Sewing

Carnage and Destruction

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For 3 or 4 weeks now, Honeybee and I have been living in complete chaos in the house because I decided to undertake a major project – painting the kitchen. This may seem like a menial task for some of you, but I can assure you that we have experienced anything but. Thing is, our kitchen isn’t very big but it’s packed, the cabinets are painted and the entire room is nothing but corners, trim and moldings (ceiling included!). Add to that the fact that we just bought a giant 80” long kitchen table and that I opted for a 3 color scheme for the walls&ceiling and you’ll quickly understand it was simply impossible to paint everything at once so I’ve had to proceed in sections, moving the furniture and the stuff as I go so it’s been slow but steady progress in the last few weeks. I still have to paint the cabinets but things are working out fine, and I’m really excited to see it come together.

Since we’ve been painting quite a bit at home recently (we’re on our third room being painted since this fall) my craft room has been doubling as a storage room for quite some time now, so we could get the furniture out of the way while we were working on the other rooms. Since things are finally starting to clear up a bit, I’ve had a chance to tidy things around in this room for the first time in months, and I took this opportunity to use up some small fabric remnants or finish projects I started a very long time ago.

Among other things, I made a cute baby wrap for a friend who recently gave birth

Baby wrap

There’s also a cute little lunch bag  with a bee cotton print and a large, reversible tote bag made using the Kwik Sew pattern K3700 and some remnants I had in stash. This tote has a really nice shape and feels nice on the shoulders, and the pattern is actually really cool because it provides instructions to build these bags directly on a serger, both with apparent and hidden seams.

Bags

I also made a couple new placemats to fit into the new kitchen and the fabric might give you a hint as to which color I’ve used to paint a portion of the walls. I’ve actually had the fabric cut and prepped for those placemats for so many years now because it was left over from a set I made for my dad and his wife. I made them a set of 6, but there was fabric left over for 2 more placemats, that I never sew together because I didn’t want to offer someone an incomplete set. Since there’s only me and my husband at home right now though, I figured I might as well give it a shot, especially since the leafy green fabric is so pretty!

Placemats

Well that’s it for now folks, wish you all a fun-filled summer 🙂

More Dresses. Really?

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Well, ok… I guess I’ve been re-garnishing my wardrobe lately. I added three fun dresses to my wardrobe in the past few weeks, and here they are.

New dresses

The two sleeveless ones were made using the same princess bodice & circle skirt I have used before from Tanya Whelan’s “Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time”.

The third one, in a black & white abstract print, is a copy from a dress I bought many moons ago and liked very much. I carefully un-stitched the original dress, drew the pattern out then reassembled it.

The dress I made using the drawn pieces is very much like the original, I only made two small little changes. First I removed the belt loops that were on either side because I do not intend to wear this dress with a belt, then I swapped the original 6 panel skirt for a circle skirt. Although the skirt is a little shorter than what I usually wear, I am very happy with the result. Hurray!

Twist Recap

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Last weekend, I went to Twist Festival in St-André-Avelin, QC. For those who have never heard of it, Twist is actually one of the biggest fiber festival in Canada, with more than a hundred vendors, workshops and conferences in both French and English given by masters of their arts from across the country and sometimes beyond. It’s guaranteed to be good fun for every fiber artist, as almost every fiber craft was represented – spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, hand dyeing, sewing, quilting, felting; there really was a little something for everybody.

As any obsessive-compulsive knitter would, I made it a point to wear one of my hand knit sweater to the event (namely here my Golden Afternoon sweater) and I got quite a few compliments from total strangers, so that was cool.

I was also able to visit all my favorite kiosques (Pompon, la Julie Factrie, Artfil and The Blue Brick were all there, so lucky!) and I got to meet and chat with a lot of nice people from guilds or businesses I previously didn’t know of, so that was really awesome.

My new crushes:
Doudoulab. Annie creates beautiful rag dolls and plushies from new or recycled fabric and can even customize them for your child. That’s so cute!

Montreal Modern Quilt Guild. I totally didn’t know we had quilt guilds in Quebec. This is awesome, and now that I know they exist, I will make it a point to go see their quilt show (and maybe try to infiltrate their ranks). I also got to chat with Stacy & Betsy from Craft de Ville, who sell online various sewing and quilting and embroidery supplies.

La Vie en Bleu. This cute couple from Guadeloupe had a natural dye kiosque where they sold hand dyed tapestries, bags, scarves and clothes, all using indigo natural dyes and hammered leaf and flower patterns. They don’t currently have workshops, but they do plan on offering some starting in 2017. I really can’t wait!

My purchases:
6 skeins of limited edition 100% silk hand painted yarn from Artfil
4oz of a squishy Zenitude Fiber Arts Merino/Tencel roving from Lonely Oak Alpacas
A gorgeous felted hat with button from Arpents vert Alpaca

Photo 16-08-23 07 35 00

My own creations:
I signed up to a hand dyeing class with the always cheerful Julie Asselin, and as we were all chatting happily we practiced our hand dyeing skills on a silk handkerchief and a skein of her scrumptious Piccolo sock yarn. That’s what I came up with:

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Any of you plan on visiting a fiber festival soon?

Sewing obsession

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Yep, I guess that’s what’s going on. I’ve made 3 dresses in the past couple weeks and I’ve been cataloging, sorting and organizing my fabric, notions and patterns like a mad person so I guess that sounds about right. And you know what started it all? This one little blog post I stumbled upon written by Charity from The Daring Domestic.

Now I know, it’s nothing new… This article was posted a couple years ago, but it’s very new to me. You see, I’ve been looking for a long time for a way to categorize and easily access my ever growing sewing pattern stash without having to go through boxes and boxes of stuff every time. I needed a tool to help me categorize my patterns with pictures and tags to be able to more efficiently find what I’m looking for and know where it is.

The solution Charity suggested was: Evernote.

This is something I honestly never would have thought of on my own and I was a little skeptical at first, but I decided to give it a try since my first few attempts at cataloging my patterns have been utter failures. I checked it out, tried a couple things and Man, oh man! I think this is it. Not only is it free AND accessible from any device anywhere, it’s also got everything I need – tags, pictures, written information and also a shortcut tool to make things even easier. Let me show you what I’m talking about.

FotorCreated2

In Evernote, you can create “notebooks”, in which you can add several “notes”. In each note, you can write a title, type in the text you want, add pictures and add specific tags. I created a notebook for every pattern company I own patterns from, then, in each notebook, I created a “note” for each pattern I have, labeling them with the company and the pattern number. In the notes section, I wrote down the size I have, the date of purchase, the price, the difficulty and a short description then added a picture of the front – I will also add a picture of the back when I get a chance to be able to access the yardage requirements on the go. Once my stash will be physically organized and classified in boxes, I will also add the physical location of each pattern (ex. Box B-1).

There’s virtually no limit to the information you can add in there, so one could also use it to write down the mods or changes they made to the pattern, the fabric they plan on using or things they want to remember for the next time they use that pattern.

FotorCreated

Once the patterns are entered and all the appropriate tags entered, you can search through your notes using the tag function, and that’s what’s so cool about this system – let me explain first for the neophytes. Most people I know organize their sewing patterns by type – dresses together, pants together, etc., that way, when you’re looking something you want to make, it’s easier to narrow it down. But a lot of patterns contain more than one garment in them – separates or coordinates can have all in one a skirt, a dress, a pair of pants, a top and a jacket. And since your physical copy of the pattern can only be stored in one place (unless you have many copies of the same), it can’t possibly be in all those categories at once, so you might miss out on it or forget about it altogether. Reversely, it can also be hard to find said pattern if you don’t remember what category you stored it in. By using tags, you can tag a pattern as “coordinates”, but also enter a tag for all the specific garments it contains, like “dress”, “pants” or “jacket”. That way, if you search using the tag “dress”, your coordinates pattern that include a dress will show up with all the other dress patterns in the search results. Now THAT’S what I call efficiency.

There’s also a really nice feature called “Shortcut” that I find pretty neet. Basically, by clicking on a little star in the top corner of a note, you can link it to your shortcut page. It creates a list of the patterns you link, that you can use as a “To Do” list, or a queue if you will. That way, you never loose track of the projects you want to do next, and you can add information into your note regarding the fabric you want to use, the person you want to make it for or the mods you plan on making.

So, how do you guys organize your stuff?

Sew it up!

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Yep, I noticed last week that I haven’t been sewing much lately other than small clothing repairs, and it made me realize how much I’ve been missing that free creative feeling I get when I chose a pattern, a fabric, imagine the multiple possibilities and make it my own. So over the weekend, I scanned through my bookcase, opened Tanya Whelan’s “Sew Many Dresses, sew little time” book I bought last winter and excitedly started a new project.

SewMany-Dresses

For someone like me who’s 100% self-taught, this book is gold. Not only does it provide clear instructions and patterns for many different dresses’s bodices, skirts, collars and sleeves that you can mix and match to taste, the author also included sound information on fabric types along with several useful tips and tricks on how (and why!) make a muslin, fit a pattern and make different variations for a different look every time.

I’m very, very satisfied by the style and fit of the dress I made, but what matters to me even more is that what I learnt while making this dress is absolutely invaluable dressmaking knowledge that will help me in years to come to perfect my sewing skills and become better at what I do. I will definitely make many, many more dresses using the patterns and instructions provided in this book and, if you guys want to see them, I will happily share my adventures with you here in the future.

Happy stitchin’ guys! 🙂

Dress

Fashion issues

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Today I’ll put the yarn and needles aside to talk to you about something a little more serious. I recently read an article posted by fellow knitter and blogger Lauren, from lollyknits.com on the clothing and fashion industry and I felt like I had a lot to say on the topic, so I decided to post a little something of my own to fully express my views on the subject.

More and more now people present themselves as self-esteem advocates celebrating different women’s body types and shapes, it’s a “trend” that’s catching on rapidly, as we see more people criticizing unrealistic beauty standards presented on television and in magazines. The fashion industry though has been notably undisturbed by it all, sticking to their tried-and-true recipes oriented towards perfect presentation and perfect bodies. Although some companies have decided to accommodate different body types by using a wider range of models, some companies simply refuse to hop the wagon, and continue to ignore the pleas of the public for clothes designed for “real” people.

My take on this is that we can (and should) pressure the fashion industry to make and market clothes that are designed for real women’s bodies, but I think we also have to realize as a society that there is only so much adaptation you can do with mass-produced clothing.

What I mean by that is that there is a lot of different body types in this world. Don’t blindly believe you can only be a “pear shape” or an “hourglass shape” – reality is far more complex than that. Partly due to your genetical baggage, your lifestyle, habits and hobbies, your body can present an astonishing number of features that can vary from one individual to the other. Some are tall, some others are short, some are rounder, or thinner, some others are curvier, some have a long torso and short legs, some others have long legs and a short torso, some have broad shoulders and a long neck, or narrow shoulders but long arms – there’s an infinite amount of possible combinations, and it makes it so that every woman’s body is unique.

With so much variety when it comes to body shapes, how can we expect mass produced garments to fit all of them equally as good? It’s impossible. And this is exactly why so many women struggle to find clothes that fit. There is nothing wrong with your body, there is something wrong with the way we shop for clothes.

I am not an expert on the issue – just a (sometimes unsatisfied) customer who has trouble finding clothes that fit, but I think a lot of other women experience similar issues, which is why I wanted to share my views on the subject and suggest alternatives. I feel there can be a few different ways to solve (or at least minimize) this problem – it’s possible to to have clothes custom made, to continue shopping for generic clothes but tailor them to fit your body, or to make better choices in the clothes you buy and wear/accessorize them in a smarter way.

Not all patterns or alterations are hard or complicated, and sometimes just a little time and patience can eliminate hours of frustration shopping for clothes. You can consult with a professional tailor or seamstress, but you can also try to learn how to crochet, knit, sew or how to make alterations on your clothes yourself. Having a garment that fits will undoubtedly help you regain confidence, and feel more comfortable in your clothes and in your own skin. Please go read this article on Craftsy, talking about the benefits of tailoring and the various classes they offer on the subject.

If nothing here above works for you, I also have advice for the shoppers:

  1. Look for versatile, classic pieces that can be easily matched with different outfits (when you find one thing that fits, wear the heck out of it!);
  2. Choose fabrics that offer a little bit of stretch to better accommodate different body types;
  3. Add accessories to emphasis the things you like about your body (a belt to accentuate a thin waist, gloves for delicate & elegant hands, a scarf to match the color of your eyes, etc.);
  4. Be patient and don’t be afraid to step into stores that are not necessarily “hip” or “trendy” – you might be surprised at what you can find;
  5. If you shop online, try to go to a website that uses real-size models and offer a comment section where people can talk about the shape and the fit of the garments (I personally like to shop at ModCloth), or there’s also some websites who offer tailoring services for a small fee (like eshakti.com) – whichever way, please remember to stay away from any Chinese one-size-fits-all clothing websites.

I sincerely hope this will help some of you, and please feel free to express your opinion or share your experience in the comment box below.

Mock Cable Sweetness!

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There’s nothing that can quite compare to the feeling of accomplishment you get when finishing a big project, is there? There is a project I have been working on since early January that just recently came to an end; what was before a shapeless UFO suddenly became a beautiful garment, right before my very eyes.

What I mean is that I just finished the Evelyn Cardigan I was test-knitting for the lovely Paula Ladd, and I simply love it!

Evelyn

This mock cable design is very delicate and elegant, and it was a pleasure to knit. This cardigan is worked seamlessly from the bottom up, and stitches are picked up and knit at the end for both button bands. The only three mods I made were to add waist shaping, add length and I did not knit the last neck decrease, or else the neck would have been too tight. It was a challenge for me because I generally have trouble keeping myself motivated until the end when knitting bottom up sweaters, but I am so glad I pulled it through because the finished piece is just so beautiful!

I also recently made a set of placemats I gave to a friend as a housewarming gift, and I simply LOVE the color scheme! I think I might use the idea for a few more, and maybe a bag or two 🙂

placemats

And finally, I have been missing my wheel so I worked up a little spin this week. Here’s what I came up with:

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That’s it for me! What have you guys been up to, lately? What are your current projects?