Tiny houses are awesome!

My blog reader is telling me I have 220 unread blogs. Is it even possible to catch up at this point? I was only gone for 12 days!

I had an amazing trip, and I just have to share a few things. I spent 5 days at Esalen in Big Sur, California doing a group workshop, and I just have to say, Esalen is magical. It’s a gorgeous location on cliffs by the ocean, and it’s full of educated hippies working on self-improvement. Organic food, yoga, hot spring baths, Tibetan bowls, and plenty of interesting, weird, and awesome people. I actually randomly ran into a guy who was in the process of making shoes and had a nice discussion about various methods with him. True story. That would never happen at home! Anyway, if that sounds like paradise to you, you should definitely check it out. I’m already trying to figure out a way to go back as soon as possible!

Also cool: tiny houses. I heard about these things about a year ago and I’ve been wanting to see one in person ever since. Of course, Portland just happened to have a Tiny House Caravan Hotel. Check out these adorable little things:

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Fire pit and gathering area with all the tiny houses around it.

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This is the entire house! I need a tiny house in my life!

Ah, but what you really want to know is what fabric I bought, right? Here’s the haul:

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The middle pile is Khadi cotton from A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland. This place was really cool and had a rabbit. I only bought one yard of silk at Britex (lower right corner). It’s a huge store with gorgeous fabrics that are mostly way out of my price range. The huge pile on the left is from a surprise find in Eureka, California, Eureka Fabrics. I saw a sign that said “fabric” so of course I had to check it out, but I was fully expecting a boring quilting fabric store. Instead, I found a store stocked full of fair trade, handwoven, natural, and organic fabrics! And they were really affordable ($10-$14 a yard for handwoven, fair trade) because the owner takes trips to India to work directly with the makers! So I stocked up on the handwoven fair trade stuff, and got a few organics as well. The top piece is hemp/silk. They don’t have nearly as much on their website as they do in the store, but apparently the owner is happy to receive email requests, so when I’ve used up this pile, I will definitely be contacting them for more!

By the time I got to Portland on my way home, I’d spent all of my fabric budget, but I checked out a few stores anyway. The two silks on top of the pile on the right are from Mill End. I also got some yarn to make this sweater, but unfortunately they sold the last green just a few hours before I got there, so now I have to try to find someone on Ravelry who wants to sell theirs. And of course how could I go to Portland without picking up a couple of Colette patterns plus the knits book 🙂

Thank you to everyone who gave me recommendations! Especially to Kelly – Harlow and Portobello were incredible!

I can’t wait to start sewing!



Portside Travel Set

Grainline Portside Travel Set

Pattern: Portside Travel Set by Grainline Studio
Fabric: Parson Grey World Tour in TAIPEI – smoke and FIJI – shell (45% cotton/55% linen), undyed organic cotton canvas, and “craft cotton” lining from Fabricland
Hardware: Emmaline Bags

I won this pattern in a giveaway at Cut Cut Sew for her blogiversary a few months ago. I still can’t believe I won. I’ve never won anything before. Thank you so much, Kelly!

I was originally planning on block printing in several different colours, but that ended up being a total fail. You can see the evidence on Instagram here and here. I was going to try over-dyeing it in a solid colour, but I needed a break from dyeing at that point, so I decided to do some stash-shopping. I used some fabric that ended up not being right for another project, and was taking up space in my cupboard. I’m not totally sure how I feel about the end result. It seems a bit tiki to me, but maybe I just need to let it rest for a bit. Sometimes that helps.

I couldn’t find any 1 1/4″ D-rings, so I used 1 1/2″ and I made the straps instead of using webbing. It took way longer than I expected! Lining up the print really tested my patience, and to save fabric I didn’t bother for the back of the strap, not realizing that it folds over and is visible on one end. Oops!

Grainline Portside Travel Set

I interfaced with another layer of fabric, but I probably should have interfaced the front pockets as well since the fabric I used is kind of floppy. I hand-stitched the lining to the dopp kit, as the instructions said to do, but I decided to machine stitch when I made the main bag. I’m not sure it really saved me any time!

Grainline Portside Travel Set

Grainline Portside Travel Set

Emmaline Bags also has some really cool decorative hardware, so I got some zipper pulls that say “handmade” and “handcrafted” and a bag label for the front that says “Handcrafted – MADE IN CANADA” (she also has MADE IN THE USA labels too). I think it really makes the bag look more professional as long, as no one looks too closely at my wonky rectangle around it – I just couldn’t get the edges straight no matter how hard I tried! All of the hardware I got seems really sturdy and high quality. It was so nice to be able to order something and not pay insane shipping fees for once since she’s located in Canada. You U.S. residents don’t know how lucky you are to not pay double for everything!

Grainline Portside Travel Set  Grainline Portside Travel Set

So, where am I going, you ask? On a road trip to Portland and San Francisco, and yes, there will be some fabric shopping! So I need some recommendations from any of you who live near there or have visited. Fabric stores? Yarn stores? Good vegetarian restaurants? Anything else that is definitely worth checking out? Please share!

Grainline Portside Travel Set

Summer is here!

I’m so behind on reading blogs! It’s really tough to keep up in the summer since I spend most of my spare time at the beach 🙂

I “drafted” this bikini last summer by holding the fabric against my body, taking some measurements, and then transferring them to paper. I’m not sure if this is a proper method, but stretch fabric is just so forgiving that I don’t think it really matters! I tweaked the pattern a bit for this year, but it’s very similar: ruching at the back, keyholes with ties at the sides of the bottoms and at the center of the top. I used Sophie’s method for the straps  – a brilliant method of keeping the seam line at the back of the strap. I didn’t make them detachable, though. The straps ended up being really sturdy! They passed the test of my two-year-old niece tugging on them – no flashing!

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I used white swimsuit fabric as lining since the lining fabric at my local chain store was crazy expensive and looked really cheap. I got both the lining and the outer fabric from The Fabric Fairy. I highly recommend them – this swim fabric feels high quality and the prices are low. Even their shipping prices to Canada are pretty reasonable if you order enough for several swimsuits at a time.

I wasn’t brave enough to model the practice swimsuit I made last year, but after seeing so many swimsuits popping up around the blogs, I had to join in! I decided to take the pictures from a distance and keep my face covered, though. That makes it okay, right? Ha!

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I thought this tree would be a perfect spot for a picture, but it was slippery and I almost fell in!

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Baby duckies!!!


Anima Pants

It’s been a while! I guess that’s the great thing about blogging as a hobby versus a job. If life gets busy, or I just don’t feel like posting, I don’t have to! I do have several pieces to share with you over the next week, so maybe I’m just a binge blogger. I disappear for a month and then inundate your reader with lots of posts. Sorry!

Anyway, I started June with Back to Basics week, but I ended up having no time to sew that week, and I think I am the slowest sewist of all time, so I extended it into Back to Basics month for myself. I only made a camisole (self-drafted), tank top (modified Renfrew with gathers at the neckline), and Anima Pants (all shown below). I know a lot of sewists could get that list done in a day, but hey, that’s my pace. I need to learn to accept that and stop comparing myself to others. Oh, and a bikini. I almost forgot about that one! That’s coming in the next post.

Onto the Anima Pants! These are seriously the coziest, comfiest pants I have ever worn. I am quickly becoming a Papercut addict.

anima pants papercut patterns

Pattern: Anima Pants by Papercut Patterns
Fabric: 100% organic cotton interlock
Size: XXS (true to size)
Modifications: none

I used a fairly thick cotton interlock with no stretch, and I’m happy with how they fit. The only problem is that the butt gets a bit baggy after wear because I used fabric with no recovery.

anima pants papercut patterns

anima pants papercut patterns

Not much else to say about these pants except that they are going to get worn a lot! I’m just not sure about the whole track pants as fashion thing. I will wear these around the house for sure, and most likely to go for a walk or do yoga, but probably not to the store. How do you feel about track pants beyond their activewear/loungewear purpose?

I still had fun styling them for the competition, though! It was like playing dress-up in my own closet. I can definitely see myself wearing them with a slouchy sweater or throwing on a scarf or hand-knit cowl or shawl to walk to yoga. I tried to keep it realistic to my life. I don’t wear heels with dresses, so I’m not about to wear them with track pants!

(Yes, those are my handmade shoes that now look about 10 years old, and no, I still haven’t fixed the soles or tried to clean them, but I can’t stop wearing them – they’re so comfy! Now I’m thinking maybe I should have put on nicer shoes for the photos. Oh well!)

anima pants papercut patterns

anima pants papercut patterns


Me-Made-May ’14: outfits + reflections

This year, Me-Made-May has been a real eye-opener. Technically, I met my pledge of 15 completely me-made outfits (posted on Instagram), and some definite patterns emerged. I learned that May has three types of days where I live: sunny & warm, cool & dry, cold & rainy. So I’ve broken down my outfits into those three categories.

Sunny & Warm

These days were easy! My Midsummer Night’s Dream dresses 1 and 2, Cascade skirt, Chardon skirt, and Belcarra blouse were the items I reached for first. I also have lots of RTW dresses that fit this category, so I’m definitely not lacking here. I made a linen Sorbetto with wave pleats which I’m not super happy with, and I wore my Hawthorn blouse and skirt, but I’m not happy with the fit of those either. My alpaca sweater was cozy on cooler mornings.

Also, I wore my handmade shoes a lot! Even though they look about 10 years old now because I never got around to fixing the glue issue and the wax coating seems to be a dirt magnet, they’re so, so comfy!


Cool & Dry

I wore my grey jersey maxi skirt several times (but only took one picture) with various Renfrews. I quickly realized that this is the perfect outfit for cool, dry weather. Maxi skirts are great for keeping the cold wind off my legs and they’re so comfy. So I made a second one out of some linen jersey I’ve been saving for a year and I love it! I just need maybe one more maxi skirt or dress plus a few jersey Belcarras which I think will look nicer with the maxis than the Renfrews.

I also wore my Field Study Hawthorne skirt and handmade shoes while foraging for wild asparagus. It worked perfectly! The blue cardigan is also hand-knit.


Cold & Rainy

I wore my Tiramisu dress with a hand-knit sweater, leggings (both my self-drafted early attempts and my Ooh La Leggings), four Renfrews (most are unblogged), and Minoru jacket. Also hand-knit socks, hat, and fingerless mitts.

That last picture is a Plantain tee (unblogged) that was way too tight through the shoulders, so I hacked off the sleeves and turned them into a band at the bottom. At least it’ll work for yoga now.


This is where my wardrobe is seriously lacking. On a cold and rainy day, all I want to do is wrap myself in cozy knits, but I can’t wear my maxi skirts because they’ll get wet. I ended up wearing leggings most of the time, but I don’t really feel comfortable going out in those, especially since I only have Renfrews to go with them, but most of them aren’t long enough for decency and I feel like a bit of a slob in these outfits (especially since I made the leggings out of non-stretch so the knees bag out). I think the Moneta dress or a jersey wrap dress would be great to fill this gap, but I don’t like wearing tights in the spring (maybe thigh-high socks that I can scrunch down or take off if the sun comes out?). Narrow leg pants could work, but if they’re not comfy enough to wear around the house I probably won’t end up wearing them. And if I make them out of a knit, do I really want to go out in sweatpants? I can’t seem to solve this problem. What do you wear on rainy days when you want to be comfy but not feel like a slob?


So, for Back to Basics week this week, here are the major gaps in my wardrobe:

– Slips, undershirts, and tank tops. I was way too dependent on RTW for these items since I don’t have any me-mades.

– Belcarra blouses, jersey and woven.

– Hoodie. Confession: I sort of cheated by wearing a RTW hoodie around the house when I was cold and didn’t feel like dealing with alpaca fluff everywhere. I have one RTW hoodie that is old, paint-splattered, and has sleeves that are about two inches too short, but I wear it almost every day because it’s all I have. This needs to be a priority.

– Rainy day clothing. I don’t think I’ll be doing anything about this soon because I have no plan. I need to collect inspiration first.

– Shoes. I really need to make another pair with the new soling I got so I don’t look like a homeless person. #cantstopwearingcomfyuglyshoes


So how did Me-Made-May go for you? Any shocking revelations? Or big plans for Back to Basics week to fill the gaps?


Cloud 9 with a silver lining

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Pattern: Midsummer Night’s Dream by Papercut Patterns
Fabric: 100% organic cotton – Cloud9 Palos Verdes Voile in Abalone Cove
Size: XXS
Modifications: Same as my first version, plus I lowered the back by 1″ and sewed down the ties to make double thin straps

This pattern is back again already! I’ve been wearing my first version a lot for Me-Made-May, so I decided to make a second one right away. Plus, it’s part of my Wardrobe Architect plans, so it’s practical 😉

I love the watercolour effect of this print. Pale orange and peach are not my best colours, but it’s just so pretty that I had to make a summer dress! It reminds me of my favourite dress that I had when I was three, my “bubble dress”, that had rainbow coloured bubbles all over it. This dress just makes me happy when I put it on!

I did french seams throughout because I love the clean finish, but I didn’t bother with print matching at all – I just don’t enjoy that like some people do!

Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress

Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress Cloud 9 Abalone Cove Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress  Papercut patterns Midsummer Night's Dream dress

Silver Lining shrug:

Yarn: 50% wool/50% silk Handmaiden Fine Yarn Lady Godiva in Smoke
Pattern: my own
Ravelry notes here

This yarn is so soft and has a gorgeous silvery sheen with warm golden tones to it when it catches the light. The pattern turned out more-or-less how I envisioned it: a bit slouchy and casual, but still a bit dressy too. It goes with pretty much everything, so it’s the perfect topper for spring and summer dresses on cooler mornings and evenings.

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Belcarra blouse & Cascade skirt

Belcarra blouse:

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

Pattern: Belcarra Blouse by Sewaholic
Fabric: Cotton/Silk blend from Fabricland
Size: 6 (see notes below)
Modifications: french seams, narrow 1/4″ hem, shortened neckline binding by 2 cm

I was so excited about this pattern when Tasia first announced it that I built my spring wardrobe plans around it. I love how light and airy it is, and how it manages to look casual and dressy at the same time. So versatile. It really is the missing piece in my wardrobe. I have so many orphan skirts in my closet that I never wear because I have nothing to go with them. Now I do!

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

I pretty much just sewed this one up as is with two minor modifications. The pattern suggests a 1 1/2″ hem, which I did at first, but it looked stiff and weird with my sheer fabric, and I had a hard time easing in the extra fabric (I’m so bad at that!), so I ripped it out and did a 1/4″ hem (folded up 1/4″ twice). I think it looks a lot better with the sheer, floaty fabric I used. I’ll probably mostly wear it tucked in anyway, but I like to know I have the option of wearing it untucked.

The other change was to shorten the neckline binding by 2 cm. Again, I was having a hard time easing in the fabric, so I just chopped off the excess and treated it like bias binding. Next time I think I will just use bias binding and trim the neckline seam allowances to 1/4″ since I think the large seam allowance was what gave me trouble.

Normally with Sewaholic patterns I cut a size 6 on top and grade to a 0 in the waist and hips (since I’m not pear-shaped), but this time I decided to cut a straight 6 because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get it over my broad shoulders. I’m glad I did because I don’t think any smaller would be comfortable to put on. But I think there might be a bit too much fabric around the hips, so I might grade the next one just at the hips and leave the waist at a 6. I can’t decide if the extra volume at the hips looks weird or visually balances out my shoulders. What do you think? Honest opinions, please! I plan on making a lot of these, so I want to get it right.

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

I did french seams throughout, but attaching the sleeve cuffs was a bit tricky to do with all of the angles. I think it worked out reasonably well in the end.

Sewaholic Belcarra blouse

Cascade skirt:

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

Pattern: Cascade skirt by Megan Nielsen
Fabric: 100% cotton voile (Valori Wells Cocoon Shine in aqua)
Size: XS
Modifications: moved the button hole to the side seam

This one is also going to be a wardrobe staple for me. It’s the perfect summer skirt for going to the beach in. The smallest size is still 1.5″ too big for me, but I figured it wouldn’t really make a difference since it’s a wrap skirt. I just moved the buttonhole over to the side seam, and the fit is great.

This is my first time using a Megan Nielsen pattern, and I have to say, I love it! I got one of the last paper patterns, which is sad because they come with a cute little booklet, and the patterns are printed on sturdy paper, so they’re great for remakes. Unfortunately, since PDFs drive me crazy (how do you store a mass of taped up sheets?!) and since I don’t quite make their size chart, I probably won’t be making many more, but I will be making lots of this pattern!

The only thing I don’t like about this skirt is how it looks stiff and awkward at the back. I think it’s because of the fabric. I was so excited when the quilting cotton makers started manufacturing lighter weight fabrics because I thought they would be perfect for clothing, but I don’t think they quite work for the flowy, drapey styles I like. Even the organic ones have a crispness that doesn’t work for certain styles. I just spent all day yesterday making a gathered maxi skirt out of Cloud 9’s Palos Verdes voile and it was a total disaster. It looks ridiculous, and I will not be posting pictures! I think I may have to start sewing with silk and dyeing it myself…

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

So stiff and awkward from the back

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

Nice and drapey from the front