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 necklineย 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.

Ombre Woodgrain Sheath Dress

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I’m so glad I was able to wrest another garment out of this fantastic ombre-woodgrain fabric, despite the anatomical challenges it presented! I first made a romper with this fabric and now this dress.

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I wanted a very simple, fairly fitted dress without a lot of seams or fuss, so I used the basic pieces from V8904, a pattern that worked really well for me previously (see my asymmetrical layered dress, which was unofficially Suzanne-Sommers-approved!). Of course I omitted the diagonal over-layers and just used the basic pattern pieces: front, back, 2 sleeves, and a neckband. There aren’t even any darts on this.

ombredress5

The sleeves on this pattern have a ton of ease, which is something I forgot since the last time I made it. (Must jot that down on the pattern cover or something for future reference.) So I found the sleeves were a bit fluttery for my liking, and instead of recutting them or doing a proper dart or something, I was super-lazy and just tacked down a little fold-over on each sleeve. My vacation departure date was approaching and there was a lot of sewing I wanted to get done before that, so I was all fuck it, lemme just do this lame hack.

ombredress2

These pictures were taken on one of the first few days of my trip to Italy, and I was able to pose for the photos without passing out from holding my gut in. Let’s just say that this dress did not get a whole lot of wear towards the end of the 3 weeks I spent eating my way through Italy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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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!

V1449_7

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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! ๐Ÿ˜€

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A Tour of my New Fabric Stash, in Which There Are No Fewer than Two References to Farts

I picked up a few new fabrics! Let me take you on a tour and maybe you can help me decide what to make. I found them all at Designer Fabrics on Queen Street West here in Toronto while on a BLIND FABRIC DATE with someone from Vancouver! I’ll keep you in suspense about that until the end of the post. ๐Ÿ˜›

Also, hello and welcome to new readers who kindly popped by this way last week for a look, after Rhonda of Rhonda’s Creative Life did a lovely review of this blog for her Wednesday Showcase. What a wonderful surprise that was! ๐Ÿ™‚

Right, so let’s tour the latest additions to my fabric stash:

Some new fabrics I bought recently

1. “Dolce & Gabbana” rayon knit with Roman floral print ($10.99/yard).

Just turn your head sideways to enjoy this. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m almost finished sewing the Burda Long Blouse below (05/2015 #111) with this material.ย  The blouse turned out to be a 4-person tent and needs some serious reduction surgery, so pics to come once it has come out of the operating room. (I’m also in the midst of sewing those “joggers”, which I can tell already I’m going to regret…but there will surely be a laughable sad-sack blog post to come out of it.)

Burda 05/2015 #111 Long Blouse #114 Joggers

But I still have plenty more yardage! I went back for seconds when I discovered how hard I’d fallen in love with it. What on earth will I do with all that loud fabric?? Perhaps an actual tent is not a bad idea.

The fabric was labeled as Dolce & Gabbana in the shop, but I’m guessing it’s simply some non-designer fabric “inspired” by D&G’s Spring-Summer 2014 collection, which featured images of roman ruins, roman coins, and florals:

dolce-and-gabbana-ss-2014-women-men-fashion-show-banner-main-page

I’m thinking I might make a summer dress with a bit of swing in the skirt. Not too many seams so as to show off the print to its best advantage, yes? But I don’t have anything in mind yet…do you have any suggestions?

2. Black, white & pink lightweight polyester knit, $6.99/yard. I’m thinking I’d like to incorporate a panel of this into a mostly black garment…maybe use it for the side panels of V8871? Or maybe just do the whole dress in it? It would also make a nice infinity scarf. I love the pops of bright pink.

3. Off-white textured stretch polyester, $6.99/yard. This one’s got a bit of body to it. The textured, blocky pattern made me think “mod”, so maybe a short 60’s-style shift dress? I do have this vintage pattern which could work:

But I think I’m leaning towards making another one of Burda’s popular Wrap Blouses (04/2014 #115). The one I made below is 4 inches longer than the pattern calls for, but perhaps I’ll make the white version more cropped & boxy, as I think that might suit the fabric better.ย  Never mind whether or not it would suit my aging pot belly better! But I’ll keep it covered with a white t-shirt underneath anyway, as those front flaps fly in fluttering flatuses*, flagrantly flashing flabbiness otherwise.

4. Black and white textured “animal-ish” print, whichย  is definitely going to turn into this diagonal-seamed shift dress, complete with exposed zipper, from Burda Easy magazine Autumn/Winter 2014 #4G:

5. Japanese printed cotton. Sorry about the wrinkly pic! This has an almost hand-painted look to it and was $13.99/yard.

I’m not usually a big fan of sewing with wovens (it’s more about wearing than sewing, actually — I much prefer to wear knits) but this fabric was pretty inspiring, especially because it has two ‘good sides’ with slightly different colours on each side. Immediately I thought of this halter dress that exploits both sides of a fabric in the design — most of the dress is wrong-side out except for the swoopy thing across the front & shoulder. I’m not sure this style of dress is something I’d be comfortable wearing, but I’m tempted to just sew it anyway because I’m feeling inspired.

If I chicken out on the halter dress — and I probably will; who needs to be farting around with strapless bras in a summer heatwave, anyway? — I think this Lynn Mizono pattern, V1410, would suit the fabric quite well. This is one of those patterns that I bought precisely because it’s a bit weird. Which is also precisely why I am unlikely to wear this one either, but highly likely to sew it.

Right, so the BLIND FABRIC DATE.ย  Vancouver Barbara is someone who comments on this blog every once in a while. She wrote that she fell so in love with the fabric I had used on this dress that she called up King Textiles in Toronto to buy some, but it turns out they wouldn’t agree to ship any unless she bought some huge amount like 12 yards or something. So she did! I thought that was awesome — she’s a woman who knows what she likes! Anyway, Barbara was passing through Toronto recently on her way to exciting places in Europe, and decided to invite me out for a coffee. Am I ever glad she took the chance! What a lovely lady. We chatted about our shared interests in sewing and art and jewelry and then popped into Designer Fabrics and the Workroom to ogle fabric. She was wearing an extraordinary patterned grey & black jacket she sewed with hot pink topstitching all over the intricate pattern — what a showstopper! Anyway, it was great to have the opportunity to meet up with a fellow sewing enthusiast and have it turn out to be such a delightful time. Perhaps when Barbara returns from her travels I’ll convince her to send me some pics of her jacket to share with you.

Thanks for reading! Do let me know if you have any suggestions for what to sew with these new fabrics!

*Most dictionaries will tell you this means fart, but I found one that gives an alternate definition of “a puff of wind”. I was desperate to milk that alliteration for all it was worth. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜›

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.

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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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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:

V8904

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???