Procrastination

I have a wedding to go to next weekend.  As soon as I found out about it (over a year ago) I knew I wanted to make a handmade dress for it.  When I went to the U.S. last year to take the Palmer Pletsch fitting class I was feeling pretty confident in my newly learned fitting skills so I picked a pattern (V1353) and Gail helped me pick the most awesome dupioni silk with which to make it. I was set.

I stalled over the winter because summer seemed forever away.  Then spring came and I hosted a bunch of guests and got ready for the move.  No big deal, I was not going to be working for the first few weeks after the move so I could tackle the dress then.  After we moved I painted (almost every room n the house) and planted a garden, which of course does not take care of itself.  I went back to work. House guests magically appeared at our place almost every single weekend between the middle of June and the middle of August.  Two weeks ago I realized that dress was still not done, but I was not able to work on it last weekend because these lovelies came to see me and we spent all our time drinking wine, eating cheese (lots of it) and knitting:

Kristin & Sara: thanks for the visit!

Kristin & Sara: thanks for the visit!

So I decided this weekend would be “Dressmaking Boot Camp” over here. I told myself “Surely I can make a dress in a weekend, no biggie.”

Ready to cut that muslin

Ready to cut that muslin – Vogue 1353

Now, I have not sewn anything substantial (or anything really!) in quite a few months. I decided in favour of a full muslin over tissue fitting for the simple reason that I wanted to see the drape of those pleats in fabric – paper would not have given me a clear idea of how they would look on my pear-shaped bottom half. Things were going swimmingly until half way through the day when Mr. Stitch showed up with this guy:

Meet Jesse: The new addition to our family.

Meet Jesse: The new addition to our family.

Major Minor distraction aside, I quickly discovered that the bodice on this was going to be huge.  I didn’t get it.  I mean, I know the big 4 run large, but this thing was ginormous. So I went back to look at my traced pattern and  that’s when I realized that I had traced a size 16 instead of a size 12/14.  Clearly I am out of practice.  I told myself “never mind that by now I’ve wasted half the day, I can still do this.” I made sure that second time around I had a size 12 bust/14 waist. Guys, it took me forever to get this second bodice wrapped up. Sadly, the gape at the back neckline was massive. I solved that by pinching the excess (about an inch at each side of the zipper) and transferring that to the flat pattern. By the end of it all it was night-time and I was quite done for the day.

Excess!

Excess!

I finished the muslin this morning.  I’m not convinced that those skirt pleats are flattering at all on me and would hate to see my precious silk got to waste on a  dress I may end up not liking. Even after I traced the correct size, the muslin is quite large on me. A padded bra won’t come even close to filling up that bodice. You can see on these photos that I’ve pinned the excess at each side, at about an inch per side. I have the feeling that I could make this in a straight size 10 and it would fit just fine, but finding out would involve another muslin and I have now ran out of time because the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is sew at the end of the day.  So much for wearing a handmade dress to the wedding next weekend.

Apologies for the poor quality phone shots.  If I wait until a proper photo opp, I will never write in this blog again.

Pinned at the side. With apologies for the poor quality phone shots. If I wait until a proper photo opp, I will never write in this blog again.

Two weeks ago my little sister announced she is getting married next year. Based on my experience with my self-imposed Dressmaking Boot Camp I better start working on my dress for that wedding today. That, or I could take the dog out for a walk instead.  I have plenty of time, right?

Sweet Temptation

Friends, it’s been a while! I had various out-of-town visitors staying with me every single weekend since mid-March up until the last weekend in April. My free time has been spent entertaining, preparing for a major move (again!), and very far away from the sewing room which has been good in many ways. I do have some FOs to show you on both the sewing and knitting fronts but I’ve been delinquent with picture-taking so I thought I’d ease back into things with my latest make: blankets for a couple of new wee babes born this spring.

All rolled up and ready to be gifted

All rolled up and ready to be gifted

For these simple blankets, I used two pieces of quilting cotton and a piece of batting for each one. Everything was cut 36” square and there was not fussing with binding: just layer your front and back pieces right sides facing each other, place the batting on top of these two pieces, and sew around the perimeter leaving 4” on one side. Flip right side out at the opening and then seal the deal by edge stitching the opening and, while you are at it, the entire perimeter as well for a more polished look. You may want to run some quilting lines as well, like I did on both of these. Easy, right? Well, not so fast. Initially I mistakenly sandwiched my batting between the pieces of quilting cotton and had to promptly unstitch all four sides when it became evident that after flipping right side out the batting would actually be showing on the outside. Duh!

For the baby girl: Japanese dolls.

For the baby girl: an army of Japanese dolls backed in purple.

The best part about this project is the fabulous store where the fabric and batting came from: Ewe Knit*. This place has got to be Toronto’s best kept secret. The yarn selection is vast, well organized, and exceptionally well curated. I have been known to order yarn from the U.S. because even after shipping charges are factored in, it tends to be cheaper than purchasing in Canada. Well, that is no longer the case because yarn is so well priced at Ewe Knit that getting stuff from the U.S. is no longer more affordable.

For the baby boy: foxes at play!

For the baby boy: foxes at play backed in polka-dots.

The only drawback to this fabulous store is that it has become an absolute dangerous place for me to visit. You see, as of a few months ago they expanded their inventory to include lovely quilting cottons, thread, buttons, and all the notions you may need for quilting. And then, in March, they brought in their first order of Liberty Tana Lawn. They also carry Victory Patterns and rumour has it that they will soon carry Deer & Doe patterns as well. You guys, I’m on a Stash Diet and this place is a five minute walk from my house – talk about sweet temptation!

Sweet Liberty Tana Lawn from Ewe Knit

Sweet Liberty Tana Lawn from Ewe Knit [Image source]

If you do not live in Toronto but would like to be tempted get in on the action, fear not: in addition to the brick and mortar shop Ewe Knit also has an online store. On orders of more than $110 they offer very affordable flat shipping rates (only $10 to the U.S. and Canada), and if you get carried away and order more than $110, shipping is always free. Recently the store introduced a loyalty system so that you get 5% back on all of your purchases and the good news is that this system is also extended to online customers. Go on, check them out, you know you want to!

And on that note, I have a piece of Liberty** to attend to on my cutting table. Pictures of some more interesting FOs coming soon. That’s a promise.

*Yes I bought fabric, but because these are gifts the fabric purchase is outside the scope of the Stash Diet.

** I may or may not also have bought some Liberty from Ewe Knit, which may have gone against my Stash Diet pledge. Ooops!

Dots and Ties

I made myself a Jasmine blouse… in April of 2012. Yes, I know that’s about two years ago and I’m only getting around to showing you now. No, I have not been holding out on you because I hate it, because in fact I actually quite like it and wear it to work often. The thing is that I made this right before I went on my leave of absence, when we were in the midst of selling our house and packing up our stuff, and I was initially not blown away by it so blogging about it was not top of mind. Then last fall lovely Lisa from my quilting class was thinking of buying this pattern and I was full of opinions about it. When she asked if she could see pictures of it on my blog I realized that it was high time I dotted my Is and tied loose ends on this dotty/tie make.

See the tiny polka-dots?

See the tiny polka-dots?

The truth is that I don’t remember much about the process of making this garment, which leads me to believe that it probably went together fairly simply. All I can tell you is that for some reason I remember not being 100% convinced by it when I finished making it but I can’t quite remember why because it has now become a go to work blouse. I did take a look at my notes (yes, I keep a spreadsheet full of notes on everything I make…I did warn you I’m a bit… um… organized) and noticed that I cut a straight size 4, but the cuffs were a bit tight so I had to re-cut them in a size 6. I should also note that this garment is cut on the bias with no closures so there is a fair bit of ease built-in and if I were to make it again, I would probably go down to a size 2 at the bust and keep the size 4 waist/hip. I may even go up a size higher in the cuffs, all the way to an 8. I certainly don’t lift weights so either the cuffs run small or I store my fat from all that cake I eat in my biceps. You be the judge.

And the ties!

And the ties!

Details
Pattern: Jasmine Blouse by Colette Patterns
Fabric: Super soft and drapey (and un-wrinkable!) polyester blend form Designer Fabrics.

Jasmine Blouse

You know, now that I think about it, I may just have to make this again. It is super comfy and I reach for it quite often as a work garment. Yes, I feel there is room for another Jasmine is in my future. Have any of you made this pattern? Have you ever made something you did not initially like only to find yourself reaching for it over-and-over again? I like that kind of sewing related happy ending, don’t you?

In Real Life

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Gail in Chicago twice in the past two years. The time finally came for her to make the trip to the Great White North. Gail was in Toronto from Wednesday to Sunday of last week and what a great opportunity it was to catch up in person again – there is only so far e-mail correspondence can take you, right?  When Gail left and I started thinking about the time we had spent together in Toronto, I realized that her visit was a bit of an epic, four-day long, blogger meet up. Seriously.

On her first full day in Toronto Gail, Sara, and I had the opportunity to visit the lovely Kristiann of Victory Patterns at her studio in the heart of China Town.  Kristiann graciously showed us around the building, which houses quite a few fashion studios and various other businesses in the garment making industry. Most of the designers behind these enterprises are young women, rendering the building such a fun and creative vibe.  Kristiann also gave us a sneak peek at her most recent projects (spoiler: they are awesome!).  She was very generous with her time and we ended up going for coffee with her in Kensington Market, where we chatted away about sewing, creativity, love, and the magic of life.  Thank you Kristiann for a wonderful morning/afternoon!

Victory Patterns: Kristiann wearing her Madeleine skirt, Gail wearing her lovely silk Nicola dress, Sara wearing her handknit Kara sweater and I am wearing a soon to be blogged silk Roxanne blouse.

Victory Patterns: Kristiann wearing her Madeleine skirt, Gail wearing her lovely silk Nicola dress, Sara wearing her hand knit Kara sweater and I am wearing a soon to be blogged silk Roxanne blouse.

Prior to Gail’s visit, there was talk between her and Kristin about painting the town red while wearing animal print me-mades.  We called this event, where a number of drinks were imbibed by sewists wearing one form or another of animal print, “Leopard Cocktails”. Trust me, animal print + cocktails = fun! but if you don’t believe me, go try it for yourself.

Leopard Cocktails!  Go on, you know you want to.

Leopard Cocktails! Go on, you know you want to.

The night before Gail left we organized a dinner with a few other Toronto bloggers. In addition to Sara and Kristin, we were also joined by Gillian, Tasha and Catja. Some of us had not met before outside of blog or instagram comments, some of us knew each other well.  It was so good to have everyone sitting around the table, chatting away in real life.

Sewcialists!

Sewcialists!

Outside of these events, Gail and I shared mornings of lazy coffee drinking and knitting, as well as a couple of home-made meals followed by more knitting. Really, we knitted whenever we could.  We also had plenty of opportunity to walk around town, hit the garment district along Queen Street (where Gail was remarkably restrained), visit a couple of yarn stores, all the while talking about sewing and knitting. Non-stop. It was splendid!

Goofing around in the mean streets of Toronto. Oh, and wearing hand knit hats because it was still cold!!!

Sara, Gail and I goofing around in the mean streets of Toronto. Oh, and wearing hand knit hats because it was still cold!!!

But, all good things must come to an end.  It was a rude awakening the morning after Gail left.  During my first morning meeting at work I kind of started jonesing for the daily dose of morning coffee and knitting I had gotten used to over the past few days.

One of my favourite things about keeping this blog are the friendships I have developed with crafty gals from around the world.  Even better is when those friendships spill over from blogland into real life, don’t you think? 

Thank you Gail for making the trek to Toronto and for being such a great friend! Thanks also to Sara, Kristin, Gillian, Tasha and Catja for coming out to play and helping make Gail’s visit a success.