31 December 2013

2013: Made

Only in summer of this year did I learn to sew and knit. For the first time I learned about clothing construction in a week long course and I also took a 3 hour knitting class (But I forgot most of it and taught myself on youtube again in the fall). But, I am proud of my achievements, and excited for the new year.

Here is a list of all the items I've made since July this year and some goals for 2014.


Dresses: 7
Skirts: 2
Shirts: 1
Unblogged: 4 Dresses, 1 Jacket, 1 Skirt



I'm really proud of myself. I honestly love what I have accomplished, and fortunate for me, I wear all of my items on a weekly basis. The sleeveless dresses have been stored until it thaws here in the North (It's -40C) but all of my other dresses get worn constantly. My skirts I wear to work almost every second day, and my dresses I rotate for each time I go out. The one dress I haven't put up is the one I wear the most - it is also my lounging dress that I toss on each time I get home from work. I like to show off my makes. And all that knitting is a life-saver in this weather and everybody that I've gifted has appreciated the warmth that wool brings to their lives too!

Goals for 2014

  1. Magazines: Make 1 Burda pattern a month (Attempt to use that months magazine). I have many many many burda magazines. I purchased the 2010 year of magazines on Ebay for a steal. But, that many magazines, although glorious, means I am drowning in choice. So I am determined to focus and make one pattern a month. Also - sew one other pattern from a magazine each month; Manequim, Ottobre, MyImage, La Mia Boutique, the russian magazine I have....haha
  2. Use Owned Patterns. Do not buy any new patterns for the entire year. I already have many many many patterns, and I have tackled most of them. I purchased many vintage patterns from my local thrift shop for 30 cents each, but they are still patterns. My goal is to use the ones I have before investing in more. 
  3. Improve. Attempt more advanced patterns that improve my sewing skills at a steady pace. I was beyond fortunate to have received a serger for christmas this year (YAY!!!) so my goal is to conquer knits and finish all my seams properly! No more skipping the inside once the outside looks nice.
  4. Learn to embellish. I adore lace clothes, and most of the clothes I purchase had lace in some format, so I want to learn to use lace to embellish my dresses which tend to be on the plain side.
  5. Fabric stash busting. No more new fabrics. The only thing I'll allow myself to buy is lining if required only 3 of my fabrics will likely require it. I have too much fabric. I must USE it and not get distracted by the newest arrivals! (this goes for yarn too!)

Happy New Year to you all!

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30 December 2013

Black Ink in Water Elisalex Dress

My feedly has been filled with Elisalex dresses since its release. I knew I wanted to make one and when I found this fabric It screamed to be made into an Elisalex. So that's just what I did.

I cut the size 14, which according to the size guide, should be my size. This fabric is a rayon/spandex with only 5% stretch. But when I sewed the 14 up, everything was too big, too wide, too much fabric. I tried to sew all the seams again at 1 inch but that just made it odd-shaped. That's what I get for trying to take the easy route. After multiple attempts, I hated how it fit, so uncomfortable, so I tossed it in the UFO basket and walked away.

But I had a party. And there is little I love more than wearing a new dress to a party. So I re-traced my Elisalex pattern in a size 8. Four sizes smaller than my original. I hoped I hadn't over-corrected and would have a teeny-tiny bodice and feel like a sausage. Luckily I sewed it up at 3/8 inch, put it on, and FINALLY it fit the way it was intended to fit. 
This photo emphasizes my pear shape
I do adore this dress, but there are a few issues with the pattern in regards to my body shape; I have both narrow and sloped shoulders. This means that the wide-set neckline falls off my shoulders very easily. I tried to turn the pattern in a bit at the shoulders but it seems the pattern is still set a tad wide for me. That's ok, it is still full wearable - it is more my bra-straps that slip off than the dress itself.

So this fabric! Stunning right? It reminds me of dropping ink into a glass of water the way it swirls. It is a rayon/polyester with 5% stretch to it. It is fully medium weight - no chance of transparency - thank goodness - that is nothing I hate more than realizing a dress is opaque in sunlight. No unsightly bra sightings here. 

On to my alterations. I took off a 1/4 inch at the princess seam as it reaches my armpit so it doesn't gap. I opted to not include a zipper in the design, with the slight stretch to the fabric, the zipper would of made it easier to get on and off but ultimately would be unnecessary for me. So with the additional stress on the waist seam as I pull the dress across my chest, I added fold over elastic to the waist seam to finish the seam and add strength. I choose a gathered skirt instead of the tulip skirt as I wanted a more every-day dress vs the fancier touch that the tulip skirt adds to it. The last alteration I made was to use short sleeves instead of the full or 3/4 length offered. I used the sleeve pattern and simply cut it short. Simple.
Scotia found a Squirrel nut stash and started to rip the ground up. Oops.

Pattern: By Hand London Elisalex
Size: 8
Fabric: Rayon/Polyester with 5% stretch (Fabricland)
Cost: $4/m used 1.5m

Lucky for me it was only a balmy -8C while I took these photos. How Canadian am I eh? Out in a short sleeved shirt...
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26 December 2013

Anybody want Waffles? Waffle Mittens that is!

As I browsed the knitting books at the book store looking for inspiration I found these mittens in a book titled Knitting By Design. It was instant love. I wanted them. 

I bought the book and immediately bought yarn for them. I have never made mittens before but I've decided that each new knitting project I start needs to teach me a new skill and advance my knowledge in knitting. With only one new skill each time I can concentrate but not get overwhelmed. Slow and steady my friends!

The new skill here were using double pointed needles and attaching a thumb gusset. After completing these mittens, those two things were quite simple but I ADORE the result. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

I made only one flaw in the design. The pattern has 4 rows. On my first mitten I forgot what row I was on so took a guess. It was wrong. So now I have one row on the inside of my left mitten that skips the pattern. That is ok - imperfections help prove they are self-made. 

The wool is Berroco Ultra Alpaca (50% wool/50% Alpaca) in Eggshell and Beet Root. It knits magnificently but after wearing them for two days they have become very fuzzy which I don't mind at all because THEY ARE SO WARM! but means that photos don't turn out great. Just think of how toasty my little fingers now are! 

Another one of my makes is the gigantic cowl that I am wearing. Burnt orange hand dyed wool. It is scratchy and squishy and my favourite thing. It certainly blocks the -30C winds blowing across Canada currently. Baby it's COLD outside (Not not while wearing all my WOOL!)

Now lets talk about this book: Knitting by Design. It is so beautiful. The patterns are all simple ones so this book is great for beginner knitters. Each pattern is easy to follow with detailed instructions and has a few photos of the pattern as well as snippets of Design Inspiration, Yarn&Stitch, and Trial&Error. It gives you insight into the design process which is a nice change from books that only provide the pattern.

This book feels like a lifestyle knitting book. The style of the book is whimsical and the patterns fun. There are hand drawings and vibrant colours. All things I thoroughly adore.

I'm so happy I bought this book. These mittens turned out near perfect and I look forward to making my next item from their patterns!

The only detail I will change for the next pair is starting the Contrast Colour earlier so there is more of it. The pattern called for 3 more sets of the pattern but that would make them too long for my hands so I made it shorter. But I didn't realize this until I was there. I suppose trying them on while making them would of helped eh? Things to remember for my next pair.

Have you seen this book? What are your opinions?

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24 December 2013

My Little Red Dress - Lekala Pattern

All I wanted for Christmas was a red plaid dress. Then I couldn't find plaid. It was maddening. I returned to the fabric shop every week in hopes that Christmas plaids would arrive, but as Christmas loomed closer, and the plaids didn't arrive, I knew I'd have to figure something out. This vibrant red viscose crepe was calling my name. And at $3/m I knew the price made up for the lack of plaidiness. 

I feel like CHISTMAS in this outfit!

Oh yeah, that plaid jacket I purchased at Target for $5. I needed to wear SOMETHING plaid. And this outfit makes me feel like Christmas.

A short while ago I found Lekala Patterns online. I thought the concept was pretty great; you provide all your measurements (even the length between nipple points!) and they give send you the PDF pattern in to your specifications. 

Lekala is Ideal for somebody who:
          • Doesn't know how to fit well (Me) 
          • A beginner seamstress
          • Someone looking for a quick make!

This pattern is #4168 and is a princess seam dress. I turned the form-fitting skirt into an A-Line by simply drawing a straight line from the pattern hip marker 2 inch out to the side of each pattern piece.

I'll openly admit that I adore Lekala now. This dress fits unbelievably perfect. Not one single adjustment was required. Not one. Think about that! I literally cut my fabric, sewed at 3/8 inch put it on and voila - PERFECT. No bust adjustment, no length adjustment, no gaping at the front or back neck, nothing.

See even Scotia thinks that a perfect fitting dress sans adjustments is ridiculous. Like WHATTTTT?

I wanted to start out simple. Princess seams are my favourite style and I always lean towards simple. All the dresses I've made to date have had waist seams, this is my first dress without a waist seam. I won't lie, I was worried that I would have all sorts of wrinkles and fabric piling around my middle section. Not flattering. But because of the way Lekala works, by providing all your measurements, the patterns adjust to your body length and fits beautiful.

Perfect shaped princess seams for me.

A pattern that I DON'T have to adjust for narrow shoulders? How much easier is that? Perfect fitting sleeves for for my arm? Yay. Honestly - go buy Lekala. It is SO worth it.

Ps. The snow was so deep but so much fun to play in! Way too cold outside to take coat off for a dress photo.


Pattern: Lekala 4168
Fabric: Viscose Crepe
Price: $3/m 1.5m used
Adjustments: Absolutely NONE

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16 December 2013

Review: Burda Style January 2014

The thing about me is that I love winter. Not the numbing cold mind you, but the chance to wear so many layers and anything fleece lined. I actually prefer when the weather drops enough for me to comfortably wear leggings under my dresses rather than summer bare legs. I just love the cozy feeling that thicker clothing and layers provide. Wools, Knits, and a cup of hot chocolate and I'm a happy girl.

So for me, the January Burda Style magazine, with its winter appropriate patterns is one I look forward to. Although this January issue doesn't have too many extreme-warmth looking items, I do think this issue is a winner. But sadly they did include a fur section and once again are trying to pass off a rectangular cut piece of fabric as a pattern. Sorry, that isn't a pattern in my books! And they also included a costume section. YES, the patterns are incredibly adorable and I appreciate the inclusion, BUT not in the January issue; Halloween JUST past, this should be in the August/September issue leading UP to Halloween, not 2 months past it. Bad timing is all.

But lets take a gander at the selection shall we?

Lets start with the GREAT

Minus the applique on the bottom hem I really really really like this dress. Add sleeves and its PERFECT. Nor a winter dress for certain but a dress design that I love. I LOVE turtle necks. FYI.

LOVE this draped tulip shape skirt. I've been waiting for something like this to come up! Can't wait to make it! But that corset...never going to happen. I don't do strapless or corsets. 

I adore these types of pants. I've never personally sewn pants. But I think that if I was going to start than these would be at the top of my list. With a larger waist band. And blending into the fine category is the shirt. Nice gathering. That's about it. I guess I just don't find shirts all that interesting. I don't tend to gravitate towards them to frequently.

I love the included edging on the dress. It is a simple shape, but just adding the extra details make it so much more intriguing to me. I'm not a pattern drafter and don't understand much about it yet, so having patterns pre-made to my liking allows me to sew more easily. Less struggling means more time to sew and be jolly.

I think I like this dress MORE because of the skirt fabric they used. I LOVE all the raised flowers on the fabric. I can't wait to get my hands on some! So this, this pattern is a lovely choice. Nothing we haven't seen before though.

Now we shall move onto the FINE category:

Pretty neat shape and I adore the quilting on the sleeves. But as usual it is very nice of Burda to do it in WHITE and have her crossing her arms? Really? Yes, we don't need to see the details. Don't worry.

This issue has some really pretty plus sized patterns. Forget the baggy shapeless blogs they've been passing off as patterns, This issue's plus sized patterns are all winners; form-fitting, or nice details. I like both the shape of this dress and the colour-blocking paneling. But without a waist seam, I do see the potential for bunching if the fit isn't right between the waist and hip.

The next plus sized pattern is a basic V-neck dress with thick waistband. It is a simple design, but one that can be very flatting. And great for pattern jerseys. Omit that side zipper. it is unnecessary.

And the OK-for-a-Basic Patterns:

Just because it is in a new pattern doesn't make it a new dress. I feel like this shapeless pocketed sheath dress is in every issue now. I won't be making it but it isn't terrible.
Now, as simple as this may be, Made up in that fuzzy looking material gives this simple shape more potential within my wardrobe. Put a belt around it and it could be a go to winter staple for me. Fuzzzzzzzy.

All-in-all I think that Burda is starting the year out right. Yes, I hate the fur section, and I think the Costumes are in the wrong month, but the three other sections are worth it. They have patterns that have risen straight to the top of my to-sew list which is endless. But with Christmas fabric presents heading my way, I couldn't be more excited for this issue to arrive in my mailbox. 

Also, the magazines includes a male shirt and jacket. But I'm a selfish sewing so they are useless to me.
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