My Top-Ten Makes (as decided by me.)
I started sewing, almost to the day, last year! It was part of a New Year's resolution to myself, and I'm made so many things in that time!
As my sewing anniversary, and the new year approaches, I wanted to take the time to reflect on some of my pieces. Here are some of my favourite makes, based on totally made-up categories I just invented :)
Number 1: Trendsetter
#2017yearofthesleeve anyone? While normally I tend to shy away from trends, I did enjoy making this Eve dress from Sew Over It with a flutter sleeve and the softest brushed rayon from Fabric.com.
I wore this at our BBQ housewarming party and felt very trendy indeed.
Number 2: Loudest Make
Sneaky peek at one of the makes from this year I haven't blogged/posted about yet, but wanted to include here because a) I think it turned out pretty great. b)Super fun fabric
I got this crepe for $3 per metre at our local fabricland and had the chance to try the fantastic Pussy Bow Blouse Pattern from Sew Over It.
Number 3: Proudest Make
Gah! Why did I do this to myself! I realize these categories are arbitrary and can be changed at any point, but this was a tough one.
I decided to choose the Rosa Shirt Dress I made (Tilly and the Buttons Pattern). I took her online class when making this and I'm so glad I did. It was an early make for me (I think my third?) and the class took you through everything step by step. This pattern, and this shirt, have all the bells and whistles - a floral button placket and collar stand, a perfect point on the yoke, top-stitching for days... it's a beauty.
Number 4: Wardrobe Workhorse
My sneaky way of including 3 makes in one category! As many of you know, I LOVE the Hey June Handmade Charleston Dress. My favourite version is the black one, and I wear it out everywhere! It's incredibly versatile, comfortable and flattering. I got this black floral ponte from Fabric.com
The second time I made this I totally aced pattern matching stripes, and it was a work staple this summer. This fabric came from our local Fabricland.
The third time I made this dress was for my sister-in-law Olga. You'll see in my Christmas gift post how amazing this turned out!
Number 5: Biggest Fail
While my Orsola Dress from By Hand London did not turn out fantastic, neither did this Butterick B6351 at first. I re-attached the back cross-over peices three times before giving up. There's still a bit of a wrinkle in the back - but I'm (getting) over it. Although it was marked where to attach, because I had a petite top, they were too big at first. I think next summer I will go back and re-adjust them, but for now it will have to do. This dress was made with Art Gallery Fabric from Fabric.com.
Great dress for mini-putt this summer though!
Number 6: Best Fabric
This one was a no-brainer. I bought this fabric while on our honeymoon in the Azores. I think the print represents our experience there perfectly - strolls along the marina, (a lot) of wine tasting, outdoor adventure, and just slowing our pace.
I sewed this up into a Sew Over It Rosie Dress which made an appearance at many a BBQ this summer.
Number 7: Coziest Make
Another tough category. Runners up include my Candi Cardigan from Sinclair Patterns (my first "Pattern Testing" experience) and the series of Linden Sweatshirts I made earlier this winter (see the blog post here).
However, I'm going to have to go with my most recent make, the Alex Shirt Dress from Sew Over It in a brushed buffalo plaid flannel. It's like wearing actual pjs in real life - I say this, because it also doubles as a nice flannel night shirt!
Number 8: Best Memories
Can I ever share these pictures enough. My second project ever - sewing myself a cape to wear on my wedding day brings back such wonderful memories. I even included lace on the shoulders that came off my dress in alterations.
I remember having a "vote" with my sisters, mother and mother-in-law - first I came out in the fur stole I had planned to wear, and then this (expecting them to say that it looked a little "handmade in a bad way"). They hands-down preferred this cape - and thus an obsession was born.
Number 9: Twirliest Make
A tough category for sure. How can you beat a full circle skirt Betty Dress from Sew Over It? With a Nancy Dress from Sew Over It.
I chose the Nancy because I'm absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. My bias binding application was on. point. It's also quite practical and the fabric super swishy. You can read more about my experiences with the pattern in these blog posts here and here.
Number 10: Best in Show
My other proudest make was the first dress I ever made - NewLook 6431 in a bright orange floral satin, with a lining that I created. Looking back, it was quite a complex project for a first make - pleated neckline, difficult fabric choice and a pretty basic skill-set. But it all came together in this amazing, one-of-a-kind dress that I wore out for my Bachelorette Party. Definitely worthy of the 2017 Best in Show ribbon.
What were your proudest makes? Biggest fails? Other category suggestions? Year end is a great time for reflection. I'd love to see your own top 10 categories on instagram (#my2017sewingtop10).
The annual paramedic party is always a big hit, and I was looking forward to the occasion to use the forest green stretch velvet I had in my stash.
I was inspired by this blog post by the Sweet Red Poppy where she created a merlot velvet version of this dress. I knew it was exactly the look I was going for!
Here are my overall pattern notes for next time:
- After reading the Sweet Red Poppy's blog post, I too opted to omit the pockets and raise the neckline - I didn't want it to be too low on me, and I already have a shorter "upper bust" than most people.
- To omit the pockets, I simply taped the pocket pattern piece to the skirt piece so that they lined up and created a single unified peice. That way, when I cut the fabric, it would all line up.
- My dress turned out way too big. I was slightly between a size 0 and 2 when looking at the size chart, and I decided to cut a 2. Perhaps I was just going for a more fitted look, but the dress came out quite baggy. With some crafty alterations, I was able to acheive the look I wanted, but I took in each side of both bodice pieces (lining and self fabric) by about 0.5 inches, and took in the sleeves SIGNIFICANTLY. This is where I noticed it was the most baggy. I wanted a very tight look because baggy velvet isn't my favourite , which meant the sleeves I took in about 1.75 inches.
- Because I had to re-attach the skirt a second time for the alterations anyway, I had to take it in to match the bodice. I also took the opportunity to significantly cut down and iron the seam allowances in the waistband, bodice and skirt pieces to that the waistband didn't have bits poking out awkwardly from underneath. It created a much cleaner finish.
With my alterations, I'm quite proud of how my dress turned out. I also Irish dance, and I feel like I can channel my inner Riverdance in this dress at our next ceili or on St. Paddy's day - so it's nice to know I will get more wear out of it! However, I feel like in future, I might use this pattern for a more casual dress look - I found even with the velvet material I didn't feel as elegant as I wanted to - I felt a little "dressed down" - so I think I might try this pattern again with a simpler jersey for a summertime day dress.
What patterns did you use for your holiday parties this year?
PS. Like the snowflakes? Find out how I made them here.
It's a (not so) Green Christmas in our house!
It's our first married Christmas this year, in our new home, so Chris and I decided to get our very first Christmas tree as a couple!
However, because it's our first Christmas, we don't have a lot of decorations - nor did I want to spend a ton of money on this. My favourite thing about Christmas decor are the memories that go with it - over time, accumulating wonderful Christmas items.
So, without further ado, I wanted to share with you some of our holiday decor. Is it complete? No. We have lots of Christmases to add more and more festive cheer. But it's our start!
This is our tree so far! My husband prefers a "thematic" tree - whereas I love it when it looks like you've barfed rainbows on it - so we compromised on this colour palette.
I hand-crocheted snowflake ornaments to decorate the tree! Here's how I did it:
I used this book, and a FANTASTIC, free website called Snowcatcher for my patterns. I have very little crochet experience, and while I'm not convinced I did everything properly, I still think they turned out OK! A little youtube tutorial can go a long way...
Then using a little "PVA glue" (Art Attack anyone?) - and by this I mean, white glue mixed with water - I tacked out my snowflakes using spare safety pins. I pinned them to a piece of carboard and put parchment paper underneath to keep them from sticking. Finally I dusted them with glitter. I let them dry, flipped them over, and repeated the process on the other side. Important note: Use stainless steel pins for tacking, otherwise they get rust on them.
I also included some store-bought items, like some fancy "picks", and these little birdy clips.
You can see some of the gold pinecones in that picture too - leftover placecard holders from our wedding! These were a DIY as well - I found glitter glue to be the best option for decorating pinecones.
Our mantle still doesn't feel balanced and complete, but I love all the things on it presently! I think I'd like to add a Garland still. And a winter themed wall quilt.
These two items were made by my father-in-law! I love them both! He's an amazing wood-worker.
This gem is from when Chris' father was growing up. It sings silent night. Nice to have that little bit of history.
Whole lotta history here. Frame was a gift at a wedding shower. Coasters were favours from my cousin Jay and Sammy's wedding, the owl was part of Grandma Green's collection, and the wood carving was made by Chris' grandpa Fred. I think he looks like father Christmas.
Well there it is folks! It's our start! Here's to many more Happy Christmases :)
This is a post continued from earlier this week about my recent versions of the Sew Over It Nancy Dress (click here to see Part 1 for more general pattern tips!)
The second Nancy Dress I made was for my mother-in-law Caroline. It was her 60th birthday, and I thought a 60s inspired dress was perfect for her petite frame and style. I’m always nervous about sewing gifts though, after making a shirt my husband didn’t like, so I cheated a bit. I didn’t tell her WHAT I was making, but I sent her a choice of 5 fabrics I thought would be suitable for the dress, and she chose a dark navy crepe with a white rectangle print. The only issue was that this fabric also happened to be a bit see through! I texted her and asked if she ever wears slips… but she doesn’t.
So! I decided to challenge myself to line this next Nancy dress! I’m not a huge fan of polyester lining, so I chose a white crepe fabric to match the weight and drape of the navy crepe on the outside.
Because of the way the Nancy is constructed, the front panel is all one large piece. I couldn’t just line the skirt or bodice- I was going to have to do the whole thing!
I cut out double of all the pieces except the sleeves. I assembled the dress the exact same way for both sets, until I got to the neckline. I debated just using the lining like you would a facing (instead of using the bias binding) but I didn’t want any of the white to peek through. I decided instead to construct it as described with the bias bound neckline. I placed both the lining and main fabric wrong sides together and then finished the neckline.
My next decision was to sew the lining and main fabric together on the side seams. A personal pet peeve is when the lining starts to pull up and inside out and you have to wrestle into your dress. I liked connecting the two pieces at the sides to make sure it stays in place. This made for some creative hemming at the end, but that’s ok! It was at this point I decided to give French seams a try, to great success! I would trim them down more next time so they are less bulky, but I think they looked pretty darn good.
I attached the sleeves as normal, but only in the main fabric (I didn’t think it was necessary to line the sleeves).
Like I said, things got a little dicey when I got to the hem, as I wanted to hem the lining and main fabric separately. I did this, because sometimes the fabrics shrink more than others, and warp the garment. I wanted to leave both hems free to account for this.
I sewed two lovely blind-stitched hems, only to realize that the lining in the back was longer than the main fabric! It had stretched out over the week I had let it hang prior to hemming. I’m so glad I did that, as I fiddled with some more folds, and re-arranged the hem so that it did not peek out.
I included one hook and eye at the top as a finishing touch!
You can see below, the dress fit Caroline nicely. I got her measurements ahead of time, and I’m so happy with the result. She can wear it to the Rod Stewart concert which we got her tickets for as the rest of her gift!
Happy Birthday Caroline!
It was mostly just the best of times creating these two lovely versions of the Sew Over it Nancy Dress.
First off – what a fantastic pattern! I have gotten so many compliments on both dresses, and I have found it to be very flattering on a lot of people – not to mention fun! It’s perfect for the winter with its higher neckline, longer sleeves, and short hem so that it can be paired with tights and cute ankle boots. Here are my overall tips:
since I think the Sew Over It Nancy Dress was released as part of their PDF club in the spring, and I bought it right away! Normally, I prefer a more fitted silhouette, but I thought it would be perfect for winter events with tights! I found the perfect fabric, and it's been sitting, waiting patiently, in my fabric stash since March.
For my first Nancy, I made it specifically to wear to this month’s Ceili dance, hosted by Comhaltas Ottawa! I figured the swinging, swishy skirt would be perfect for the house-around!
I chose a polyester viscose for this dress and it did not disappoint. This fabric was a dream to work with, and the other great thing is that it does not wrinkle. At only $7 a metre, it was also quite affordable (from Fabricland).
I brought the dress with me, fresh off the sewing Machine, to my sister-in-law’s house as my husband and I were babysitting for them while they attended a wedding. I had to leave her house and head straight to the ceili dance when they got home. She was lamenting that she had nothing to wear, and since we are about the same size, I offered up my dress for the occasion. It was a perfect fit, and she received a lot of compliments on it at the wedding.
After I got it back, I decided to wear it on our monthly “date night” that my husband and I have. We are both somewhat “foodies” and enjoy trying the restaurants in the area. To make it more fun, date night has a few rules:
This month’s choice was Chris’ and he chose Stofa! I wore my new Nancy as we enjoyed a Seafood Tower, duck ravioli, and passion fruit souffle!
We don’t take a lot of pictures when we’re out and about, but the lady sitting next to us at Stofa insisted she take our picture, because we reminded her of her daughter.
Overall, a lovely and enjoyable evening – and the Nancy is date night approved as it hides an expanding food belly.
Tune in for part two for more details on how I created a LINED version of the Sew Over It Nancy for my wonderful mother-in-law Caroline on her 60th birthday!
I got pretty crafty when creating my lined, sequin Linden for the festive season. I thought I would share the steps I took as a little tutorial for anyone else looking to sparkle this holiday.
First - let's talk pattern! I used the Linden, but I imagine other boxy tops, like the Grainline Scout Tee or Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Top would be good patterns too. Do you have any other suggestions?
I've also included the Bess Top from Imagine Gnats, Sew Over It Silk Cami and Grainline Willow in the Gallery below for your inspiration!
So! Here is a step-by-step process of how I included a lining for my festive sparkly Linden!
I used some leftover white crepe fabric as I'm not a huge fan of the feel of traditional linings. The nice thing about this fabric was that there was a little give and stretch to it too! I cut out identical pieces of both my main fabric and lining.
Next I finished off those seam allowances! Because I turned them into the inside of the garment, I didn't want to worry about doing that later in the game. Also - crepe - amiright?
Next I sewed up my Linden as directed in the instructions, but separately. I essentially sewed 1 sequin Linden and then a separate crepe Linden. One special note! I did not sew the back seam up completely, only about 2/3 of the way up from the bottom (I stopped sewing where the pins started). Because this pattern is meant for knit fabric, and neither of my fabrics had a ton of stretch, I wanted to make sure I could get it on OK. Plus who doesn't love a little back detail?
Here you see the Crepe Linden all ready to go, except the side seams. I finished the hem along the bottom before sewing the side seams so they would be nicely tucked away and moved on to my next step.
Next comes the trickiest part. Right sides together, I connected the two pieces (lining and main sequin fabric) together at the neckline. This wasn't too challenging, since it was not a full circle (I didn't sew the back seam all the way up- remember). However, when I flipped it right side out, the sequins were heavier than the crepe, pulling downwards and exposing the lining! So again, I got crafty and top stitched all around the neckline, close to the seam, to make sure the lining stayed put. Because of the mashup of mesh and sequins, you can barely see it on the finished product, the stitching blends right in.
At this point, my lining had the right side facing my body - so all those seam allowances were nicely tucked inside the garment.
The last thing to do was tidy up those seams! As Lauren Guthrie suggested in her sequin tutorial video, I pressed down all the sequins on the seams to get a flatter look.
Then I hemmed all the sequin layers so that it fell just below the lining.
And last but not least, I finished off the back seam, rolling the seam allowance on both layers inwards and stitching it down. I added a hook and eye to keep things closed.
Bring on the party season! What are you planning on sewing? Do you have any handy tips when it comes to adding a lining to your garments? Stay tuned for a green velvet number I'm working on...
I LOVE the lead-up to the holidays. Getting together with friends, cheerful parties, cookie exchanges – it’s my favourite time of year. The snow is new (and we’re not sick of it yet) and winter is still fairly mild!
As a personal rule, I set November 12 as my countdown date. I observe Remembrance Day in my community and then welcome the Christmas tunes!
I decided to kick off the holiday season sewing-style with a festive themed Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt which should carry me through the holiday season. It’s perfectly slouchy enough to cozy up with socks and a cup of tea.
I decided to spring for the paper pattern since this is likely something I will make a lot of, and I happened to be in the neighbourhood of Fabrications Ottawa. For my first Linden, I got this metallic jacquard knit from Fabricland as part of their ends - $16 for 1.5m. The red flower motif reminded me of Pointsetta, and the gold sparkle gave it a festive touch – even for a sweatshirt! The back of the fabric has gold stripes I thought would make a good contrast for the neckband and cuffs.
I sewed this one first as a “trial run” before making my…
…second Linden (which is top secret). This Linden sweater I crafted specifically for the “Linden Swap” exchange. My swap partner lives all the way in England, so I figured an early start was necessary. I will post pictures after the holiday, but I used a really cool fabric combo – a knit crepe for the body part, and a lacy, floral French terry fabric for the sleeves and bands. After an hour of Instagram creeping my partner, I’m pretty sure it will be right up her alley (fingers crossed!). I’ve packaged it up with some Canadiana goodies (mmmm maple syrup candies), and I’ve mailed it across the pond.
My THIRD Linden was a bit of an experiment. I was inspired by this YouTube video from Lauren Guthrie, in which she sews a sequin Grainline Scout Tee. She said she chose this pattern because of its simplicity (and no darts!). I’d never sewn with sequins before! Again, I purchased this fabric from the ends department ($15). To add to the complexity, the sequin mesh was see through. I debated just sewing it up and wearing it with a tank top, but it wasn’t a look I really wanted to go for. I decided instead to use a crepe fabric to line it – and experimented with the pattern a bit. Overall, I’m happy with how my festive cropped version (View B) of this Linden turned out. I paired it with a headband I made a while back with extra lace from my wedding dress.
Overall Pattern Notes:
It was my first time sewing with a Grainline Studio Pattern, and I think it’s definitely a classic. The instructions are easy to follow, clear, and the garment sews up super quickly. There are lots of fun ways to color coordinate, or to experiment with different fabric choices. I would compare it to a blank canvas – it really allows you to be creative because the pattern is so simple and versatile. You can make the cuffs, waistband, sleeves, body and neckband all different colors. With both a long sleeved and cropped version, it’s also great for both warm and colder months. Another great thing is that purchasing fabric is relatively inexpensive. Although I am a smaller size (I cut between a size 0 and 2), I used 0.6m for my cropped short sleeve Linden, and just over 1m for my long sleeved version! You can definitely afford to splurge a little on a nice cosy fabric without breaking the bank. The only thing I would make note of for beginners – attaching a neckband can be a little tricky. I’ve done this several times now, so I had no issues with the instructions – but if it was my first time, a little YouTube tutorial might make you feel more comfortable.
Sequin-y and sparkly Lindens are the perfect way to spread holiday cheer – wouldn’t you agree?
Next week I’ll post a step-by-step tutorial of how I created my lined, sequin version!
Self-taught sewist, Knitter, Crocheter, and all round crafty person from Ottawa, Canada.