Category Archives: 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!

20140626_175736 (800x790)

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!

1 (800x702)

2 (800x600)

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

3 (800x600)

4 (777x800)

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


Cloud 9 with a silver lining

IMG_5618 (533x800)

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.

IMG_5615 (533x800)

IMG_5611 (533x800)

IMG_5626 (533x800)

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

Shoes: third attempt – so close, yet so far!

handmade shoes

After my first and second practice pairs (aka slippers), I thought I was ready for the real deal. Everything was going so well. I spent lots of time adjusting the fit and making sure everything was right, and I was really happy with this pair until I tried to glue the soles on. I don’t know if it was the rubber soles I used or the “eco” low-VOC contact cement, but the soles just refused to stick to the shoes – so disappointing!

I followed all the instructions for the contact cement: the temperature was above 18 degrees C (it was a gorgeous 28 degree day!), the humidity was low, and I waited 60 minutes for it to dry, but it just wouldn’t dry. So I tried sticking one shoe on, and it peeled right off of the rubber! So I left the other one to dry overnight and tried again, and the same thing happened. The glue just peels right off the rubber even though the bottle says that it sticks to rubber. If you have any experience with contact cement, or any ideas on how I can fix these, please share!

handmade shoes

handmade shoes

You can see where the rubber sole is peeling off the shoe 😦

20140502_201706 (800x600)20140502_201718 (600x800)  handmade shoes

Pattern: Round toe strapless slippers by uku2
Fabric: outer 100% organic cotton twill, waxed with Otter Wax lining 100% organic quilting cotton (Passing Clouds by Cloud9)
Soles: 3/8″ Rubber Soling Material  and LePage Low VOC Contact Cement (I followed this tutorial for applying the soles)
Size: 9
Fit Modifications: Rounded the toe to accommodate my square feet, pinched out 1 cm from top of heel, removed 0.5 cm from bottom of side heel to compensate for removed heel padding
Construction Modifications: Used canvas interfacing, omitted glue and heel interfacing, added removable insoles
Style Modifications: Cut out more of the upper near the toes, added straps to the toe, added a tab to the back heel with a loop

The upside is that these are by far the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn, so as long as the soles don’t completely fall off, I will actually wear them!

I decided to try waxing them since it’s spring (photo below shows the shoes after waxing). The waxing process was surprisingly easy, but I haven’t had a chance to test them out in wet grass or puddles yet, so I’ll report back later on how effective it is.

handmade shoes

For my next pair, I ordered some different soling material (from here) that gets sewn in instead of glued on, so I’ll give shoes another try when the new soles arrive. Unfortunately, this pattern is designed with part of the uppers wrapping around to the bottom, which means I need to make some major modifications to the pattern, or draft my own, to use the sew-in soling. It’s quite a process, but I’m not giving up yet!


Spring blossoms dress

Can I just say how much I love this dress? It was meant to be a wearable muslin because I was having second thoughts about the fabric, but now that it’s finished I want to wear it all the time! It’s comfortable and casual, yet fun and flirty, loose and flowy, but fitted in all the right places. Perfect for spring and summer bike rides, picnics, and going to the beach!

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

Pattern: Midsummer Night’s Dream by Papercut Patterns (I almost passed this one over because of the, um, “odd” spelling. I’m not sure what that’s about, but I refuse to copy it!)
Fabric: Valori Wells, Wish, Treasure – Tolerance from Pink Chalk Fabrics
Size: XXS
Modifications: Shortened the front and sides by 2″ and the back by 4″ (to make the hem even), gathered the top sides (removing 3″ on each side)

This dress was so close to becoming completely unwearable because of major gaping on the sides. I’m not just talking a bit of side-boob. You could see everything if you were standing in the right spot! After a bit of fiddling, I figured out what the problem was: my long torso, as usual! As an experiment, I adjusted the straps to look like they do on the model, so they would lie on the flatter part of the upper chest, and the waist ties came to my under bust line – that is one long upper torso I have, ha ha!

Obviously, I couldn’t wear it like that, so I had to come up with another solution. I put the waist ties back down to my actual waist, and pinched out the excess (3″!) in the form of gathers to get it to lie flat. I actually quite like the soft gathers over the bust, even better than the original, so I plan to do this for future versions too. The only problem was unpicking the bias binding and trying to reattach it after it had been trimmed. It looks a little messy up close!

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

I messed up on the pattern placement, so the flowers are pointing down, and I didn’t even try to match the print. I don’t think it’s really possible to match at the back seam anyway because the edges are on an angle facing opposite directions. I’m not a huge fan of centre back seams in general, but I don’t think it’s too noticeable.

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

Finished with french seams throughout, and it’s a little wrinkly after wearing!

Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

Awkward arms! Modelling does not seem to come naturally to me, ha ha!

I’m just not sure how I feel about the shoulder ties. Too cutesy? I think I might do regular straps for my next version. What do you think?