An Ode to Mexico

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Oh Mexico, you are bitchin’

You’re such an awesome place.

I am seriously, strenuously wishin’

To be pouring Mojitos into my face.

Yes, we are back from Mexico, and frankly a little sad about it. It was an amazing trip, made all the more amazing by the friends we travelled with, the new friendships we made along the way, and of course, the wedding of our lovely friends, Phil and Bianca!

One thing that made this trip extra special/strange was the fact that we had no baby with us! Shane and I decided to leave the baby at home with my Mom (who totally volunteered to do it the very second we found out we were expecting), so we got to experience what it was like one last time to be childless. On one hand, I must admit that it was nice to stay up late again and party like I used to (So much gin and soda, I sure gave my liver a punching!). On the other hand, we both really missed the baby. Like, a lot. Our other friends with babies must have thought we were weird after a while because we spent more time at the kiddie pool with them than what would be considered reasonable WITHOUT having a child there. Fortunately, they didn’t seem too weirded out, and a good time was had by all. And I’m pretty sure baby boy didn’t miss us at all after day 1. Seriously.

I just wanted to share a few ‘action shots’ of the bridesmaids dresses I made. Before I do that though, lets talk about my hair. This is what I asked for:

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This is what I got:

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Ugh…. seriously, I paid a lot of money for hideous hair. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, it fell out early in the festivities, so I took it out and it actually looked a bit better!

Or maybe it was the mojitos that made it look better...

Or maybe it was the mojitos that made it look better…

I digress… Here are some action shots.

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Shane’s shirt – the Colette Negroni, made by me!

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Looking at the dress, it doesn’t seem too bad, but there are a few fitting issues for sure. I’d say the biggest one is the need for an FBA. I thought I’d gotten away with it, but in retrospect, I don’t think I did. I asked my friend Christina, who was also the amazing wedding photographer if she would take a picture of Gina and me for the blog to get a full length view of the dresses, and she happily obliged.

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The dresses look pretty rumpled as this was several hours into the celebrations, but I think it gives a pretty good idea as to how the dresses looked on the day.

The major disadvantage to the dresses was the fabric. Polyester + 30 degrees centigrade = sweaty mess. After a while I couldn’t take it, so I changed into a simple tank borrowed from my mom and a skirt that I’d made.

Getting my drunk on.

Getting my drunk on.

In the end, it was a really fun night and a great trip. There has been some talk about doing something like this again in a few years, so to all my friends reading this, I’m so, so there!

Bridesmaid Dress #2

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It’s finished…. Thank God, it’s finished. My dress is FINALLY FINISHED!!!!

I decided to make Simplicity 2178, a Cynthia Rowley design that is now out of print. The pattern calls for fabrics with a bit of body, like poplin, sateen, linen, shantung and so on. Nothing heavy, but something with a bit of personality. My fabric had none of these qualities. It is an extremely drapey poly chameuse, and I hated working with it.

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I chose to do view A for the bodice, and view B for the skirt (only shorter). I really wanted to make skirt A, but I knew my fabric just didn’t have the body to support the shape. I think the end result looks pretty good,¬†as long as you pay attention to the dress and not the messy sewing space in the background ūüėČ .

After reading the reviews of this pattern on patternreview.com, I decided to cut the size 14. Normally I would size down in big 4 patterns, but the reviews suggested that it would be wise to cut it out as close to my actual measurements as possible, and right now I’m pretty much a spot on size 14. After making a muslin, I decided to bring the waist and back in by 3/8″ and do a 3/4″ swayback adjustment. I also decided that the skirt should be more gathered and full, so I added an extra 8″ to the width, or 2″ per pattern piece. I also shortened the strap by a lot. Probably a good 2.5-3″ in the end. I also added a hand picked zipper and did a baby hem, and they both turned out reasonably well in the end.

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This looks better in person than in the pictures, I promise!

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Now, don’t get me wrong, it could have been more difficult than it ended up being. Starching the fabric made it infinitely easier to work with than had it been un starched. But it had another flaw that I hadn’t recognized earlier. It unravelled, a lot in some places. Much to my chagrin, it caused me problems right at the end.

What problems, you ask? Oh well, part of the skirt fell out at the end, NBD. Oh wait, yeah, that’s a pretty big deal! Now I suppose I’m not entirely blameless, I obviously trimmed things a bit too close when I was grading the seam. That said, the fabric unravelled soooooo much, and there was still enough seam allowance left over that it should have been secured. So frustrating! In my head, I was heading into meltdown mode. What I did instead was hand the baby to Shane, park myself on the couch with a beer (or three) and watched a few episodes of ‘Louie’ on Netflix. I cancelled my lunch date with my lovely lady friends T and J so that I could fix the mess, and the next day, I rolled out of bed and fixed it. I was prepared to remove the entire skirt and start over, but fortunately I didn’t have to go that far.

In the end, I’m not sure that I will wear this again after the wedding. The fabric really bothers me. I’m hoping that the skirt will stay on at least long enough for the ceremony and pictures. It bothers me that this isn’t my best work. I am out of practice, my life has had its priorities shifted a little bit. That said, I feel more determined than ever to get back into sewing my own clothes on a regular basis and have a few goals that I want to accomplish this year.

I hope to have action shots of both bridesmaids dresses within the next few weeks (the wedding is next week in Mexico), so stay tuned.

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Bridesmaids dresses

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One of my closest friends is getting married and I am one of the bridesmaids. Excitingly, me and my fellow bridesmaids were given free reign with our dress choice, as long as we had the same fabric. I must admit, I was (and still am) super excited about this! Imagine, a bridesmaids dress that I can control the look of! I’m sure every sewist who has been a bridesmaid at some point has dreamt of having free reign over their dress! Shortly after I was asked to be a bridesmaid, I found out I was pregnant… And put the dress off for as long as I could.

Fast forward 13 months, and the wedding is in just a few short weeks. I still have no dress. I knew that I would be waiting until the last possible second in the hope that my post pregnancy body would resemble my pre pregnancy body, and at five months post partum, things are probably as good as they’re going to get before the wedding. I haven’t been able to exercise very much since the boy was born because of the damage he did coming out (it was lots… ‘fourth degree’ lots…) so I have been limited to walking and focusing on my diet. The other thing that has been stopping me from working on the dress is….. well, the boy. He’s lovely, but he is a baby, and babies are needy creatures. I’ve come up with a bit of a solution to my need to work with the baby around, baby wearing.

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Messy sewing space. Don’t care!

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It’s not the greatest if he’s fussy, but he actually allowed me to get some work done today and was so comfortable that he fell asleep! I managed to finish a muslin for Simplicity 2178 and will hopefully be able to show off a finished product soon.

But, but, but…. the title says dresses? Where is the other one?

The other dress is for my lovely friend Gina! For her, I made Vogue V9053 in view A

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This dress kind of drove me nuts. The pattern itself was exceptionally easy to follow, and although there were fitting issues that needed to be addressed (Gina is like me, short waisted, sway backed, and generally awesome), they were easily taken care of with a few muslins. The fabric however… well that fabric can go to hell!

It is a poly stretch charmeuse, slippery, drapey, and difficult to press. I dealt with the slipperiness and drapeyness by starching the fabric as it was pressed, and then cutting the pieces in one layer as opposed to on the fold. I was careful not to manipulate the fabric too much, and although it was stressful, it all went well. Then I had to hem the bugger….

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Ugh, that hem! The fact that it is a circle skirt with a fussy fabric made it hellish to complete! I tried using my rolled hem foot, and it went so badly that I was convinced I had wrecked the skirt and would have to cut a new one. There was not enough fabric left, so I was very distraught. After having a good cry (seriously), I worked very slowly to unpick and re-sew the hem. Miraculously, it worked.

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This dress nearly gave me an ulcer, but I am proud of it. I hand picked the zip and the lining to the zipper. It has been a long time since I have done any hand sewing, so I am relieved that it looks as good as it does.

Overall, it was a really good experience trying to fit to someone who is not me. It also made me realize that I need to be braver with my sewing and start experimenting with different fabrics and techniques. And that I’m not even close to wanting to be a sewist for a living!

Hopefully my next post will contain my dress. Until then, my friends!

My New Old Blog

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Well hello there!

It’s been nearly two years since I last blogged, which I think most would agree is far too long! I’m not really sure I can say what has taken me so long to get back to it, but since I’m currently dealing with some raging insomnia, I figured this would be the perfect time to get back to writing. No time like the present and all that jazz.

I’ve been wanting to start blogging again for a while, and I recently decided to change platforms from Blogger to WordPress in the hopes that the easier and sleeker interface will help to motivate me to write more consistently. That said, we all know how I feel about motivation, right? If you don’t, I think the name of the blog will probably give you an idea…

So what has happened in the last two years? Well… quite a bit! I’m sure I could devote several dozen entries to the happenings of the past few years, but that would be a bit, well, redundant, so I’ll just write the Coles notes version.

1. I travelled. A bit.

Shane and I took a trip to Amsterdam. It was amazing, and I really hope some day I manage to go back. Later that year, my twin sister and I went to New York. It was also amazing.

Me at the Van Loon.

Me at the Van Loon. I made my jacket.

I'm not sure where this is,  other than it's somewhere in Manhattan

I’m not sure where this is, other than it’s somewhere in Manhattan. I also made this t-shirt.

2. Ponti passed away.

Our beloved furry child, Pontificus the First (otherwise known as Ponti) passed away at the very young age of 3 years old due to Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). There is no real way of sugar coating it, it was awful. Worst period of my life. It’s been over a year and I still miss him.

As soon as we were able, we went to the SPCA and got a new furry child who we called Angus. He also goes by the name Ginger Balls.

I am still a cat lady. I am fine with it.

Ginger Balls.

Ginger Balls.

3. I still sew. Not as much as I’d like these days, I tend to do more reading and dreaming about it, but I have managed to get a few projects done.¬†I really hope to actually share them with the world on a more regular basis. I’ve also gotten a bit more into knitting, and I’m hoping that I’ll move on from cowls, scarves and hats to sweaters and socks in the near future.

There is a good reason for my lack of productivity over the last little while…

4. I had a baby.

I know, right? Who’da thunk it? Not me, that’s for sure! I found out that I was pregnant at the end of February last year and miracle of miracles, things actually went well! At the end of October I gave birth to a healthy baby boy who is positively lovely, even when he is being a grump.¬† IMG_0021IMG_0059 IMG_3330 IMG_3508

I expect that you may get spammed with cute baby pics in the future….

Of course, there have been many more things that have happened over the course of the past two years, but these have been the most significant.

I know my absence has been a long one, but I really hope that there are people who are still willing and interested in reading what I have to write about. I’m not sure about the direction the blog will take in the future, but I’m pretty sure that it will still include me sharing my crafty projects, my attempts at staying healthy, and who knows what else. Above all else, I’m happy to be back and I hope my old readers will have me again!

Cheers!

How do you…

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Teach 20 teenagers to sew? It is fucking mind boggling! Today was the first ‘real’ class of Fashion studies I have ever taught, and although it wasn’t the worst class I have ever taught, it was a bit discouraging. Nothing but issues the whole class, a few machine related, but the large majority classroom management related. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’m pretty awesome at classroom management. I am a very capable teacher when it comes to keeping kids in line and on task, so today was¬†disappointing.¬† Nothing got out of hand or anything, and probably wasn’t even really as bad as I am thinking it was; but for me, it was no fun at all. Ugh!

I think this may be one of those things that kids think is so awesome (which it totally is), until they actually ¬†realize they¬†aren’t¬†going to be pumping out any grad dresses within the first week and lose interest. These kids make up the majority of the class so far, which is no fun. I am at a loss, but maybe I just need a good nights sleep to come up with a better plan. I’ve been working on report cards like a mad woman, and getting less sleep as a result. I had so much to catch up on from my medical leave, but I think I’m finally getting things under control. I even got 3 classes worth of report card comments done tonight ūüôā

One thing that I think I am doing right to inspire the kids is wearing something ‘me made’ to every class. In fact, I’ve been pretty good about doing this since I went back to work in mid January. I told you I wasn’t idle during my blogging hiatus! Here are some of the projects I have been working on, in no particular order.

1. BurdaStyle Vintage Modern ‘Jamie’ shift dress:

Have you seen this book yet? It’s pretty fantastic. I LOVE the patterns provided, they are super cute, and the possibilities are endless for adjustment and creativity. I decided to tackle this dress first because it looked easy and quick. The good news is that it is easy, but it was not quick by any stretch of the imagination! I cut a straight 38, and the muslin looked like an honest to God potato sack! I know shift dresses are not meant to form fit, but I felt a bit like a kid trying on my mom’s clothes to play dress up. It was hideous!

Instead of giving up on it or cutting a whole new size, I decided to challenge myself and fit it properly to my proportions and personal style. I signed up for a craftsy.com course on fitting, and it was seriously worth every penny. Confession – I have signed up for MANY craftsy courses, and have actively used maybe half of them so far. I’m trying to reign myself in with all their exciting offerings, but this one was just too good to pass up.

(Any excuse to grab a kitty…)

Ahem… Back to fitting. I added long vertical darts to the front and back of the dress, shortened the bust darts by about an inch, and added short darts to the shoulders. I also made it a boat neck instead of the original scoop neck, as I hate clothes that fit close to my neck. Instead of lining it, I finished the neck and armholes with self made bias tape. I sort of wish I had been able to find a knit lining though, I hate how some knits show every lump and bump.

 Perfect it aint, but I am really proud of the fitting changes I made.

I used a double knit fabric, so I lost the zipper and had to take the dress in on each side by about an inch to get the closer fit that I was looking for. There are still some things I can do to make this fit better, possibly shortening the waist and readjusting the back. I am mildly irritated that the hemline got a bit stretched from hemming. I’m hoping that it will ‘normalize in the wash.

2. Victory Patterns Chloe Dress:

This one is less exciting as it has been sitting in my closet for a while. I have made this one once before (for my couture project which I have just realized I never showed you… ooops!) I stuck with the size 6.

With this one I did some more fitting, and although it turned out ok, it’s not likely to be one of my favourites. The fabric is this nice looking basket weave cotton that attracts lint (and cat hair) like a motherfucker. I already have quite the reputation as a cat lady, I can’t afford to be covered in the hair even more than I am on a regular basis.

¬†With the fitting I kind of fiddled with it until I got the fit that I wanted, but then sort of balls’d up the pattern in the process, meaning I have to reprint and tape it together all over again. That’s probably not a bad thing, if I can make it fit in a way that is truly flattering and comfortable.

I lined it with some good quality cupro bemberg, and it is unbelievably static-y. I also misplaced (Oh, who are we kidding, lost) the neck binding pattern piece so I just attached the lining right to the neckline. The problem with this is that the damn lining doesn’t want to stay down. Ugh…

¬†Not the worst thing I’ve made, but it is back to the drawing board with this one. I would actually like to make one with pockets next. That would be sweet!

3. Papercut Patterns Miss. Chalmers Skirt:

I. LOVE. THIS. PATTERN!!!!!

I have been holding out for a really great skirt pattern for a little while. As much as I like pencil skirts, they aren’t practical in my day to day life. I’ve been on the hunt for a sweet casual skirt that can be dressed up to, and this pattern is it.

Below is actually my second version. In my first version, I cut a small and followed the directions as written, including the 3/8″ seam allowance, but it ended up being big. The only real change was to lower the waistband about an inch to sit lower on my hips.

I really like the fit of my second version. I kept the lowered waistband and used 5/8″ seam allowances instead, making the pattern about 3/4″ smaller all around. I think I may move down one size to see if it makes a huge difference in the fit. The waist still feels too big, especially in the back.

It still needs a bit of work, I feel like the back hem rides up a bit, so I’m going to need to add some fabric to my badonkadonk region (and I know how to do that now thanks to craftsy ūüôā

Below is my very first version of the Miss Chalmers Skirt. Although a bit loose, I LOVE it. Why put it below the second version then?

 Simple: Awesome Ponti pictures! He snuck into the frame so I grabbed him and he took his rightful place atop my shoulders, his most favourite-est spot in the world.

I also think I look exceptionally happy in these pictures, which is really nice considering the horrid fuckery I underwent last month.

I had the same issue with the hem being shorter in the back than the front, but with some careful cutting I was able to fix the problem. My most favourite parts of the skirt are below, the zipper and the facing.

My second attempt at putting in a centre zip in a skirt and it turned out wonderfully. I used Tasia’s Lara-proof (read – idiot proof) instructions for¬†inserting¬†a zip and it worked so well. This will be my go to from now on. Screw invisible zippers! The black one has an invisible zip because that’s what the pattern called for, but this was easier and less time consuming.

The next part I love are the facings. I used some quilting cottons I found on sale in the remnant bin of a local sewing store. I think it really makes the skirts stand out from RTW.

I have a few more finished projects still, but I’ll leave at these tonight. Keeping busy has helped me feel better, so as long as I’m sewing, I’m a happy lady.

I’ve also started working out again, and am feeling stronger and more like myself every day. It is horribly discouraging when you are forced to stop exercising for a while to go back to it and absolutely suck balls. Fortunately it’s sucking a lot less than before. I really can’t wait for the snow to go away so I can safely run outside again.

I think I’d better end it here, I’m getting a wee bit sleepy. Until next time ūüôā

An Ode to Mrs. Klein.

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It had been a while since I have posted, and I am busy as always. As much as things change, they also remain the same. Work is work, I keep fretting about the state of my body (promising myself to take things more seriously this week), and the kitties are still cute as ever. I also have a few sewing projects that are long overdue to be presented on my blog, but tonight I wanted to share my latest one, as I am going to wear it tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the funeral of one of the English teachers at my (former) high school, Mrs. Chris Klein. She wasn’t my teacher, she taught my twin instead. She naturally knew who I was though, and was always kind to me, which was nice. Beyond that, she was spunky as hell, and a legend at MAC high. She had this way of getting students really interested in English, and I know many of us wanted to be in her class.

I would be lying if I said that she was the most influential teacher I ever (or never) had. It did make me profoundly sad when I heard that she had passed away though. She was only my mothers age, far too young to die. A call was put out to all music teachers to participate in the liturgy for her funeral, and so I volunteered without question. Tomorrow I will be singing in the choir, something I am not entirely comfortable with (I am much happier hiding behind a euphonium when performing), but I will be there regardless in my new dress, Vogue 1151.

I am proud of this dress for many reasons. This pattern is helping me get over my fear of using patterns from the ‘big four’ companies, and dealing with the fact that I may have to alter my patterns to fit me. And that’s ok! For this one, I cut a size 12, but ended up taking so much out of the chest and back area that it’s probably closer to an 8 or 10. In the skirt, I added about an inch to the sides, so it is closer to a size 14. I also added 2 inches to the length, as my muslin was scandalously short. I can still see some areas that could have been adjusted a bit better (either a sway back adjustment or shorten the bodice), but I am happy with the result so far. I did a machine blind hem for the first time, and I added a bright orange zipper, something I know Mrs. Klein would have¬†appreciated. She was the first person I knew to buy designer jeans from Holt Renfrew, and I think that’s pretty awesome ūüôā

Mrs. Klein was someone who wasn’t afraid to try new things, and so I dedicate this dress to her. I hope she is at peace now.