Category Archives: sewing

tova

I’m a little late to the game on this one. It seems the Tova top and dress has been around a long time. Still, I like the loose but structured look of it. Great for everyday.

I downloaded the pattern on Saturday night and by Monday morning I’m wearing my new Tova! This was a fun top to work on. I used some cotton that I had on hand just in case it didn’t work out – a wearable muslin so to speak. I like the menswear style print but it’s a bit stiff. Next time I’ll make it with a lighter lawn or linen. You definitely need a serger for this one. I can’t imagine doing French seams around the yoke or sleeves. I took my time and I’m really happy with how it all worked out. The sizing was exact and I didn’t need to make any alterations. Would have been great if ease was included and to have a marking for natural waistline in case of multi-size alterations but other than that, a super well made pattern.

Hoping the grey skies let up soon so I can get some better photos. Happy Monday to you all!

adventures in sewing: the search for the perfect dress (part three)

Last but certainly not least, the Lisette Continental dress. As with the others, I made quite a few adjustments. There is a lot of ease in this pattern so I went down to the smallest size and there was still lots of room. Then I used the measurements from dress number one to add some shaping around the mid section. And voila! This one is great for over tights and a long sleeve t-shirt or just on it’s own in summer. It’s loose enough around the middle that it’s super comfy but there is enough shaping so that it isn’t a sack. Like the BBW dress, it can be worn with or without a belt. Since the construction is pretty simple, I did French seams on the sides. I like the self-bias facing technique. Quick and easy! Even with the alterations it probably took 3-4 hours over two days. I will definitely be making more of these. But I don’t think I’ve found the perfect one quite yet. I’m excited to try the new Diplomat dress. A-line is always good for me. I also have the pattern for the Portfolio dress which seems to get a lot of attention. On with the search!

adventures in sewing: the search for the perfect dress (part two)

This was made using a vintage sewing pattern as a starting point. I am lucky to have a friend who is not only a costume maker but also a collector of vintage sewing patterns. With her help I created a pattern exactly for my shape based on a sweet and simple a-line dress. Through the process of making a muslin, transferring alterations to paper and doing it all over again we came up with this. It’s a time consuming process but so worth it. I’ve made this dress twice and I am thinking of making it once more in black. Being quite fitted, it is a pretty formal dress, not something I would wear to take the kids to the park but perfect for a summer night out.

I have one more dress pattern to share tomorrow.

adventures in sewing: the search for the perfect dress (part one)

Over the next few days I thought I would share some dress patterns that have worked well for me and the adjustments that I made.  It’s been a long haul trying to find options that are not only comfortable and quick to put together but also works with my pear shape. I am so grateful for people like Wendy Mullin and Liesl Gibson for making commercial patterns that work. If you have ever tried to sew from a commercial pattern you know that the sizing can be all over the map! These ladies really know what they are doing and their patterns are a dream to work with.

I began my quest for the perfect dress a few years ago with this one.

Simplicity 3835 is pretty quick to sew, although I did fiddle a bit with the fitting at first. I ended up using different sizes for above and below the waist to make sure it had a good fit. Thank goodness for adjustable patterns! Still it has a bit of ease making it very comfortable. I’ve made it in linen and cotton, in three different lengths and I have to say it is still my go to dress/top pattern when I need a quick fix. I tried the zippered version and the facing version, with and without pockets and various sleeve lengths but this one is my favourite. I like the elastic neckline, shortest sleeves, tunic length without pockets.

Next up, something a little more fitted but just as comfy.

sewing with lots of kids

Once a year, our little school invites parents to come in and do a short workshop with the children. Next week I’ll be doing my third and last hand sewing workshop. I am always so surprised at what kids can accomplish in twenty minutes. You might think the girls are all over it and the boys are simply polite (or less so) but you’d be wrong. Interest in sewing is pretty evenly split down the middle and I don’t see gender playing any part in it. It’s pretty exciting to see them turned on by something they haven’t done before and it’s a bit daunting for me to come up with something they like. Also, for many of these kids, hand sewing is something new so I like to give them a strong foundation in the basics so they can pick it up on their own if they like.

Sewing School (website and book) is a great resource for sewing with large numbers of kids. They have such great project ideas and show you how to break them down into steps. I highly recommend this book to anyone teaching sewing to kids. It really helps define expectations and allows you to tailor your projects to the abilities of the group, making it way less frustrating for you and the kids. I’ve also learned through trial and error that a ratio of 4-5 kids per adult seems to work well. It’s good to have lots of volunteers!

I would love to have a burlap sewing table like this one so we could create a large piece but the logistics are just out of reach for us. So this year I thought we could make these little treasure pouches.

It seems kids are always filling their pockets with bits of nature and small toys so I thought this might help with the collecting and management of all those bits. It also helps that I have hundreds of three inch squares left over from last year’s project so the prep is easy peasy! Here’s what you need in case you want to try this too.

Materials:

two felt squares (any size)

embroidery floss

embroidery needle (chenille, size 22 work great)

button

chalk

This is a project suitable for 5-9 year olds since that’s the age range I’m dealing with.

To start, sew the button on one square, centering it about a quarter of an inch from the top. Then place the other square on top and using a piece of chalk, draw a line where you feel the button. Fold the piece you drew on in half with the chalk mark on the outside and the sides together so that you can snip along the line to make your button hole. Then line the pieces back up again with the button on the inside and sew them together, leaving the top edge open. You can use a whip stitch as shown or try a running stitch or blanket stitch to change it up. If you want to make a little larger pouch you could also sew on a piece of ribbon for a shoulder strap.

Now what to put inside?

fold over clutch

I’m not sure yet if I’m a clutch person. I feel like I might leave it behind if it’s not attached to my body. But I came across this clutch tutorial and it looked so right for my hand dyed fabrics that I thought I would give it a try. Mine is slightly smaller to accommodate a nine inch zipper. Both of the fabrics were hand dyed on the stove using idye. The outer fabric is a linen (originally pink) dyed with gun metal and the lining fabric is a natural organic cotton dyed with chartreuse. It is such a crazy bright colour for me. I can bear it in small amounts like this though. I really like the way the zipper set in. I may still add a little leather strap. I don’t think I’m ready for freestyling it yet.

turquoise

I turned a piece of pale yellow linen into this stack of bright turquoise thanks to a package of idye. I liked using idye. The dyeing process was easy and satisfying but the colour was not as uniform as I would have liked. The pot I was using was a little too small for the amount of fabric despite cutting it down to two pieces.

I’m not sure what will become of it now. I had planned to make the go to dress/top but I think the lack of uniform colour might look odd. Thinking about making this tote instead or maybe a fold over clutch. Perhaps both. Still getting used to bright colours. I am going to see what gun metal does to a piece of pink linen next.