Some good friends of ours, and some family members are currently expecting their first kids, and I am so happy for them! Inspired by this lovely news (and even though they're not due anytime soon), I saw the new Art Gallery Knits Nest panels at my local fabric store, Fabric Crush, here in Ottawa, and I knew it would be a match made in heaven. However. I definitely underestimated how something so tiny could be so complex and time consuming (metaphor for motherhood?). Here's the story!
Having never sewn anything for kids/babies before, I decided to go with the Brindille and Twig pattern for this make!
I started with 4 different panels, the two pictured above, as well as a light pink panel with a lamb, and white panel with a fox.
I thought this was also the perfect project to try using my new serger! I mean - a cute little onesie - what a quick, easy project to dip my toe into the world of sergers.
The first night, I spent 6 hours, into the wee hours of the morning trying to get this serger to work. Confidently, I threaded with my white thread initially, but as the pile of scraps grew and grew, and my pleas for help on Instastories became more dire, I switched to the coloured threads to be able to diagnose the issue. Serger 1. Trish 0.
The next night, armed with a furious vengeance I brought my machine over to my mothers house. A serger may have bested me, but I'd like to see it try and take on my mother.
She too, was stumped.
Again, with persistence, I would not be set back. I dusted off my mother's serger, determined to sew these little onesies. And it was when I was threading her serger - I realized my mistake: I was not inserting the threads in the tension disks correctly.
You see, my second tension disk is hidden by the cover - on my moms machine, I could see them both clearly, and realize that I was not, in fact, threading in the right spot.
Weellll. Problem solved, right? So then I triumphantly return to sewing my onesie once I got the tension right and the white threads back in. But then I read the rest of the instructions, and I needed a REGULAR sewing machine to topstitch my bindings.
SO, back down to the basement I go, to dust off my mom's other sewing machine. I manage to dig out a "stretch" needle, and some white-ish thread and back up I came to topstitch that binding.
It was a disaster.
In addition to sewing with a serger, this was a new skill for me too. And my poor onesie looked wrinkly, wonky and not at all like I wanted it to be. I unpicked, and tried again. This time a bit better, but still not great.
So that was the end of the first panel.
After a little red wine, and a good night's rest, I returned to my home the next morning, armed with my regular sewing machine aresenal. I've had that "wonky seam" problem with my mom's machine before when sewing with knits, but I knew how to adjust mine perfectly, so I felt more confident. I also busted out a twin needle for the firs time!! This. was. game changing.
Very much improved right? Persistence makes perfect.
So I started and finished this Bear onesie next. Besides a little hole I need to stitch up under the arm (my serger blade got a little excited), I was so happy with how this one turned out. Especially since the first one was such a fail.
So, confidently I moved onto my next panel, the lamb. I had topstitched everything perfectly, even saving some of the pink on the side of the panel to use for the binding. Everything was going well until I started to serge the sleeves on...
Again, very new to this serger thing, and it was not lying flat on the underside. The back piece got caught, and my excitable serger blade cut a hole right through it. GAH.
The good news: I have extra fabric for the back to cut a new one, and I can still save the panel and probably sleeves. But for self-preservation, I decided to move on at this point.
Next I sewed up this last one, using both pink, tan and blue binding for a more "gender neutral" feel to this onesie (thanks to everyone who voted for grey snaps on insta-stories!)
I'm not sure I'm crazy about the tan- on - tan colouring, but I really love this panel. I was also extra careful sewing with my serger, especially with the sleeves!
For all the backs, I used this tan, "days of the week" fabric that came from the same Nest Art Gallery Knits Collection. Super cute.
I got 300 snaps I think, in all different colours, off Amazon for $25. They work really well, are incredibly easy to attach, and it's fun to match all the different colours.
Snaps are going on everything now.
So there you have it folks.
I do intend to go back and selvage at least the pink panel, if not the white one too, but I think I need a little break from onesies.
I will say, that I am quite proud to have used some new skills with this project. Sewing with my serger as well as a twin needle were firsts for me, and something I plan on using a lot more.
Have you ever had a project like this? What kept you persevering?
This Christmas, I'm so fortunate to have had three whirlwhind days of merriment and gift giving - sharing some special handmade items, and receiving some in return. Here are some handmade highlights of this past Christmas!
Stop 1: A Green Family Christmas
I got to spend Christmas eve with my husband's dad's side of the family for "Death to Dieter's Lasagne" (as good as it sounds), Sticks and Whatcha Mouth! (a hilarious board game where you wear mouth guards).
On Christmas morning, I gifted Chris' brother Nic a Thread Theory Designs Finlayson Sweater in a dark olive/forest green sweater knit.
I loved working with this pattern. I intend to do a full pattern review - but let me just say it is not only fashionable and easy to assemble, but they include lots of special details to give your garment a professional finish. I will definitely be making more sweaters, and more patterns from this company.
In return, Nic also got into the crafting spirit! With the help of his Step-mom and a Cricut, he designed this cute waterbottle that says "Trish the Crafting Queen". He also got me an assorted selection of colour coded buttons - absolutely necesssary for a sewists aresenal.
From Chris' dad and Step-mom Julie, I was incredibly spoiled in the crafting department. Firstly, I've been wanting to try/get into hand embroidery and cross-stitching more, to create some nice wall art for our home. I will have no problem doing so with this hoop set and embroidery floss selection :)
Nice, knit fabrics are hard to come by in Canada, and they gifted me an amazing selection from Girl Charlee in the US. I'm so excited to use these fabrics - they're incredibly soft and there's some amazing patterns. It will go perfectly with the gift from my husband...
Stop 2: Home for a breather
After driving out to Chris' Aunt and Uncles for a delicious breakfast, my husband and I returned home to exchange gifts (and shovel the driveway!)
One of the things I gifted Chris was this self-drafted workout top. Again, I intend to write a detailed post on how I did this, but I based it off of a top that Chris really loves, and used some really nice fabric from Fabrications Ottawa that is moisture-wicking. When he wore it to the gym the first time, someone asked if it was Under-Armour - thanks mystery fan!
I got Chris a few other things (not sewing related), but his gift to me was completely unexpected and incredibly wonderful.
Hours of fun are in my future. #thankgoodnessfortheinstructionaldvd
Stop 3: My fam-jam
Off we went again (still Christmas day folks) to see my family and exchange gifts and stories. As I mentioned, my mom is pretty #craftspirational and my brother Steve got her this book:
I took a peek through and it looked really interesting and modern!
From my parents (mom), I received a hand knit sweater. I love the colour of this yarn - it's a deep teal green, with bits of blue and burgandy - it almost reminds me of peacock feathers. She used the pattern Dragonflies from Jogi Locatelli, with a lovely center panel motif.
We also do a secret santa exchange with this side of the family. While I didn't gift Susie anything handmade, I did receive a lovely book from my sister Kate called "Freehand Fashion" that looks really interesting. It's all about using your own body measurements to create "blocks" - from which you can create your own designs! I would like to start with something simple like a perfect pencil skirt.
Stop 4: Boxing Day
The grand finale of our Christmas tour is filled with tradition: themed-drinks, outdoor activities (this year we opted for snow capture the flag), PeeWee Herman's Christmas special, and a secret santa exchange.
As I talked about in my Sewalicious Gift Guide Blog Post here, my sister-in-law Olga is in her 2nd year of dental school and entering a more professional point in her life. I figured she should have the dress and blazer to match! I turned to my tried and true pattern, the Charleston Dress from Hey June Handmade to create this! I used a metallic/black patterned ponte di roma for the center panels, and plain black ponte for the outsides and the blazer. Additionally, I lengthed both the bodice and skirt significantly (2.5 inches in the bodice, and 3.25 inches in the skirt) to fit her 6' 2'' frame. It fit perfectly! I was so happy how it turned out. She even wore it to dinner.
I also received something equally as thoughtful from my brother-in-law Dominic. He gifted me a handmade jewelry hanging organizer, made by his friend. To pair with it, he also bought a necklace from a local store in the small town he works in that says "Be Brave". So perfect!
And with some (very) full bellies and lots of warm memories we've returned home to sleep! The Christmas whirlwind is one of my favourite times of the year, and I'm so thankful to have such wonderful people to spend it with!
As part of this year's #thelittlereddressproject from @rosabellaangelica and @runningnstyle, I decided to sew a plaid, flannel Alex Shirt Dress to keep me cozy this winter!
Since I recently started working from home as part of my day job, tunics, shirt dresses, and flared knit dresses having become wardrobe staple: I can wear something comfy, cozy and put together on my top half, while rocking my leggings and long-johns underneath (very necessary for the winter months in Canada). It's just the right balance of being comfy and socially acceptable.
I bought the Sew Over It City Break e-Book when they had a flash sale this past summer, and this is the first pattern I've tried from it. So far, I've made one shirt-dress with the Rosa Shirtdress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons and two collared shirts (one for myself using the Rosa and the other for my husband using the Colette Negroni). I would definitely describe the Alex as a simpler shirt pattern if you are new to sewing shirtdresses - and if that is the look you are going for.
It being the holidays, I was in the mood for a quick, relatively simple shirt-dress pattern! This definitely fit the bill. Here are my pattern notes:
- The shirt has a camp-collar, and the button stand is created by folding over the main fabric - no need to fiddle with interfacing :)
- Underneath the collar where it is attached to the yoke, I used some obvious, meant-to-be-decorative stitching to give it more of a handmade, laid-back feel.
- When attaching the back piece to the two yoke pieces, PIN FIRST horizontally, then turn the piece right side out to make sure you've arranged it properly. It took me unpicking the stitches three times from the same seam to try this, and another two tries to actually get it correctly arranged so it wasn't twisted or backwards. In previous shirts, I'd rolled the back pieice sausage-style into the yoke, so I was unfamiliar with this technique and struggled real hard.
- Pattern matching with this pattern is also hard. I made a concerted effort to do so, and really should not have bothered as you can barely notice. Pattern matching is still a skill I've yet to master, and this buffalo plaid did not play nice. It was made more challenging because of the back yoke pleat, patch pockets, sleeves and it's A silhouette. I don't think it's impossible (especially depending on your print), but it is challenging if you're obsessive about that type of thing.
- The brushed plaid was super cozy, and easy to work with. After working with knits for most of my projects over the holidays, it was super satisfying to blast this flannel with steam and get a crisp fold. I definitely think it worked well for a structured version of this pattern. However, for next time, I think I might try a rayon blend brushed plaid so that it has a bit more drape to it. Because the shoulders and top are meant to be loose, sometimes I felt like I had a shoulder-pad situation going on because the fabric didn't have enough drape.
- I used French seams on my dress for the side seams so that the dress would last longer and have a cleaner finish. The flannel really frayed, so I thought it would look nicer with a cleaner finish. While they are slightly more bulky, I clipped them down quite nicely so that's it's not in a bothersome way.
- When sewing the collar, try this technique:
When you get to the corner, with your needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot and adjust the fabric to sew a single stitch diagonally before sewing in the opposite direction. This can help you get a crisper corner.
What cozy winter makes have you been up to?
Last year I started sewing in January as a New Year's Resolution to bring more creativity back into my life. I saw all the lovely sewing plans going around for 2017 Make Nine, and as I was new to sewing my strategy was more... make all the things, all the time.
Now that I've gotten that a bit out of my system, this year I'd like to focus more on things that look good on me and reflect my style. I will fully admit, I'm quite a sucker for branding and styling - there's been times where I saw the pattern, LOVED it, made it, and said - when will I ever wear this? My goal is to avoid this phenomenon this year.
I'd also like to put a dent in my fabric stash. I think by picking projects right now that I already have fabric for can help ensure that they happen and get done. And encourage me to use up fabric I already have.
So here are the patterns and fabrics I've chosen...
Chalk and Notch Fringe Dress
Bonus: this pattern is also part of #Sewmystyle2018 hosted by Jessica Lorraine.
I got this lovely blue very thin cotton from a fabric flea market here in Ottawa for only $3! I immediately thought it would be perfect for this dress. The only issue is that the fabric is slightly see-through... but that is future Trish's problem to work out.
I have some Mia jeans cut out as we speak, but in a stretch twill. I still have some really nice stretch denim I'd like to make a traditional pair of jeans with. My pattern choice will likely depend on how much I like my first pair of Mias - I may tweak it till perfect, or opt for the Ginger jeans instead. Any thoughts on these two patterns?
A Bathing Suit!
Again, I've had this fabric since the summer, but never got the chance to sew it up into a swimsuit. I'm thinking I'd like to use the online class offered by Closet Case Patterns so that it turns out really well. Has anyone ever taken this course? Please let me know your thoughts!
A self-drafted Pencil Skit
I got the book Freehand Fashion for Christmas from my sister, and I would like to perfect a self-drafted pencil skirt perfect for my measurements. There's quite a lot of variations out there, but my perfect skirt will have a waistband, lining and kick pleat - and flatter the indent in the small of my back (my problem with traditional patterns and store bought items). I'm really excited to give this book a try.
Not only that, but I have the perfect fabric, gifted to me from my mother-in-law from her late step-mother-in-law, Grandma Carol. It's a wool suiting from her travels in Scotland and I'm really excited to use it for this meaningful project.
Burda Style Fitted Jersey Dress
I've had my eye on this pattern for a while, and the fabric since the summer! I think this will make a great summer dress, and I'm really excited to start sewing with more knits.
Elsie Dress from Sew Over It
I immediately bought this pattern when it first came out, it's a beautiful party dress! The problem is, I haven't really had an occasion to get this dressed up... I have had this bright coral pink taffeta in my stash since last year, and I think it would be the perfect fabric to hold those box pleats. I've even got a matching lining already. All I need is the perfect occasion!
Ultimate Shift Dress
I've used some pretty complex patterns, but I would really like to bring things back to basics and make a lovely, simple shift dress using one of these two fabrics. The first one, a lavender floral georgette, is from Sew Over It, and the other a peach crepe from Fabricland.
Believe it or not, I have not had the chance to jump on the Moneta train yet! However, I got some beautiful knit fabrics for Christmas that will be perfect for this. I'm excited to give it a shot!
In the Folds Peplum top
Who doesn't love a free pattern? Especially when it's already downloaded, printed and just sitting in your stash. I've been saving this cotton for it specifically... the little design makes me think of celtic knots, and it has gold dots as well - a great colour combo!
Thoughts or suggestions on any of the patterns/fabrics? What are you 2018 sewing plans?
Self-taught sewist, Knitter, Crocheter, and all round crafty person from Ottawa, Canada.