You’re Kraken Me Up and Jamaican Me Crazy

Dear readers, I want you to understand the huge sacrifices I have made to bring you this blog post. I sewed this summer top in October. I couldn’t very well just take pictures of it while shivering outside in front of a flaming orange maple tree, now could I? My discerning readers deserve better than that! So after much deliberation, I made the tough decision to do a photo shoot on location in Jamaica. No expense was spared for your reading pleasure, dear reader! And I endured daily tropical rains and dozens of mosquito bites, not to mention the horrors of eating succulent jerk chicken and fried plantain along with soursop mousse for dessert! I know what you’re thinking…that I’m such a selfless person to go to such lengths for you. I know, it’s true.

Burda 7051 Tokyo Train Ride Octopus fabric

Ha! Of course it went nothing like that. The real story is that my brother moved to Jamaica over a year ago and it was high time for a family visit, which I managed to plan for the fall reading week. And I couldn’t help myself but to sew something new for the trip. (I did attempt to sew a bikini but only managed to finish the bottoms before the deadline. Luckily for me but sadly for my half-finished bikini, Jamaicans aren’t so big on going topless on the beach.)

I first spied this amazing octopus print fabric — Cotton and Steel’s “Tokyo Train Ride” — on Jolies Bobines. Then a few months later Annie from The Enantiomer Project posted the Scout Tee she’d made from a Craftsy kit featuring this fabric. I succumbed to temptation (and of course, to the sale Craftsy was having) and grabbed the kit. However, I didn’t find the Scout Tee design terribly inspiring, so I used the fabric to make Burda 7051 instead. The kit came with almost 2 yards of fabric, and I managed to eke this top out of half of that.

Burda 7051 octopus top

This is my second version of this pattern. I made one in summer of 2013 in green woodgrain fabric as one of my first projects after getting into sewing again after about an 11-year hiatus. While I think I mastered the fit on this one, I’m not in love with the shape of this top (somehow I feel a bit dumpy in it), and wearing it reminds me that non-stretch wovens don’t make terribly comfortable clothes. This isn’t UN-comfortable, but I find myself having to readjust it fairly constantly after raising my arms up or bending over or whatever. Maybe that’s actually a fit issue but all I know is that stretch knits don’t generally cause that problem for me.

Burda 7051 octopus top

Look! This empty snail shell I just found is going to become a piece of silver jewelry soon. Either that or it’s going to give me a bad case of schistosomiasis.

I picked up a selection of empty snail shells as well as some coral skeletons to use in a mold-making workshop I’m going to be taking soon. I’ve always wanted to craft a silver ring out of a snail shell (I was really inspired by this Shell Ring by Helena Perez Lafaurie) and these shells seem to be the perfect size for a statement ring. I can use the coral as a texture for silver metal clay.

Burda 7051 octopus top

I used navy blue bias binding on the armholes and neckline, accidentally creating a funnel neck — the collar stands up rather than lying flat — but I actually really like the way that looks. Well, either that or I am deluding myself in order to avoid having to rip out the neck and shoulder seams to resew it.

Burda 7051 octopus top

I know it’s practically expected on sewing blogs to apologize for the slightest of wrinkles showing in the pictures, but I have to say that  that drives me around the bend. Since a freshly pressed cotton woven shirt only stays crease-free for about 4 seconds into wearing it, this is exactly what this top will look like in real life every time it’s worn. Full of wrinkles. I’m thinking about trying to start a #StopApologizingOnYourBlogForWrinklesAnd PointingOutThatTopstitchingMistakeYouMadeOrThatYourHairLooksABitFunny OrThatThere’sCatHairOnYourShirt CuzNobodySeesItButYouAndThat’sRealLife movement. (Even tho’ I’m guilty of such transgressions, too.) Let’s shed the shackles of perfection! Who’s with me? I promise to try to come up with a shorter hashtag. 😉

Anyway, it was a lovely few days in Jamaica. If it makes you feel any better (if you’re the envious type like me), it actually did rain every day we were there…but it was warm rain and didn’t stop us from enjoying ourselves, so please continue to be envious.

Here’s a little fellow that liked to hang around in the garden of the hotel we stayed at called Goblin Hill.

doctor bird

The Swallow-Tail Humming Bird (or “Doctor Bird”), the national bird of Jamaica. This fellow defended his territory around the feeder with surprising viciousness.

And the little fella below was clearly VERY happy to see me.


And here’s me trying to impersonate an octopus, and failing miserably. #outtake


Thanks for stopping by!

The Betty Draper Dill Pickle Shirt – Burda 7051

Just finished this cute summer top from a “Burda Young” pattern, 7051.   It’s got a retro-vibe, 60’s I guess. I used Woodgrain fabric by Joel Dewberry in ‘dill’ that I bought from Green’s not normally my colour but I chose it specifically to go with my ri-DONK-ulous Faith Hi Jericho boots made from kermit-the-frog suede leather, courtesy of the inimitable John Fluevog. Given the 60’s go-go feel of the boots, I think the top goes pretty well.


I’m also wearing my new fave jeans. They’re Yoga Jeans by Second Denim, a montreal-based company that does all their garment manufacturing right here in Canada. Which is practically a miracle given the fact that most garment manufacturers have skeedaddled from North America over to Asia. There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star recently about garment manufacturing in Canada that’s worth a read, which includes this little factoid: “The number of Canadians making clothes declined from 94,260 in 2001 to 19,340 in 2010, according to Statistics Canada.” If my calculator skills are working, that means only 20% of the jobs in the garment manufacturing industry in 2001 remained just 8 years later. So even cooler that these super-comfortable jeans in this AMAZING coral colour (they were labelled “watermelon”) are also supporting keeping jobs in Canada. No sub-standard sweatshop exploitation here! I bought them at my favourite little clothing boutique in the Junction neighbourhood here in Toronto called Black Daffodil.

I’m sure my sister would have something to say about this outfit — she’s convinced I wear too many bright colours, and lately I hear her in the back of my head just about every time I get dressed: “you’re going to wear THAT with THAT?”. Me, I can’t get enough colour! Suddenly this year there’s colour everywhere in fashion and even in home decorating (FINALLY!–I always wanted to barf all over those photo shoots of bland, monochromatic rooms in tones of beige and cream that filled the pages of magazines for, like, the last decade at least). So what do you think? Is it possible to rock Kermit the Frog green with hot coral (or watermelon, if you prefer)?

I teetered down to my local coffee shop this morning in this outfit and felt like a million bucks (even if I was a bit out of place among all the parents with strollers in flip flops and sneakers). Ran into my neighbour there who said “great boots”, to which I replied expansively, “I know, right?”.

Burda 7051 shirt with Fluevog Faith Hi Jericho boots

“I know, right??”