Blazer! Prequel

So. I made a blazer!

Such is my dedicated to my blog, Dear Readers, that I took these pictures outside in the dark and the cold.
Such is my dedicated to my blog, Dear Readers, that I took these pictures outside in the dark and the cold. Oh, and yes, that is my silk-cotton blouse underneath

It is not perfect (and this is where you will come in), but I did make it, and it is not completely embarrassing.

I used Style Arc’s Sara jacket pattern, with some modifications: widened the hips by about an inch, and broadened the shoulder by half an inch on each side.

I used fusible cotton interfacing, with the seam allowance snipped away first.

I also watched this Craftsy class–the whole way through, twice–in order to get a solid grasp of what I was about to do. And just in case you’re wondering, which you probably aren’t, I’d been tackling cutting out the jacket, lining and interfacing pieces over about 6 weeks.

One thing I learned from Ms. Howard was that fusible interfacing is not suited (ha!) to suits made from finer materials, and that I could expect bubbling or separation if I used a wool. This is a poly-wool, and there is definitely some separating, which is irritating. So next time, with the wool, I’m going to go for the full pad-stitching-with-hair-canvas approach.

My Blazer! has welt pockets.

Very bright welt pockets.
Very bright welt pockets.

It has an ease pleat in the back.

You can't see the ease pleat, but it's there!
You can’t see the ease pleat, but it’s there! Also, please excuse the weird colour change. It’s the camera, not the blazer.

It has jump hems.


It has vents on the sleeves.

The pattern calls for three buttons, but I'll be damned if every store I looked in failed to have more than four buttons in an appropriate size and colour.
The pattern calls for three buttons, but I’ll be damned if every store I looked in failed to have more than four buttons in an appropriate size and colour.

The shoulder seams sit on my shoulders. The waist and hips fit fine–and the waist would have fit better if I hadn’t mistakenly placed the buttonholes too far from the placket edge. Oops.

Accidentally super serious suit pose, in the dark. I figured if it's getting dark early this time of year, I'd just go with it.
Accidentally super serious suit pose, in the dark. I figured if it’s getting dark early this time of year, I’d just go with it.

The sleeves, however, are too long. Next time I’d have to take 1.5″ out of the sleeve length. How do I have such short arms?

And the bust is too snug.

See that pulling? Yeah. Not ideal, really.
See that pulling? Yeah. Not ideal, really. Also not comfortable.

Now this is where my Dear Readers come in:

HOW do you do a full-bust adjustment on THIS?

Very satisfyingly jigsaw-like front jacket piece, all interfaced and everything
Very satisfyingly jigsaw-like front jacket piece, all interfaced and everything

Bottom slit is for the welt pocket. You don’t want to change that at all. Top slit is the dart. This is where I need to add space. But where do I cut it too, and how do I remove the excess from elsewhere? Do I just turn the upper part of this into a princess seam so I can adjust that fit?

I also did not add shoulder pads. I hate shoulder pads, and normally they make me look like a linebacker. But I think it did affect the fit in the shoulders a bit. It all looks a bit more gathered than it would have with some stuffing in there. That’s ok; I can live with that. Or if it comes down to it, I can open it up and put in a shoulder pad. No biggie.

The pattern also suggests that you sew the entire jacket together rather like a large purse–lining to body all the way around, leave a small gap, and then turn it inside out and close up the hole. This I did not do. I followed along with the lining installation on Modern Jacket Techniques, which worked just fine. This means I ignored the part of lining sleeve construction where it tells you to leave a gap in the seam.

There’s only one thing I must complain about on this pattern, and that’s the notches on the sleeve lining pieces. They  make no sense.

There’s a notch on the lining undersleeve pieces that says “to side seam.” Dandy. But which side seam? There are two of them on each side. In another spot, there is a double notch that corresponds to nothing, as there is no double-notch on the armscye opening at all. I did my best to install the sleeve lining in a way that made sense, but it was still puckered in spots. It doesn’t affect the way the jacket fits or feels, though.

Everything else on the pattern worked out really well. All of the other notches lined up; the cut-out darts shaped things nicely; the welt pocket pieces all matched up well.

Overall, though, the bust fitting issues and the way the pattern is constructed leave me thinking that I may be better off starting over with a new pattern for jacket #2. The Sara jacket is really innovative and it was a fun puzzle to put together, and it works so well, but it’s not as adjustment-friendly as a princess seam. And sadly, I need adjustment-friendly.

Sewing Steak

It used to be that Frances and I would take the GO train downtown and stay overnight before the Santa Claus Parade, so we could get up early enough to get a good seat. Because if you’ve never been to the Toronto parade before, be forewarned: you need to stake out a curbside seat at least 3 hours before the parade begins.

But Frances has learned that Santa Claus is not, strictly speaking, corporeal. So she was not so keen on sitting on cold concrete for three hours waiting for the parade to begin, and then another two hours wait to spend one minute waving madly to the man in the big red suit. Though I will always treasure our parade memories, I couldn’t really blame her.

Instead, we went down for a night in a fancy pants downtown hotel to celebrate her birthday a few weeks early, over a Sunday night, taking Monday off. And while I could gush (more) about the fantastic weekend we had and how much fun it is to travel with my girl, I’ll instead say that we ended up packing a bunch of handmade clothes for our weekend–both for our days and for sleeping–and it was a matter of course. They’re just comfortable basics that we wear a lot. Neither cake nor frosting–they are whole wheat bread.

Sugar-free. Staples. Delicious, toasted with butter.

No, wait. Scratch the toasting. Though whole wheat bread, if it’s nice, doesn’t have to be boring or invisible. Believe me, if you ever get the chance to have toasted walnut-and-honey bread with butter, it is delicious and you should not pass it up. A thousand times better than some frozen frosted grocery store cake.

We did have a fantastic time, of course. Frances loves clay and pottery, so we went to the Gardiner museum and they just so happened to have a kid’s xmas activity involving clay, christmas cookie cutters, texture tools and lots of slip. So that was fantastic. Then we checked out the Eaton Centre and all of the unbelievably overdone christmas lights and decorations Toronto does so well. We had our obligatory run-ins with Toronto assholes who were much, much too busy and important to allow a young girl visibly struggling to go ahead of them through various doorways, and instead pushed her aside to preserve those crucial 145 seconds of their one precious lives. This served only to remind us how glad we are not to live in TO anymore, though it is fun to visit.

Plus decadent meals. Fancy hamburgers. Room-service chicken noodle soup and french onion soup. Fantastic chocolate chip cookies made by a friend. Perfect bacon, hash browns, sausages and french toast for breakfast.

Which would be the sewing equivalent of … what? Blue jeans? Cozy sweaters? Bathrobes? A warm winter coat? A soft t-shirt? I see no skirts or dresses in that menu. Comfort food = comfort wear, no?

I’ve stretched that analogy as far as it can go, and then some, I know. It probably hit someone in the eye when it snapped, and for that I apologize. tl; dr–We went to Toronto and we wore mostly the clothes I’ve made for us and it was nice and cozy and no one asked me if I’d made those clothes because they are so utterly unremarkable, which is what makes them perfect.

Also, I need to make french onion soup very, very soon.

The blazer post is coming. I just need to upload a few more pictures. What would the food equivalent of a suit be, I wonder? Maybe a steak?

(Yep, this was a boring post. But I would love to hear about your own personal sewing/food analogies. Do you sew breakfast cereal–clothes you don’t have to think about and that don’t cost a lot of money? Or how about cheese soufflé–clothes that look incredibly impressive but are maybe not as hard as they look? Four course or fast-food? Is a steady diet of cake-and-frosting making you at all nauseous?)

Postcards from the Island of Muslins

It was super exciting when I managed to finally finish the muslining/underlining/fitting/french seaming adventure that was the floral shirt. I celebrated bursting out of my self-imposed prison with a couple of speedy makes, including the beaded shirt (yes, in comparison, that was speedy), a long-sleeved shirt for Frances out of the same fabric, and some fleecey pajamas for Frances which she had been bugging me for for weeks. Both together–shirt and pajamas–took a day. And she likes both of them and wears them regularly. This is the pinnacle of mom-sewing–making things you do not need to force your children to wear.

However, I’ve made progress on the muslins:

The leather skirt.

I sewed up a test garment in old cotton/poly twill to test for fit, basted in bright yellow thread to make the seamlines extra visible. It’s a size 16, and it’s loose. Only a bit at the hips, but quite a bit at the waist, and the waist isn’t even at my waist. So for the next muslin, I’ll cut a size 14/16 at the hips and grade to a 12 at the waist, and raise the waist/hip line by about 1.5″.

Yes, that is my not-yet-decorated tree in the background.
Yes, that is my not-yet-decorated tree in the background. Also, that is me pinching out a couple of inches at the side waist, but you can’t see them because I’m pinching them out. Well done, me.

I really like all of the seamlines. It’s an interesting skirt to put together.

I got some super shiny copper faux-leather to sew the second muslin out of. It doesn’t fray, so I can experiment with some of the leather finishing techniques and practice on something less high-stakes. Should be fun.

Oh, and I got the faux leather half-price. It’s pricier than the cotton-poly twill, to be sure, but still not expensive and hopefully I’ll get something wearable out of this one.

The Suit: Pants.

I started with a muslin in bright purpley indigo poly-wool twill (not a heavy twill; a suiting weight) of Style Arc’s Willow Pants.

Yep, they're really that bright.
Yep, they’re really that bright.

They were much, much too tight.

Not the pattern’s fault. Apparently my hips are two inches bigger than I thought they were when I bought the pattern. Oops!

So I added some ease to the hips. And as with the skirt, I raised the waist by 1.5″. This may necessitate nipping it in a bit as well; I’ll have to measure and see.

I also added the pockets from the Jasmine pants to these (the Willow pants do not have pockets in their natural state), which worked out pretty well and I’ll do that again.

Otherwise, this was another successful Style Arc pattern for me. One of their differences from other pattern manufacturers is that all of the notches, match points, dart marks, etc., are done as clips in the seam allowance. There’s very little to transfer to the fabric in terms of markings afterwards. And all of the marks lined up well; it came together quite easily. I just can’t sit down in the muslin and breathe at the same time.

Fortunately I had enough of the fabric left–even after cutting out and sewing a Blazer!–that I could make another pair of pants slightly bigger. And I did. I’ll do a separate post about them later.

The Suit: Blazer!

This needs its own post. Making this muslin was a three-day undertaking, and even though it’s “just a muslin” there’s too much to pack it into a postcard. So more soon. I used Style Arc’s Sara jacket pattern and two watchings of Craftsy’s Modern Jacket Techniques class, copious pots of Dorian Grey tea, many many chocolate coated cookies, two spools of thread, and approximately half of my monthly wireless download allowance. But it ended up in this:


with welt pockets! An ease pleat! A jump hem! Sleeve vents!


And that’s all right.

Goddammit. The roof.

For recent folks, a short recap:

Mid 2012, I bought a house. And then got a lawnmower, bbq, etc., to go with the house. As one does.
End 2012, the old car fell apart on the highway and I had to buy a new one, and my bike was stolen.
In 2013, my cell phone, laptop, printer all died. A birch tree in the backyard died and had to be taken down. And I lost my job. I found a new one by the end of the year, but still.
And in 2014, my 60-foot retaining wall rotted apart after our very snowy winter and needed to be replaced.

It’s like everything in my house is determined to break all at once. With the exception of the bike (I still haven’t replaced it), nothing could wait. The consequences of not replacing whatever it was was always more costly and difficult than going ahead with it. This is not to say that I could, by the time the retaining wall gave out, actually afford it. Single mom–one income–seriously depleted bank account thanks to house and car downpayment–ongoing mortgage and loan rendering it difficult to rebuild savings–all equals some debt for the retaining wall. Curses.


If you’ve known me for longer than fifteen minutes, you’ll likely have heard me compare the costs of climate change to a roof on your house. Yes, if the roof leaks, it is expensive and a total PITA to repair it. Maybe you can’t afford to fix it right now. You’re still better of fixing the roof, because if you don’t, you’ll end up losing your house to rot. Go into debt if you need to.

Well, guess who found shingles on her lawn this morning.

Yep. This person.

There was a massive windstorm Monday night this week, and it apparently did more damage than I was really, really, really hoping it would do. I was really, really, really hoping that the roof would last through one more winter, and I could replace it in the spring after paying down the retaining wall.

I so can’t afford to fix my roof right now. But I guess I’m going to have to.

If only I could sew a new roof … but no. What this does mean though is that my current super-strict sewing budget will need to be both stricter and in place for longer. Sigh.

I love it when I become the living embodiment of my own analogies.

Shirt Making Adventures III

And then I added buttons, and then it was done.

Mostly. I swear I followed the directions for the cuffs to the millimetre, but somehow they still ended up backwards. In that the continuous lap/placket looked beautiful, and everything on the cuff matched up gorgeously, and then I followed the directions for which side got the buttons and which side got the buttonholes, and now it is reversed. It’s not a big deal. Definitely one of those “no one else will ever notice it” things (except now that I’ve told all of you, all of you will notice it) but it irked me just the same.

so spoofable

And here are the requisite silly pictures, this time spoofing off of single working mom stock images. They all looked much too perky and well-rested. I also couldn’t help but notice that the eldest child featured in such a stock picture was six, and most of them ranged from infancy to three. Apparently once the child of a single working mom reaches the age of seven, they become completely self-sufficient, and we go back to our regular lives. Someone needs to tell Frances that.

So. Tired. As well as a 3/4 view of the shirt, tucked in.
So. Tired. As well as a 3/4 view of the shirt, tucked in.

None of the pictures really turned out very well. The shirt is so light and my house is so dark this time of year, that they just show this white floral blinding object in the middle surrounded by sharp shadows. You can’t make out any details. These are the best of the lot.

At any rate:

A really terrible side view. It gets dark here early now, Dear Readers.
A really terrible side view. It gets dark here early now, Dear Readers.

What I Like

The fabric. Holy cow. Incredibly soft to wear. Has a slight silky sheen and feels like silk, but presses and sews like cotton, so it’s really the best of both worlds. Plus the many, many colours means I can wear it with everything AND clash, at the same time! Brilliant.

The shoulder seams hit right where they should. The bust seams are just what I wanted; not too loose, but loose enough that the front plackets fall to the centre and stay there all by themselves. No gaping and no straining.

The sleeves are the right length. The collar looks ok, even though I mucked it up.

The underlining: the fabric is no longer sheer, but it’s still incredibly lightweight and the fabric layers work together as a single piece.

When no amount of caffeine is enough.
When no amount of caffeine is enough.

What I’ll Fix Next Time

Next time I’ll take the length out of the sleeve before cutting, and ignore the pattern directions for which side gets buttons vs. buttonholes on the cuffs.

I may change the angle of the sleeve head to give me slightly better range of motion. As is typical for tailored shirts, arm movement isn’t really great.

The front waist is a bit baggier than I’d expected. I may fix this at some point. In the meantime, I put a note on the pattern that the front seams should be taken in 1/4″ on each side below the bust. At the same time, I want just a bit more room in the back, so I’ll add a 1/4″ there.

SO. DARK. So few visible details.

Overall, though, it’s just what I wanted: a very colourful but still practical work shirt with buttons that close and stay closed. All of the pictures above were taken after wearing the shirt to work. The underlining is preventing it from wrinkling even with the cotton content. It’s comfortable all day. Huzzah!

B5354 again: once more, with feeling

Detail shot of the beading: navy, light blue and light purple beads, with the star-stitch and french knot in grey and black blending filament. The straight stitch at the top got stitched over during construction, so you won't see it again.
Detail shot of the beading: navy, light blue and light purple beads, with the star-stitch and french knot in grey and black blending filament. The straight stitch at the top got stitched over during construction, so you won’t see it again.

One of the most fun things about making your own clothes, to me, is being able to dress them up or down, however you like. It’s not shopping. You are not limited to the presentation on the pattern envelope.

So, I decided to jazz up one of my favourite t-shirt patterns with a bit of beading, worked into the pleats and tucks on the neckline.

This was made with fabric remnants after using the light grey cotton jersey to make two shirts for Frances, so there wasn’t enough left to cut my pattern out with full-length sleeves. I added a bit of width to the shoulders and bust point to deal with the snugness on the short-sleeved yellow one I made in the summer, and shortened the waist by 1.5″. Otherwise it was the same as before.

The finished neckline, plus the top of Simba, who has never yet met a lap he didn't own.
The finished neckline, plus the top of Simba, who has never yet met a lap he didn’t own.

After marking out the pleat spacing on the neckline, I added bits of Sulky iron-on stabilizer to the reverse side so it could support the beading. Then I just got out my beads and kind of messed around to find an arrangement that seemed like it would work with the fabric and spacing: I wanted something that would be a little bit sparkly but subdued overall so I could wear it with whatever colour I wanted on the bottom.

Once I had an arrangement that seemed like it would work, I marked the centre of each upper pleat, down through the middle in a straight line, marked 3/4″ of an inch from the cut edge (to account for sewing on the facing plus turn-of-cloth), and then marked in the lines for the long beads and the spots for the seed beads. They were sewn down using a single strand of gray cotton embroidery floss to match the shirt. Afterwards, using a single strand of the grey floss again plus a strand of kreinik blending filament in black, I added a star stitch and a french knot to each motif.

At least you get a front view. Plus a dog.
At least you get a front view. Plus a dog.

Altogether, from measuring to finishing, the beading probably added about four hours to the shirt construction time. But it worked out pretty well, and it’s now a light grey goes-with-anything shirt that manages to be a little bit special at the same time, plus one-of-a-kind.

Next time I decide I want to bead a neckline, I’ll start it more then 3/4″ from the edge. The seam is awfully close to the beads in a few places. (I sewed the facing to the front with a zipper foot so I could get super close without crushing or sewing through them–they’re all glass.) And if you are looking for any bead embellishment inspiration, this is the book I pulled out to get ideas: Bead Embroidery Stitch Samples.

Not a lot of photos on this post. I figure you got the 360 view last time I sewed this one up, and the only thing that’s really changed is that this one is a bit looser, and has beads on the front. So.

The sleeves have a few draglines going on; I think the armhole is possibly a bit on the low side, which drags up the whole sleeve as soon as I bend my shoulder or elbow. It doesn’t bother me enough to keep me from wearing it, though.

Sorry for the complete lack of eye contact in this post. It wasn’t intentional.

comic relief this post provided by Simba, who spiked the photo shoot with a howling session. Yes, I look ridiculous. And so would you, if a 7 lb wolflet started baying on your lap.
comic relief this post provided by Simba, who spiked the photo shoot with a howling session. Yes, I look ridiculous. And so would you, if a 7 lb wolflet started baying on your lap.

Shirt Making Adventures II

Which begins with restocking the thread, and ends with running out of buttons.

The sleeves is underlined; the cuff is interfaced; the ruffle is neither. You can see the colour variations of each.
The sleeves is underlined; the cuff is interfaced; the ruffle is neither. You can see the colour variations of each.

My daughter had a girl guides field trip last week which was a 30 minute drive from our home, and only ran for 1 1/2 hours. Rather than drive home to sit down for 30 minutes, stand up and drive back again, I figured I would do what any sane, sensible person would, and I hung out in the closest Fabricland instead. I’m very proud of myself: I bought the thread I needed and 1m of xmas tree fabric for making gift bags, and that was it.

Thursday, I prepped the sleeves for underlining.

Friday, I underlined one sleeve.

Saturday morning, I underlined the other sleeve, and then in the afternoon I assembled the cuffs, ruffles, and sleeves.

Then I experimented with sleeve length. See, along with this strangely short torso of mine, I also have strangely short arms. So I’d cut out the size 16 of the sleeves, and figured that would give me some wiggle room to shorten them. I pin-basted the sleeves to the blouse, tried it on and yep, too long. You could see the ends of my fingers under the ruffle, but that was it. So I cut off about 1 1/2″ from the sleeve head, retraced the curve, and re-cut the notches. They’re still a bit on the long side but really not bad.

Then they were attached to the bodice with a french seam.

And then I realized that I had no buttons the right size and the right shade of off-white. It is done now, but I’ve had no chances to get photos of me in the blouse, so that will be post #3. In the meantime, a few details:

Inside of the blouse showing the front placket and the narrow hem, along with the inside of the reverse fell seam.
Inside of the blouse showing the front placket and the narrow hem, along with the inside of the reverse fell seam. It is a bizarrely tidy shirt on the inside.
The slightly messed up collar. The alterations I have to make to the shoulders and back to make it fit always make the neck opening longer, so even though I cut out the largest size of collar, it wasn't quite large enough and I had to fiddle with joining it to the shirt. I've noted that I should just lengthen it by 1.5" past the size 16 for next time.
The slightly messed up collar. The alterations I have to make to the shoulders and back to make it fit always make the neck opening longer, so even though I cut out the largest size of collar, it wasn’t quite large enough and I had to fiddle with joining it to the shirt. I’ve noted that I should just lengthen it by 1.5″ past the size 16 for next time.
And the outside of one of the french seams, just for completeness' sake, edgestitched so it stays flat.
And the outside of one of the french seams, just for completeness’ sake, edgestitched so it stays flat.
Here's the outside of the reverse fell seam over the bust curve. Nice and neat and flat and not bulky at all. Definitely the right choice.
Here’s the outside of the reverse fell seam over the bust curve. Nice and neat and flat and not bulky at all. Definitely the right choice.

Another thing to feel guilty about.

Via Treehugger: Say! Did you know that laundering your synthetic clothing may be contributing to ocean pollution?

Apparently studies have found that washing releases up to 1900 microfibres from each piece of synthetic clothing per wash. These bits of plastic are too small to be removed by conventional filtres and water treatment, so the plastic washes out to sea, where it (along with microbeads) contributes to a serious ocean pollution problem.

This strikes me as one of those rare pieces of environmental news that has direct relevance to home sewers. While I prefer natural fibres myself, sometimes they’re just not available locally at a price that is reasonable. And sometimes they’re plain not available locally. I searched high and low for stretch cotton twill for my recent Jasmine pants, but in the end the only stretch twill I could find had a substantial poly content.

I’m in general opposed to lifestyle-scale solutions for global-scale problems, so I’m not going to tell you what kind of fabric you should buy. As the article itself notes, given how much sheddable synthetic clothing is already in circulation, that likely wouldn’t address the problem anyway, and what we really need are better filtration systems (though this raises the question of what to do with all those bits of plastic that would be flushed out of our domestic sewage systems).

Still, as home sewers, we have managed to create (or at least increase) a reasonable supply or organic and local fabrics; maybe, if there were enough demand, less easily shed synthetics would be created and sold.

In the meantime, this may be another good argument for laundering clothing less frequently. In addition to the waste of water and electricity and the pollution of water from soaps and detergents, we’re plasticizing the oceans. Fantastic. So how about we only wash our clothes when they’re dirty?

Shirt Making Adventures I

I know the fabric is busy, but the shirt’s lines are actually quite good. And princess seams are super adjustable for those of us without standard-issue upper bodies.

I gave up on off-the-racks button-up shirts a long time ago. Probably around the time that, wearing a light purple button-up blouse at a work meeting for my old job at CN Rail, I looked down to see that the third button (yes, THAT button) had popped open.

Clothing manufacturers typically base their products on a b-cup. Some of them will base their models on a c-cup. Generally, if you’re talking about a knit t-shirt or a top without front closures, you can work with what’s in the stores without embarrassing yourself; but the farther over the b-cup line you go, the more you will be risking with any shirt that has buttons.

A few years ago I thought I’d struck gold with a coral-red blouse. It had lovely long sleeves with lattice smocking stitches at the top. It was soft, and had a defined waist. Best of all, it buttoned up, and stayed buttoned up! Then I got more and more into sewing my clothes and realized that the front darts were so much higher than they were supposed to be, that we might as well call them shoulder darts. Or maybe armpit darts. Bust darts, they were not. Bother.

(It’s amazing how much these previously-missed details become obvious when you start paying attention to the fit of the clothes you make yourself.)

So a current sewing priority is button-up shirts I can wear to work that will stay closed without safety pins or glue. The yellow one from the summer worked pretty well, but it’s getting colder now, and I’d like to have some long-sleeved options.

See? Very work friendly. This is the view I am making: I thought the floral would look cute ruffled up at the end of the sleeves.

Enter the silk-cotton voile I bought 50% off this summer, and a stash pattern from Vogue. I muslined it in a blue poly a month or two ago, just enough to see that the fit was pretty good, but could use some more space in the bust. (sigh) So I added another half-inch to the side-front pieces at the bust point, and graded back to the 14-line at the shoulders and the 12-line at the waist. I shortened the back-waist length by 1.5″ all the way around, broadened the shoulders by 1/2″ on each side, and widened the hips. It’s basically a melange of 12-16+ at this point, with a bit of Size 4 Petite thrown in for good measure for the length. My torso is weird.

The main fabric--already underlined, but you can see what it looks like. Honestly it's got so many colours in it I'm not sure I could clash with it if I tried. Either that or it's self-clashing.
The main fabric–already underlined, but you can see what it looks like. Honestly it’s got so many colours in it I’m not sure I could clash with it if I tried. Either that or it’s self-clashing. In person, the colours are not so opaque.

This weekend’s challenge, though, was underlining.

Yes, underlining.

I bought two colours of the voile in the summer. One was this lovely off-white floral watercolour painterly print that I thought was just gorgeous, and I got 1.5m of it. And then I got 3m of a white, both to underline the floral print if needed, and to make a separate white shirt. The voile was incredibly sheer. Soft, gorgeous, drapey, and wonderful, but sheer.

I wasn’t entirely sure I would use the white for underlining the floral, though, until I interfaced the cuff, collar and placket pieces. The white interfacing completely changed the brightness of the print, making the background much whiter, not to mention changing the opacity. There was no way I could put those together with the sheer off-white fabric. So underlining it was.

White on the reverse, showing the underlining stitches. And also the sheerness of the fabrics. They have good opacity when put together, though.
White on the reverse, showing the underlining stitches. And also the sheerness of the fabrics. They have good opacity when put together, though.

This is, to put it mildly, an incredibly tedious process for a princess-seamed blouse. There are nine pieces to underline: three on the back, four on the front, and two sleeves. Each piece was cut out twice, once in floral and once in white; they were placed together and pressed, then a hand-basted line in the middle in silk thread held them together. Each piece was then smoothed around a magazine, the edges pinned in place, then hand-basted along the edges. It took about six hours altogether, just for the body pieces (I haven’t yet done the sleeves).

BUT. The floral is now brighter, a better match with the interfaced pieces, and no longer sheer. The layers are behaving very well together and now have the weight of a fairly drapey shirting fabric. And are still incredibly soft.

Look at those colours!
Look at those colours!

The second challenge was assembling the shirt, now that there were four layers (of very lightweight fabric, but still) in each seam.

The pattern calls for french seams, which if you are sewing-uninitiated, means that you sew the seam very narrowly the wrong way, trim down the seam allowance, flip it around, press it, and then sew it again the right way at the seam line. I’m not sure how easy that is to visualize, but basically you end up with a garment inside with very neatly encased seams–no edges. It’s a fabulous finish for lightweight fabrics, but with four layers–even of lightweight fabrics–which then becomes 8 layers through the magic of french seams–I know from experience, it makes a rigid seam line that stands up underneath the garment. This is especially unattractive on the princess seam over the bust (also learned from experience).

So I did some experimenting: a french seam; a clipped french seam; a classic felled seam; a faux-french seam (in which you sew the pieces together the normal way, turn the seam allowances in on the inside and press, then sew the seam allowances together). All made with scrap fabric in a fairly drastic curve to see what would be softest, most comfortable and most attractive.

From left to right: french seam, clipped french seam, felled seam, faux-french seam
From left to right: french seam, clipped french seam, felled seam, faux-french seam

The french seam turned out bubbly and rigid, as I expected. The clipped french seam performed better, but I wasn’t convinced the clipping wouldn’t fray the fabric over time, and it was still fairly rigid.

The felled seam was the softest and the least rigid, but all of the folding and pressing made for something pretty ugly on the outside. The faux-french seam would have done better if I could have managed the sewing inside the test-bit with a better curve, but I didn’t; it was still fairly rigid. But I reasoned it was probably the best bet and I’d just have to wrestle with sewing the curves.

Until I turned them inside out, and saw that the reverse of the felled seam was actually fantastic. Neat, soft, good curve, little bulk.

reverse of felled seam on the left, reverse of faux-french seam on the right
reverse of felled seam on the left, reverse of faux-french seam on the right. Which one would you rather wear?

The front seams have now been put together with a reverse felled seam, and it’s so pretty, and behaves very well. The rest of the seams are classic french seams, then pressed down and edge-stitched to keep them flat. I’ve also finished the collar and the hem, but this is getting long enough (or too long), so I’ll save that for the next post.

Which will have to wait until I get a chance to restock on thread. French seams + edgestitching = lots and lots of thread required. I’ve used a whole spool and I haven’t even gotten to the sleeves yet.

I swear, if this shirt isn’t wearable when it’s finished, I’m going to be pissed. But so far all signs point to yes.

Jian Ghomeshi, eh?

I’m not going to share (many of) my own thoughts. Instead I present for you, a massive collection of the thoughts of other people on this story.

No, it’s not sewing related. But who can think of sewing at a time like this?

OK, yes, I can. But not yet.

Background, for those of you thinking “Jian who?” or “don’t you mean John?” Though at this point, that might be two people total in North America:

Jian was a popular radio broadcaster at our national public broadcasting corp, CBC. He’s got quite a fan following. Last week we heard he was taking extended leave for “personal reasons.” On Sunday, CBC said they fired him because of “information” that had come to light. Late Sunday, Jian published this letter on FB, claiming he was let go as part of a BDSM Persecution Witch Hunt, where everyone knew everything he did was consensual but they disapproved so they canned him.

In order of relevance to the sections of his FB post, links!

Dear everyone,
I am writing today because I want you to be the first to know some news.
This has been the hardest time of my life. I am reeling from the loss of my father. I am in deep personal pain and worried about my mom. And now my world has been rocked by so much more.
Today, I was fired from the CBC.


For almost 8 years I have been the host of a show I co-created on CBC called Q. It has been my pride and joy. My fantastic team on Q are super-talented and have helped build something beautiful.

Also true. Not sure it’s relevant. See: Woody Allen, Charles Dickens, etc. Doing good work does not mean you are not an asshole.

I have always operated on the principle of doing my best to maintain a dignity and a commitment to openness and truth, both on and off the air. I have conducted major interviews, supported Canadian talent, and spoken out loudly in my audio essays about ideas, issues, and my love for this country. All of that is available for anyone to hear or watch. I have known, of course, that not everyone always agrees with my opinions or my style, but I’ve never been anything but honest. I have doggedly defended the CBC and embraced public broadcasting. This is a brand I’ve been honoured to help grow.

Does this link cause you to think that his behaviour, on and off the air, is dedicated to “dignity”?

And maybe think, while you read this letter, how much assistance the PR firm Navigator provided him in crafting this “deeply honest and personal heartfelt appeal.”

Plus, should it matter whether or not you like Jian Ghomeshi?

Anyway. This paragraph serves little than to cause people to react patriotically to his message, much like American Republican senators caught with some hanky-panky in their personal lives immediately try to wrap themselves in the flag.

All this has now changed.
Today I was fired from the company where I’ve been working for almost 14 years – stripped from my show, barred from the building and separated from my colleagues. I was given the choice to walk away quietly and to publicly suggest that this was my decision. But I am not going to do that. Because that would be untrue. Because I’ve been fired. And because I’ve done nothing wrong.

Please note, then, that the airing of allegations was his choice. He aired the allegations.

Also: CBC does not have a history of firing staff for their public sex lives. See Sook Yin-Lee.

I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.

Jilted Ex Girlfriend
However, there were at least 3 women involved in The Star story
Plus a coworker
Plus the xoJane article from last year, linked above
As well as numerous rumours about his dating conduct for quite some time now (there are forum links all over the net to discussions among women sharing stories, but those are all password protected, so no shares here)

A beautiful piece from out west about the rumours circulating about Jian for over a decade.

And already, another woman has come forward with her own abuse allegations from a decade ago. Then, about an hour later, another three. God knows what the total will be by the time this gets published.

Here’s the “freelance writer

As friends and family of mine, you are owed the truth.
I have commenced legal proceedings against the CBC, what’s important to me is that you know what happened and why.
Forgive me if what follows may be shocking to some.
I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners.

Friends and family, huh? His FB followers? Are friends and family? Wouldn’t actual friends and family deserve something more than a post on FaceBook?

Response of BDSM community part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Really to me it looks like they’re just not having it.

As well, is this about BDSM, or is it about consent?

About two years ago I started seeing a woman in her late 20s. Our relationship was affectionate, casual and passionate. We saw each other on and off over the period of a year and began engaging in adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission. We discussed our interests at length before engaging in rough sex (forms of BDSM). We talked about using safe words and regularly checked in with each other about our comfort levels. She encouraged our role-play and often was the initiator. We joked about our relations being like a mild form of Fifty Shades of Grey or a story from Lynn Coady’s Giller-Prize winning book last year. I don’t wish to get into any more detail because it is truly not anyone’s business what two consenting adults do. I have never discussed my private life before. Sexual preferences are a human right.

LATE 20S??????

Late 20s? The man is 47.

According to the Star, all women who have come forward so far are in their 20s. I haven’t yet heard him denying that he was involved with them. So this is a man who likes to date women 20+ years younger than he is. Moreover, when he hurts them, it makes him come. Whatever else has gone on, he sure don’t like having women in his sex life who are his equals. That is the best-case scenario based on his own words.

Sexual preferences are a human right, but Canadian courts and law do not permit a person to consent to sexual abuse. Whether or not you believe it should be illegal, currently, it is.

Also, one’s personal human rights to one’s sexual preferences ends where harm to another person begins. See: pedophilia

Also also, see BDSM community reactions to Shades of Grey comparison in above links. I.e., not actually helpful. Because Shades of Grey misrepresents abuse and rape as consensual BDSM.

Despite a strong connection between us it became clear to me that our on-and-off dating was unlikely to grow into a larger relationship and I ended things in the beginning of this year. She was upset by this and sent me messages indicating her disappointment that I would not commit to more, and her anger that I was seeing others.

How dare she! Plus, you may want to see the court documents, which have more detail. In that he claims they were dating non-monogamously by mutual consent, and he didn’t so much “end things when it became clear that it was unlikely to grow,” as cut her off when she decided that the non-monogamous thing wasn’t working for her anymore. So that’s two stories, that contradict each other, already from Mr. Ghomeshi.

After this, in the early spring there began a campaign of harassment, vengeance and demonization against me that would lead to months of anxiety.
It came to light that a woman had begun anonymously reaching out to people that I had dated (via Facebook) to tell them she had been a victim of abusive relations with me. In other words, someone was reframing what had been an ongoing consensual relationship as something nefarious. I learned – through one of my friends who got in contact with this person – that someone had rifled through my phone on one occasion and taken down the names of any woman I had seemed to have been dating in recent years. This person had begun methodically contacting them to try to build a story against me. Increasingly, female friends and ex-girlfriends of mine told me about these attempts to smear me.
Someone also began colluding with a freelance writer who was known not to be a fan of mine and, together, they set out to try to find corroborators to build a case to defame me. She found some sympathetic ears by painting herself as a victim and turned this into a campaign. The writer boldly started contacting my friends, acquaintances and even work colleagues – all of whom came to me to tell me this was happening and all of whom recognized it as a trumped up way to attack me and undermine my reputation. Everyone contacted would ask the same question, if I had engaged in non-consensual behavior why was the place to address this the media?

Well. When I broke up with the abusive/stalkery guy some women did reach out to me via email and FB, and I’m glad they did. Those conversations were helpful. Not sure what this proves of her, even if it is true.

And maybe she went to the media because our courts are broken, so far as sexual assault goes. If you don’t go to the courts, of course, you’ll be accused of making it up and trying to destroy an innocent man. But if you do go to the courts, you will still be accused of trying to destroy an innocent man. Plus, since so few accused are found guilty, the man then effectively has been publicly exonerated for his behaviour. He gets a shield. He gets to go around for the rest of his life saying, “Yeah, that crazy bitch accused me of rape, but the judge saw right through it.”

AND THEY DO. This happens. I’ve seen it. I have friends who were advised to this effect by their lawyers.

When I went to counseling to deal with my abusive ex, my counselor advised me to just wait it out. “Eventually he’ll latch on to someone else,” she said. “They always do.” So my best way out, according to a professional, was to sit tight until he started victimizing someone else.

Women who want to protect other women from rapists and abusers are better off using gossip. That is simply a fact of our current judicial system.

Now, how about this “vindictive ex-girlfriend” thing?

That he has friends who told him what was happening is quite possibly true. But it is not relevant. Plenty of famous rapists have friends. This does not mean that they are good people or don’t rape. Plus, at least one of his friends has publicly come out on the side of the victims. Plus a group of Canadian musicians put out a petition supporting the victims.  Whether or not you think this was appropriate is beside the point; his insinuation that his friends are unanimously in support of his version of events is simply not true.

The writer tried to peddle the story and, at one point, a major Canadian media publication did due diligence but never printed a story. One assumes they recognized these attempts to recast my sexual behaviour were fabrications. Still, the spectre of mud being flung onto the Internet where online outrage can demonize someone before facts can refute false allegations has been what I’ve had to live with.

This was clearly not true, as the Star’s decision to then print the story demonstrates.

And this leads us to today and this moment. I’ve lived with the threat that this stuff would be thrown out there to defame me. And I would sue. But it would do the reputational damage to me it was intended to do (the ex has even tried to contact me to say that she now wishes to refute any of these categorically untrue allegations). But with me bringing it to light, in the coming days you will prospectively hear about how I engage in all kinds of unsavoury aggressive acts in the bedroom. And the implication may be made that this happens non-consensually. And that will be a lie. But it will be salacious gossip in a world driven by a hunger for “scandal”. And there will be those who choose to believe it and to hate me or to laugh at me. And there will be an attempt to pile on. And there will be the claim that there are a few women involved (those who colluded with my ex) in an attempt to show a “pattern of behaviour”. And it will be based in lies but damage will be done. But I am telling you this story in the hopes that the truth will, finally, conquer all.

So what exactly are we to think that these girls would get out of it? The pleasure of seeing him unemployed?

And if she didn’t succeed in contacting him, how does he know what she was going to say?

Also, see analysis from this lawyer about whether or not his lawsuit is going to go anywhere.

And more analysis about why, when he must know that his suit is not likely to be successful, he would go ahead and file it anyway.

I have been open with the CBC about this since these categorically untrue allegations ramped up. I have never believed it was anyone’s business what I do in my private affairs but I wanted my bosses to be aware that this attempt to smear me was out there. CBC has been part of the team of friends and lawyers assembled to deal with this for months. On Thursday I voluntarily showed evidence that everything I have done has been consensual. I did this in good faith and because I know, as I have always known, that I have nothing to hide. This when the CBC decided to fire me.
CBC execs confirmed that the information provided showed that there was consent. In fact, they later said to me and my team that there is no question in their minds that there has always been consent. They said they’re not concerned about the legal side. But then they said that this type of sexual behavior was unbecoming of a prominent host on the CBC. They said that I was being dismissed for “the risk of the perception that may come from a story that could come out.” To recap, I am being fired in my prime from the show I love and built and threw myself into for years because of what I do in my private life.

Look at that last sentence a few more times. Does it seem familiar? Perhaps because it is the same appeal used by Rob Ford when the crack cocaine story first broke.  “I am the best mayor in the world and I am being persecuted for what I do in my personal life!” Maybe because every prominent abuser in recent history has used that line–“it shouldn’t matter what I do in my personal life!” Except that when you use your prominence to befriend victims, and carry out crimes, it very much does matter.

Also, it is legal to fire employees for what they do in their personal time, even if it’s legal, under some circumstances.

Also also, even if BDSM were legal in Canada, it is impossible to demonstrate consent to an employer. A text message or an email would not mean there is consent. It would mean that, at best, in advance of the event in question, a woman expressed some interest or enthusiasm for the idea in concept. But that doesn’t mean that she consented to what actually happened once she was in his apartment, or house, or whatever. So that doesn’t hold up at all.

Let me be the first to say that my tastes in the bedroom may not be palatable to some folks. They may be strange, enticing, weird, normal, or outright offensive to others. We all have our secret life. But that is my private life. That is my personal life. And no one, and certainly no employer, should have dominion over what people do consensually in their private life.

That is not true. See above.

And so, with no formal allegations, no formal complaints, no complaints, not one, to the HR department at the CBC (they told us they’d done a thorough check and were satisfied), and no charges, I have lost my job based on a campaign of vengeance. Two weeks after the death of my beautiful father I have been fired from the CBC because of what I do in my private life.
I have loved the CBC. The Q team are the best group of people in the land. My colleagues and producers and on-air talent at the CBC are unparalleled in being some of the best in the business. I have always tried to be a good soldier and do a good job for my country. I am still in shock. But I am telling this story to you so the truth is heard. And to bring an end to the nightmare.

News on the CBC’s ongoing internal investigation.

This is a fantastic example of the pity-the-abusers story that gets trotted out whenever someone with a promising career is charged with abuse. See: Ray Rice, Steubenville football stars. Their “nightmare,” their suffering, is invoked as if it compares in any way with the suffering of their victims. It does not.

There are two possibilities here that I can see:

Jian Ghomeshi is telling the truth, despite the inconsistencies in his account. Three women plus a freelance journalist are out to get him. They went to his boss and complained. The boss, despite excellent legal and HR teams and a history of dealing with sex in more progressive ways, decided to fire their highest-grossing staff, even knowing that he was going to sue and that they had no real cause. At that point, another four women came forward, and the same rumours that have circulated about him for years–even where I am, and my connection to the Canadian arts scene isn’t even cobwebby, more where a cobweb strand might be if a spider decided to spin it–have become something like public knowledge. But it’s all a conspiracy.

Or Jian Ghomeshi is a liar and an abuser.

You are entitled to come to your own opinion, of course.

As am I.

Contrary to what you may believe, my brain is not a courtroom, and I am not obliged to apply the same reasoning to my opinions as judges do when making legal findings. “Innocent until proven guilty” applies to the legal system, not whether or not I like someone, or find him credible.

dispatches from the Greater Toronto Bioregion

Miss Celie's Pants

I sew. I cook. I travel. But, I do not clean.

this is moonlight

adventures in learning to sew


Design-It-Yourself handbags

if you don't have anything nice to say, come sit here by me

the lives & loves of crabigail adams, professional hater

Frau Fleur

Sewing, Patternmaking & Dipsomania

The Fabric Room

a local source for exquisite European fabrics

Bows and Bunnies

Overdressed for every occasion - Adventures in sewing and style

Hôtel de Rambouillet

Strong drinks, stronger opinions


If you use social media to chat about your sewing (any kind of sewing) you're probably a #sewcialist. Sewing + Social = Sewcialist

crab & bee

a sewing blog


two sisters and their handmade adventures

we hunted the mammoth

the new misogyny, tracked and mocked

Hannah Moitt Makes

DIY - handmade - craft

Seam Ripped

a sewing blog without the sewing


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 734 other followers