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?
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!
Self-taught sewist, Knitter, Crocheter, and all round crafty person from Ottawa, Canada.