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?

Wardrobe Architect – Spring 2014

I’ve really enjoyed following along with the Wardrobe Architect series, developing a more coherent wardrobe plan, and seeing what everyone is planning for their own wardrobes, so I thought I’d share my plans with you!

Warning: this is a bit of a long post! I decided to put the entire series in one spot rather than doing each week separately. Feel free to skip over the text and just look at the pictures 😉

wardrobe architect colour palette

Colour Palette: I didn’t bother narrowing it down to a smaller subset because I like too many colours!

Climate/Weather: Spring is a tough season to dress for in the Okanagan (B.C., Canada). It can be really cold one day and really warm the next, not to mention the variability in one day. When I first moved here, I couldn’t believe it could actually be sunny and raining at the same time. It’s usually cold in the morning, nice in the afternoon, and then cold again in the evening (even in the summer because of the semi-desert climate), so layers are key. Because of this, I’ve decided to do two options for each outfit: one for when it’s warm, and then a layering option.

Lifestyle: I work from home, so that means I can wear whatever I want, but it also means I usually end up in sweatpants because they’re comfy when really I love wearing pretty dresses. So what I need is something to bridge the gap. Comfortable enough that I’ll actually wear it, but nice enough to wear out of the house.

Style: After doing all of the exercises and looking at lots of pictures, I think I would describe my ideal style as “elegant winter boho”. I love loose, flowing dresses, bright colours and prints, retro style fit-and-flare dresses, but I live in a climate that only allows me to wear these things for two or three months out of the year, so somehow I have to combine them with warmer layers to make it work. It’s a bit of a challenge!


wardrobe architect spring 2014

wardrobe architect spring 2014

wardrobe architect spring 2014

I think all three layering pieces are versatile enough to mix and match with most of the outfits – bonus!

I felt I needed a separate plan for yoga/workout wear. I’ve been obsessed with these Isabel Marant harem pants ever since I saw Morgan’s version. I love the relaxed/boho vibe and the fact that they’re not skin-tight like every other pair of yoga pants.

wardrobe architect spring 2014

Links to original sources on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board.

The pieces I need to make, in order of importance (I really need to focus on the active-wear first since I have almost nothing!):

– 1 pair of charcoal lace-up ballet flats. Pattern: modified uku2 ballet flats
– 5 pairs of harem pants in a variety of colours. Pattern: I’m planning on drafting my own (unless anyone knows of a good pattern? I couldn’t find one), and block printing them with blocks from maiwa.
– 5 tank tops. Pattern: I’m planning on drafting my own or copying a RTW tank.
– 5 slouchy tees, cream/undyed. Pattern: Belcarra blouse in jersey. I can’t wait for this pattern to be released!
– 1 hoodie, probably cream/undyed fleece. Pattern: Avocado hoodie (The pattern calls for stretchy fabric, so I’m not sure if this will work).

And if I have any time left in spring after making my active-wear wardrobe, I’d like to make the following:

– 3 short-sleeve blouses, cream. Pattern: Belcarra blouse in a woven.
– 2 maxi skirts, turquoise and citrus print. Pattern: basic rectangle with elastic waist.
– 1 pair of ballet flats in either turquoise or charcoal, I can’t decide. Pattern: modified uku2 ballet flats
– 2 wrap dresses, one in coral (just finished, soon to be blogged), one in citrus print. Pattern: Midsummer Night’s Dream.
– 1 slip, cream. Pattern: Cinnamon.
– 1 jacket, sweatshirt fleece, dyed indigo. Pattern: Pavot
– 2 pairs of slouchy pants. Pattern: I haven’t found one I like yet (not too sloppy, not too fitted), so this is unlikely to happen until I learn drafting!

Items I already have: Cozy alpaca sweater and grey shrug (just finished and soon to be blogged). I also have lots of skirts, but no tops to go with them, so just making a few Belcarra blouses will instantly increase my outfit options with pieces I already have.

Whew! That’s a bit of a long list! Considering my sewing speed, this is probably a bit unrealistic, but most of the pieces seem quick and easy, so maybe I’ll get more of them done than I think.

Have you been following the Wardrobe Architect series? If you’ve posted about it on your blog, pinterest, or wherever, leave me a link. I love looking at other people’s styles!

Shoes: second attempt

After my first attempt at making shoes, I wanted to try a different pattern to see what else I could learn.

Shoeology Everyday Loafers

Pattern: Everyday Loafers by Shoeology
Size: 9
outer: 100% organic cotton canvas, lining: some kind of quilting cotton, buttons: coconut, inserts: 100% wool felt
Modifications: none

This time I followed the instructions and sewed up one practice shoe without interfacing, and I liked it, so I made another. The square toe fits my weirdly square feet perfectly, so I didn’t need to do any modifications this time.

The construction of this one is different than my last pair. Instead of a full lining, the lining and the outer are both sewn to the sole, and then a removable insert is used to cover the bottom. The instructions say to buy an insert and then spray glue fabric to it, but I made my inserts out of two layers of wool felt and stitched a layer of lining fabric on top to match. I don’t like how the unfinished edges are slightly visible with this method, but I like the removable inserts, so I think I’ll combine the two methods for my next pair.

Shoeology Everyday Loafers

Shoeology Everyday Loafers

These are super comfy, and I’ve been wearing them around the house non-stop, so I think I’ll consider these a successful pair of slippers, and a solid step towards wearable shoes!

Shoeology Everyday Loafers

And now a review and comparison/contrast of the two patterns for anyone who might be considering making shoes (or even just slippers):

Shoeology Everyday Loafers: The instructions on this pattern are not as detailed as the uku2 pattern (especially in terms of fit), but if you’re looking for a quick slipper pattern, the lack of extra detail could be a good thing. If you have square toes like me, they will probably fit without any modifications, so that’s a plus for some people. These fit a bit larger than the uku2 ones, so the fit is better with socks. Great pattern for a first pair.

uku2 Round Toe Slippers: The instructions are amazing and detailed. You can really tell she did her research, and if you want to get into the finer details of fitting, this pattern is great. She talks about the importance of accurate stitching, and it was a bit overwhelming at first because I thought any small mistake would wreck my slippers, but that’s really not the case. This pattern is great for taking slipper-making to the next level, and really perfecting it.

Overall, I’m glad I bought both patterns since I will be combining techniques from both, and maybe even using both patterns for future pairs. I think I’m ready to try making a real pair with outdoor soles next!

Shoeology Everyday Loafers


Ooh la leggings

I almost didn’t post this (who wants pictures of themselves in leggings all over the internet?), but there aren’t very many reviews of this pattern, so I decided to just do it and crop out my face – that makes it okay, right? 😉

First of all, let me just say that leggings are not the “easiest thing you can sew” as some people claim. This was an epic fit battle that started with me trying to draft my own pattern following various tutorials online. There was bunching and pulling and pinching of all kinds, and it wasn’t pretty. I had no idea leggings could actually be more uncomfortable than pants, but I managed to make some that were!

As one last shot, I decided to try Papercut’s Ooh La Leggings, and they fit (almost) perfectly right out of the envelope! I was ecstatic! For my first pair (navy, below), I used 100% organic cotton interlock with no stretch and they were just right. I was worried they would be too big since some other reviewers mentioned that, but I guess fabric choice has a lot to do with it. I was also expecting them to be too high around the waist, and extra loose there because of the positive ease (weird for leggings), but the top is almost 3″ below my natural waist, which cancels out the extra fabric because it sits on my hips. So I guess I was just lucky those factors happened to cancel out on me! Also, I didn’t find them too long like some people mentioned, but this could be because my fabric is not vertically stretchy. I’m 5’7″ by the way.

The only things I changed for my second pair were to take out a tiny bit of the front sides to make the side seam more vertical (it was leaning toward the back), and I lowered the front by 1″ to make it level with the back). Modifications pictured below. I made the second pair out of 100% wool interlock (again, no stretch) from Nature’s Fabrics. Described as “taupe”, but in reality the colour kind of reminds me of a hundred-year-old teddy bear – not a pretty brown. But at least they’re warm!

Okay, time for pictures. I hope this helps someone who might be thinking of making these! Sorry for the VPL. I made size XXS, which matched my measurements, and I used a twin needle to top-stitch all the seams.

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Papercut Patterns Ooh la leggings

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Papercut Patterns Ooh La Leggings

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It’s been a year already!

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I started sewing again (and blogging)! I was going to do some sort of reflection post with the best, worst, and most worn items like some bloggers do, but then I realized that I am the slowest seamstress of all time. I’ve hardly made anything! And I haven’t really blogged much either… but that doesn’t mean I don’t really enjoy being a part of this wonderful sewing community. I’m so grateful to be a member (albeit more lurker than active participant) of the most supportive and creative group online, and I’ve learned so much from all of you, so thank you for sharing all of the nitty gritty details of your projects – it’s so inspiring!

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Goals for the next year:

1.  Sew items that fit my actual life, not my imaginary life. The Wardrobe Architect Project is really helping me plan out a strategy, so I’ll share that with you soon. (You can sneak a peek at my moodboard on Pinterest). I’ve really enjoyed looking at what everyone else is planning for theirs!

2.  Learn draping and/or pattern drafting. So much freedom to create anything I can imagine. I need to let the ideas out so my head doesn’t explode!

3.  Experiment with dyeing and painting fabrics. Again, so many possibilities!


Looking back over the past year, I realized that I haven’t really bought any new clothes. One pair of winter boots and a ski jacket, both much-needed. That’s it. Buying clothes used to be my favourite pastime, but now I don’t miss it at all. Every time I’m tempted, I think about the awful factory conditions and environmental impact, and I think, “I could make that – out of organic cotton!”


So, I’ve decided to keep it going and take the Seamless Pledge to not buy any new clothes for the next year. I desperately need some yoga/workout clothing, but I’m going to make that a priority over the next month and keep wearing my ratty old stuff in the meantime.

photo mmay13logo_zps623f9147.jpg

Me-Made-May is back! I’m so excited about this year even though I still don’t have very many items. But that’s not going to stop me from making super-ambitious goals!

‘I, Chantal of A Handmade Wardrobe, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear an entirely handmade outfit for 15 days of May 2014’

I’m even hoping to have a wearable pair of shoes in time for May 🙂 Repeats are okay, though. I’m not one of those people who is bothered by wearing the same outfit twice in a month. A weekly rotation seems about right for me.

This year, I’m just going to post outfit pictures once at the end of the month, but I’ll probably post pictures to Instagram. I joined a few months ago but didn’t really do anything with it. I’m hoping it will be good for posting in-progress pictures when I want to share but I’m feeling too lazy to blog. Do you use Instagram? If you do, do you find that it adds to your experience, or is it just another thing to keep up with?

Alpaca Hugs

Alpaca Sweater

Yarn: 100% Alpaca
Pattern: my own
Ravelry notes here

I think this is my favourite sweater ever. It’s so warm and cozy. I’m always cold, and this sweater makes winter almost bearable. I’ve worn it every day since I finished it last week, and I’m dreading the day when it needs to be washed!

The construction is seamless from the top down with cables running along the raglan sleeves, and joining up at the side seams.

Not much else to say about this one except that I want to make another!

Alpaca Sweater

Alpaca Sweater

Alpaca Sweater

Alpaca Sweater

Alpaca Sweater

Alpaca Sweater