Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Piper Dress

The reason I started sewing a few years ago was because I was struggling to find dresses that fit me, and figured learning to sew nice dresses was a better solution for me than spending more money on dresses and getting them tailored. I am still trying to fill up my wardrobe with dresses that fit me, so when Christina from Wardrobe By Me put out the call for testers for the updated Piper Boho Tunic, I jumped - it was the perfect opportunity to add a different dress to my wardrobe. I have used quite a few of her patterns by now, so have a lot of faith in her drafting and cut right into the rayon fabric that I chose for this pattern. Once again, she did not let me down.

Due to the fit/style of this pattern, I chose not to add any length - partly due to laziness, partly because I was happy with it being a bit shorter than drafted, and the loose waist meant that it didn't really matter. I cut a straight size 12, graded out the 16 at the hips. As soon as I got to the point where I could try it on I was in love - the light, drapey floral rayon felt lovely against my skin, and I loved the loose fit. I will likely wear this with a belt for the most part, as I like having a defined waist.

The only problem here was the neckline - I was sloppy with the pattern marking and cutting, so the front of the neckline doesn't sit straight on me. This was 100% my fault though, not the pattern. I might stitch up some of the opening to make it a little more modest because it keeps shifting to the side when I wear it and showing my bra (#floozy).

This dress has already gotten a lot of wear, especially since our hot summer has continued. I think I want to make all my summer dresses in rayon - it's so dreamy to wear, and I don't really notice much wrinkling. On an amusing note, I recently dyed my hair blue, teal and purple, and a woman in Costco got my attention to tell me that this dress matched my hair perfectly and it looked really nice. It turns out I am very consistent with the colour schemes I like.

Thank you Amy for the beautiful pictures - they conveyed the breezy summer vibe I was going for!


Pattern: Piper BoHo Tunic by Wardrobe By Me
Material: Discount rayon from Fabricville - $3/m! I felt like I hit the jackpot on this one
Modifications: Graded out 2 sizes to accommodate my generous derrière
Learning: Take time to properly transfer pattern marking. I know I should know this by now, but clearly I needed a reminder.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Winslow Culottes

To be honest, I wasn't sure how much I was going to like these shorts, partly due to the aggressive pleats. I was a bit hesitant to spend this much money on a sewing pattern ($14 USD) for a style that's new to me, but I have enjoyed the "Love to Sew" podcast that Helen and Caroline do every week so much that I wanted to support Helen (it might be a while before I can justify shipping costs for buying fabric online). Helen's series on how to hack the pattern different ways really sold me on it though, because I was hoping to incorporate an elastic waist to account for my weight fluctuations and bloating due to parties with way too much delicious food.

On to the shorts! The pattern is the Winslow Culottes by Helen's Closet with the elastic back as shown in this blog post. I made a straight size 14 with the shortest length (I added 4ish inches and then took them all off) and due to the fact that I omitted the invisible zipper in favour of the elastic, these came together in no time. Usually it takes me a few evenings to finish a garment, but I after cutting them out I got them done in an evening and made it to bed on time. The next morning I ended up taking them in because I wanted them to sit at my natural waist and I accidentally inserted a longer elastic than I meant to.

I was a bit worried about my fabric selection for this. When I bought the pattern I went out and bought 2 fabrics from the discount section, this purple fabric and a navy blue that will give them a fancier feel. this purple fabric has a lot of texture and body, so I was a bit worried about how boxy they might look. In the end, I am very happy with how they turned out. I wore them to church Sunday because I know I can get honest opinions out of the women there, and generally plenty of compliments (shout out to the ladies at Faith Baptist for being awesome), and they were a hit. Many people commented that the shorts looked like a skirt, which is what I was going for. The texture of the fabric made them lovely to wear in the July heat because there wasn't much fabric touching my skin and they are so breezy.

I know these are going to get a lot of wear this summer, and I can't wait to make these in blue, this time with the invisible zip. I'm not sure if I'm ready to make these in the longer lengths, but I definitely wouldn't rule out the possibility! Also, these photos were taken on my phone by my wonderful friend Holly (thank you!), and once I started moving to my different poses she commented that I had clearly done this before.


PatternWinslow Culottes by Helen's Closet
Material: Discount woven fabric from Fabricville - $3/m!
Modifications: None!
Learning: This would be a great pattern for a beginner, they are so easy! Nothing new for me!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Andrew's Christmas Poncho

What is a Christmas poncho, you ask? Well, thank you for asking! According to Andrew, it's a poncho made in Christmassy fabric. Not just any poncho, but one like Clint Eastwood wears as a man with no name. Also, I made this back in December, we just got around to taking pictures now.

If this project were any more difficult, I probably would not have agreed to make it for Andrew because it does not seem like a garment that he would get much use out of. Boy, was I wrong. He wears it almost everyday. He wore it to my parents' for Christmas, to his Grandparents' for boxing day, and he wore it for New Years Glamping Eve. I've actually started getting requests for more, who knew.

I bought about 2.5m of 60" wide fabric for this. The name of the fabric is "Poncho Perfection", so Andrew was clearly not the first person to see the fabric and think it was perfect for a poncho. The poncho is made up of 2 pieces of fabric sewn together at the shoulders, with a gap left for the head hole. I sewed down the seam allowances so it's a nice clean finish around the neck. I left all other edges alone, and it's fraying nicely. Andrew is a little concerned that it might fray too much, but if it becomes an issue I could just serge the edges. 

If anyone would like a more detailed tutorial with poorly done sketches, I would be happy to write a post for it. It only too a couple of hours, and that was because I kept making stupid mistakes and needing to pull apart seams (it was really strong fabric though, so a good yank to rip out stitches was no problem. I barely needed my seam ripper).

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Gloria Dress

Somehow when I am deciding what pattern to buy for a specific item of clothing, 5 out of 4 patterns sends out a tester call for the pattern in question. It happened last year for joggers, and now it happened again for a straightforward knit dress. I am so happy that I had time to devote to pattern testing this dress, because I love it and will likely use it regularly.

The Gloria dress is a super versatile knit dress pattern or top with a skater skirt (or peplum). There are options for sleeveless, short sleeved, long sleeved and everything in between. There are also split sleeve options and hi-lo hem options, which I am excited to explore in the future. There are 2 neckline options, high and low, and I chose the high neckline option for both of my dresses. I didn't need to use the full-bust adjustment pattern piece that is included in the pattern, but if you are large-busted, this is perfect for you!

First up I made the short dress version with elbow-length sleeves. As usual, I had to blend a lot of sizes to get the right fit. I used size large for my shoulders and sleeves, medium for the bust, and between a medium and small for the waist. I originally planned to make the longer dress version, but I looked like a Mormon, which was not the look I was going for. I shortened it to the short dress length and that is likely the one I will use for most of the dresses using this pattern. This dress turned out exactly as planned, and I love it. It definitely gets the #secretpyjamas classification.

My second dress I whipped up in an evening - it took less than 2 hours. I opted for the sleeveless version in this case, and am very happy with it overall. My biggest problem is I attached clear elastic to the waistline, and that went extremely poorly (obviously not the pattern's fault). To fix it I had to do a bunch of re-attaching of the skirt to the bodice, and while I tried to fix the hem so that it looked straight, I didn't do a great job. When I wore it to the Good Friday service I only got compliments on it, and my lovely friend Amy said that it wasn't very noticeable, and if it was it looked deliberate. Needless to say I will be more careful in the future.


Pattern: Gloria Peplum and Dress by 5 out of 4 patterns
Material: Both discount knits from Fabricville - $3/m! Yay $5 dresses!
Modifications: Size L for shoulders/arms, size M bust, size M/S waist, added 1.5 inches in length to the bodice, graded out to a L for the skirt.
Learning: I still need to figure out the best way to attach elastic to the waist, but I learned some things to avoid! Mostly accidentally slicing the elastic with the serger blade.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Mad for Plaid

This was a labour of love. I brought this pattern, the Cheyenne Tunic, over a year ago along with this fabric, but I have been so intimidated by it that I just now sewed it. I think I was a bit too much in my head, because I made a lot of mistakes with this as well. Part of the issue is that I'm not very good at precision sewing, but I also just wasn't thinking clearly during all the steps. I was committed though, and managed to push through.

I started with a muslin. I guessed that I would need a bit of length added and a broad back adjustment, but I started by sewing up the first muslin without any modifications. I ended up adding a half inch to the width of the shoulders, and then the same amount to the back. I'm tempted to add even more to the back, although now the shoulders fit perfectly. I added one inch to the bodice and a half inch to the sleeve length as well as a sway back adjustment. I graded out at the hips by 2 sizes, but I made the top part a straight medium. I might add some space in the forearms, they are a bit tight.

The fit of this pattern is supposed to be pretty loose, but the first time I wore it to show my family my sister Sarah immediately commented that it looked like a maternity shirt. Not exactly what I was going for, but that's alright, it'll be good for large meals. I like the popover style and am considering lengthening it into a dress at some point, with a belt or drawstring, but it will be a while before I'm ready to try again. I also want to make view A in a flannel.

I am definitely not very good at pattern matching, but to go with that, I also don't care that much. Once I am better at sewing, I might get into obsessive pattern matching, but for now I'm happy with spending less time focusing on it. That being said, I'd like to make this pattern in a solid fabric so I don't have to worry about it at all next time. I really liked making the yoke and placket on the bias, and I think that's the only way I'll make them going forward.

This pattern has nice finishings all throughout it with french seams and everything enclosed. There is also a lot of topstitching and button holes, which brought to my attention that I really need to tune up my sewing machine and I really want to buy myself a new machine now.


Pattern: Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June Handmade
Material: A lovely rayon plaid from Fabricville
Modifications: Broad shoulder adjustment, broad back adjustment, 1 inch in length to the body, half inch in length to the arms, graded out 2 sizes for the hips
Learning: Pay better attention to the pictures in the instructions. This is not the first time I've learned that though, let's hope it sticks this time. I also did my first sleeve placket and popover button placket. This is also one of my first times finishing with french seams, and I might use it more often. I also learned to do a broad back/shoulder adjustment.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Paperboy Pants

I've been meaning to sew myself more pairs of pants, so when the tester call came out for the paperboy pants, I decided to give them a try. They have a pleated front and elastic in the back waistband with a fake fly. I really like the fake fly and the elastic helps make them super comfortable. They are meant to be made in a ponte fabric, or some other similar knit fabric. There is enough ease that they could be made in a woven, but they would be much less comfortable.

I cut out a straight 14 with a size 10 waistband, and I just made the darts a bit bigger. I should have done a better job with the darts, but I'm not likely going to fix them. This fabric does not press well at all. I made the whole pants on my sewing machine, with the exception of attaching the waistband, which I did on my serger so it would have enough give to get over my hips. They came together very easily and quickly, and would be a good introduction to sewing pants.

I don't have much else to say here. I managed to get together with Amy right after a brunch we both attended to take these pictures. The brunch was at someone's house with the best windows and the best lighting, so I didn't even need to go outside in the cold to get some good pictures. I love how they turned out, thanks Amy!


Pattern: Paperboy pants by Wardrobe By Me
Material: A knit with minimal stretch from Fabricville.
Modifications: None! Just mixed and matched to get the right sized waistband
Learning: Pay proper attention to the grading of darts.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Shirts for Andrew

I'm finally pattern testing a pattern for Andrew! Andrew is approximately 6'3", and most of his height is in his torso. His torso is long enough that regular length shirts ride up almost right away, but not long enough that he feels the need to go out of his way to buy shirts in tall sizes. I've been meaning to start sewing shirts for him, but I am much more interested in sewing for myself. When Christina put out the testing call for a men's polo and tee, I immediately responded because I knew it would prompt me to actually make some shirts for Andrew.

First up was the wearable muslin. I used up most of the rest of the orange knit that I got cheaply at Fabricville to make the t-shirt version so that I didn't waste anything if it turned out poorly. The fit was spot on right out of the box. I added 3 inches in length and that might have been a bit much, but I kind of like it at this length. My biggest mess-up was the neckband - I attached it with the seam in the front. I have left it for now, but I might cut it off and fix it in the future. Until then, let's pretend it is a design feature.

The second shirt is the actual Draper Polo shirt. I bought a new knit from Fabricville on sale for $3/metre in a lovely blue that I thought would complement Andrew's green eyes nicely. The shirt didn't end up looking super great - it's my first polo and my machine was acting up. I should have added interfacing in the collar, but I know that for next time. The pattern is well drafted and the instructions clear - it just required more precision than I was capable of. I will eventually make another one for Andrew, but I need to do some sewing for myself first.


Pattern: Draper Polo by Wardrobe by Me
Material: An orange a blue knit of unknown content
Modifications: Added 3 inches in length
Learning: I now have the knowledge to make polos for Andrew :) Add interfacing to collars.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Black Ninjas

I have mixed feelings about this title, to be honest. It does describe what this blog post is about though: 5 out of 4 Ninja Pants in a black fabric, so I'm going to leave it. I have been meaning to sew myself a pair of dress black tights for ages, and I finally went out and bought 3m of fabric to do it. It's a good thing I did, because the fabric had less stretch than I thought it would, so my first pair went to my mother, who has smaller legs than I do. The second pair is nearly perfect. You might be able to tell in the pictures that the crotch curve isn't perfect, but in this case it's not a big deal because I mostly wear them under dresses.

As someone who lives in Nova Scotia, bare legs during the winter is just not feasible. I have fleece-lined tights in black and blue to wear under dresses and sometimes even jeans, but they are no good for wearing with tunics or dresses that are a little too short to be appropriate for the office. Opaque black leggings are the perfect fix. I had already sewn up the P4P Peg Legs and wanted to give the 5oo4 Ninja leggings a try as well. Both patterns are free if you join their Facebook groups, so all it required was some extra taping and tracing. I made up a quick pair of shorts to check the fit, which I now sometimes wear for Frisbee under my shorts.

I did the usual grading between 3 sizes to properly accommodate my derriere, added 2 inches of length so they were long enough (my first pair of leggings that are long enough!) and omitted the pocket because I was lazy (I added one in to the pair mom got). There is a bit of extra fabric around the knees, but that doesn't bother me too much. I assembled everything on my serger, and it came together like a dream. I still love my serger, and am definitely putting some miles on it.

When I sew my next pair I'm going to see if I can fix the extra fabric at the front, but it's better than a camel toe, #realtalk. I love having leggings that are long enough and stay up. I added a 1-inch elastic at the waist to double-ensure they stay up, and while it is sometimes a bit uncomfortable at large dinners (maybe I should take that as a hint not to over-eat), I really like the extra support. I also like that there is enough fabric around my calves so they are not suffocating, which is a common occurrence with store-bought pants for me.

Overall, these leggings are a success (after a failure), and I've already gotten a lot of wear out of them. I love the gusset and optional pocket, and the simple waistband. I'm tempted to see if I can squeeze one more pair out of the fabric I bought, but it's appealing to me to make a skirt or dress out of it.


Pattern5 out of 4 Ninja Pants
Material: A black circular knit, I think
Modifications: Graded between sized, sized up to accommodate less stretch, added length
Learning: Be more careful when checking stretch of fabrics, and I finally did a nice gusset!