Ranta in Roma: iCandy T-shirt


World’s fastest sew: the iCandy T-shirt (a free pattern — link below). Fun design details: the shoulder seams sit forward on the front of the Tee, and the back is a couple of inches longer than the front.


This t-shirt was lucky enough to have its debut in Rome! (And its model is lucky enough to currently be on vacation in Italy!) Ironically, the fabric is Italian-made, but I got it in Toronto from Downtown Fabrics at 436 Queen Street West. Anyone who’s shopped there knows that the shop owner makes lots of lame jokes (“For you? Only one yard avail-ee-able!”) and also makes you read out the label on each fabric he shows you: “Look at this! What does that label say?” If you don’t play along, he answers for you: “Ee-talian!!!! Best quality! Look at this one! Tell me what’s on that label!” “Ee-talian!!!,” I shout back.

I think it’s viscose. One day I will start writing down what the hell I’m buying when I actually buy it. It’s got amazing drape. I have enough of both the patterned fabric and the solid turquoise to make something else…a swishy skirt, maybe?


In other news, I got brand new Brother electronic sewing machine! In related news, it doesn’t work properly! I used it on this T-shirt but it kept eating the fabric…sucking it right down into the mouth of the feed dogs. Since I got the machine only a few days before leaving for Italy, I didn’t have the time or the inclination to figure out WTF so I finished the T-shirt with a zigzag stitch on my old Singer machine, which chose this very same moment to simply refuse to sew a twin needle stitch. I got this MF done with only hours to spare before it was time to leave for the airport, nerves a bit frazzled, but calmed by the thought of vacation. I’ll wrestle the new machine into submission when I get home…I’ll need the exercise to work off all the pasta, cheese, and gelato I’ve been eating.


I mentioned the iCandy T-shirt is a free pattern. <RANT>Here’s the link, but be warned: there is so much extra advertising garbage on that page that your internet connection will suddenly slow right down while the page AUTOMATICALLY loads no fewer than FOUR unwanted video advertisements.  Seriously? What a pain in the ass. So if you don’t mind either paying for all that extra data download, or patiently tracking down all the video windows to click the pause buttons, then there’s a cute, easy T-shirt pattern waiting as your reward. I’m happy that crafty bloggers are able to pay themselves through advertising on their sites but visiting that page was just ridiculous.</RANT>


One other note about the pattern: it comes only in size medium, but it is such a simple design — it’s just 3 pieces: front, back, neckband —  that you can easily modify it for other sizes. I cut & sewed the medium for a slightly baggy fit. I like this combination of fabrics and I’m sure I’ll wear this T-shirt a lot.


Vogue 1449: Rebecca Taylor Mod Mini Dress

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

Yippee! I love this dress! And good thing I added built-in shorts so I can jump around in public like this! (Does that make this a Drort? A Drooter?)

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

This is Vogue 1449, a Rebecca Taylor mini dress. I bought the pattern during a bout of nostalgia for a similar vintage garment I used to have, which I sketched below. It was a blue romper that looked like a dress because of four flaps placed over top of the shorts. It had blue and white gingham trim and embroidered flowers on the flaps. My mother’s friend Stella gave it to me around 1989 and told me she used to wear it in the 60s. I used to wear it to my corporate summer job — heaven knows what my coworkers must’ve thought of this strange 20-year old wearing a vintage romper of all things.

Sketch of a vintage 60s romper

Back to Vogue 1449…there’s lots of great detail in this dress, including a v-shape seam at the bust and pleats on the skirt.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 12.04.54 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 12.04.38 PM

This is the first time I tried sewing an invisible zipper. I generally avoid sewing garments that need fasteners like the plague — hence my predilection for knitwear — thinking an invisible zipper sounded like something very difficult to do. It wasn’t! Of course, I had Dilys from Sew Be It Studio guiding me. I sewed this dress during the 5-week, once-a-week course I took there. It wasn’t so much a course as it was ‘guided sewing’…we just worked on projects and Dilys was there to help us and show us how to do anything we weren’t sure of.

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

Do YOU see a zipper? I don’t see a zipper. It’s INVISIBLE!

I probably would never have sewn this dress if it wasn’t for a mix-up with Sew Be It: I emailed them to ask if I needed to prepare anything before the class started and they said no. However, when I showed up for the first class Dilys asked me if I brought my pattern and fabric. The other students both had a pattern for a classic button shirt and chambray fabric at the ready. Panicked, (and worried they might force me to sew a chambray button-up shirt) I explained what I had been told, but I did happen to have this pattern in my purse because it had just arrived in the mail that day. Long story short, I picked some floral stretch cotton and a coordinating grey cotton broadcloth from Sew Be It’s fabric store in a hurry and got started. I’m glad it happened this way. I’m sure I would’ve spent weeks agonizing over just the right fabric, visiting multiple stores to find the right one. This way, I had to make a decision right away and choose from what was on hand. I might not have selected these fabrics otherwise, but what a great selection they turned out to be!


I made a few slight modifications to the pattern:

  • I used contrasting fabric for the side front panels.
  • I didn’t use a knit fabric for the collar band as per the pattern instructions but instead did a bias strip facing. I also cut the neck opening to be a bit lower than the pattern called for.
  • I didn’t line it. These cotton fabrics I used really don’t need to be lined.
  • I drafted and attached simple shorts underneath the skirt so I don’t have to worry about being particularly ladylike when I wear this. 😛

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

Vogue 1449 Mini Dress

Now here’s a little bonus material for you — one of the outtakes from when my long-suffering husband was trying to shoot me jumping in the air. Thought you might enjoy the hairdo! 😀


Whole Lotta Cool Culottes

BurdaStyle Pleated Culottes 04/2015 #113

As I began cutting the fabric for these culottes, I knew I was either going to really hate the end result or really love it. My sewing projects lately have been leaps of faith: slightly strange patterns that I wouldn’t normally think I’d wear (yeah, culottes) and often paired with pretty bold fabric choices. (See my satin jogging pants as recent proof.) So it could go either way in terms of wearability or giveawayability. Verdict: LOVE these, and will definitely be wearing a lot!


This is BurdaStyle pattern 04/2015 #113 – Pleated Culottes. I used a cotton-linen woven I bought at Fabricland last month.

BurdaStyle Pleated Culottes 04/2015 #113A

I had to put a dart in the back of the waistband to improve the fit (this really should have been drafted to be a curved waistband, given how wide the waistband is). Ha, I make it sound like I know enough about sewing to know that, but I learned that from my sewing instructor Dilys at Sew Be It Studio, where I just finished up a 5-week, once-a-week class called Garment Construction. I was more advanced than the other two students but I still learned a lot making these culottes as well as a dress under Dilys’ guidance. She’s also super friendly and so much fun to hang around — one of those people that’s bursting with personality.

BurdaStyle Pleated Culottes 04/2015 #113

Dilys virtually saved these pants by helping me decide what to do about the HORRIBLE GIANT FRONT PLEATS that were poofing out at the front like ridiculous clown pants. I sewed down the front pleats all the way from the waistband to the hem, but if you look at the Burda pattern they are just meant to be pleated at the waist and hanging open down the front. Ugh. As high-waisted pants, the extra volume around the tummy was not the least bit flattering. Sewing the pleats down with some top stitching made all the difference in terms of actually feeling good wearing these.


This was my first time trying a fly zip! Thank goodness Dilys was there to walk me through it. Despite this pattern being featured in the April 2015 issue of BurdaStyle Magazine (European edition) as the “Sewing Lesson for Beginners” — which means it gets a four-page colour spread with illustrated instructions — I still wouldn’t have known what the hell to do to put the fly zip in.


Back view. I’m a bit horrified to see that this looks like a front view with backwards feet. What the hell happened to my ass??

With these culottes I am breaking all the rules I ever read for petite gals like me: avoid wide pants cause they make you look shorter, and don’t wear large-scale prints because they will overwhelm your small frame. I CALL BULLSHIT ON THE RULES. If you’ll pardon my giant ego I think I look pretty damn good in these. 😀