Monday, 29 June 2015

Finished Project: Sewaholic Tofino shorts

When the weather turned hot a couple weeks ago, I tried on all my shorts.  Twenty minutes later Spartacus found me crying in the closet because only the pair I had made in April fit me.  He asked what we could do to fix this, and I answered that we could sit in the kitchen and eat ice cream.  This wasn't the solution he had in mind.

I decided instead to sew up two more pairs of shorts and stop eating crap.  I cut out all the pasta and started taking spinach and strawberry salads to work for lunch.  It's a nice place to start. This is actually a really ... personal... thing for me, so I'll not go into details.  You can message me if you want to know more about my plans or history, or offer support or advice.

First up was a pair of board shorts for water-related activities.  I find board shorts are a must for my summer wardrobe for going to the spray park or the beach, or something more involved like kayaking or canoeing.  (Not for surfing though.  This is the North Pacific, surfing involves a wetsuit.)  I bought a cute surf print at Fabricland for $4/m from the discount section.  At 150 cm wide I only needed 1 m for a pair of shorts, so good deal.  The fabric is branded as Charlie Rocket, which appears to be an upscale kidswear brand from California.  Nice!  It's always a bonus to find branded fabric at Fabricland.  I once found a Roxy cotton that I made a cute skirt from.

I couldn't find a board short specific pattern for women, only for boys and men.  I could have used Jalie 2678, as I did buy it for my son, but I wasn't really feeling it for myself.  Mostly because it was just too cut up for only one fabric choice, and I didn't want to buy more.  Instead, I chose Sewaholic's Tofino shorts.  Elastic waist shorts / pants are usually reserved for house wear, but the tie on this pattern really makes them look non-pyjama enough to wear anywhere casual.

I cut the size 12 and didn't make any adjustments other than to the length.  The fit is exactly what I wanted!  I needed to take off two inches of length to get all the pieces on the fabric following the grainlines.  I also like my board shorts shorter than my other shorts.  They're going to get wet, so I want them to dry quicker by removing all the extra fabric possible, but I still want to be comfortable, so I didn't make them short shorts.  I think I will add a pocket to these next time I make them.  I don't really want to split a side seam to put in integrated pockets, so I'll just note it for next time.  I think putting one on the side piece in the seamlines and then just hemming the top and adding velcro would work really well.  It would also give me a place for my keys.

The piping was in my stash from one of my thrift store sewing notions scores.  I think it matches quite well, but I would have chosen orange if I were buying piping or fabric.  I like orange.  The only thing I think I should have did better was the waistband top stitching.  I did a poor job on that.  I needed to wear these shorts the day I finished them (Did I mention how quick they were?  Cut out one night, sewed up the next, and hemmed the following morning.) so I didn't go back and fix anything.

This is my first Sewaholic pattern for myself!  I'm super happy about that.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Sew all the dresses!

It's hot here.

Naturally, I want to sew all the sundresses now.


I have pulled out three patterns to start with, and lovingly lined up the fabrics.  Then I decided to do a pair of shorts.  Because I need a third pair of shorts to get me through the summer.

and then...

and then...

and then..

And then I think I can get them all sewn up before August.

Overly Optimistic?  Pish.  

I'm also taking on a client.  She has a bridesmaid dress that is too small.  This is exciting because she is my very first client that I don't know personally, she's been referred to me by a mutual friend.  Eeee!  Big step forward!

Realistically, I'm going to sew the shorts this week, then take the client work and focus on that before sewing any of my own dresses.  That little overachieving part of my brain is all "you can totally sew three sundresses before August.  Seriously, how hard can it be?  Dresses are your favourite thing to sew!  They go so fast."  Stupid overachieving part of brain, get me in trouble a lot.

Cambie dress in Narwhal print silk cotton?

Butterick Vintage repro in rose silk?

Vogue DKNY dress in silk twill?

Bring it.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Finished Commission: On the Fly Maxi

Alright, here is the maxi dress in all it's glory:

Here are awkward photos of me modelling it in my bathroom mirror at midnight when I finished it.  I sent these to my client.  It's a bit big for me.

And here she is in her custom dress!  I'm so sorry for the poor photos.  It was raining for the first time in weeks last night, so we had to make do in her basement apartment.  I hope she'll send me better photos of her wearing it on Saturday.

And a close up of the lace overlay.  So pretty!! 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Commission work: on the fly maxi dress

I've named this the "On the Fly" dress because I kind of just designed it based on a photo and did most of the work "on the fly".  

My client wanted to order a dress online, but by the time she had saved enough money it was sold out in her size.  So she asked me how easy it would be for me to copy.  
Sorry about the small size, I could only grab the thumbnails to post.  But check out the link if you want to see closeups.
To me, this looks a lot like a triangle top swimsuit with a maxi skirt attached to it.  The empire waistband is shirred (mistakenly described as smocked on the product description) to allow the dress to fit a large range of sizes, and the straps cross in the back and then go through loops and tie in the middle.  Again, this is to accommodate a large group of sizes.  Pretty clever actually, making a dress that is both fitted and versatile at the same time.   So, it seems like a straight forward sort of garment to sew without too much measuring and fiddling.

My client is large busted.  I'm actually glad the dress was sold out online because she would have had so much trouble containing herself in the cups on the RTW dress.  I had her try on the foam triangle cups I have on-hand for my own boobs, and they were just a bit too small.  This means I had to order the largest cups that Bra makers supply offers for her.  If she had bought the RTW it would have meant a creative solution to gain some coverage without destroying the look of the gown.  Starting from scratch is so much easier.

We went together to buy the fabrics, choosing a champagne polyester satin for the underdress, a black poly satin for the waistband and straps, and a black nylon lace overlay.  She went with polyester to keep the cost lower, make it easier to care for, and she planned on only wearing it to special events, so silk was just not necessary. We did spend some time petting the bolts of silk though.

Working out the construction of this dress was a lot of fun for me.  I wanted it to be as supportive as possible, while still retaining the flowy, sundress comfort. So I chose to construct the top and bottom separately, and then sew them together at the front, and use internal belt loops to attach them at the back. Construction break down went like this:

  1. Wrap 2" wide elastic around client to find the sweet spot of elastic length to firmness.  Cut on marks, no overlap.
  2. Sew bra back to elastic
  3. Cover foam triangle cups with light fabric, line with silk / cotton remnant (because I can).
  4. Make bias spaghetti straps using instructions in Threads magazine' party dress special December 2014.
  5. Cry about fiddliness of straps.  Suck it up and keep going.
  6. Sew straps to back of bra cups before sewing covers on.  This ensures strength. 
  7. Sew bra cups to center of elastic with a 1 cm gap between CF to add sexiness.
  8. Cover with lace overlay, making inside edge a scallop cut
  9. Cut out light fabric so it is the same width as lace over lay. Have two of each.
  10. Cut out waistband to match length of skirt pieces.
  11. Sew waistband to top edge of skirt, sandwiching lace inside.
  12. Shirr the waistband
  13. Turn top edge over, Add back loops for straps, sew down to make the top a clean finish.
  14. Add inside belt loops to the back (4) to hold the elastic and waistband together
  15. Hand stitch the top of the dress to the bottom of the cups.
Ta-da!  Easy as pie!

Alright, slightly more involved.  I had to make a pattern piece first for the cup covers.  This involved a square of scrap fabric (old bed sheet to be precise) and a pen.  I laid the foam cup on the table, tacked the fabric to the top of the cup, and made a dart in the bottom of the fabric until it gave enough volume to fit over the cup.  Pinned, marked, and removed, then the dart was drawn in and seam allowances were added.  Everything was easy as pie after that. 

Except the straps.  They would have been easier if not for the seams in the bias tape.  Every time I tried to cross a seam I got hung up inside the tube.  Maddening.  I usually do the whole turn edges in to meet in the center, then fold in half and top stitch thing, but I wanted this to look nicer, so I did it the invisible way.  Not fun.  I ended up making new ones 1/8" wider so I could use the bobby pin method of tube turning.

Stay tuned next week for the modeled shots!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


I'm just in the process of reading my blogs with Bloglovin' instead of the Blogger feed.  So if you notice things like me unfollowing you with Blogger, no worries, I'm picking you up on Bloglovin'.

Also, I put a "follow me on Bloglovin'" button in the navigation bar.

Monday, 8 June 2015

What I love about Indie patterns

I just love Indie patterns.  Not only are they reflective of an individual designer's style, and generally better tested and drafted than BMV patterns, they're also a great canvas for instructions:

"If your machine will cooperate" Ginger Jeans, Closet Case Files

Bombshell suit, Closet Case Files

Encouragement that the end is in sight, Jutland Pants - Thread Theory Designs

Boy cut underpants by Kitsy coo

Odette Dress, Blue Ginger Doll
It's nice to see this humour and encouragement in the patterns.  Sometimes there's instructions like "I know this sounds crazy, but just do it this way and I promise it'll be good".  This really makes the whole sewing garment thing more fun, and it can bring me out of a seriousness suck where I get uber focused on my sewing and forget to relax and let it be.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Failed project: Felicity dress

Sundresses are my favourite thing to wear in the summer.  I could live in them, I think.

This a super cute fabric I found at a thrift store earlier this year.  I wasn't going to buy any fabric, but I can never resist a border print.  I think it looks like fabric meant for curtains, but whatever.  What is a sundress for if not to be a little whimsical?

The plan was to use the Felicity Dress by Jennifer Lauren Vintage as it's just super cute and looks so nice and summery.  The reality is I cut a size too small, added too much length at the waist, and the fabric is just too sheer for me to be happy using it in a dress.  So, it had a lot going against it:

Nice seam finishes though.

Ick.  Now, I could have easily just cut the black part down to about 1.5", and it would have been the right proportions then, but it's still just a bit too small.  And the sheerness.  Plus, honestly, I'm just so underwhelmed by that bodice. The print is so great at the bottom, but at the top it's so, so boring.  I'd have to add applique or something to help it out, and I just wasn't in the mood.

So I made a skirt instead.  A nice, simple, summer skirt.  Yay!

Much better. The angle of the camera is what's making me look super pudgy.  I mean, I am a bit overweight, but it doesn't look that bad if you're seeing me from higher than tabletop height.

I just sewed a 2" black elastic to the waistband, same as Scruffy Badger Time did last week.  I did already have the idea, but seeing her skirt confirmed that it was the best thing to do to.  Finished it with a rolled hem, just because.  I actually didn't cut the selvage off, so I didn't need to hem it at all, but I wanted a line of stitching at the bottom.

Overlocked the top edge with a zigzag stitch and overlock foot.  Then zigzagged the elastic to the top of the skirt, stretching to fit.

Now I just need to sew up a tank top to wear with it and we're all good.  Total cost of project was about $4 and hey, I figured out what size to sew up next time!  I have many suitable fabrics in my stash, I'll get around to it.  It's a quick pattern and super cute.  

Next up is a commission sewing project.

Monday, 1 June 2015

May soap update

There was a slow down in my soap production for May.  I'm not selling it yet, but have more than enough for my own needs.  This means that I'm sitting on the stuff I already have, waiting for it to cure fully and then package and label it for sale.  It looks scary seeing all that soap and not knowing if I'll get any sales of it.  I suppose starting any venture is like that though.  I have given out a few bars for testing and am waiting for the feedback now.

I went with some milk soaps to improve my skills there, and did two with carrots in them just because, yay carrots!  The Roobios and orange was because I have a cupboard full of tea that I have no intention of drinking.  I bought it a few years ago when I was trying to like tea, but I just.don'  Pity, as I thought it would be a fantastic hobby.

Spat bought me a light box for Mother's Day.  It was neither the Opera tickets nor the pearl necklace I had asked for, but it was something useful, so ... there's that.  (That man is the worst gift giver ever.  I love wrapped gifts with lots of thought put in them, and he doesn't. It's a constant point of difference.)

Carrot soap

Buttermilk carrot Bastile soap

goat's milk

Roobios and Orange

In June I want to do some pumpkin soap, which should cure in time for fall, and because I have a tin of pumpkin puree in the pantry that just passed expiration.  It should still be good, but why chance it on something edible?  I'm also looking at a calamine aloe soap as Itsa has itchy skin.  I've switched her to castile soap and the doctor prescribed a medicated foam to rub on her, but that'll run out in a couple weeks.  It's helped a lot though, she no longer has alligator skin on her torso.  Poor baby.   

I also want to do a coffee soap as I have a cupboard full of coffee that Spart doesn't like, and then a mojito one because MmmmMMMmm.  You can follow my pinterest board for soap here if you want.  I always check out the pins before I pin them to make sure they're the correct links and the recipe is actually doable.

Aki and I finished off the melt and pour base we had, so I need to buy some more.  He really loves to make melt and pour with me as he can do more of it then he can with the cold process.