With a Little Help From My Friends, Part 2: THANK YOU

Hey friends! Guess who won second place in the Pattern Review Handbag Contest??

Handbag Contest 2016

Thank you SO MUCH for helping me out with your votes. I am very grateful and very happy! And I’m loving my new bag.

Red Leather Bundle Bag

I’ve been busy lately, including work on the next episode of the Clothes Making Mavens podcast which will be released soon, so things have been a bit quiet here on the blog front. But I have a few projects to share with you just as soon as I get some focused time to sit down and write. Here’s a peek:

Colette Zinnia Skirt

The Zinnia Skirt by Colette

The Emmanuelle Sweater

The Emmanuelle Sweater

And as the weather gets cooler I’m doing more rugging up in front of the television (living vicariously through Luke Cage‘s bullet-proof, thug-thwarting swagger, and feeling inspired by The Get Down to make a gold lamé dress for disco dancing) and knitting away at this Velvet Morning Cardigan

Velvet Morning Cardigan in progress

Velvet Morning Cardigan in progress

…which obviously won’t go with the gold lamé dress or be suitable for nailing thugs in Harlem, but will be perfect for more rugging up in front of the TV. I’m on a slippery slope, here, friends, a very slippery slope. 🙂



Thanks, Mom, for Teaching Me to Love Sewing

My mother sewed my prom dress for me. It’s a MASTERPIECE. It was 1988 and we were big on, well, BIG. Big hair, big flounces, and lots of taffeta.

Taffeta prom dress

Look at that sweetheart neckline and that flattering drop waist. And there’s boning in that bodice — boning!

But wait, there’s more icing on the back:


Look at those layers, and that BOW!


Points to anyone who can identify the pattern this came from! I don’t have the pattern anymore, but it would’ve been one of the big 4 pattern companies, published around 1988 or so. Mom and I picked it out at our local Fabricland where we also bought that gorgeous teal taffeta.

Here’s the dress in action in 1989. My friend Sue took home the award for biggest sleeves, and we both got honorary mentions for having had our shoes dyed to match our dresses exactly. 😉

prom dresses

I *looooved* this dress. I still do. The taffeta is crisp and makes wonderful swishy sounds when I move in it. If you look closely you can just make out a sort of wood-grain pattern in the fabric. And that colour? Best. Ever. What are the chances 80’s gowns will come back in fashion so I can wear this out somewhere?

I can’t believe my mother made this for me. She spent countless hours, and did such an amazing job. It’s hard to express adequate gratitude for such an extraordinary and personal gift…but here goes:

Thanks, mom, for your effort and sacrifice in making this dress! And for teaching me to sew when I was young. I think the first thing we sewed together was a few small stuffed Christmas ornaments that showed up on the tree year after year, remember those? Then there was the Grade 8 graduation dress you made for me:


You taught me to knit, too, and I still remember that ridiculous forest-green “scarf” I made, complete with unintentional dropped-stitch “eyelets” and featuring a “stylish too-short-for-a-scarf look” because I got too frustrated to knit a full length scarf. I think dad might’ve actually worn it out. I’m still blown away by the curling sweater you knitted for dad in the 60s — I found it in the cedar chest in the basement the 80s and wore it religiously for a while — even in the rain, sorry! — and it’ll be a cherished keepsake for years to come.


Mom, you’re a great role model who instilled in me a love of creative arts such like sewing, knitting, and baking, too. Thanks for making those things part of my life as a kid growing up. And thanks for giving me your old Singer sewing machine when you finally decided you wouldn’t be doing any more sewing yourself. Having that in the house allowed me to dive back into sewing when the notion took me a few years ago. Thanks for all of that, and for being the best mom ever. I’m a very lucky person to have a mother like you. Love you! xo

Mom & dad on their wedding day in 1957

Mom & dad on their wedding day in 1957

Ok, you didn’t think I’d be able to write another sentimental post without adding a little smart-alecky-ness here at the end, did you? This may actually be my favourite photo of me wearing the prom dress in 1989 (sorry, mom):

Flipping the bird in my prom dress

A little teenage contempt was just the right accessory for this frilly dress.

With a Little Help From My Friends

Last week I did something pretty far out of my comfort zone, and discovered something delightful in the process. At first glance it seems like it’s got nothing to do with sewing or making, but stick with me for a moment…

I’m a *somewhat* athletic person, but I don’t like to go to gyms or work out in the traditional sense. I keep in passable shape by playing volleyball every week and riding my bike in the summer. I joined a new volleyball team back in January and hooked up with five new teammates that I hadn’t met before. They are all very athletic and super-fit; I think volleyball for them is what they do on their days off from more serious workouts. You know that joke about what do you call someone who hangs around with a bunch of musicians? (The drummer.) Well, on this volleyball team I’m the person who hangs around with a bunch of very fit athletes. (The mascot, maybe?) 😛

My team and I goofing around in the obstacle course

My team and I goofing around in the obstacle course

We all hit it off even though we’d never met before — these folks are great people! — and we’ve become friends, doing things together outside of volleyball like going out dancing. Last week one of my teammates suggested we all try out this new gym which has a big obstacle course and other challenging things like rope climbing, slack lines, and a couple of giant sloped walls you have to take a run at and see if you can haul yourself up to the top. And I was all like:


A million reasons Why Not went through my head, not the least of which was that I was likely going to die or break a leg or at the very least humiliate myself. Also I wouldn’t be able to knit while doing this particular activity, so, like, pffft. But I ended up going anyway, caving into the peer pressure…such a terrible influence these people are, just wanting to do awful healthy things that are fun and keep them in shape! Sheesh. Whatever happened to just getting drunk in the park while eating 3 bags of Doritos and then setting fire to neighbourhood garbage cans?? 😉

When I arrived I had that same feeling of dread I used to get in grade 7 gym class. My volleyball mates were all stoked, while I was wondering why the hell I agreed to this.

They say a dose of humility is good for you, and I got a good one taking a run up that giant wall and missing the top ledge. The face plant is bad enough but then you have to endure the looong slide to the bottom, also on your face. lol. Cartoonish music along the lines of ‘wah wah waaaah’ automatically goes through your head. (Here’s a link with a picture of the wall in question so you can picture what I mean.)

Despite lacking the upper body strength required to get through some of the sections of the obstacle course — I found I started to enjoy myself. I made my way through the course slowly but surely with my friends cheering me on and giving me various boosts and pushes as needed. These folks could easily have been disdainful of my inferior fitness level but they weren’t, and I was grateful.

At one point I faced a steeply-sloped wall that I had to get over by hauling myself up a rope. I pulled as hard as I could, straining with every ounce of strength I had (so, like, not much) and *almost* made it to the top. I didn’t have the strength for the last push, despite my friends shouting at me from the top that I could do it. Just as I was about to let go of the rope, my friends reached down and grabbed my arms, and I found myself being hauled up onto the platform.

I had a significant moment just then. Getting pulled up by my friends was a treat both physically and emotionally. I realized what a great feeling it is to know that you can do things you didn’t think you could do with friends to support and help you. And how great it is to have those friends. I felt like I had accomplished something but more importantly I was reminded how crucial a great support network is, and how lucky I am that I have several of them, in many aspects of my life.

The reason I tell you this long story is because the next day I had a look at your comments on my last post Is There a Pill for This?? in which I was moaning about having sewing block. Honestly, I got a similar feeling reading your suggestions, your expressions of commiseration, and your best wishes for getting over the hump (or over the wall, as the case may be). What a privilege and pleasure it is to have a network of generous people willing to take the time to wish me well. And while sewing block isn’t, of course, the worst thing that could happen to someone by a very long shot, your supportive comments mean a lot to me, my dear sewing friends! You’ve given me just the hand up I needed. (But I still know better than to promise that I’m going to finish sewing something anytime soon! 😉 )

Alright, this post is starting to sound like one of those awful inspirational posters that make me want to poke my own cynical eyes out, so I’ll stop. But seriously, I appreciate that you take time to read this blog and I am very grateful to have you as a support network. And here’s an inspirational poster that’s more my speed, and seems pretty relevant to me and my sewing hobby. Can you relate? 😀

Ineptitude: if you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly

Saturated Fat & Saturated Colour

I have way too many shared aesthetic tastes with my 13-year-old niece, and as a 40-something-year-old woman I probably should be worried about that. But I’m not worried about our most recent shared interest: we’re both delighted with the colouring books we got for Christmas!

Color Me Calm floral mandala

In addition to subsisting on nothing but saturated fats for the last few days, I have been spending all of my down-time spreading saturated colour on the pages of my new colouring books. What joy!

From Colours of Anna Karenina

My husband and #UnsungSewingBlogHero gave me one called “Color Me CALM”.

Color Me Calm

“Are you telling me I need to calm down????” I screamed upon opening it.

“Um, no?” he replied meekly.

Just kidding. No screaming took place. Sewzilla knows a perfectly chosen gift when she sees one and accepted it with excitement and gratitude. Besides, it turns out it’s cheaper than medication. 😉

Color Me Calm mandala

Hope you were able to enjoy some rest, relaxation, and the joy of creativity over the holidays!

Snowflakes from Colours of Anna Karenina: A Colouring Book Love Story

I’ve Always Liked You

I’ve often wondered why my blog didn’t have “like” buttons in the comments section, and assumed it was because of the theme template I’d chosen. I’ve just discovered I’M AN IDIOT and THERE’S ALWAYS BEEN LIKE BUTTONS and all I needed to do was TURN THEM ON.


So now they’re on, and I’m liking away at your comments. But you should know that I have ALWAYS liked you and your comments. Only now I can say so definitively with a click of my shiny new Like Button.


I like you cuz you're frivolous like me.

2014: A Year of Living Creatively

Was 2014 a creative year for you? A handful of years ago I remember making a list of what I thought were the primary areas in life that were important for happiness & well being. Something like this:

Friends/Social Life
Spirituality (although I’m not a religious person, I still consider spirituality to be an important factor)

There were probably a few other things on the list that I can’t remember right now. Anyway, I rated each area out of 10. At that time, I rated Creativity as one of the lowest of all — probably 2 or 3 out of 10. I’m happy to report that’s not the case anymore; my Creativity Index has shot through the roof over the last few years, and it’s made quite a difference to my overall happiness & well-being! (In many ways, it’s made quite a dent in my wallet, too, but that’s another story.) It’s amazing what can happen when you take stock of who you are and where you’re at, and think about what you’d like to do or change to make a positive difference.

In any case, 2014 continued to be a big year for both Creativity and Learning for me. Here are some of the highlights.

  • took Intermediate Fabrication from Jewel Envy where I made a silver necklace and this ring

Silver Curlicue Ring with Amethyst CZ

  • I took a course on enameling from Jewel Envy (click the link to see what I made)
  • I took a 4-week course on making rings with metal clay with Jenn Jevons of Metal Clay Atelier (post about these rings coming soon!)

silver metal clay rings

  • I set myself up with a small jewelry workshop at home (cripes, tools are expensive!)
  • Following on from 2013, I took a second course on Wearable Electronics and built a motion-activated, light-up skirt!
  • I took another course on casting from Jewel Envy, where I made the silver & pearl ring pictured in my favourite makes of 2014, below

I didn’t have a bad year in knitting, either, considering I get a good chunk of my knitting done during meetings at work. (This says more about how many damn meetings I have to go to than about the speed of my knitting.) I knit:

  • 3 cardigans
  • 2 hats
  • 5 scarves
  • 3 cowls/neckwarmers
  • 2 pairs of socks

knitting projects Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 8.04.51 AM

Biggest fails of 2014

Vogue 8825 dress

The Grocery Cart Dress


The This-Fucking-Fabric-Is-A-Fucking-Nightmare Dress

My favourite makes of 2014

diagonallinesdress sparkleskirt

silver&pearlsring neonhat

Creative Goals for 2015:

  • 3D printed jewelry is in my immediate future. I can feel it.
  • I hope to learn how to take better pictures, especially of jewelry.

Thanks for supporting me in my creative endeavours and sharing yours with me through this blog! May your 2015 be very creatively fulfilling. Make it happen! Cheers!

Suzanne Somers Likes My Dress

Who remembers watching endless reruns of Three’s Company?? (Go on, admit it. You can’t lie about your age forever.)

Three's Company

Today I met Suzanne Somers (pictured on the left, in her role as Chrissy) at an event for work at which her husband was being honoured with an award. Anyway, I was introduced to her, and she said, “I love your dress!” I was wearing this one that I made:


Dude, Suzanne Somers likes the dress I made. Fucking awesome. I am so not above being excited that a 70’s TV star gave me a compliment on my dress. I told her I made it and she said she used to make a lot of her own clothes, as, she said, “it was the only way to get new clothes.” She was friendly and gracious and the whole thing was pretty cool. (If you’re interested you can click to read more about this dress pattern.)

Funny to look back at the premise of the show by today’s standards: three roommates, one of them male, trying to hide the fact that they were living together because a single man living with single women would have been absolutely scandalous. Huh.

Right, so I’m thinking if I can attract one star’s attention with my handmade dress, there’s no reason on earth why it couldn’t be Lenny Kravitz next, RIGHT? Or maybe I’ll set my sights just a tiny bit lower to start, and see what’s possible with the guy that invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner — I have a big nerd crush on that guy. Because by god, who WOULDN’T love a man who’s made it his life’s work to invent a vacuum that doesn’t lose suction???