A Scout Tee sewn from an old beach sarong…and how to fold your shirts for traveling

From beach sarong to T-shirt! I bought a beach sarong on a trip to Brazil a few years ago (made in Indonesia, ironically) and after a while the fine woven fabric had ripped. Ruing the loss of these great colours and print, I regretfully tossed it into my textile recycling bag, but a few weeks later I realized that this sarong would make a great lightweight T-shirt. I’m not normally a fan of tees made of woven fabric but these colours demanded I give Grainline Studio’s Scout Tee a shot.

Scout Tee

Much has been written about the Scout Tee as many sewists have made it, so I won’t say much except to add that the cut is way too generous. I cut the size that corresponded to my body measurements but was still swimming in it width-wise. I ended up taking it in along the sides by at least 2 or 3 inches. Oh and I’ll also add this comment: I don’t get the hype around the Scout Tee. This pattern costs $16 US which is a small fortune for such a basic tee. ‘Nuff said.

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Recently I went to Berlin for a vacation. Here are a couple of shots taken inside the Hamburger Banhof museum of contemporary art in Berlin.

ScoutTee

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Having done a lot of traveling in my life, I was shocked to learn only a few months ago that there is a GENIUS way to fold your shirts for packing that I hadn’t previously known about. This is a life-changer, folks! Or, at least, a travel-changer. This method creates a snug little self-contained sausage roll that won’t unfold in your suitcase. Here’s how to do it:

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Step 1: lay the shirt out face-down and smooth out any wrinkles

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Step 2: turn up the bottom edge by about 12cm/4 – 5 inches as if you were turning up a pant cuff

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Step 3: fold in one side by a third. Fold the sleeve neatly if necessary.

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Step 3: fold in the other side to overlap and fold the sleeve in so you have a long rectangle.

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Step 4: starting at the top, begin tightly rolling the shirt down towards the turned-up hem.

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Roll all the way to the bottom, smoothing out wrinkles as you go.

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Step 5: flip the turned-up hem to wrap around the rolled shirt to hold everything in place.

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That’s it! Now you have a neatly rolled up bundle that you can throw in a suitcase and it won’t unfold into a jumbled mess!

Rolled up T-shirts in packing cube

It’s even better if you put your little sausage-rolled shirts into a packing cube like this one…they come in various sizes and make rifling through your suitcase a breeze, with no re-folding necessary.

As long as we’re on the subject of travel, please enjoy some snaps of street art I took around Berlin.

  

A model of the Titanic made of chocolate…and a chocolate Brandenburg Gate in the background. Spot the excited Lori.

 

Phew! Time for a beer…or two.

I made a point of taking pictures at two very different fabric depots in Berlin…will share those with you in another post.

Thanks for stopping by!

Haute Skinny Pants and Plantain Tee

An alternate title for this post could be: A Demonstration of How Much My Camera Sucks at Capturing the Colour Coral. That hot pink shirt that’s currently burning a hole in your retinas? It’s actually coral.

Deer & Doe Plantain Tee and Wardrobe by Me Haute Skinny Pants

And those large-scale floral pants that are also currently burning a hole in your retinas? Well, I have no excuse for those. That’s exactly how they look. I mean, who am I to walk away from wildly colourful Bird of Paradise stretch cotton fabric without turning it into something loud to wear??

Wardrobe by Me Haute Skinny Pants

The pants are Haute Skinny Pants by Wardrobe by Me. They are (very) high-waisted skinny pants with an invisible side zip, designed for a medium-weight woven with 3 to 6% stretch, or a ponte knit. The negative ease and 3/8″ seam allowance scared me into cutting a size 4 instead of a 2, but ultimately I did a lot of taking in around the waist and thighs so I probably could have gone with the smaller size.

Deer & Doe Plantain Tee and Wardrobe by Me Haute Skinny Pants

They have a waist facing that is fairly deep at the front, which helps keep the tummy in check. Love that. The only thing I didn’t love about the pattern was it didn’t include hip pockets. I have a hard time understanding the point of pants without hip pockets. Spare change, lip balm, office keys…these don’t fit conveniently in back pockets! So I added them in using this Burda tutorial on adding hip pockets as a guide.

Wardrobe by Me Haute Skinny Pants

Is it bad that there’s a bouquet of bird of paradise leaves sprouting from my crotch? I’m rolling with it. There could be worse things… 😉

I bought the material from Fabricland. I’m not that thrilled with it as it started to pooch out around the knees pretty soon after I started wearing the pants. Not sure how you would test for this problem in fabric before buying — any advice?

I wore these pants to a hair appointment on what has become the most hipstery strip in all of Toronto — Ossington Ave between Queen and Dundas — and one woman working in the salon complimented me very emphatically on my pants. So I must be doing something right if I’ve got the hipsters on board!

Wardrobe by Me Haute Skinny Pants

The back pocket placement is a little problematic. The pockets seemed very low when I marked the placement lines according to the pattern, so I raised them by about 2 cm / 1″ before stitching them on. I think they still look too low on the butt. If I make these again, I intend to raise the pockets by at least another 3 cm. But it’s not such a big deal here, as the busy print camouflages the pockets.

Deer & Doe Plantain Tee and Wardrobe by Me Haute Skinny Pants

I intentionally turned up a very long hem allowance so that I could turn up cuffs at the ankles as I’m wearing them here, without showing the wrong side of the fabric.

Wardrobe by Me Haute Skinny Pants

In a bizzarre, unplanned, probably never-to-be-repeated, happy accident, I seem to have purchased fabric for a top that I can actually wear with the loud pants I made! Solid colour for the win! This is the free Plantain Tee from Deer & Doe that I made with a wonderfully soft modal jersey I bought at Affordable Textiles on Queen Street West in Toronto. Sooooooo comfortable. And look at that neckband — NAILED IT! (Gotta celebrate these minor major sewing victories, no?)

Deer & Doe Plantain Tee

The tee has a comfortable a-line shape and 3 choices for sleeves: short, 3/4, or long. I found it to be quite fitted, so I switched from 5/8″ seam allowances to 3/8″ seam allowances before sewing the side seams. It worked out well.

Deer & Doe Plantain Tee and Wardrobe by Me Haute Skinny Pants

It’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged but I do have a lot of projects to share with you. My poor #unsungsewingbloghero husband has been hustling hard with the camera lately trying to catch up! So I look forward to sharing lots more with you over the next few weeks.

Deer & Doe Plantain Tee

Thanks for stopping by!

When Sewjo goes MIA and you’re like WTF? FML! And getting it back FTW

Clothes Making Mavens podcast Episode 9: Missing Sewjo

Helena and I haven’t had a chat on our podcast for a while. Turns out we’ve both had a case of missing sewjo…and missing blogjo, not to mention podjo. (Sorry, seems I’ve got a case of overkilljo happening right now.) But we finally got our act together and compared notes on some of the things that get in the way of sewing, and some strategies for getting back in the saddle. Why don’t you have a listen to our latest Clothes Making Mavens podcast and join in the conversation?

What about you? What causes your desire to sew go out the window? And what revives your sewjo? We’d love to feature your stories on our next podcast so leave a comment here, or better yet, leave us a voicemail at (+1)-401-64MAVEN or visit our webpage that will record your message using your computer’s built-in microphone.

Clothes Making Mavens - a sewing podcast about handmade fashion

Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya: a call to action for the sewing community

Cast your eye upon these glorious colours worn by a group of Maasai women I met in Kenya recently! I travelled there with a group of my university students to learn more about the cultural tradition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM; also sometimes referred to as Female Genital Cutting or FGC), and to meet young residents of a slum in the capital city Nairobi. What an experience!

MaasaiWomen

One of our goals on this trip, in partnership with AMREF Canada (African Medical Research and Education Foundation), was to shoot a short documentary about AMREF’s efforts to help phase out Female Genital Mutilation in rural Kenyan communities. My students are studying media production, so this was an opportunity for them to put the professional skills they’re learning into practice while finding out about international development issues and immersing themselves in a different culture. And guess what? There’s even a sewing angle to all of this, so stay tuned! And guess what else? I’m going to ask you to make a donation to a great cause if you can, so be warned!

If you haven’t heard of FGM before, it’s a long-standing tradition in certain communities of ‘circumcising’ a girl to mark her passage from girlhood to womanhood. FGM involves partial or total removal of the external genitalia (the clitoris and labia). While the practice is technically illegal in Kenya, it is such a deep-rooted tradition in some communities that many families consider a girl to be unclean and unfit for marriage if she has not been cut. There is a belief that uncut women cannot be thought of as real women, and that they are likely to be unfaithful in their marriage. FGM, particularly in rural areas, is performed without anaesthetic in unsanitary conditions, sometimes even using cow dung to staunch the bleeding. The procedure causes excruciating pain, and girls can die of loss of blood or infection. We spoke with several girls and women who knew someone who died because of the procedure. They described to us in vivid detail how village men are needed to hold ropes attached to the girls’ legs and arms to keep them completely immobile and unable to run away during the procedure. FGM can also cause sexual dysfunction, complications in childbirth, and greatly increases a woman’s risk of HIV infection. It is generally carried out on adolescent girls as young as 8 years old. Once a girl is cut, she is considered ready for marriage and usually must also stop attending school. For obvious reasons, FGM is considered to be a violation of human rights.

That’s a lot to process — I know. A real-life horror show.

The United Nations Population Fund has an FAQ about Female Genital Mutilation here.

So on to the good news: AMREF is working hard to implement “Alternative Rites of Passage” (ARP), whereby the girls still go through a ceremony to mark their passage to womanhood, but without being cut. In order for this to happen, AMREF must ensure everyone including the village chiefs (men) and the young men who would marry the young women understand the risks and outcomes and agree to stop the practice. AMREF does this through education, as well as providing training to the elder women who normally earn a living performing circumcisions. These women are retrained to become traditional birth attendants, so they can continue to earn a living but also contribute to healthy outcomes for girls and women. In place of the cut, the girls attend two or three days of sexual and reproductive health education as well as instruction on why they should stay in school and pursue an education.

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Over 10 thousand girls in Africa have been through AMREF’s ARP program…that means over 10 thousand girls who have not had to endure the cut. Bravo, AMREF!

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Above is Beverly (18 years old) and her uncle Lelein. Beverly was expected by her parents to undergo FGM, but when the time came, she ran away. Girls who refuse FGM or run away can be beaten and/or ostracized from their family and community. Luckily for Beverly, her uncle Lelein was sympathetic and took her in. She is still estranged from her father who believes she must be cut. But Beverly has now finished high school and hopes to be able to attend university to study law. We sat in on a talk she gave to a class of high school girls to encourage them to believe in themselves and finish their education. She is quite an inspiration.

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That’s me with some women from a village called Oldonyonyoki. The woman in the centre used to perform the circumcisions, but these women and their village elders have embraced AMREF’s Alternative Rites of Passage so their girls will no longer be forced to endure FGM. And look at that amazing traditional Maasai beadwork the women have created. (Oh, and since you’re normally here to read about sewing and DIY, I’m wearing a dress I decided I HAD to make a couple of days before the trip using McCall’s 5890. Why do I put myself through that stress just before a big trip? Do you do that, too?)

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Beautiful Maasai woman

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In the village of Oldonyonyoki, a traditional Maasai homestead or ‘boma’

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My students shooting an interview with a former circumciser

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Thanks to AMREF and the work of her village elders, this lucky baby girl won’t have to face FGM!

Would you support AMREF’s amazing work in helping to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation? Please visit my donor page to make a donation to AMREF. I wouldn’t ask you if I hadn’t seen for myself how effective AMREF has been at tackling this massive issue…not only are they saving girls from FGM but so many more girls are staying in school, which makes them better able to care for their families and better contributors to their society. The Alternative Rites of Passage program is making a real, tangible difference not only in the lives of these girls but also for their entire communities. What a great cause. I’ve seen how the sewing community can rally around a great cause before and I’m hoping I can fire us up for this one. 🙂

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Some of my students and the villagers of Oldonyonyoki

At the risk of being frivolous (a-hem) after all that, here’s a better look at the dress I made from McCall’s 5890, View E, using a cotton jersey knit I had in my stash. We were told before our trip that we’d need to dress somewhat conservatively , so no mini skirts or shorts. This midi-length dress isn’t what I’d choose to wear normally, but it was the right amount of cover and loose enough to be perfect in the Kenyan heat.

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I have so much more to share with you, including our time spent at AMREF’s drop-in centre for street kids in the Dagoretti slum of Nairobi — where kids can learn, among other things, how to SEW! — plus pics from our weekend safari. That’s coming up in another post soon!

Thanks so much for reading. And please do consider making a donation to support AMREF if you can.

 

 

 

 

Perfect PJs

I can’t think of a more appropriate project to sew just a few days before Christmas!

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This is Burda’s onesie pyjamas (12/2016 #103). As soon as I saw their photo, I realized I had the perfect heather grey knit fabric that had been sitting in my stash for 2 years.

I seem to recall that this knit was labeled Marc Jacobs or some such thing when I bought it at Mood in NYC. I considered it for a number of different patterns over time but always rejected it because I realized that the daisy motif was a bit twee for a garment. Then I saw this pyjama pattern and it was a match made in heaven! The fabric is the perfect weight for pyjies…soft and warm.

Burda onesie pyjamas

I used buttons instead of snaps. Snaps would have been more convenient but when I took this into my favourite shop for adding snaps and rivets, the guy there advised against them since I hadn’t interfaced the button band. He thought pulling on the snaps might eventually tear the fabric…so if you’re thinking of making this pattern, definitely add interfacing.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make the bottom of the button band square…I think I mis-sewed that seam so a rectangular finish was not possible. Burda, I’m sure I’m not the only sewist who wished you had some damn illustrations in your instructions.

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I cut and sewed the smallest size — 36, which is often too big for me. I ended up shortening the legs and arms quite a bit and taking in the sides of the torso, adding a slight bit of waist shaping while I was at it. It’s still quite roomy but the fit is perfect for lounging and sleeping.

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And this is me shaking my be-pyjied butt because I am so damn excited to have the perfect pyjamas for Christmas!

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Just right for rugging up with hand knit socks, a good book, and a purring cat…which is pretty much my definition of a perfect Christmas holiday.

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Here’s wishing you a wonderful holiday season! ❤

 

Take These Scraps And…

My city has a pretty amazing recycling program, accepting just about anything for recycling…compost, styrofoam, glass, plastic bags; you name it…except textiles.

where to recycle fabric scraps

Now I know you all share the secret shame of home sewists: producing extraordinary amounts of little scraps of fabric that can’t be used for much of anything except landfill.

Why this is a problem is summed up well by Craig and Marc Kielburger in their article “We Shouldn’t Be Filling Up Our Landfills With Clothing”:

In North America, consumers are buying — and getting rid of — five times as much clothing as we did 25 years ago, reports Elizabeth Cline in her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Portfolio, 2013). A staggering 85 per cent of our collective apparel ends up in a landfill — that’s over 10.5 million tons of clothing, according to the popular second-hand store Value Village. In a single year, Canada produces enough textile waste — clothing and other goods like upholstery — to create a mountain three times the size of Toronto’s Rogers Centre stadium.

It’s easy to donate used clothing for reuse (although even the Goodwills and Salvation Armies and Value Villages of the world are now having a very hard time even keeping up with all of the clothing donations being sent their way), but what about those offcuts from sewing? I spent a lot of time researching options near me for recycling fabric but short of driving them to a depot over a hundred kilometres away, there were few. Between fabric scraps, old worn-out clothing, and bed sheets that have reached the end of their life, I have two garbage bags full of textiles waiting in the basement for a recycling option.

Good news! Clothing retailer H&M will take them off your hands and recycle them. And since there seems to be an H&M within a 2 block radius of every man, woman and child in the western world, hopefully that means this is an option for you, dear reader.

fabric recycling

They offer a coupon for $5 off your next purchase of $30 or more for each bag you bring in, just in case you need more incentive than simply feeling imperious for having saved your scraps from going to landfill.

Funny story: I brought a bag of scraps and worn out clothes to an H&M a few months ago, and when I put it into the collection bin (which was much like a fast-food restaurant trash bin with a push-door at the top front), the whole bin fell apart with a giant clatter. First the sides fell open, hitting the floor with a deafening slap, and then the rest came crashing down while I stood there burning bright red for having attracted the attention of every single person in the store. Then a gum-chewing teenage employee comes up to me and says “next time, just give it to someone at the cash!” Thanks, smart ass. Next time, empty your fucking bin out before it bursts at the seams! lol

Anyway, hopefully your experience recycling your fabric scraps will be a little less traumatic than mine was. 😉

Do you have options near you for recycling fabric scraps and clothes that are too far gone for reusing?

 

Do You Sew Gifts?

Or are you worried that after all your hard work, this is the reaction the recipient might have?

Ralphie's bunny suit

Ralphie’s not too keen on the bunny suit Aunt Clara made for him in 1983’s A Christmas Story

If you haven’t heard Episode 7 of the Clothes Making Mavens podcast yet, that’s the next topic Helena and I are asking you to weigh in on. Do you sew/knit/make gifts? And what reactions do you get? Ever slaved forever over a handmade gift only to have the giftee turn their nose up at it? Or spent $95 in materials and 60 hours of knitting only to have the new owner throw it into the dryer and shrink it beyond all recognition? Or maybe you’ve got a wonderful story about how a handmade item turned out to be one of the most touching and meaningful things you’ve ever given or received?

My husband is only slowly coming around from being horrified at the thought that I would make him something. (“What if I didn’t like it? I’d still feel obligated to wear it,” he sensibly reasons.) But I made him a pair of socks last Christmas which he admits he likes wearing. So this year I am of course making him a bunny suit.

davesocks

Dave’s expression shows he’s a little uncomfortable about his first handmade gift from me. lol

What is your story about making or receiving handmade gifts? Leave a comment below, or better yet, call and leave a message at (1)-401-64-MAVEN so we can play your story back on our next podcast. You can also get in touch with me at frivolousatlast at gmail dot com if you’d like me to arrange a time to Skype with you so I can record your story.

purple_cosmeticbag

I made these cute little cosmetic bags/pencil cases using Simplicity Crafts 9949 (out of print, but Simplicity 1153 is the exact same, updated pattern set). The purple fabric is linen-cotton canvas from Spoonflower. If you’re not familiar with Spoonflower, it’s a site where you can order custom-printed fabric, choosing from the thousands of designs on their site or even uploading your own design. I ordered the “fishbone repeat” design by Nalo Hopkinson to use on some throw pillows I sewed recently, and still have plenty of it leftover for smaller projects like this. However, I think the fish looked better on screen than they do on the fabric. Some of the detail of the fin bones seems to have gotten lost in the printing. (So word to the wise: be wary of highly detailed images for printing on fabric, particularly slightly ‘rougher’ fabrics like this canvas.)

The image from Spoonflower’s website

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I added a couple of pull tabs at each end of the zipper which the pattern did not call for but which make pulling the zipper much easier. The pattern calls for an underlining but does not specify to use any interfacing, which is an absolute must if you are working with garment-weight scraps. I used heavyweight interfacing on the purple bag, and two layers of medium weight interfacing on the cotton sateen floral bag below (fabric leftover from this mod mini-dress), which was my ‘test bag’. I think heavyweight is the way to go for this structured design.

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I think these will make cute gifts for some of my girlfriends. Handmade with love…but really only an hour or two of love, which is about all the love I can spare at the moment! lol

I am having fun finding brightly coloured zippers to add some pop to the bags. More to come!

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Don’t forget — do tell me about your handmade gift-giving (and receiving) experiences! I’d love to share your stories on the podcast.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

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. 🙂

 

 

Forget Hillary. Forget Asshat. Vote for This Instead.

Lemme just clear up that this post has absolutely nothing to do with the US election campaign. You can relax. 🙂

———-

Asking directly for what you want is a good skill for women to have. I’ve read about studies that show women are less likely than men to be direct about what they need, whether it’s asking for a raise, asking for help, or even pointing out their own achievements. In fact, I read about this in the book Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, which I highly recommend. The authors pick apart the psychology of this problem and illustrate their points with studies and stats, and suggest strategies for change. (If you know a young woman who has just started her career or is about to, get her this book, stat! In fact, if you are a woman or know some women, make sure you all have a copy!) Not asking for what we want may be part of the reason — aside from living in an inherently sexist society that undervalues women and their contributions, of course — that women on average earn less than men in the same profession. And believe me, I understand that particular situation personally first hand.

So that’s a really loooong (and uncharacteristically serious!) way of saying I believe in trumpeting one’s own achievements and asking for what you want. So, I want you to marvel at this awesome leather handbag I made! And I want you to vote for me in the Pattern Review Handbag Contest! Can you help a girl out? 😀

Red Leather Bundle Bag

Whaddya think? I’m pretty chuffed about this bag, let me tell you! I think it’s rather professional looking with its blood-red leather, exterior pockets, drawstring closure, and gunmetal hardware.

redleatherbag1

But wait, check out the inside! Bag lining is the perfect place to get my silly-patterned-fabric ya-ya’s out. I used some leftover cotton from Cotton + Steel’s Tokyo Train Ride collection, which I originally used to make this high neck sleeveless top. There’s a zippered pocket as well as a cell-phone patch pocket in the interior.

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I don’t mind telling you that this was a *bitch* to sew. Neither of my sewing machines (not even my trusty 1983 model Singer that I figured could sew through a two-by-four) liked the heavy-weight thread that was recommended for use with leather. I think the thread broke at least 22 times while I stitched the seams. In some spots where there were 6 layers of leather to sew through, I had to use the foot pedal *and* physically push the needle contraption down as hard as I could with my hands. I’m sure this is not good for a sewing machine. Where the handle meets the top of the bag, there were 8 layers to get through. The machine absolutely would not budge. I bent 4 hand sewing needles trying to finish those seams.

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And do you know what? I can proudly say that in spite of the challenges, my alter-ego Sewzilla didn’t even show her face. She politely stayed away while I patiently replaced needles and rethreaded the machine countless times. You could say she was a No-Show Sew-Zo. Must be the unseasonably warm sunny weather we’re having here in Toronto lately keeping this house Sewzilla-free. Or maybe it was that I knew this bag would kick ass, so it was worth the effort. I do absolutely love it.

Sewzilla

The No-Show Sew-Zo

[UPDATE: my husband and #UnsungSewingBlogHero proofread this post for me and kindly pointed out that Sewzilla did, in fact, show up during the making of this bag. So apparently Sewzilla now knows how to take over my brain and then erase my memory of it. Shit. Maybe I can bribe her to erase my husband’s memory of her visits, too. I mean, have a little MERCY, Sewzilla.]

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I now have two versions of this bag. I made the first one, in black leather, at a workshop at a local sewing studio called Sew Be It, where we were guided through the process of making the bag with instructor Sherri Gallagher. Sherri is a professional leather worker who designed the bag and drafted the pattern, and gave the students in the workshop copies of the pattern pieces to keep and use again. Then along came the Pattern Review Handbag Contest and it was the perfect excuse to see if I could sew one on my own.

I bought the red leather hide for $60 at Leather & Sewing Supply Depot on Spadina Avenue in Toronto, as well as all the findings, thread, and double-sided tape to hold the seams together before stitching. There’s an old fellow who I think owns the shop who walked me around pointing out all the perfect things I would need for the bag. They have excellent customer service there. They will even install snaps, eyelets, rivets, etc. into your project while you wait, which is what I did. I spent about 30 mins with someone at the shop who helped me find the best rivets and put them in for me, for a measly 75 cents per rivet. That was the best sanity-saving $7.50 I ever spent.

the materials for making the leather bag

Pattern pieces, buckram interfacing, lining fabric, double sided tape, leather, and various findings

At first I thought I’d use that cute Nerdy Stag fabric above for the lining — see how his little glasses match the red leather? — but I didn’t have enough. It’s now destined to become a cosmetics bag.

redleatherbag_hide

The verdict? I LOVE THIS. The size and shape of the bag plus all those pockets make it a favourite for every day use. And it’s the kind of project that stuns people when I tell them I made it.

Hey everyone, I MADE THIS! (Trumpeting my achievement — check.) Will you vote for me in the Handbag Contest? (Asking for what I want — check.) Thanks, friends. We gotta look out for each other. 🙂

redleatherbag4

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Does This Look Handmade?

What makes something look handmade? And is that a good thing or a bad thing? Those are the questions Helena and I are asking your opinion on for the next episode of the Clothes Making Mavens Podcast. Sometimes I worry if someone asks me “did you make that?” — why do you ask, is there something wrong with it?? is usually my first thought. On the other hand, friends are now asking me almost every day if I made what I’m wearing, regardless of whether I actually made it or bought it at the store, so I guess that’s a vote of confidence in my sewing skills. The question for many of us is whether we want what we’re wearing to have a ‘handmade look’ to it. And what does that mean, exactly? Does that bring to mind the thought of “Becky-Home-Ecky” projects? Or gorgeous, one-of-a-kind creations that no one else has? Do you embrace both?

Why don’t you leave me a comment or a voicemail and tell me what you think? You can call 401-64-MAVEN, or click below to use your computer’s built-in microphone to leave a message. It would be so cool to include your voice on our podcast!

https://www.speakpipe.com/widget/inline/y6tpx0p6ybx3aa20wixfcugsw4qdmbbl

Here’s a recent handmade creation of mine. And it has an absolute dead giveaway sign that it’s handmade.

NewLook 6210 dress in Art Gallery Tiny Dancer fabric in Midnight

The pattern is New Look 6210, View D.

I was in the mood for an easy-going summer tank dress with a racerback which is why I picked up this pattern. But for some reason I chose to do the v-neck version with a fuller back instead. Maybe because I find v-necks are more flattering on me than u-necks, but I seem to forget so easily that sewing v-necks is the bane of my existence! It’s always a struggle to get the point of the v looking good.

dandeliondress_vneck

I also didn’t realize just how much positive ease is built into this pattern — it came out huge. When I first popped it on for fit I lamented to my husband that I had made myself a Soviet-era Russian house dress. A sack, really. I had to hack away at the sides, the back, the shoulders — everything — to get it to fit. Here’s one weird hack I used on the back to try to give the dress a bit of waist definition:

dandeliondressback1

I considered adding darts, but instead did a couple of pleats, folded in toward the centre back seam and stitched across.

dandeliondressbackcu

It’s not perfect, but it improved the overall shape of the dress dramatically, and adds a bit of interest. I don’t even care that it looks a lot like THIS, from Kurt Vonnegut’s book Breakfast of Champions:

asteriskasshole

But that little hack is not even the handmade dead giveaway! If you’ve ever hemmed a knit with a twin needle before, I *KNOW* this has happened to you, too. I stitched around the armhole with a twin needle (the original armhole band having long ago been hacked off for a better fit — and please, no, don’t ask me why I didn’t adjust the fit before sewing on the armhole band, thanks), and then got to work trimming away the excess fabric as close to the twin-needle stitching as possible. You know how this ends. SNIIIIIIP!!! Feels like the scissors just bit into something they shouldn’t have bit into. You know that feeling. Yes, I cut a chunk out of the dress itself just under the armhole:

dandeliondress_hole

I think that little hole could be considered a true mark of handmade-edness, no? Lucky for me, I don’t think it’s terribly noticeable so I’m just rollin’ with it.

dandeliondress1

The fabric is Art Gallery Tiny Dancer knit in Midnight, which I ordered from Fabric.com (no affiliation). It’s got white dandelion puffs on a steel-blue background with dashes of bright spring green in the centre of the dandelions. It was the spring green that got me hooked on needing this fabric, but I was a bit disappointed in it in person. The fabric is good quality, but the base fabric is white with the blue printed on top so when it stretches some white shows through. Also, the blue isn’t as saturated as I would like; it’s kind of a dull greyish-blue. A sharp navy would’ve made me like this much better. This was my first time ordering from Fabric.com and I was very pleasantly shocked to find the order on my doorstep within 24 hours. This was coming from Georgia, USA, and I live in Toronto, Canada. Wow. Shipping rates were actually reasonable, too. I did have to pay duty to the good old government of Canada on delivery but access to fabrics I can’t find around here and such a quick delivery time was worth it.

dandeliondressback2

Next summer I will try this pattern again to make a striped racerback tank dress, but I’ll be sure to adjust the pattern before cutting out to remove the positive ease.

So long summer! It’s been nice sewin’ ya.

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Have you caught the latest episode of the Clothes Making Mavens Podcast? Listeners tell us about their proudest sewing moments, Helena and I chat about where we get our sewing inspiration from, and Maris drops some knowledge about some sewing machine presser feet you could be putting to good use.

Clothes Making Mavens Podcast Episode 5

If you’d like to be featured on our next podcast, don’t forget to get in touch and tell us your thoughts on what makes something look handmade! Can’t wait to hear from you. 🙂