up the ‘Bea’ dress on the left.  It’s got about 2 yards of fabric in the skirt, so I’m sure to remake it into something useful.  The ‘Hurren’ dress still fits, surprisingly.  I didn’t wear this at all last year, but, again, it’s Liberty, and I just can’t bear to part with it!  I’ll probably shorten it by 3 inches and change up the sash/belt.  The batik dress… I’m so in love with the fabric that I must find a way to use it again, albeit a small amount (about 1 yard total).  And on the right is the McCardell dress. I intend to remake the skirt, which has about 2 yards of fabric in it, again. The dirndl look isn’t flattering anymore. And two silk blouses that need a remake or slight tweaking.  Again, it’s the fabric that’s calling to me….

I sent one very large bag out of the house with no regrets.  I’m strangely exuberant about all this sorting.  The doesn’t-fit collection has been making me miserable for a long time, knowing the garments don’t suit lifestyle or me right now, and it feels good to get them out of sight (and mind) and open up some space for new garments.  It also gives me ‘permission’ of a sort to add to my wardrobe, something with which I struggle, since I really am trying to be driven by necessity for the most part, not want, in my effort to be economically and (I like to think) globally mindful…. in my own small way.

Don’t get me wrong!  I love to dress up and “feel oh, so pretty”, but seriously…. there’s not a place to go. It brings to mind a series of billboards from about a decade ago here in my local city, for one of the larger malls.  They consisted of a young mom all dolled up perfectly in pretty dresses, makeup and stilettos, cleaning a toilet, crawling on the floor after a toddler and changing the oil in her car.   As much as I’d like to dress like the ladies who lunch all day, it’s completely impractical and unnecessary for my lifestyle.  It’s taken a long time to let go of wanting to dress up all the time.  I have always been the overdressed person at “______________” (pick a function), because I like dressing up.  And I confess to finding some kinds of materialistic excess pretty and attractive (who doesn’t like a shoe collection? the latest makeup look? another bag?) but very irresponsible, and, (finally) quite unnecessary.  I don’t need a new wardrobe every season.  I love to build clothes that will last, not wear out or be dated in 5 years.  But this means collecting if I’m going to keep sewing, and my conscience bugs me about what it calls ‘hoarding’ sometimes.closet

So…. all that to say, I’m happy with the holes in my wardrobe!  Between my rather empty closet and Me-Made-May ’15, I’d say there’s plenty of incentive to shop my stash and get sewing me-mades that fit both me and my life.

*If you’d like to join in, click on the image above.  It’s linked to the sign-up post over at SoZoWhatDoYouKnow.

Tag: You’re It!

Vogue 8656 top, yoga pants and an old sweater

Well, peeps, I’ve been tagged by the wonderfully inspiring Mrs. Mole in the current game of Blog Hop.  Thank you muchly, Mrs. Mole.  And to plunge right in….

Why do I write?

Well, I’m an introvert’s introvert, so writing is a safe way to express myself, I guess.  Saves me from all that anxiety and energy expenditure required for smiling and being social.  I can tuck myself into a corner and type and edit to my heart’s content and never once have to think about my facial expression.  And I get to write about the projects I’m happy with, or I hate, or pattern instructions that frustrate me, and I get to edit.  Editing is important, because I often want to edit what I say, but by then it’s too late.  Writing gives me the chance to really say what I mean.  If I’m motivated to, of course.  And after I edit it.

What am I working on?

A spidery lace overdress for DD1 from Burda February 2014. We haven’t decided on the t-shirt dress fabric (or if we’ll bother with it). No.  It’s not for a celebration of dead scary things this Friday, October 31st.  This is a fashion statement dress that she will wear out to dinner.123_0214_b_large

How does my blog differ from other sewing blogs?

Um, honesty maybe?  And copious amounts of ordinariness? There’s not a lot of people in my life who sew at the level I do, and this blog (and PR and BurdaStyle) is a way to get feedback from others who know when fabric is off-grain or can interpret those darned drag lines that a non-sewist would never see, even if they hit them over the head and restricted every move they wanted to make.  I love to sew. I love working with needles and thread and embroidery (don’t do enough anymore).  I love fabric.  MMM14 Day 30I almost always do waaaay more imaginary sewing than real (frustrating, but true… especially at night).  So I’ll blog my makes and dreams, and share my failures because everything I sew is not perfect, and, quite frankly, nothing is more off-putting than a blog where everything is photographed perfectly and made perfectly and there’s nary an error to be seen.  I have Vogue magazine for that kind of thing if I want it.  My sewing blog is a hobby, period.  I’m not ever going to market my blog, garner newspaper and media praise or sign up affiliates or hope to have this earmarked as a trendy fashionista-sewista blog.  This is my way of taking pictures to check fit and document what I’ve made and connect with others in the sewing community.  From the safety of my sewing room, of course.  🙂

What is my writing process?

True to my character, my process is as variable as the project.  Sometimes stream-of-consciousness – particularly if I have a proverbial bee in my bonnet about something or other and can’t get my thoughts out fast enough. Sometimes each sentence is edited within an inch of it’s punctuation because I don’t know WHAT to say about a project, and I’m hoping editing will provide inspiration.  Mostly I’ll take pictures and then hem and haw away about what to say about them, but a picture is worth 1000 words, right?IMG_2392

And now to pass on the baton:  I’d like to nominate Allison because I love seeing her makes, and often times I’ll laugh because she’ll have sewn and blogged a project that’s in my queue! And Chris from Said & Done: Handmade by Chris because …  Well, because she has an “ordinary” sewing blog like mine, and I like being allowed a glimpse or two into other not-for-profit-or-fame sewing worlds.

the dust is thick around here

I’ve done little, if any, sewing these last three months.  Summer began with a whirlwind at the beginning of June, and apart from the drapes and bed canopies, I’ve done a little mending here and a little hand sewing there and nothing else.  Except taxi. People. Everywhere.  To swim lessons, dance, summer school, horseback riding, the beach, overnight camp, school orientations, dance school assessments, the farmers’ market….

Even this last week, the first back into school routine, has been filled with driving endless places, ticking items off the endless to-do list.  And my fabric languishes.  My patterns collect dust.  My sewing table cannot be seen for the myriad of strange not-related-to-sewing articles that have found a temporary home on its surface.

And I find I don’t really care.  I feel a little tug when catching sight of the patterns under their layer of accumulating household detritus.  Or a wistful “that would be nice” or “I remember you!” when catching a glimpse of fabric.  Then there is the stack of stretch denim and some denim-look linen that should have been capris and summer trousers.  But they never were, and still aren’t.  Somehow I just made do this summer with three me-made skirts, a few T-shirts, a couple of me-made knit dresses and a pair of Roots sweatpants.  I think I wore three out of my summer dress collection twice each.  I have put two of those dresses aside to be re-fashioned into something because I hate how they fit.  The rest of my me-mades were never touched.  I think the biggest shock looking back is that I never once put on a pair of stilettos:  I spent the entire summer in a three-year old pair of Italian slides.  And there was no need for make-up, so I didn’t wear any unless I was going to the mall and HAD to put some on to look a little better than something found in my summery back yard.

I purchased a Kate Moss for TopShop white dress for DD2, with the intention of altering it to fit her petite frame as she was baptized this past August.  It was fun to take it apart and discover just how well made it was:  twill tape on the neckline and the armscye; bodice underlined with lightweight cotton; lining actually interfaced with a lightweight fusible.  Who knew a RTW garment would be put together so well?  In the end, she didn’t wear it and decided she didn’t like it, and neither did my other DDs.  So I sent to to the thrift shop.  Someone will be absolutely thrilled with that dress.

I bought one length of fabric this summer:  a black cotton voile to copy a Tommy Hilfiger skirt for DD3.  It’s pre-washed and folded neatly on the stack of stretch denim, waiting to be sewn into the skirt she wants.

I have thought often of sifting through my fabric and pattern stashes with the intention of selling some of the more superfluous items.  I look at the pretty silks and the luxurious wools on one hand, and then look at what I need to live my life on the other, and don’t see any connection points.  Hence, no desire to sew, and no need for so many of the fabrics or patterns.

I’ve also been thinking about this blog.  I’ve written one technical post, and there are more than a million other tutorials on anything sewing related on the web, so I don’t see the need to add yet another to the mix.  I mean, how many tutorials on hemming or bound buttonholes or fly zippers does one really need to read?  The photography is iffy, and I really hate the picture-taking process, frankly.  The garments very rarely look like I see them in my mirror.  I just don’t have that gift of capturing light and shadow that make for good documentaries of the garments or processes.  If I’m going to photograph/model something, I take about 100 pictures and end up posting the best 5 or 6.  This is time consuming.  Actually, it’s a consummate waste of my time, in DH’s opinion.  And unless something is out of the sewing ordinary, I struggle for words to write about yet another garment.  And I don’t see the need to fill my closet with the trendy things in the latest fabrics just so I can rotate them out in six months.  Frankly, I don’t have the budget for that, and in my life, it’s wasteful.

So I won’t be blogging unless something really shakes up my sewing world or there’s a big project that I’m chuffed about that I just have to share with you all.  I have a Flickr account, so if I do take photographs for the purpose of documenting makes, I’ll post them there, and if I have anything interesting to say about them, I’ll write a review on PatternReview.com.

I’ll still be reading your posts and cheering you along your sewing trails.  I’m always inspired by what you’re all making and doing.  So, cheers and happy sewing until next time!

Me-Made-May ’14 Wrap Up

I didn’t announce it, but I participated in the yearly extravaganza known as Me-Made-May.  What fun to scroll through the (hundreds) of photos posted in the Flickr group on a weekly basis.  There’s over 5000 photos this year!  Amazing!

MMM14This year a wonderful group of sewists from Japan and Toyko joined us and it was so inspirational to see all the garments they’ve sewn and wear daily from the various Japanese pattern books available.  I’ve never tackled any Japanese pattern book…. yet.

I always appreciate the me-made celebrations, although taking a daily photo of what I’m wearing can become tedious very quickly.  I didn’t take any particular care to look pretty for the camera this year, and I was surprised at how casual my cool-weather wardrobe is.  It’s also a great way to decide what looks good on me and what I should leave to other people.  So here’s my observations:

  • I like dresses better than separates.
  • I should make more jackets/cardigans because then I can wear layers (imagine that), which means I can wear my dresses without freezing when it’s cold.

Anyways, if you were not able to join, I urge you to do so for Zoe’s next hosting of this fun online event!  Were you able to participate?  What’s the one thing you’re taking away from the experience this year?

Merry Merry Christmas to all!

icy december 2013 031We survived the ice storm and the sun came out.  Isn’t it pretty shining through the trees like crystal?  This must be the effect that Swarovski hopes to create with their lovely crystal snowflakes and stars.

We were blessed:  only 12 hours without power.  So we put on our woolen “Christmas hats” made by a neighbour on a mass scale for outreach programs and gifted to us a few years ago, put on our ski socks and lit candles.  We sewed, drew, crocheted and generally enjoyed the silence that a complete lack of power creates. blackout 2And all the sewing got done, the horse got stuffed and we enjoyed family games and eating by candlelight.  A merry, grateful Christmas to each and every one of you!

Wanna Sew a French Jacket?

We all know what a Little French Jacket (LFJ) looks like, thanks to Chanel.  Classic, chic and texture paradise.  I’ve coveted many a Chanel jacket, but have never sat down to actually make one.

I’d love to attend a Susan Khalje couture course, but flying to Baltimore for a week is just not possible in my corner of Logistics Land, and probably won’t be for another couple of years yet.  Enter the LFJ Sewalong, hosted by Leisa of A Challenging Sew and Inna of Thewallinna.

I’ve added my name to the list of wannabe participants.  Anyone else up for the fun?


YKK Zipper Rant

I am stunned, peeps.  Flabbergasted.  I have been rendered speechless by a zipper.

Like most Canadians who are not inside the sewing/fashion industry, but are sewing at home and rely on our various Fashion Districts or local sewing stores to get our supplies, I have sewn with many invisible zippers over the years.  Most of them have been purchased from Fabricland, World Sewing Centre, Neveren’s or other places on Queen Street in Toronto.  Every single zipper has three little letters on some part of it:  YKK.  Even though the tags may say Costumemakers (from Fabricland) or, if you buy from the vendors in the Fashion District, the zippers are sans tags, the little YKK imprint can be found on the pull, the stop, or printed on the zipper tape.zippersSo I thought I was dealing with the world-renowned YKK zippers.  But I having had a few break during wear, and, most recently, while trying to finish up my skinny trousers, I was advised by several of you via comments that you’ve never had a problem with YKK zippers.  Which got me to thinking maybe I don’t really know what a true YKK zipper looks like.  Or feels like.  Or sews and zips like!  Maybe I had never sewn with a real YKK zipper.

So I did some quick research and ordered from Zipperstop and upon opening the package noticed a few differences from the Fakers, but nothing to write a post about.

zipperstop YKK Conceal zipsThe tapes are narrower, the pulls have the little YKK branding with some numbers on the back, and the tapes are not made of cheap nylon.  They also require a little more pull to zip up than the cheap fakes that I’ve been working with.  The real deal is on the left in the pics below.real vs fakewhich is realYup, that’s a split Faker on the right, courtesy of Fabricland.  Today I finally sat myself down and inserted a real one into my skinnies.  And I am so amazed at the difference that I just may write Fabricland Head Office a letter of complaint about stocking Fakers.  The tapes, although narrower that the Fakers, were much easier to manoeuvre.  And hand sewing or pinning them is a breeze.  Has anyone else noticed that the Fakers occasionally challenge your needles or pins and require super finger strength to penetrate while sewing?  Not YKKs.  And the strength of the coil is a thing of beauty.  I’ve zipped and unzipped my YKK through all the matching seams and pockets and it hasn’t complained at all.  No sign of stress or worry that it won’t zip up.

I am so excited about this discovery.

I am so incredibly disgusted and ANGRY about being sold Fakers everywhere I go in Toronto.  Has anyone else noticed this?

Still Busy

Now this project took a little longer than I thought it would.pattern filingThat’s me sorting my pattern stash.  I’ve read about a million ideas to keep one’s stash in order; in good condition; and in check.  And I finally did something about it.

I put all the pattern envelopes into plastic sheet covers and then into respective binders, sorting by pattern type.patternsThen all the pattern pieces and the instructions went into manilla envelopes, which are filed numerically.  I wrote the pattern numbers at the top RH corner of the envelopes and  on the top LH horizontal edge.  Mostly because I don’t know which way the envelopes will be filed once I get my sewing space pattern storage set up… after every other possible renovation project in this house is complete…. :/numerical orderFor now, the binders sit on the bottommost rung of a sawed-off bookcase, while the envelopes are stores in boxes and then stuffed into various nooks and crannies in the general sewing vicinity.bindersI did this whilst waiting for restoration to end, and last week went on a cutting spree, piling up ready-to-be-sewn projects alongside my sewing machine until a sewspicious day comes along.  Why didn’t I organize my pattern stash sooner?  This makes choosing and finding what I want a fun experience, not one fraught with an overwhelming sense of being overwhelmed by the patterns themselves.