Right on Target?

Your advice needed! I picked up this cardigan and these pants at Target a few days ago, and I’m pretty sure I did a fist pump while I was trying them on in the change room. Tuxedo-style ankle pants in colour-blocked black and white! [Fist Pump!] Colour-blocked cardigan in black and white and bright blue with groovy mesh on the back and sleeves! [Fist Pump!] Cardigan by London-based designer Peter Pilotto for cheap! [Fist Pump! — even though I’d never heard of Peter Pilotto before, if he wants to do a line of cool clothes with fun and colourful prints and colour-blocking for us plebes, please! — feel free!] Cool outfit for less than $70! [Fist Pump!]

Peter Pilotto for Target cardigan, Massimo ankle pants

Peter Pilotto for Target cardigan, Mossimo ankle pants

I was visiting my folks in Florida so when I got it back to their place, I modeled it for my mom, who was very impressed and liked it a lot. A little later my dad came back from a walk and said — and I quote: “Oh…my…god….That’s…”  And that’s all he said. 😐

Peter Pilotto for Target Cardigan and Mossimo Pants - back view

I swear I just spent 5 minutes with a lint roller on these pants and they’re STILL. COVERED. IN. CAT. HAIR.

So then I get back to Toronto and model it for my husband. “Whoa,” he said.
“Is it a bit much?” I asked.
“It’s just that it looks like you’re about to go race-car driving or something,” he replied.

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The cat-hair culprit, skulking back from just having eaten a tray-full of bread pieces my neighbour put out for the birds.

So I turn to you, dear readers and friends. Is this outfit a winner or no? Please vote in my poll.

By the way, when I asked my husband to take photos, he said, “but you didn’t sew any of that” and I said “I’m doing a poll to ask if I should wear this”. He, still in his pyjies and robe, donning boots so he can come outside to take the pics, said, “I’m gonna take a poll to find out if *I* can wear *this*!” What do you think? Is his outfit a winner? 😀

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My fashion-forward photographer. He’s covered in cat hair, too. Ha.

Colour Therapy for Winter-Weary Eyes

I’m lucky enough to have been able to get away to Florida to see my parents for a few days over Reading Week. While the obvious welcome relief is being able to go outside without donning parka, scarf, hat, gloves, legwarmers, boots, and ideally ski goggles, the less obvious perk of going south is COLOUR. Colour! I haven’t seen colour outdoors for months! Toronto has been various shades of white, grey, blue-grey, and slush-brown, and while this can sometimes be beautiful in its own way, Colour, GET IN MY EYES!

This is what my day has looked like so far today. I hope to add to the colour pics with some shots of the sunset this evening. Enjoy!
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Project Sewn Challenge #3: If the Shoe Fits

It’s time for Project Sewn’s challenge #3: “If the shoe fits: use a favorite pair of shoes from your own closet as an inspiration for your outfit”.

My name is Lori and I have a shoe problem. And this happens to be my favourite of all 4 Project Sewn 2013 challenges (duh).

While I have dozens of ideas for projects based on this challenge, some of which I outlined in a recent blog post entitled Did Someone Say Shoes?, one week to choose a pattern and source the right fabric and get it sewn up isn’t realistic for me at the mo’. So I thought I’d turn this challenge on its head and instead of creating a garment based on shoes, I’ve designed shoes based on a garment I created. It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Shoes of Prey, an Australian-based company that lets you custom-design women’s shoes and ships them for free, anywhere in the world. (Bonus for duty-weary and currency-exchange-shock-weary Canadians and other non-US countries: prices are in your local currency, and the company takes care of all import duties.) Sorry if this sounds like an infomercial — I’m not shilling for the company, but I have purchased 3 pairs of shoes from them and I’m pretty excited about the fact that you can CUSTOM. DESIGN. YOUR. OWN. DAMN. SHOES.

Here’s the blouse I chose for inspiration, which I sewed and blogged about last August in a post entitled I Just Opened a Can of Whoop-Ass on this Blouse (yeah, I was feeling pretty smug about having tamed that slippery, flimsy fabric). It’s Burda’s 10/2011 Chiffon blouse with tie band #128B. I made it with a sheer fabric (not sure what kind?) with shades of dark blue, purple, turquoise, and white.

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Burda blouse

Since it has a bit of a secretary feel, but it’s also a bit sexy because of the sheer fabric, I thought a pair of high-heeled oxfords would be just the thing. Here’s what I came up with using Shoes of Prey’s online design tool:

Shoes of Prey oxford in dark blue patent leather with turquoise toe cap and white snakeskin midpanel

Dark blue patent leather with turquoise accents and white snakeskin upper! With 4-and-a-half-inch heel! If I ordered these for real, I might go down to a 3-inch heel. But if I ordered them in my dreams, I’d definitely keep the sky-high heel.

Shoes of Prey high-heeled oxfords

They even have matching dark-blue patent leather shoelaces, and turquoise insole. LOVE.

I played around with a few other shoe designs but that oxford above is definitely my fave. Here are a couple of other options:

Shoes of Prey spectator pumps with silk rose flower & bow

The silk flower on the toe echoes the chiffon fabric of the blouse.

Shoes of Prey high-heeled sandal in blue, purple, & turquoise

Not sure about these ones, but I did manage to add a little purple to the design.

Now I’m having a really hard time not ordering up a pair of those lace-up oxfords. Must….restrain…..self……

If you want to order up your own pair of custom shoes, use this link to get $20 off your Shoes of Prey order. Enjoy!

Asymmetrical Striped Tunic

Burda, you had me at asymmetry. What’s with me and my strong attraction to asymmetry? I’m always drawn to asymmetric details in a pattern. Come to think of it, possibly even in husbands, too, as my guy’s got a wonderful lopsided grin.  Anyway! This tunic was on the cover of the January issue of Burda Style magazine. I love the stripes, I love sewing jersey, and of course, I love the asymmetrical hemline and ‘opposing’ bits of gathering at one shoulder and one hip.
Burda Style Striped Tunic

It came out more like a dress than a tunic–I didn’t think to make adjustments for length. The first Burda pattern I ever tried was this Paneled Sheath Dress, which was designed for Petites, and it came out fitting me like a glove. So I have to remember that Burda’s ‘average’ patterns are for gals who are taller than me at 5 foot 4 and a half. (Yes, that additional half inch is very important to me.)

Burda Striped Tunic

I want you to know the extreme peril I put myself in to take pictures of this! Minus 15 degrees Celsius as my husband was taking these pics, and you can almost see me muttering “hurry up! hurry up!”. Ah, life as a northern blogger.

For the record, I am completely OWNING those legwarmers. After having a pair of bright pink legwarmers around the time the movie Flashdance came out a million years ago, it took me a looooooooong time to consider them again as a reasonable possibility for a grown woman to wear. But I either arrive at work miserable and raging because my knees and thighs are frozen, or use those warmer-clad legs to strut around like I’m on a catwalk in the tundra. I choose the latter. (Although I must admit they don’t always prevent me from arriving at work miserable and raging, but that’s another story, and has more to do with the public transit system.)

I looooove the mod look the model is rocking in Burda’s pattern photograph. Anything 60’s inspired and I’m THERE. The black and white combo looks fabulous, too.

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Burda Striped Tunic

I didn’t quite get the stripes matching up on the back left shoulder, but a girl can’t ask for everything from this universe.

The fabric is the same rayon jersey that I used for what turned out to be my favourite sewing project of all time (ok, in this case, “all time” means since I started sewing for real 9 months ago), this striped, asymmetric (shocker!) layered dress, Vogue 8904. The fabric is soft and drapey and really fantastic. I bought it from a store that reeks of skunk — no joke. The store is on a very busy street in Toronto, Queen Street West, and apparently some downtown urban hipster skunk sprayed at the front of the store one day last year and it has reeked ever since. It’s actually overwhelming when you walk in, as anyone who has ever encountered the smell of a skunk will know. Rather daring, possibly stupid of me to buy from there, no? I made sure to wash & sniff test the fabric before going ahead. I’m happy to report all’s well in the smell department on this one.

Burda Asymmetrical Striped Tunic

The pattern does lend itself to making one’s tummy look a little rounder than it needs to, because of the way the stripes & gathers flow around the midsection. Something to be aware of if you’re thinking of making this and you’d rather be camouflaging than emphasizing.

Burda asymmetrical striped tunic

Thanks for reading!

Project Sewn Challenge #2: Pink!

I spotted this hot pink rayon jersey at Fabricland a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t resist the colour! And doesn’t it come in perfectly handy for Project Sewn’s challenge #2: Make it Pink? Coming across that challenge was a good excuse to get this sewn up.

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This was my first time sewing a garment without a pattern. I followed Liz from Cotton and Curls’ handy tutorial on making a top out of 4 rectangles. She has lots of amazing tutorials on her blog so go check it out — and enjoy the amazing mountain scenery in her photos. The fit is loose and drapey and very comfortable. I’m thinking I should get more of this fabric and make pyjamas.

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I’ve just spotted a red-tailed hawk. No big deal, really, but I’m a massive bird nerd.

Making this was super easy! Cutting took about 20 minutes, and sewing/pressing/finishing no more than 90 minutes. I used two layers of fabric for the front and back, and a single layer for the sleeves, as the fabric is quite lightweight. I would’ve liked to have made the hi-lo hemline even more pronounced, but I didn’t cut the back piece long enough to do so (’cause that’s so me: measure once, cut twice where possible).

Pink top - back view

It wouldn’t stop snowing today for 4 damn seconds to take photos, so here I am in the snow acting as if I am not abso-fucking-lutely sick of winter and snow and polar vortexes and wind chills of minus seven thousand. I think I’m doing a damn fine acting job.

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Added bonus for this Valentine’s challenge: I’m wearing all self-made silver jewelry, all heart-themed. I blogged about making the smaller heart ring here and about the giant heart ring here.

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One thing I have discovered about my camera: it does not like hot pink. I’ve photographed bright pink on a couple of other garments (my Anika cardigan and my pink Lady Skater dress) and the colour is blown out each time. In this case, the top looks much more red in the photos than it actually is. You’ll have to trust me when I say it’s a fabulous shade of hot pink, more like magenta.

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Here’s a better look at the hi-lo hemline.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what the Project Sewn contestants come up with this week. I wonder if Oonaballoona can possibly top her entry last week for sheer audacity and amazingness!

Project Sewn: Did Someone Say Shoes?

As a faithful follower of Lladybird’s  & OonaBalloona’s amazing sewing blogs, I caught wind last month of what sounded like a rather epic event in the sewing blog world: Project Sewn. Some of the top sewing bloggers have signed on to complete 4 sewing challenges over the course of 4 weeks, with one sewist getting booted off the island each week according to popular vote. While we ooh and aah over elite bloggers’ amazing creations, complete with amazingly straight stitching and appropriate finishing techniques, the rest of us hacks are also invited to sew along with the challenges.

First challenge: who the hell has time to plan and sew one amazing thing every WEEK? No one. But what the hell. And ok, that’s just my own personal challenge, not one of the official Project Sewn challenges. The first official challenge was the Fashion Icon Challenge: “choose a favorite fashion icon and let the inspiration for your outfit begin from there.” I must admit, I didn’t intend to play along, but I had just finished sewing this Asymmetrical Motorcycle Jacket and realized I could pretend I had made it as a tribute to my…um…fashion icon, right?? A quick Google search revealed my primary choices to be Kate Moss or James Dean so I went with James Dean, obvs. (Is there a place in sewing blogger hell for people like me?)

In any case, late-ish as it may be, I’m excited about the next two challenges:
#2: Make It Pink – from rose, fuchsia, to blush, bubblegum, or neon—think pink!
#3: “If the shoe fits” Challenge: use a favorite pair of shoes from your own closet as an inspiration for your outfit.

I recently bought some hot pink fabric for a top so challenge #2 is good motivation to get that done.

But SHUT THE FRONT DOOR — why haven’t I thought of making something based on my shoes before?? Me and shoes have a bit of a little problem, see. Let me just introduce you to some of my shoes that are excellent candidates for sewing inspiration:

Fluevog Munster Beth Shoe

Fluevog’s Munster Beth Shoe

A little Lady Miss Kier of Dee-Lite, anyone? A little retro-90s, anyone? In 1991 I had the most amazing pair of Pucci-print leggings (not ACTUAL Pucci, of course) that made me the Queen of the World. Somebody nicknamed me Dee, which may have been one of the coolest things that ever happened to me. Couldn’t afford Fluevogs back then, but these would’ve been the diamonds in my crown. I have yet to leave the house in these even though I bought them 6 months ago. I must’ve been having a bad case of nostalgia.

Cover of Dee-Lite's album Groove is in the Heart

Cover of Dee-Lite’s album Groove is in the Heart

Or, how about these sharp-intake-of-breath-producing shoes from Neosens?

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Neosens’ Pinot shoes

Look at those heels. Forest fairy, anyone? Ok, tree nymph isn’t so much my style but I could see making something like this oversized lace top or this velvet dress from Burda that seem to be a bit earth-mothery.

Burda Batwing Lace Shirt from Issue 9/2013, pattern #113

Burda Batwing Lace Shirt from Issue 9/2013, pattern #113

Burda Velvet Dress from issue 9/2013, pattern #109A

Burda Velvet Dress from issue 9/2013, pattern #109A. Look! There’s even golden fairy dust sprinkled on the page! (How did that get there??)

Here are a couple more candidates:

My custom-designed snakeskin shoes from Shoes of Prey.

Strata shoes from Ciel Bleu

Strata shoes from Ciel Bleu.

For those last two pairs, this design is talking to me:

Shirt from Easy Burda, Autumn/Winter 2013, pattern 3B.

Shirt from Easy Burda, Autumn/Winter 2013, pattern 3B.

My goodness, so much inspiration! So little time! I think I’ve just blown a shoe gasket in my brain.

Head out on the Highway? Nah….

I was quite excited to make this amazing-on-the-model jacket: the oversize collar, the side zipper, the motorcycle-inspired design, the faux-leather trim, and the peplum are all quite au courant. I pictured myself wearing this to work and being the coolest chick in town. But pthththththththt! Not happy with the way it turned out.

This is the BurdaStyle Asymmetrical Moto Jacket, 11/2013 #117.

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Asymmetrical Moto Jacket – BurdaStyle 11/2013 #117

The sleeves are SUPER narrow, so beware if you intend to make this pattern to check if the cutting layout given for your size will actually fit around your arm. I can hardly even push these up above my wrists, despite using stretch fabric.

I had a helluva time working with the faux-leather. You can’t use pins, of course, as they leave visible holes. And, it turns out it sticks to the presser foot as you sew it. So wrapping it in tissue paper before you sew it is a must. (I figured that out on the second try.) Let me know if you figure out a way to do this while still being able to blindly sew a straight line along the edge of the leather bands…’cause I never did. In the end, after throwing away several wasted strips of leather, I ended up using fabric glue to glue the strips in place.

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I used a grey ponte knit for the body. This doesn’t make for the greatest garment after all. It’s a little too lightweight to give the giant collar enough body to sit properly…which is probably why the model in the Burda photo is holding it up behind her head:

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I really had to fart around quite a while with the collar to get it sitting in a way that it didn’t look like a chaotic pile of wrinkles around my neck, or even worse, like a shawl protecting an old woman from cold drafts. In my photos, that’s the best I could get the collar to sit and trust me, if I were to move much in this jacket it would rearrange itself very quickly. If I did this again I would do a double layer of fabric on the body & collar pieces.

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So alas, I’m feeling very disappointed tonight after several weeks of working on this. Think I’ll do a straightforward knit dress next as a balm for my troubled sewing spirit.

What do you do when something you worked on so hard turns out poorly? Straight to the shops to buy a replacement garment off the rack? Or do you have a go-to sewing pattern that you know is easy to make and will make you feel better? Or perhaps chocolate is the way to go. I have tried all three at various times. I think chocolate is the least expensive and fastest-acting solution. 🙂