Thursday, 17 July 2014

Look mom, no hem!

I made this silk dress for a wedding we're going to in Spain.  If you look closely you might notice that something is missing...

Have you spotted it?  A hemline without a seam!  I don't know about you, but sewing a hem is probably my least favourite part of the sewing process, especially when I'm using delicate fabrics like silk. It drives me crazy.

My hubby, knowing my hang-up, got to talking to someone who laser cuts all kinds of materials and hey-presto, I have a silk dress and I don't have to stitch the hem!

Now if only he could find me some fairies who fit and insert center back zips...

Happy week-end x

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Travel Skirt

I really wish I could take credit for this one.
A couple of summers ago at home in Canada I experienced a bit of sewing serendipity.   I was in Fabricland admiring a bolt of bright flowered fabric, when an elegantly dressed "grand-mรจre" next to me (think the French Canadian version of Anne from the first series of Sewing Bee) started talking to me (in French) about the qualities of the brightly bloomed fabric.  Most importantly, she thought, it was the perfect match for a skirt she just finished sewing, and pulled out from her purse a compact bundle of accordion folded fabric.
I watched in awe as mon amie carefully unfolded each panel to reveal a knife pleated linen skirt and (still oblivious to the fact that I was not bilingual) went on to excitedly list the merits of the pattern.  I used my best Grade 12 french, along with some arm and leg gestures, to learn this clever little skirt was ideal for traveling:  it folds up neatly in a suitcase, doesn't take a lot of space, resists wrinkling, is light and cool in the summer heat but slightly structured with a bit of "je ne sais quoi" about it which, of course, would look perfect with the aforementioned fabric (the flowered fabric is too loud for a dress, mon amie insisted, but would make a great blouse.  I wonder if she would approve of what it became!)
 The image of  my elegant friend and the enthusiastic way she talked about the pattern stayed with me for a long while until earlier this year I finally sat down and, with an exhaustive Google keyword search, discovered the pattern:
It turns out the pattern was designed by the talented and accomplished Kathryn Brenne of the Academy of Sewing and Design who, I also discovered to my delight, lives a not far from my hometown - which makes it all the more special to me.  (See Kathryn's profile in The Guardian, here)
The Travel Skirt was easy and super satisfying to sew and simple to modify to your size, made up of a number of panels.  I just added an extra panel to get a perfect fit.
Whether you're far from home for a short or a long while, crossing cultures or crossing a canal on a slow boat, I think every seamstress needs a Travel Skirt in her wardrobe.
Bon Voyage!

Friday, 20 June 2014

the eve of summer

If you're looking for a quick sewing project this week-end to officially welcome in the northern hemisphere summer, why not try this pattern shared on Burdastyle by member ginasophia, and originally from the Japanese pattern book Nonchalant Feminine Style by Sasahara Noriko.
 I loved ginasophia's crisp white sleeveless version so much I made mine exactly the same, with the help of some soft oxford shirting from Ray-Stitch 

 Happy summer and happy sewing!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

cutting corners tutorial

Hello everyone!
Here's a quick tutorial I put together before the Big Move and never had a chance to post.  It's a how-to on sewing corner pieces together - have you tried this?  
I didn't even realise that I didn't know how to sew corners like this, until I sewed myself into one  (more mentally, than physically) and was rescued by a brilliant sewing instructor who showed me the way out of my right-angle traffic jam... and then the possibilities opened up.
 For this tutorial, Fabric 1 is the flowered fabric and Fabric 2 is the pink fabric.
See diagram below:
*Lay Fabric 2 face down on top of Fabric 1 (right sides together).  
*Match the edges of the first seam you are going to sew. (Here, the top edge of Fabric 1)  
*Stitch down the length of your first steam and stop at a pivot point, where the two corners diverge
*When you get to the pivot point, drop your needle in the fabric and lift your sewing machine foot.
*With scissors, snip the top fabric only (Fabric 2) close to the needle, but not all the way through to the needle.  
*Pivot both pieces of fabric clockwise 90 degrees, so that the second stitch line is in sewing position.  Open the top fabric (Fabric 2 - the one you just snipped) and pull it around clockwise so that it matches the edge of Fabric 1.
Don't overthink this -- as my wise sewing instructor said, "it will be obvious!"
*Sew down the length of the second seam.
It's really worth practicing this a few times before you try this on your favourite fabric.  
I got a little impatient on this blouse and didn't do a few practice runs first...with this there's really no going back!
This is a handy little trick when you have two pieces of fabric, neither big enough to be a blouse on their own.  Simply draw seamlines onto an existing pattern, add seam allowances and stitch together as above.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

the tide is high but I'm holding on...

Everyone, thank you for bearing with me.  As you might have noticed I've taken an longer than expected break from my blog.  I suppose when sewing is part of your life, there are natural ebbs and flows, but this has been a rather big ebb!

At the end of last year my hubby and I moved into our first new home together, and while we've spent the week-ends since working on making it feel like ours, my poor old Singer hasn't even seen the light of day, and I've missed so much of what's happening out there.  On the plus side, we now have the essentials - seating (yay!), built-in closets (storage, wahoo!).  It's finally starting to feel liveable!  

Naturally, I can't wait to finally cover it in thread and fabric scraps.

In the meantime, the emails and garden party dresses keep coming! I am completely wowed.  Here are a couple for you to admire:

April at Modern Homemade

I'm happy to say, I am off to turn some green cotton into a spring dress.  I swear.
Happy Sewing x

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Stripes

Hello there, it's been a while!
I didn't mean to be offline for so long, caught up in a whirlwind family visit and a move to a new flat (my sewing machine surived, thank goodness) and everything that comes with the build up to Christmas.  This blouse was supposed to be my entry in le Challenge way back in November, but I couldn't finish the hem in time to post it and so it's been living in a moving box till now.  Embarassingly late, but here it is!
 Another reason to post now comes from an email sent to me from a reader named Heather.  I stick to sewing related stuff on this blog but Heather's email hit close to my heart.  Heather was diagnosed with the same disease, mesothelomia, that I lost my father to a few years ago. Both were exposed to asbestos in their younger years. 
If you know it, you know that this diagnosis doesn't leave much room for hope, which makes Heather's story all the more amazing because she's been cancer free for 8 years.  You can read more here.

To help raise awareness, Heather has asked me and other bloggers to name something we're grateful for.  My Dad was always full of life, the soul of the party and loved to celebrate. In the spirit of this, I'm grateful the New Year, new starts, new stripes.

Happy New Year.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Peplum no. 2

Thank you for all of your nice comments on my first sounds like I'm not the only one with peplum trepidation!  
I'm just back from a family trip to Ireland to visit my husband and brother-in-law's sides.  (A sweet coincidence, my sister and I both married Irish guys.) Sure enough, it rained but it was cozy and we had moments of sunshine, and to be honest a small part of me looks forward to this weather...forced hibernation/sewing time!
Me, my mom and my niece playing in the Irish Sea 
 So anyway, here's number 2, a more prim version inspired by this Goat dress I spotted in a posh department store, when taking the long way to the tube after work one night.  I fell in love with the colour and the front pleats (but not the price tag), and remembered that I had a metre of red wool gabardine left over from my gathered dart skirt and tutorial.   So with my patternmaster and trusty blocks I was able to create something like it (take that, posh department store)!
Like my last peplum, a metre of fabric was only just about enough.  I would have liked the sleeves to be a little bit longer, only about an inch or so.  Maybe I'll replace them if I get hold of this fabric again....maybe not.

Here it is with the matching red gabardine skirt.  
A couple of things I learned --
- I splurged on some really soft red silk to line the peplum, but it wasn't happening.  Even the fine silk was bulky enough to throw off the symmetry between the bodice and the peplum.  I ended up using bias tape on the seams, because I wanted a crisp and neat finish on the hem and side seams...

- ...but this gave the peplum too much body, which I loved at first, but it caused the folds of fabric to flip inside out.  To remedy this, I pressed a seam on the inside of the folds and let the outsides curve naturally.
Safe to say I've got peplums out of my system for now.
Hope everyone is keeping warm, happy sewing!