Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Burda Magazine "Kimono Sweatshirt"

Burda Challenge accepted!

I did it -- I made my first pattern from my stack of Burda magazines! This oversized top comes from February 2017's issue (though if you don't have this issue you can always buy just this pattern from the BurdaStyle website too.)

I have at least a year's worth of Burda mags, and have even traced off a couple of patterns already, but I finally used one of my magazines to make a pattern, start to finish. All the factors came together: the pattern was rated "very easy" and is cute, I found the most amazing knit at the thrift store, and the weather is cold right now but I know it won't last long so if I wanted to make this sweatshirt I'd better do it right quick!

This was indeed a very easy pattern, though Burda instructions, as always, assume some sewing knowledge. The only tricky part of this pattern was the inset kangaroo pocket on an angled seam -- I had to read the instructions over three times before I kind of understood the process, and then only with some advance pinning and flipping before I stitched anything down. Of course once it's done it seems pretty obvious. Although Burda never mentions that after sewing the inside top edges of the pocket bag together, you should really slipstitch it to the inside of the top, otherwise the pocket bag sags down below the hem in a very unsightly manner.

I enjoyed making this one, especially since I remembered to add on the seam allowance while cutting, whew...though it's so oversize it probably would have still fit, haha. As this is my first Burda, I didn't quite have a good handle on their sizing, so cut this all in size 44. I think next time I'll cut 42 at shoulders and 44 at hip for a better fit - this is a little larger around the bust than I'd prefer, and really a little larger all around than the model photo.

But with the triangular inset and the fact that I'm not unpicking a zigzag stitch from a sweater knit, I'm going with this look and calling this my Kimono Sweatshirt. On my next try I may follow LisaCarolina's lead and fold an inch out of front centre & back to get it a little closer fitting around the body.

I do love the way the back swings though!

It's super comfortable and matches wonderfully with my vintage Japanese beads (yay!) I wore it to work today and my very accommodating coworker once again took some quick snaps out in the blinding sun in our back parking lot. So please excuse my closed eyes in some of these photos :) In the sun I was quite comfortable despite the cold wind... Spring really is in the air. I'll have to wear this as much as possible before the weather turns and I start in on my summer dresses.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Denim Knit KwikSew 3757

I made something! Yes, I finally finished a project in 2017.

It's a dress that I've been wanting to make for a long time, KwikSew 3757,  a casual dress that originally caught my eye with its cool pockets. I had just enough of a denim coloured knit in my stash to make this, in View A (I had no interest in a drawstring around my hip area).

So I cut it pretty much as the pattern shows -- I added a couple of inches to the bottom when I cut it out so that it wouldn't be too short, but there was no need. I ended up having to trim it by 3" before hemming, so I just added and removed the same amount of fabric, grr.

The pockets do end up at  the widest part of you, assuming you're average height - I think I'd raise the pocket by at least an inch next go round. They are great pockets though, and pretty close to the right placement.

I was planning on copying Patti from PR & adding in some flat piping to accentuate the seams, but decided that I didn't want the curve of the pocket highlighting my hip/thigh, so just ran it to the top of the pocket. It adds a bit of a vertical line and I think that helps with my figure and this dress. I just used the reverse side of the fabric for the silvery piping & made a neckband as well, instead of using facings.
Simple back view, all one piece

It was a fairly straightforward dress, other than adding in the piping & neckband, and went together quickly. I like the casual feel of it, and have worn it both alone with funky tights and with a matching cardigan (with deep enough armholes to accommodate the fairly large sleeve on the dress). It's a very comfortable, simple dress but I feel quite put together in it. So nice to get going with a quick project again! I feel like this dress would fall a bit more smoothly if the knit was a bit more fluid, though. I love this denim knit but it is very lightweight and yet somehow with body. The good part about that is that it isn't inclined to cling, too badly.

Anyhow, a fun, easy and comfortable dress that I could take pictures of, outside, in February! That's weird enough in itself, never mind the weirdness of finally FINISHING a project ;) Some of the old KwikSew's that I've made have turned out to be my favourite things, and this dress has a good chance of being added to that list.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Top Five Reflections and Goals, 2016

To finish off 2016, I'm taking a moment to reflect back on the sewing year and to set some goals for the next.

 image via British Library flickr stream


  • Having a #sewingfail (or 3 in a row) really cramped my sewing style this year. I have to keep on without letting non-successful projects get me down.

  • When I enter contests or even sew-alongs I get sewing block - I don't think they are for me!
  • But, I also need a workplan so I always have a project in the queue. That way I will always have the next thing ready to pick up and won't waste time procrastinating on making a decision about what to start!
via Library of Congress flickr stream


1. Use my stash. My experience of having to move my sewing supplies out of my sewing area and back this fall meant I really experienced how much I have in my stash. I could sew all year without buying a single piece of fabric. That's most likely not going to stop me from doing so, but, I am aiming to use more stash than I add this year.

2. Make something for my husband. I've been promising him something for a while now, so it's time to bite the bullet and start a menswear project (thinking of Vogue 8987 right now)

3. Watch my Craftsy classes! I've probably got about 20 classes and have only watched 5 all the way though. Time to get busy with the learning!

4. Keep learning new skills - see #3!

5. Tangential to my sewing goals is a desire to improve my blog layout and photography skills. This one is a nonessential but one I still want to try to get to.

Musician June Christy sewing, via Library of Congress flickr stream

So that's what my sewing year looks like in retrospect, and I'm hoping when I do this exercise next year I'll be able to reflect that I've met some of these goals.

Wishing you all the best ever sewing year ahead!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Five Hits & Misses of 2016

Well, since I've hardly been blogging this year, I'm going to jump back in with Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow's Top Fives project.

For my first post, I'm combing my hits and misses. 

As for the hits, even though I didn't really sew all that much this year, I made some wonderful pieces. My favourites, as usual, are mostly dresses! These are all pieces that I've worn a lot and feel comfortable in, both for their fit and their style. Some were learning experiences that went well, some were easy makes that I immediately loved.

McCalls 7351 - my first shirtdress!

The Sally Shirtdress by Sew Serendipity

Colette's knit Moneta

Stretch & Sew's Cowl Neck Blouson #305

And the outlier, the True Bias Sutton Blouse

As for misses, well, I've documented a couple of disasters this year. My attempt at the Sew House Seven Mississippi Top was not a success, partly because of fabric and partly because the style didn't suit me. That was quickly followed up by the debacle of McCalls 7115, an oversize dress that looked terrible on me & went straight to the upcycle pile. And then, there was my next dress project, Vogue 1499, which I tried making from a beautiful rayon challis but which was the third cursed project in a row and I couldn't even take photos I was so bummed by it. Because of the fabric it's also in the upcycle pile now.

The 'miss' that isn't terrible but that I just have not worn more than once is my Simplicity 1317 luxe sweatshirt. It's just not really my style at all. Plus the gathers at the front neckband make me nuts.

And lastly, the only other real "miss" of the year is the fact that I hardly did any sewing, relatively speaking. Busy days at work, lots of extra projects, and a lengthy loss of sewjo really affected my sewing this year. While my own life was pretty average and stable, world events really exhausted me and reduced my motivation for much of the year.

And I miss it! Hopefully I won't have the same missing sewjo in 2017. And that there will be even more hits in the new year.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Literal Elephant in the Room

What is the elephant in the room? This dress, clearly. It's a whole herd of them!

Another elephant in the room is the resistance a sewist can feel to sewing. When does your life-giving hobby begin to feel like a terrible burden? Sometimes. Sometimes when I am expected to do something, no matter how much I want to, I procrastinate, put off, ignore. And sometimes when I'm sewing it feels like I'm "off", like everything I make is a disaster.

That level of perfectionism and performance anxiety almost kept me from completing this dress. Despite the fact that I loved this pattern (Vogue 9201) and this super-cute lightweight cotton (who can resist marching elephants?) and that Fabricville offered me this choice as my next blogger project and thus I felt the obligation to get it made up, I felt a lot of resistance to actually getting to work. But, taking the advice for this feeling of resistance in another field, writing, I finally tackled this dress "bird by bird"... or perhaps elephant by elephant.

There were some issues with making it: I had to unpick and redo all the bodice buttonholes at least once; I basted up a sleeve and then realized it was too long so had to trim both sleeve pieces at the shoulder and resew them; and when I got to the side zip I realized I didn't have any 14" navy invisible zips, and there were none to be found anywhere at all in town. So I switched it to an enclosed lapped zip (using the instructions in my trusty Readers Digest Guide to Sewing), and that ended up working very nicely in the end. There is also a fair bit of hand stitching on this pattern so it did take a bit longer to finish.

Thankfully, I made a bodice muslin -- I had to shorten it in bodice and skirt, and make a swayback adjustment -- finally the muslin fit, and I cut my fabric... whew. I seem to have got the fitting right on this one. This Vogue pattern is a good one, though, with lots of techniques but a straightforward construction process, and I learned tons making it up. It has nice details that make it a satisfying project, and fun to wear now that it's done.

Anyway, to see more and get the deets, check out my blog for Fabricville about this challenging project!

And now, onward and upward with Christmas sewing :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Aprons, Aprons Everywhere

This weekend I attended an annual event that begins the Christmas season for me, the Rotary Club Christmas Craft Fair. 

Flickr Creative Commons: Photo by Sabrina Dan Photo
Photo credit: SabrinaDan Photo

With Christmas music playing and lots of gift ideas, it's fun to wander & get ideas. What was the big takeaway? Aprons are hot again! They were everywhere. I think there were at least 5 vendors selling variations on aprons.

There were small colourful frilly ones, manly ones, and I think my favourite, large practical ones decorated with applique and hand embroidery, by artist Carmen Nistor Caldwell (she's on Instagram which I don't have so here is a link where you can see some of her recycled textile bags and aprons)

This was very interesting to me, since for some reason I've just had a resurgent interest in aprons and have 3 library books out right now on the topic. I'm reading all about modern and historical aprons, working on one for myself, and thinking about, well, Christmas gifts!

I'll talk about the books I'm reading in a later post, but wanted to share this brief pamphlet with suggestions for aprons as Christmas gifts, from the US Dept. of Agriculture, way back in December of 1944. I especially like the suggestion for Uncle George....

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thrifting for Treasure

Well, I haven't been posting here too much -- it's been almost a month! But I have been busy.

My sewing space has been, well, inaccessible lately. We had to have a new furnace installed; it was time to move to a high efficiency option. But. Unfortunately for me, that meant I had to move my entire sewing corner into stacks all over the house to leave room for gas and electrics and workmen to do their thing. So, long story short, I haven't been able to sew much lately! I still don't have the space put back together, but I do have my table & machine up, so that's good.

I'm going through each box and basket as I'm putting it back, and deciding what to keep or give away, and how to reorganize a bit to make things more usable. I've been meaning to do this kind of clean-out for quite a while now, but this jumble gave me the chance to get right on it.

So far I've thrown out old bits of clothing and odds and ends I didn't know I still had, and I've also given 27 metres of perfectly good fabric to the Goodwill. It was all things I knew I would never use - upholstery weights, polyesters, polar fleece etc. Turn about, I guess, since I do shop at my local Goodwill and Salvation Army & various other thrift shops a lot.

This week, after I dropped off my bags of fabric, I stopped in to see what was new inside. My eagle eyed husband spotted this:

I first thought, hmmm, that's kind of a neat set-up; a travelling case & a light enough to lift machine. Since it was only $35, after a bit of hemming and hawing (and a reassurance from the clerk that it worked) I bought it. When I got home, I realized what I had!

  It's a Singer Featherweight, the 221K model that was made in white with a short folding bed, probably in the early 60s. They are quite sought after, and are a reliable straight stitch machine that are now popular with quilters especially, as they are easy to transport & they sew a nice 1/4" straight seam very easily. Mine is in good condition, and it does indeed work, though I'm going to wait to really get going until I get some maintenance done on it so I don't ruin the motor. That was an exciting thrifting day!

I also added to my stash recently via an early birthday present from my sister, another thrifting diva:

I now have enough Anchor embroidery thread for many projects-- 22 boxes and nearly all full! This timely article about bobbinwork in the most recent Threads magazine has got my brain going. There is also a great article on the same topic in their archives! Think I'm going to try out some new techniques on the machine as well as continuing on with my hand embroidery projects.

And today I found a great book at another thrift store nearby -- it's Thérèse de Dillmont's Encyclopedia of Needlework, a facsimile edition which includes all the colour plates. First published in 1884, this is a thorough look at many kinds of needlework - all kinds of embroidery, crochet, knitting, tatting, even macramé - it is good reading. Interesting to know that macrame (or knotted fringe) was undergoing a surge in popularity at about that's the next big retro trend that will return, I think. Calling it here! ;)

Have you made any great thrift store or yard sale finds lately? Do share...