Archive for June, 2010


Adventures in poor decisions

June 28, 2010

Over a month ago, in a rush, I bought a pattern and some fabric in hopes of making a dress in time to wear it to a friend’s wedding. I quickly realized I would not finish the dress in time and wore something else…but I still planned to finish it.

So far this process has been dogged by problems every step of the way.

1. I have the distinct impression that the woman who cut the fabric for me, mismeasured it… either that or it really shrank when I first washed it because when I laid it out, it came to 3.5 metres rather than 4…which can make a big difference.

2. The pattern I picked was Butterick 5176 which has a nice full circle skirt. The fabric I chose in the end, however…looks like this.

I picked it because I really liked the border pattern…but a border pattern and a circle skirt really don’t go together all that well.

After some google work, I determined that if I wanted to use my pretty print, I would have to make the skirt into a gored skirt. I made a wedge pattern piece based on the dimensions of the original skirt pieces.  The size of the wedge was also determined by just how much of the border print fit into an arc. It involved my rulers and some calculations and reminded me that I always did plan to take a pattern drafting class someday.

I started to cut as many pieces as I could. I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t have enough fabric to extend the border print all the way around the dress, so the border will only be in the front.

After getting as many pieces out of the fabric as I could, I came up with the makings of a pretty full skirt. There are 14 wedges in the skirt.

I stitched each piece together directly on the serger to have the smallest seam allowance possible. I’m doing the same on 14 pieces of cotton broadcloth for the underlining. It’s not perfectly circular, but it should have some swing.

3. Since I decided that it was important to make the skirt as full as possible, once I completed cutting the skirt pieces out, I realized that I had very little fabric left.

In fact I had so little left that I’m now out of fabric and I still haven’t cut out the front corset piece or the long ties.

I stared at my situation for a bit trying to figure out what to do. I’m not daring enough to bare my midriff and turn this into separates. That wouldn’t work all that well with this dress anyway.

What I’m going to try to do is find plain fabric to match the navy blue pattern and see if the corset section and ties would look okay in a solid accent colour.

4. I’ve also noticed that my legs are shorter than even I estimated so I will need to trim about two inches off the top of my skirt to prevent the dress from hitting straight across the middle of my calves: a look that at 5’4 with a long torso and plenty of curves, I simply can’t pull off.  This is likely a blessing in disguise though as shortening the skirt from the waist will give me more fabric to gather and make the skirt even fuller.

On my way home from work today, I’ll try to find the fabric I need and see if I really can salvage this dress.

More to come.


Another grand plan

June 27, 2010

As if the world didn’t have proof enough that the best thing I do is bite off more than I can chew, I have signed on to the Trench Coat Sew Along.

I need a coat. I’ve never made one before, so I figured it was time I gave it a try. I’ve bought some grey-taupe fabric and I plan to use Vogue 8346 as a basic pattern.

It may be a bit before I get to actually constructing the coat. I still need to find some lining fabric… and sew through the large pile of fabric on the futon in the sewing room.


OT Weekend: Sun Salutation

June 19, 2010

Since Monday is the longest day of the year, I thought today would be a great day to show some off topic sunshine pictures in honour of the day we get to see more of the sun than usual… assuming it isn’t raining of cours.

Enjoy the pretty nature!


Breaking up with a style

June 15, 2010

 While a good chunk of my weekend was consumed by book club and an evening spent watching a friend not quite manage to consume a 72 ounce steak (advice for anyone contemplating this feat: don’t order it well done), I did get some sewing done, but I’m not too thrilled with the results.

For years I’ve said that I love the feel of fabric fluttering behind me. As a result I have sewn more than a couple of pairs of loose, flowing summery pants in my time and continue to be drawn to patterns of that type like Vogue 1186. So I expected to be quite happy with the pants I made.

I used an old New Look pattern to which I added pockets, cut it out, stitched it up… and was horrified when I put the finished product on my body. 

I felt the pants were big and square and made me look big and square. I tried to convince myself that I was wrong but I hated them even more yesterday and I’ve basically decided that there will be no photos of me in these pants unless I manage to fix them.

Apparently my love affair with loose flowing pants is over. I’ll see if I can get these more tailored before the summer is out. Then, you might get to see them.


OT Weekends: Books

June 12, 2010

This off topic post is actually slightly on topic. I love sewing and I also love books so I thought I’d share with you my recent sewing/style book purchases from a local secondhand bookshop that I try to avoid simply because I spend too much money there

 Survey of HIstoric Costume:

This is a textbook style book showing clothing from ancient times to the middle of the 20th century. It reminds me of a book I used to borrow from the library for extended periods of time when I was costuming back in highschool. I’m glad to finally own a book like this.

The Sari – I spent time in India and fell in love with the sari while I was there. Sometimes I wish I was daring enough to wear one in Toronto, but thus far I’m not. This book discusses the history and politics of the sari which are far more complex than I picked up on while I was there so I am looking forward to learning all I can.

 Style Deficit Disorder – I also enjoyed roaming Takeshitadori in Harajuku. While most of what I saw fell into the category of things I could not really imagine wearing myself, there were elements of everything that I found fascinating and bits and pieces that I could imagine incorporating into something that was more me. This book discusses the different fashion lines that have appeared and disappeared over the years. I’m looking forward to reading more.

Fashion, Desire and Anxiety – And finally I decided that it was time I read a bit of fashion theory that puts what we wear in some social context.

I’ll let you know what I learn.


The costume is done

June 11, 2010

Remember the little costume preview I gave you a few weeks ago?

Well the convention is over so I’m now happy to share the full costume with you. My husband’s colleague went to the Anime North convention in the west end at the end of May. He wanted to go as Gaara from Naruto.

Now, by all reports, Gaara is generally a scowly guy who wears a long cloak with a nehru collar, and also wears a leather harness/vest to hold his giant gourd in place. This giant gourd contains sand which he uses as a weapon throughout the series.

All in all, he sounds like an interesting character to portray for the weekend.

Because the series is animated, it took a bit to establish which colours and which version of the costume was the right one to go with. We decided to go with the black cloak and tan harness/vest version rather than the burgundy cloak and grey vest version that I also saw.

 The cloak was fairly simple to make as it closely resembles Neo’s coat in the Matrix so Simplicity 5386 made the whole process much easier. Because the convention took place at the end of May I knew the weather would be warm enough that anyone wearing black from head to toe would appreciate lightweight fabric so I made it out of a nicely textured, extra wide and extra heavy broadcloth. I found it had the weight and drap desired without being too heavy to wear all day.

The leather is a suede end that was on sale. I drafted the piece myself based on the measurements of the client. And I also made a really basic pair of drawstring pants with pockets to complete the costume.

The costume itself didn’t take that long to make. As usual for me, setting in the sleeves was the most time consuming part – well  that and finishing all  the seams which, even with my serger, is something I always wish sewn projects would magically do for themselves.

What took the most time was making the gourd filled with ammunition sand. I needed something solid enough that it wouldn’t fall apart at the first touch but light enough that it could sit on the back of a real human being all day long.

I tried several different things. In the end I wound up creating a wire base, covering it with newspaper and a few layers of papier mache. Then I finished it by covering that with a layer of tissue paper and podgey to give it a smooth finish. I painted it terra cotta and added in the black paint details.

Here are the results:

I’m actually more proud of the gourd than I am of the cloak and vest. I knew I could do them, I wasnt so sure about the gourd and many convention goers who go as Gaara seem to skip the gourd. I’m glad I didn’t have to give up on it and my husband’s colleague could have the full Gaara look.

He’s not nearly so scowly though.


OT Weekends: Rocks and Trees

June 5, 2010

I am not sewing right now. Right now I am off camping with a group of Girl Guides up north (okay not so far north) in the land of rocks and trees.

So I thought I’d share some pictures of rocks and trees from around the world. I’ll number them so you can feel free to take guesses as to what country or part of the world they are from.






Have a great weekend!