Not So Much with the Sewing Edition

“Where are our recaps, Andrea?”

(Because I know you have been waiting on tenterhooks.)

Well. A couple of things happened:

1. A weekend of yard work and painting = no me mades, at least no daytime clothing ones. Pajamas as always are me-made, but no pj selfies, thankyouverymuch.

2. Then a sick kiddo and a day spent at home.

3. Then a funeral. And if there is anything tackier than trying to keep up a gimmick like a month of me-mades and its related drinking game during a serious loss to one’s family, particularly when all one’s me-mades are brightly coloured and mostly floral, I’d like to know what that may be.

4. Then the mirror fell off my bedroom closet door and shattered into approximately 3,923,512 pieces.

I give up.

Except not really because so many of my clothes are handmades at this point, I end up wearing them anyway. So technically I just about made the goal; if I include handmade pajamas and my leather work bag, I made it handily. And also I can’t play this particular gap in posting for laughs or shots, so here is a breather post before hijinks are resumed. God knows I could use a few deep breaths.


This Be The Verse (Philip Larkin)

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Not advice I have followed–clearly–and thank goodness, because Frances is hands-down the best thing that has ever happened to me. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be her mom, and I feel like we are un-deepening that coastal shelf, slowly. But families, man. They can be so very complicated. The ties that bind can easily be the ties that strangle.

For a variety of coastal-shelf type reasons which I am only now, at 40, beginning to untangle and explain to myself, what felt like a very close-knit extended family during my childhood drifted apart during my late teens and early twenties. I was at a loss, and a very unhappy loss as well. What happened? Why no more christmas dinners? No more family reunions? To paraphrase a recent bestseller, were they all hanging out and having fun without me?

Well thank goodness for FaceBook.

I’ll let that sentence sink in a little. I know it’s not one that you usually read.

Again: thank goodness for FaceBook, because after running into a few roadblocks in trying to get more traditional contact information, I was able to reestablish contact with my aunts and their families over the past few years. It has been such a pleasure, Dear Readers, and what a treat that is–to connect again and find out that the people you remember from when you were a child are (or have grown up to become) funny, clever, caring, generous and kind people. That they’re people you would want to spend time with even if you weren’t related. It does not always work that way with families, as I’m sure you all know, and possibly from first-hand personal experience.

Last week my Uncle Larry, who had been in declining health for a number of years, passed away. His funeral was yesterday. His branch of the extended family tree was not one I’d been able to reconnect with recently. I’d met his second wife only a handful of times, never met her daughters/his step-daughters, and hadn’t seen my cousins–his sons–since my early teens, if memory serves. How painfully awkward this must have been for them. And of course, it wasn’t good enough. One can’t swoop in and claim a family relationship just at weddings and funerals. There’s no hope of doing even that now with my uncle, which is hard to think about.

I’m tiptoeing around a football-field’s worth of eggshells here, Dear Readers. When a person dies, it is the end of a world; and for their closest loved ones as well, at least for a time, the end of the world they knew. The distance had been so great that I don’t feel I can claim a personal loss. I can’t think of a better way to put it, but how dishonest it would be for me to talk about how much I missed him, when clearly I didn’t miss him enough over the past 20 years to visit. There are people I love who are suffering terribly from this, and for myself, I feel in addition to my concern and grief for them, very keenly the loss of any future potential of reestablishing that relationship. I shouldn’t have let it go by.

Frances came with me. It was her first funeral and she was, as always, a pearl. (I told her this and she said, “What does that even mean?” I said, “It means you behaved beautifully and I’m very proud of you and I can take you anywhere.”)

Regret is a terrible take-away from a funeral. I don’t want to let it happen again. In some cases it is well and truly out of my hands, but where it isn’t, the effort must be made.

More deep breaths. And I’d love to hear any extended family stories any of you have, if you’re willing to share them.

Woods (by Wendell Berry)

 I part the out thrusting branches
and come in beneath
the blessed and the blessing trees.
Though I am silent
there is singing around me.
Though I am dark
there is vision around me.
Though I am heavy
there is flight around me.

Me May Made Recap the Second!

OK, so I have been sewing, all right, and finishing things, but I am just SO BUSY and with all of this Me Made May hassle and the selfies and the flickr and IG and blogging and what-not I just don’t know what I am going to do! Stress, people!

(How many shots was that good for?)


Here are things I wore during the second week. Some repeats, one day where I wore the Jalie jeans but didn’t take a shot, so no pic for that day. I’ve been sewing a lot for Frances–mostly t-shirts and other practical items. You will have to use your imagination on those for the moment. I also finished yet another cotton/silk underlined fitted blouse with ridiculous seam finishes, and once again am swearing off it for eternity, but I love that stuff so much I know it won’t last.

Without further ado or excuse making:

Day 8: Jalie Jeans, again! StyleArc Madeleine top
Day 8: Jalie Jeans, again! StyleArc Madeleine top
Day 9: Butterick t-shirt, McCall (I think) shorts, hand-embroidered. Because I like to put my butt on something fancy.
Day 9: Butterick t-shirt, McCall (I think) shorts, hand-embroidered. Because I like to put my butt on something fancy.
Day 10: that Vogue shirt again! RTW shorts. Frances and I were off to a movie (the Avengers) to celebrate Mothers Day.
Day 10: that Vogue shirt again! RTW shorts. Frances and I were off to a movie (the Avengers) to celebrate Mothers Day.
Day 11: Back to work. StyleArc Emily top again and another pair of their Jasmine pants.
Day 11: Back to work. StyleArc Emily top again and another pair of their Jasmine pants.
Day 12: Vogue shirt in Nani Iro double gauze and the self-drafted suede skirt.
Day 12: Vogue shirt in Nani Iro double gauze and the self-drafted suede skirt.

Imagine a picture here of the same jeans you’ve seen already many times.

Day 14: Same Butterick shirt again, this time w/ a close-up of the beading on the neckline.
Day 14: Same Butterick shirt again, this time w/ a close-up of the beading on the neckline.

Me Made May Recap the First!

All this week I have worn clothing I made myself. Even pajamas! Which you don’t get to see, sorry.

Day One: Butterick t-shirt, Jalie jeans
Day One: Butterick t-shirt, Jalie jeans
Day two: Vogue shirt, same Jalie jeans
Day two: Vogue shirt, same Jalie jeans. You can maybe tell that I am not fussed about avoiding repeats.
Day three: me in a very sloppy Renfew, Frances in my first Ottobre t-shirt pattern
Day three: me in a very sloppy Renfew, Frances in my first Ottobre t-shirt pattern
Day 4: my tea-length Moneta, with a lovely panel print
Day 4: my tea-length Moneta, with a lovely panel print
Day five: Vogue leather skirt, and Vogue cotton-silk voile underlined shirt. Now that's a mouthful.
Day five: Vogue leather skirt, and Vogue cotton-silk voile underlined shirt. Now that’s a mouthful.
Day six: Same Butterick shirt, StyleArc Jasmine pants
Day six: Same Butterick shirt, StyleArc Jasmine pants
Day seven: StyleArc Emily top, Deer & Doe Chardon skirt (lining added)
Day seven: StyleArc Emily top, Deer & Doe Chardon skirt (lining added)

Do you care? God no. Of course not. But I am here to do my level best to give you all the justification you need to get roaring drunk. Bottoms up, ladies!

Now it’s a pleated pencil skirt (Burda Pleat Pencil Skirt 03/2015)

This was a pattern that did not want to be a pleated pencil skirt at all. What it wanted to be, based on the skirt as first sewn up, was a hot air balloon.

for visualization purposes


But this would have required me to install hot air jets on top of my feet which, in addition to sounding quite painful, I’m sure would also have been much too expensive. So I cut it down.

A lot.

In the front piece on the hips I took out at least 2″ per side and maybe half an inch per side on the back. I also pegged it below the hips slightly as originally it was pretty straight (and still is, so that tells you something).

The Front. With eye-contact, just for fun. Can you see the pleats? No? Me neither.


Despite the fact that the skirt pieces made a skirt that was much too big, the waist band as measured out was too small. One day I will learn to wait until after I’ve got the rest of the pattern assembled before cutting out the waistband piece. (I cheated and added a bit of fabric to the end to get it to fit the skirt waist.)

The Back.
The Back.

I’m not sure if I totally understood the zipper instructions as this has them going up partway, but not completely, through the waistband. It’s a little weird so I added a hook and eye at the top to keep it completely closed.

And there was obviously no attempt at print-matching whatsoever.

The Side. Do you know, I had no idea that my hair matched the exterior brick on my house until I saw these pictures?


But I don’t care. It’s a casual skirt, and at this point it fits and looks pretty well like I want it to. The back centre waistband is not going to be on display much, so whatever.

You can't see them from farther away since the print is so busy, but they are there.
You can’t see them from farther away since the print is so busy, but they are there.

The fabric is a stretch cotton sateen bought at Fabricland for less than $10/metre, and given that I only used a metre–with a $5 pattern, a $1 zipper and a bit of interfacing–this skirt cost less than $20. The fabric has a good stiff hand, which works well with the pleats, and just enough stretch to make it comfortable.  I’ve got enough fabric left to make a pair of summer shorts, and I can’t wait.


The Side-Back.
The Side-Back.

Now if only I could insert an entire week of free time between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon…

How To Be 40: The first in an ongoing (and sporadic) series.

Dear Readers, I have an apology to make.

It’s recently come to my attention that I have not turned 40 properly.

Nor, apparently, was I able to conduct my 30s appropriately.

I recently bought a copy of Harper’s Bazaar for potential sewing inspiration. I don’t know why I do this. I will never have time to make all of the things I rip out of magazines every month. But there I was, with a copy of Harper’s Bazaar, and a true Come to Jesus moment.

Can you ever forgive me?

I’ve been wearing the wrong colours all along!

I guess I just didn't quite manage Fabulous.
I guess I just didn’t quite manage Fabulous.

Apparently I was meant to be wearing pink throughout my thirties. I’ll admit that I’m a little surprised. Isn’t pink often criticized as being too girly and therefore infantalizing (leaving aside all of the sexism implicit in those statements) for adult women in the workforce? Still, there it is, in black and white (and pink): In your thirties? Wear Pink!

And I didn’t. I just … didn’t! I didn’t know! Ignorance is no excuse, of course. I should have known. All these months I have been inflicting images of my thirties-self in non-pink clothing. How did you stand it?

Now that I’m 40, apparently I’m supposed to be wearing red.harpers bazaar 40s 50s

The good news is, I already have a lot of red.

The bad news is, I’ve been wearing all that red throughout the time I was meant to be wearing pink. Thank goodness I am well prepared to be 40, and now that I know, I can be sure to emphasize red in my wardrobe for the next ten years (or until the next issue comes out).

But oh god, there’s worse news: I also wear a lot of yellow. And I’m not supposed to be wearing that until I turn 50!

Do you suppose if, by wearing yellow and pink together in this outfit, they can average out to appropriate for 40? Or do I make my top half look 50 and my bottom half look 30?
Do you suppose if, by wearing yellow and pink together in this outfit, they can average out to appropriate for 40? Or do I make my top half look 50 and my bottom half look 30?

I’m so grateful to this magazine for pointing out the ways in which I have failed to choose age-appropriate colours in which to clothe myself. In an effort to make up for this gross oversight, I will continue to share with you the advice I receive from diverse sources about the proper attire for women depending on their age. Fortunately, women’s magazines seem to be full of opinions about how best to disguise our increasing decrepitude and how to prevent ourselves from strangers being forced to witness women older than 22. It’s a public service, really.

For instance, Harper’s Bazaar also informed me that I should now be aiming to look sun-kissed (but I’m pale. Can’t I just be pale? I look like a clown when I’m sun-kissed. But maybe there’s a $100 bronzer that will be light and translucent and also red enough to look like I actually do when I’ve spent a day in the sun), only use mascara on my upper lashes, and that I have 20 years to figure out how to camouflage my jowly bits by covering them with a super-dark sculpting bronzer. Thank goodness!

harpers bazaar makeup age

I, for one, welcome our media overlords. It’s a good thing they’re here to tell us women what to do.


Yep, all the alliterations for this one. It earned them.

This series titled "what am I going to wear with this skirt?" Thought one: stretch red silk blouse, bought 8 years ago. Conclusion one: Oh, I gained some weight. It doesn't really fit anymore.
This series titled “what am I going to wear with this skirt?” Thought one: stretch red silk blouse, bought 8 years ago. Conclusion one: Oh, I gained some weight. It doesn’t really fit anymore.

Earlier this year I worked through the Skirt Sloper class on Craftsy (that I bought last year and never had time for). Originally I meant to use it mostly as a way to double-check patterns before cutting out muslins; I know if the measurements align with those on my sloper, it’ll work. And it’s been fabulous for that purpose.

But then I started flipping through all of the spring fashion magazines and tearing out a lot of inspiration shots of short suede a-line skirts.

Like this one.
Like this one.

First thought: I wonder where I could find an a-line skirt pattern?


Yes, it deserves the all-caps treatment.

"No, I don't think this shirt will do. It really should be fitted."
“No, I don’t think this shirt will do. It really should be fitted.”

The suede came from Perfect Leather Goods in the textile district of TO; as they describe themselves, they have “leather for all occations.” Good for them. I’m not quite sure what an occation is but I’m sure it’s splendid.

Spelling aside, the store is a nice big maze jam-packed with all the animals skins you could dream up. Lamb, cow, goat, kid, snake, feather, reptile, crocodile; suede, leather, embossed; metallic, natural, shiny, every colour in the rainbow. Also a hint: they offer a discount to manufacturers, so you may want to claim you are purchasing for a business. I’m too honest for my own good so I paid full price. But even so, it wasn’t bad–for suede–and considering it’s 3M washable suede. I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable in trusting it to my washing machine but it does give me greater comfort in case I ever bring it to the dry cleaners.

"Better. Thank god the disaster at the buttonholes isn't visible here."
“Better. Thank god the disaster at the buttonholes isn’t visible here.”

Anyway. I followed Suzy Fuhrer’s excellent instructions in how to turn your sloper into an a-line pattern and made up a muslin, and then drafted a waistband. It fit, but I gave it a few tweaks to make it just a smidge less full. I left the muslin open on the side front seam instead of the centre back, to make it easier to get on and off and make adjustments with.


So I redrafted the waistband.

And used my new fancy-pants cold rubber tape along all of the seam allowances, just like I was supposed to with the leather one.

Innards. Cold tape visible on the one seam, then top stitched down. Same lining as the leather skirt. Hem is just taped up w/ double-sided tape. This suede is really thin and soft and I didn't want to punch any more holes in it than I had to
Innards. Cold tape visible on the one seam, then top stitched down. Same lining as the leather skirt. Hem is just taped up w/ double-sided tape.

Sewing it together was fairly uneventful. This time I used regular poly thread rather than upholstery thread (never use cotton on hides) because I couldn’t find a good colour match in heavy-duty thread, and used double-sided tape to flatten the seam allowances after hammering them with the mallet. This suede is fairly thin and I didn’t want to topstitch anywhere I didn’t need to. I did top-stitch on the sides.

Waistband folded over and sewn down flat, without folding, cold rubber tape on the outside of the seam to act as an additional stay.
Waistband folded over and sewn down flat, without folding, cold rubber tape on the outside of the seam to act as an additional stay.

The zipper (a regular one; the suede feels too light for a metal zipper and I didn’t want to monkey with the invisible zipper foot on suede) was inserted with a lap. It went in pretty well, I think. A bit of hand-stitching was needed at the very bottom but otherwise my machine offered no complaints.

I decided to have three buttons on the waistband, two real and a fake, which meant two bound buttonholes on suede. This was by far the most challenging part of the whole garment. Let me offer some general observations:

Egads. What a disaster.
Egads. What a disaster.

1. Get rid of every bit of excess on the inside of the waistband that you can before putting the buttonholes in. Three layers of suede plus interfacing plus random cold rubber tape bits plus welts are not going to want to fold over and lie flat.

See what I mean? The reverse of the bound buttonholes, aka an utter mess, and so much hand-stitching to try to make it lie flat  that it was beginning to rip.
See what I mean? The reverse of the bound buttonholes, aka an utter mess, and so much hand-stitching to try to make it lie flat that it was beginning to rip.

2. Go for the technique in the How to Sew Leather, Suede, Fur book, not the technique you’re used to using on fabric. Trying to get umpteen layers of skins to fold over and lie flat long enough to stitch them in place after you pull the welt through will give you hives, then nightmares.

3. Use bigger welts. It is very, very, very difficult to manipulate such itty bitty pieces of folded skin.

That said, they look ok when the buttons are in, but I wince when I see them naked, as it were.

Stay buttons! I used 'em!
Stay buttons! I used ’em!

The skirt fits just right and is the exact overall look I was going for. Oh my god, I’m a fashion designer!

The Back.
The Back.




Well, no. I’m not. But my first self-drafting adventure went pretty well and I’m happy with the skirt.

Group Think: When Two Heads are Worse than One (Science and Sewing, in one post at last!)

It’s my untested belief that expertise in any technical field will result in a near-total loss of respect for journalism.

I know it did for me. The more I learned about climate change, the biodiversity crisis, environmental regulations, and renewable energy, the more I realized that newspaper articles reflected reality only by chance, in passing. More often, an ill-equipped person with good writing skills and no critical thinking ability would write a piece far outside of their education and background by interviewing a bunch of people who claimed to be experts, without evaluating their credentials. We get climate change pieces giving equal weight to well-respected international climate experts and oil-funded PR hacks, pieces on renewable energy with well-reasoned arguments by scientists quoting the best available information and fruit-loop arguments by naturopaths who wouldn’t recognize a herz if it came up and hit them on the head.

And you end up with a voting public almost completely muddled on key issues because they’ve come to the completely totally 100% incontrovertibly WRONG conclusion that there are two sides.

Of course people are entitled to their opinions. I am legally well within my rights to believe that Mars is peopled by winged skeletons who worship Lily Allen. But the legal right to hold an opinion is not the same, and can’t be the same, as the attitude that reality is then required to bend to accommodate that opinion. No matter what I believe, Mars is in fact NOT peopled by winged skeletons who worship Lily Allen, or by anything at all. The experts are right and I am just plain wrong. (Or I would be, if I held that opinion.)

This set of science experiments sheds some light on the psychology of our inherent tendency to give equal weight to two contrary opinions, even when one comes from an expert and the other does not. Fortunately, for those of you who have no intention of purchasing the article for the low-low price of $10, you can also read this fun summation in the Washington Post.

This went on for 256 intervals, so the two individuals got to know each other quite well — and to know one another’s accuracy and skill quite well. Thus, if one member of the group was better than the other, both would pretty clearly notice. And a rational decision, you might think, would be for the less accurate group member to begin to favor the views of the more accurate one — and for the accurate one to favor his or her own assessments.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, report the study authors, “the worse members of each dyad underweighted their partner’s opinion (i.e., assigned less weight to their partner’s opinion than recommended by the optimal model), whereas the better members of each dyad overweighted their partner’s opinion.” Or to put it more bluntly, individuals tended to act “as if they were as good or as bad as their partner” — even when they quite obviously weren’t.

The researchers tried several variations on the experiment, and this “equality bias” didn’t go away. In one case, a “running score” reminded both members of the pair who was faring better (and who worse) at identifying the target — just in case it wasn’t obvious enough already. In another case, the task became much more difficult for one group member than the other, leading to a bigger gap in scores — accentuating differences in performance. And finally, in a third variant, actual money was offered for getting it right.

None of this did away with the “equality bias.”

The research psychologists attribute this to our need to belong to groups and get along with people. It seems that need outweighs any practical consideration, a good deal of the time, including when money is on the line. Fascinating, right? People who are right and know they’re right defer to people they know are wrong in order to get along and maintain group dynamics, even when it costs them to do so.

When it comes to climate change, this is a serious problem.

Aside: Climate change is a real thing that is really happening and is a complete and total catastrophe. There is no debate on this point in any credible scientific circle. If you think that there is, I’m so sorry, but you’ve been had.


We end up not moving forward with policy solutions because we keep acting like the actual experts and the paid non-expert hacks share some kind of equivalence when they patently don’t.

But–and I’m sure I’m not the only person thinking this–it’s present in every community, including the SBC.

Ah! See? I told you I’d come around to it.

People act as if the opinions and contributions of experts and amateurs are equivalent when they are not.

Thankfully, the fates of human civilization and a minimum of 30% of animal and plant species do not rest on this fact. The worst that happens in most cases is that a person walks around for a good long time in a garment that looks like utter shit and feels really fabulous about it. On a scale of worldwide catastrophe, it doesn’t even rank.

On the other hand, as this science makes pretty clear, an entire generation of sewers are being educated largely by internet celebrities who are too incompetent even to understand how incompetent they are. It’s not a catastrophe, no, but it is a crying shame. And as predicted by the social psychologists, if anyone ever speaks up to point out that some of them are experts and other are, well … not …, they are pilloried as Mean Girls, jelluz haterz, and bullies.

Aside 2: Yep, I count myself in the group of people sometimes wandering happily about in a garment that on later reflection was not up to snuff. It happens. We’re all human. I won’t melt if someone points it out, though tact is always preferred. It doesn’t count as “bravery” to “put yourself out there” if you feel entitled to nothing but praise; and if you’re going to present your work in public you need to be prepared for public criticism.


So it’s not the end of the world, no, but it’s a detriment to all of us. The people getting the money, in many cases, haven’t earned it; the people with valuable skills to share don’t have the platform to do so; we keep acting as if everyone’s equal when they’re not to be Nice and keep everyone happy, even though not everyone is happy; there are entire boiling lava rivers of resentment and bitterness flowing right under all the green meadows we’re so happily skipping over (in our badly-pressed culottes and boxy tops with peter pan collars, no less). It’s weird. Can’t we, as an online culture, agree that it’s not a violation of the Geneva Convention if someone points out that a hem is crooked or a print isn’t matched? Does it matter if it’s not “nice”? Don’t we all benefit from increased honesty and openness? Do any of us actually expect to be perfect, or need to be treated as if we are perfect in order to function day to day? If you really don’t want people to point out how you fucked up, is it so much to ask that you acknowledge it yourself, then? Hey look at this horrible side seam–I really fucked up!

That went off on a bit of a tangent. Pardon me. Let’s drag it back on track:

The Equality Bias! It makes everything worse while we smile and pretend nothing’s wrong. Fight it!

Playing with Ponte (Style Arc Madeleine Ponte top)

I wish I'd been wearing shorts for this pictures. It was so, so hot outside.
I wish I’d been wearing shorts for this pictures. It was so, so hot outside.

Here in Southern Ontario, spring is a funny season. It can last for anywhere from two months to two minutes. Sometimes it has an existential crisis and seesaws back and forth between winter and summer, alternating snow flurries and thunderstorms, for a month or so before it finally turns hot for real.

The first week of April was winter. We wore our heavy jackets, stared longingly at the dirt waiting for shoots of green, greeted every weather forecast of flurries with bitter tears.

The second week of April was summer. We wore shorts. Spring lasted for about ten hours.

The side, kind of sort of. You can see here that the waistband is above my waist, but more on that below. You may also be able to see a fine sheen of sweat on my face; I should have worn shorts!


The cold will come back, of course. We’ll take out our coats again and put the shorts away for a little while longer, which is entirely fair since we’re still waiting for tulips and magnolias to bloom. (Case in point: the day I took these photos it was 21C. It’s a good one hour hike, largely uphill, to get to this spot; so you can imagine by the time I got there I was glowing, as they say. As I post this it is about 4C.)

But in that brief summery interlude, I finished my Madeleine Ponte top, and got to wear it outside. A couple of times, actually. It was great. Nothing like the feeling of hot sun on bare skin after a long cold winter.

The Back!
The Back!

The backstory is more complicated.

The Madeleine Ponte top was the free pattern in April, and I loved the style lines and the pattern sample, so I bought some of the other patterns I’d had on my wish list and got this one sent along as well. Picking a size was a challenge; I knew the construction would be complicated and wanted to pick something with the fewest number of alterations. In the end I decided to size down to a 10 and do an FBA.

Pattern sample from Style Arc. Note lack of excess fabric below the band, and snug fit of waist that does not go right up on to the bust.

The ponte is a lovely poly/rayon blend from Fabricland, on sale for $8/metre. I have it in a nice coral red too (of course) and I plan to make up the same shirt in that fabric now that I’ve worked through the fitting woes (I think).

Because there were fitting woes.

First off, figuring out how to do an FBA on this shirt was a trick. Here’s the front pattern piece.


Well, it's all of the pattern pieces actually.
Well, it’s all of the pattern pieces actually.

SA doesn’t mark waist or bust lines on their patterns so I folded the pleats in place, held it up to me in about the right position and marked the bust/waist points myself. Then I spent a couple of days tracing it out, cutting it apart and taping it back together in a new configuration, deciding I’d done it wrong, and trying again. I actually got so far as to cut out a version with a different style of FBA before deciding that it wasn’t right and trying yet again with the version you see here.

Once I got something I thought would work and cut it out for real and serged it up, it became clear that there were Issues. As in, despite the size being smaller than I should fit into, it was too big.


Does this look like the pattern sample to you?
Does this look like the pattern sample to you?

The Madeleine is shown by Style Arc to be a fitted top, and yet I had inches of extra fabric pretty much everywhere below my waist. The top front was fine (so yay, the FBA worked) but the rest needed major work.

I did a couple of things:

1. Opened up the horizontal back seam, and took it in by about an inch in the centre, tapering to nothing at the sides, to get rid of excess length. You can’t see the back in the picture above but, as always, it was way too long for me.

2. Opened up the right side seam and took in about 2″ everywhere below the band.

It helped a lot, but it still needs work. I need a smidge more space in the shoulders, and the front top isn’t long enough–the band is above my waist. It probably needs about another inch in length in the front. Taking 2″ out of the side seam was a very imperfect solution. I need to resize the front lower piece so that it is 2″ narrower all across the front, or even better, 1.5″ narrower, and then take another 1/2″ out of the back.

I don't know why it looks like I'm levitating here. I promise my butt is firmly planted on a nice big stone.
I don’t know why it looks like I’m levitating here. I promise my butt is firmly planted on a nice big stone.

The arms and the neck fit well, and I do like the design of the shirt. It’s different and interesting and comfortable, and I know I’ll make it up again. But do be warned that there is excess ease in this pattern. My advice is to buy at least 2 sizes down from what you think you’ll need, and make adjustments from there.

The photo shoot did get me out into the woods, where I got to see the trout lilies starting to come up and the coltsfoot blooming, and that made me happy. Life of a single mother, Dear Readers: when you combine your daily exercise, nature therapy and blog photo shoot into one outing, then pick up groceries and prescriptions on the way home.

Oh! Also:



More on that in a post where I did more than just the hem. But hey! It was pretty fun.

Me Made May, 2015

The Me Made May challenge is a bit controversial in sewing circles (or at least, the ones I travel in), but I enjoyed doing it last year so I’m signing up again. Last year it clarified for me that I really needed pants and shorts, not more skirts; and filling those gaps in the handmade wardrobe was very, very handy. This year, I want to focus on those days when I end up not wearing anything handmade (except for the work bag). Why is that? What is it on those days that causes me to reach for the store-bought? Is it that the handmade in the closet isn’t comfy? doesn’t match? is too dressed up, or not dressy enough? Are there particular kinds of garments I haven’t sewn enough of to get through a laundry cycle without them?

That’s the goal.

Here’s the statement I left on So, Zo’s blog:

I, Andrea, will wear handmade clothes every day for the duration of May, 2015.

That leaves some space for using OTR as part of an outfit if and when I need to, but will certainly make the whole thing more challenging.

I’ll try to keep outfit posts on Instagram and/or Flickr, but you’ll see round-up posts here occasionally. I’m going to try to have more fun with the photos too. And of course some of you may want to stock up your liquor cabinet–you know who you are.

It only took me ten months (rayon V8963 top)

I made a wearable muslin of the top from this Vogue coordinates pattern package last spring, and loved it. NowI finally made it up as a ‘real’ garment.


I don’t know why it’s been so overlooked. I can’t find any reviews online. Let me correct that:

The sleeve construction is very cool. Kind of like a raglan-sleeve, only flutter style, and at the back it’s joined in towards the middle so you get this overlap.

The shirt is the top part of the dress.

The back shaping is totally awesome. I know that makes me sound like Jem. I do not care. There are four pieces, fitting snugly through the back and then flaring out at the hips.


The whole thing is cut on the bias so, if you choose a good drapey fabric, you will have a flattering fit.

Let’s just pretend that everyone must agree this is flattering. OK?


The front has no darts; they’ve been rotated out to gathers at the neckline, which provide  shaping while still giving plenty of room to get the shirt on and off.

And it is lined, and the lining is joined in such a way as to get all of the seams inside the lining, so no seam finishing is required.


It is a lovely, woven pullover top without closures and with good shaping.

My first wearable muslin was a bit loose in the waist for my liking, and a bit snug through the bust. So this time I added an inch–cut the pattern in half horizontally below the armscye, cut the top half in half vertically, slid each 3/4″ out from the centre line, taped them back down, then trued them up with the waist a size down. I gathered in from the same points on the neckline so I didn’t have to change the facing pieces at all. I also added an inch to the outside of the sleeve to account for my shoulders. The only thing I would change on this new fit is that the back is a bit loose at the armscye. I’d snug that up a bit next time, maybe 1/2″ on each side. And yes, there will be a next time on this top; I just love it. It is comfy, classy, flattering and easy. A bit time consuming due to all the pieces involved, and take some care when attaching the lining to the armscyes, but follow the directions and be patient and it will all work out.


This was made up with Fabricland (the Canadian one) floral rayon challis on sale–so not fancy!–and lined with the same in a solid white. It’s incredibly soft and drapey and a real pleasure to wear.


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