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

Guys, I *bled* for this one

Ok, who else has done this? I sewed through my finger for this shirt! And you might be just as surprised as I was to find out, given that this blog is generally littered with expletives, that I remained rather calm and collected when it happened. I sat quietly holding my finger thinking, “I’m only going to react if I just broke my twin needle, and if I did I’m gonna absolutely lose my shit.” The needle was miraculously intact; my finger not so much. Me? I remained miraculously calm. And didn’t get any blood on this white fabric. (Funny, my husband and #unsungsewingbloghero was inquiring about Sewzilla just today, expressing his relief that she hasn’t shown up around these parts for a pretty long while. Sewzilla was almost unleashed that day but for the intact twin needle. I’m sure she’ll visit again another day sometime soon.)

DonnaKaranTee1

I chalk the accident up to having recently purchased a new sewing machine, with which I’ve been having huge troubles in terms of sewing lightweight knit fabrics. So after pfaffing around* with the new machine to no avail, I switched back to my old machine, which has a bit more space around the needle mechanism. Seems my old-machine-muscle-memory didn’t kick in fast enough and I just got a little too damn CLOSE. I’m grateful it wasn’t a mishap with the serger, which could have been a whole lot worse. Once I accidentally neglected to remove a pin before it got to the serger knife and the pin broke in half and flew off into the air (and happily not into my eye).

Anyway, it wasn’t a bad injury — the needle went though the side of my fingertip creating a bit of a gash but it healed up fairly quickly.

How about you? Got any good sewing injury stories to swap? Or near misses? Such an extreme sport this is!

DonnaKaranTee2

Anyway, about this shirt. Nothing too exciting here, but I needed a basic long sleeved tee…because you can never have too many. (Or, on second thought, actually, maybe you can have too many.) In any case, I thought I’d try Vogue 1389, a Donna Karan pattern featuring a blazer, skirt, and fitted tee. The tee design has side seams that curve around to the back, which I think you can see in the pic above, and a wide neckband. I modified mine so it had full-length sleeves instead of 3/4 and I left off the cuff bands.

DonnaKaranTee3

I had a helluva time getting this collar to lie flat! Evidence: here’s the first hilariously lame-ass try at sewing it in…


After a few rippings-out and re-sewings, it’s still not quite perfect, but I can live with it. The neckline rides up away from my shoulders while I’m wearing it. But if I were a gorgeous young model I’m sure it would sit perfectly and not dare budge like it does in the pattern photo below. (Did someone elongate the model’s neck in Photoshop? No one can possibly have a neck that long in real life, can they??)

Vogue 1389

Verdict: this top is a pretty quick sew (depending on whether your neckband sewing skills are better than mine, of course) and it’s a very good wardrobe basic. Be warned that it is designed with quite a lot of negative ease, so it’s very fitted, which for my comfort level makes it not so great for wearing on its own but very good for layering under other things in colder weather.

Thanks for stopping by for a look! And a very happy Thanksgiving weekend to Canadian readers! No doubt with the federal election coming up next week, there will be plenty of family fights around the table. Bring lots of wine!

*ohmygod it feels like I’ve been waiting my whole sewing blog life to use that pun! THAT FEELS SO GOOD! I’ll freely admit that neither of my sewing machines are Pfaffs but I just could not pass up an opportunity for a bad pun. Pfaffing around!!!! I slay myself. (At least I slay someone.) Here’s the definition of faff in case you have no idea wtf I’m talking about. Apparently it’s a British thing.

Goin’ out in my birthday suit, courtesy of Vogue 8998

V8998 dress

Last month I had a birthday (um, 29th, of course) so I decided to ‘treat’ myself to a new me-made dress. I put ‘treat’ in quotation marks because somehow I never seem to remember that sewing takes longer than I think it should, and that having a hard deadline — a birthday party starting at 8:30 on the Saturday night on which I was trying to finish the dress — is really NOT such a good idea for avoiding stress and remaining gracefully serene…y’know, like I usually am. 😛

V8998 dress

Nonetheless, my alter-ego Sewzilla got this done with minutes to spare, and her tension was soothed with a hard shot of liquor gingerly handed to her by her awesome husband when the hem was finally done. Knock it back, and ready for the party!

I made View A of Vogue 8998, a pattern I was drawn to because of the amazing colour of the dress on the cover. That yellowy-green has got to be my favourite colour of all time. What do you call that, anyway? Chartreuse? Limeade? I’ve had several unfortunate incidents with wall paint in that shade — I’m a deliberately slow learner when it comes to wall paint and that colour — particularly that time I painted the bathroom. It’s hard enough to face the mirror each morning without also having a bonus sickly yellow-green cast on my face. Much better used in clothing!

V8998

V8998

I made the dress with a fantastic embossed scuba-like fabric I found at Fabricland. Sorry about the grainy pics — it was too damn cold to go outside for better light.

bdaydress6

I made a couple of modifications to the pattern: I omitted the zipper since this fabric has great 4-way stretch, and I took away some of the fullness of the skirt by folding a triangular ‘slice’ out of each of the skirt panels, like this:

I folded out a triangular slice of each skirt panel piece to reduce the overall fullness of the skirt. I folded from where the panel starts to flare down to the hem.

I folded out a triangular slice of each skirt panel piece to reduce the overall fullness of the skirt. I folded just from where the panel starts to flare down to the hem, so as not to screw up how the skirt fits to the high waistband.

V8998 dress

When I cut the pattern pieces I modified the back bodice to be higher (I was worried I wouldn’t like the low-cut back), but once I put it together I cut the back lower as the pattern calls for and I loooooove the look of it.

v8998 dress

My only tiny regret is that I forgot to centre the fabric pattern on the front bodice piece when I was cutting. It’s no big deal, but it would have been a nice touch to have the pattern sitting symmetrically on the front. I made no attempt to line up the pattern otherwise or even ensure it was running in the same direction on the skirt panels. I don’t think it matters with this pattern.

V8998 dress

I used just about 1.75 yards of fabric for the dress, which means I have enough left over to try to rip off this cute design by Ted Baker, and save myself about $170. We’ll see…

Ted Baker Jacquard Top

The dress survived a fun evening at a rock n roll bar with friends mostly intact (the dress, not the friends, although they’re mostly intact, too). I had this ‘great idea’ to take an ‘After’ shot, and use the hundreds of empty liquor bottles we had in the house — we were doing a bottle drive for charity, really! — for a shot of me in the dress lying amongst the scattered bottles passed out. But, I’m afraid you’ll have to use your imagination on that one, as my fear of such a picture making the rounds in my professional circle won out over my desire for an awesome laugh. Maybe I should’ve had a few more drinks. 😉

Electric (Blue) Ladyland: the Lady Skater Dress

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The finished Lady Skater dress

My husband is very, very relieved this dress turned out.  You see, on Saturday morning I was on my second attempt of ripping out one hot mess of a neckband on this while managing to put a hole in the fabric where there shouldn’t have been one. (And YES, I was using the seam ripper in a way that someone who cared about their fabric wouldn’t have been using it.) And because this dress wasn’t coming together the way I’d hoped, I decided that my whole life was ruined, that the house needed a top-to-bottom enema, that I was a lazy slug who wasn’t getting enough exercise, that I needed to completely rethink my life, and that I was definitely, DEFINITELY finished with sewing. For GOOD. Never, EVER going to sew again. You know the drill. Smart man that my husband is (or perhaps it’s just a strong self-preservation instinct), once my tirade was over he silently and slowly backed out of the room and disappeared up to his office/guitar room to hide out for a while.

After getting out of the house for a bit, I decided to have another go at this damn dress, and…a miracle happened. Everything just…worked. The neckband? Nary a wrinkle or hole or crooked topstitch to be found. So I kept going. And, a couple of hours later and ten minutes before we were due at our neighbours’ house for a barbeque, I had a really cute dress! So I hadn’t had time to finish the hem — I decided to wear it out anyway. The neighbours said what a great dress, and I said THANK YOU I JUST FUCKING SEWED IT! Ok, I didn’t say that, but that was the level of exuberance and relief and catharsis with which I accepted their compliments.

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Who me, freak out over a neckband? Never.

This is the Lady Skater Dress from Kitschykoo, available as a downloadable PDF for GPB 6.50 (I dunno how to get a pound symbol sign out of this keyboard so I’m not even gonna try.)  Look how friggin cute it is. Impossible to believe that only hours before, this innocent-looking woman in an electric-blue dress was a complete Godzilla. (I was toying with Sewzilla, but that’s a bit of a stretch, no?)

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That moment when you realize you have VPL

That moment when you realize you have VPLs

I think this took me about 8 hours all in to finish, not including the excruciating day I waited to hear back from the designer to confirm whether or not seam allowances were included in the pattern pieces. In the end I asked Lauren of Lladybird, whose super-cute tiger print version of the dress was what inspired me to buy this pattern, and she confirmed that the seam allowances are, in fact, included. Which meant I could trim away the 3/8″ seam allowances I had added to all the pieces, including that damn hole I had accidentally put in the bodice piece by the neckband. So happy ending.

But even though this took ME a long time, don’t think it’s not an easy pattern. Amanda from Kitschykoo has put together a fantastic pattern that’s very easy to adjust for size and the directions are very detailed and include links to tips & tutorials for beginners. There are only 6 pieces to deal with (ok, 9, if you count the neck & armbands) so in theory it can come together in no time at all. For me, it was the inherent pitfalls of working with a lightweight jersey, and not being careful enough with pinning and sewing. On another day, I could just have well have nailed this in 3 hours.

This is an amazingly comfortable dress and for such a simple design I do kinda feel like a million bucks in it. The bright blue is really eye catching. I’m thinking this would look great with a jersey wrap belt in red or yellow … perhaps I’ll make one of each. And I’m already thinking of making a second dress in yellow, despite all my challenges on this one. I’m assuming, though, that my husband would rather I just didn’t sew anything for a while. 😉

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Obligatory cat picture.