Tag Archives: sewing

love

Would you believe that this is the first thing I’ve embroidered for myself, for my own room, ever?

I started it last January or February, and got about 1/3-1/2 of the way done in a year, and then the pandemic hit. Every night I would stitch for an hour, and count little colourful squares to distract myself from how strange the world became. It was both meditative and productive and would reliably take all the stress of the day and park it, at least for an hour.

It’s also been uncomfortable. 2020 has been a hard year to think about love every day. We’ve seen the best of it–society closing down the economy to try to protect vulnerable people–and we’ve seen the worst of it–angry entitled jerks demonstrating with guns to demand that those vulnerable people cut their hair, for instance. That hour of stitching was calming, but sometimes also heartbreaking.

In my family of origin, “love” meant letting someone hurt you without complaint. It meant no boundaries and no limits. It meant if someone punched you in the face, you would never bring it up, because that would be MEAN. (“Kindness” was the shorthand used for enabling; we must be “kind” to the abusers by never holding them accountable! Accountability is MEAN.)

You could boil down their definition to an equation:

Feelings > Lives

Or slightly longer:

The feelings of those with power/status > The lives, safety, or well-being of those without power/status

That my safety was continually jeopardized was an acceptable price to pay to take care of my mother’s feelings, who would have been sad if she were held responsible for her actions. Do you see? Love meant she could hurt me and I could not protect myself.

The same dynamic that results in abuse on a micro scale is at the heart of oppression and bigotry on the macro scale:

Feelings > Lives

Men’s feelings of entitlement to women’s bodies and services > Women’s bodily autonomy, freedom, and lives = Misogyny and Patriarchy

White people’s feelings of freedom, competency, comfort, and normality > BIPOC’s freedom, safety, health, and lives = White Supremacy

Abled’s feelings of normalcy, aesthetics, and entitlement > Disabled’s freedom, health, welfare, participation in society & lives = Ableism

Wherever you can see the feelings of a demographic group take priority over the welfare and lives of another demographic group: structural, systemic bigotry. This is how you end up with people reflexively and without irony complaining that if someone accuses you of sexual assault, racism, etc., “your life is over,” even though no one’s life is ever over and at most they have an uncomfortable year and some diminished income. All of the actual lives lost are the victims’, but they don’t matter as much as the feelings of the people who hurt them.

This will feel normal and be mostly invisible to the people in the high-status group. As Kate Manne pointed out in her amazing book on misogyny, Down Girl, misogynists do not think of themselves as bad people; their absorption of the message that their feelings and entitlements are naturally more important than women’s lives is so complete that any suggestion that women’s lives have value outside of their service relationship to men triggers a genuine moral outrage. I have no personal experience with this, but observing from the outside, white supremacy looks pretty much the same: How dare anyone suggest that black lives matter! You can’t call me a racist! That’s MEAN.

There would be no way, absolutely no way, to communicate with these people about the wrongness of their beliefs and actions that also takes care of their feeling, because the centering of privileged people’s feelings over everyone else’s lives is exactly the problem.

I remember watching United Shades of America a few years back, where W. Kamau Bell, a black comedian, visited KKK leaders.

Not a single one of these KKK members admitted to hating black people. Goodness gracious, no! I don’t hate them, why, I love them! I love so much in fact that I am going to forcefully push what I perceive as their best interests on them over their objections, their best interests apparently being to be as far away from me as possible. How can you suggest that I hate them? That’s so MEAN!

Feelings > Lives

Because of where I came from and my over-riding life ambition of Not Becoming my Mother, I try to flip the equation:

Lives > Feelings

Of course feelings are wonderful and it is a joy of human relationship to prioritize the care of feelings for those we love most. But that natural instinct has been hijacked in the service of bigotry in the public sphere for a long time: the powerful, those with status and privilege, have endlessly demanded that society cater to their (our) feelings. Don’t be mean!

I think about all of the times in my childhood when adults around me should have seen, or did see, what was going on, and looked the other way.

After all, they didn’t want to be mean to my parents.

They wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Surely my parents didn’t intend to cause harm (they did). There must be another explanation. Probably I deserved it. Maybe they’d had a bad day. My parents were very nice-seeming, respectable, upper-middle class white professionals. They could not be abusers. They were so polite!

They centred my parents’ feelings over my life. (And my dad centred my mom’s feelings over his own life. It was a choice with tragic consequences. He seemed to believe, right to very end, that if he only kept letting her hurt him without complaint, one day she would value him, and stop. That never happened. She just kept hurting him.)

If we are going to show up in the world today with love as a core value, those of us with structural power and privilege, it is going to feel bad.

It requires the opposite of self-care: the recognition that becoming a self worth being will require dismantling many parts of us that we were told were so natural to our entitlements that we don’t even see them.

It is not just marching in the streets for an end to police brutality against black people. It means understanding that we have received too much benefit of the doubt, that our sentences have been too short, our fines too light, because our white skin causes law enforcement and the justice system to see us as innocent even when there is substantial evidence to the contrary. It is not just advocating for fair hiring practices for people of colour; it means understanding that our own professional advancement has been artificially accelerated at their expense, that much of what we own is not rightfully ours, that opportunities we badly want would rightly go to someone else. That we are not as competent nor as qualified as we’ve been told.

It is not just advocating for accessible buildings for disabled people. It is understanding that the discrimination against disabled people is based on a hierarchy of bodies, with some bodies worth having and others not, and that your own physical advantages would become meaningless if discrimination against disabled people ended. Your body size would not matter. Your attractiveness would not give you an advantage. Your thick hair would not be a point of pride. Height would not earn you a better income. Youth would not have more status. Thinness would not equate with self-control. And yet you would have to advocate for disabled people anyway.

Our advantages, our own unearned privileges, would first of all, need to become visible to us: and that is uncomfortable because it challenges us to accept the extent to which our successes were unearned.

We would then have to follow through on dismantling those privileges, which is going to feel like putting our most beloved belongings in a pile and deliberately setting them on fire.

People like to argue that privilege is “not pie” and more for others doesn’t mean less for you/us, and to some extent, that’s true: there’s enough dignity, respect, kindness, food, water, air, and shelter for everyone to get a good piece. We can all have decent work and live in a society that sees our lives and our contributions as worthy and real. But in other ways, it’s not true: not everyone can be a CEO, not everyone can be president or prime minister, not everyone wins elections, not everyone becomes a movie star, and in those domains, more for groups that have been discriminated against will mean less for the currently privileged. It is pie. You still have to share.

It is going to feel like a domestic abuser who didn’t even recognize their actions as abuse because they so thoroughly internalized their entitlement, being told they need to go to anger management.

It is going to trigger a tsunami of moral outrage, a knee-jerk demand that people talk to you very nicely about all the ways you’ve harmed them. You will automatically and without reflex lean heavily on your privilege and demand that your intentions and feelings be centred and cared for, as they always have been.

It is going to feel like being an alcoholic or addict in the first stages of the 12 steps (privilege, as they say, is a hell of a drug; and most of us don’t realize how addicted we are), and you’re sitting in a room full of “real” alcoholics, telling yourself you’re not actually like them, you’re different, better, and your “searching moral inventory” and process of making amends won’t take too long, after all, because you haven’t hurt that many people.

It is going to be wanting to leapfrog right past the moral inventory and making amends and go straight to sponsoring a new member–because hey! You’ve got it! Alcoholism is REAL, you’re one of the good ones, gold star!

I’m beating this horse pretty thoroughly, I know. Believe me, it’s not from a sense of my superiority. What I’ve mostly gained from a few decades of reading about racism, for example, is a profound sense of my complete ignorance and how unlikely it is that I will ever fully address it.

Collectively, none of us will ever fully know. And it is from the position of accepting our near-total ignorance and searching out appropriate leadership that, I believe, we can begin to move forward in dismantling structural privilege.


The love in my family, growing up, never felt like love. But I had to pretend it did and act like it for the belonging that was available there. It was a kind of gaslighting: we are hurting you and denying it because we love you, and you will put up with it because you love us, and if you step out of line, you will lose everything.

I did step out of line, and I lost a lot, but not everything; there is always a world outside the fiction.

I don’t know what love means, or if it can be worth anything, if we can’t see what’s going on right in front of our faces and work to change it.  Maybe love prefers to be gentle, patient, and kind; but when harm is being done, it can’t be cowardly; it can’t insist on one-directional patience and kindness based on lies.

I often say when talking about social justice that empathy goes up the social hierarchy: our culture routinely empathizes with men, with white people, with abled people, with straight people, and prioritizes that empathy over empathy with people who are marginalized or outcast. It was, for example, the empathy of bystanders for my parents that caused them to overlook the harm that was caused me. But it’s the same for all these social goods: empathy, kindness, generosity, and love, tend to go up the social hierarchy, and those of us at or near the top tend to accept this as our due. It is not only right and comfortable that others treat us as more worthy than we are, but in fact we deserve it, and will demand it when it’s not forthcoming.

Instead, we need to re-train ourselves, consciously work to send empathy, kindness, generosity, patience and love down the social hierarchy.  We need to do this so regularly and so well that the hierarchy itself flattens. No one’s feelings should ever be worth more than anyone’s life.

#SolidarityChic, plus #SewcialDistancing

Dear Readers, here is the Prime Minister of Canada during a recent physically distanced question period:

Please take note, if you will, of our fearless leader’s very noticeable lack of a recent haircut.

You’ve already noticed the lack of recent haircut. Maybe you read an article on his lack of recent haircut. Maybe you saw that video meme of him sweeping his hair back from his face during a press briefing.

Of course Trudeau hasn’t had a haircut; all the barbers and hairdressers are sitting at home waiting out the pandemic, like so many of the rest of us.

Yet I keep hearing from friends about their hair growing out and how badly they need a haircut.

Friends, if the Prime Minister can go on camera in front of millions of people every day and reassure them with hair that is at least two months’ past its trim-by date, you can sit in your house in your pajamas and facetime with your aunt or boss with shaggy hair. Particularly considering both your aunt and your boss and everyone else you know also badly needs a trim.

And hair isn’t half of it, for some folks: body hair, eyebrows, facials, massages, gym time, sports practice: our bodies, in function and appearance, are maybe for the first time radically out of the control of their proprietors.

Of course, for some of us, that’s been more or less true all along. The one thing that is radically different is that we are all going through the non-control-of-our-appearance-ness of this at the same time. Which means it basically doesn’t count. No one can hold your haircut or your eyebrows or your roots or your reduced fitness level against you when our entire society is experiencing exactly the same thing. (Or they can try, but they’ll be dicks.) You have a once in a lifetime pass to let yourself go.

I don’t know. I personally am finding this part of it kind of amazing. Like: “oh hey, grey hair! And I can’t do a single fucking thing about it! That’s fantastic!”

I guess I could buy a box of hair dye, but I DON’T WANT TO.

This does of course reflect some privilege: for some of us, hair (for example) has been used as an active tool of discrimination and exclusion for a very long time (eg. black hair, and all the ways rules around it have been used to exclude and silence black people). And yet, it’s mostly white people I’ve seen complaining about their hair.  So consider this directed solely towards those people who, like me, are at worst experiencing mild discomfort around lack of aesthetic services:

We can just collectively declare spring and summer 2020 the year in which it is trendy to look like you’d just been rescued by park rangers after being lost in Banff for a couple of months. It’s cool! It’s totally in style. It’s what everyone is doing, including the Prime Minister, and god knows he of the Vogue cover is not immune to vanity.

Let’s call it #SolidarityChic, and be done with it.

In that spirit, I share with you a few anti-vanity recent sewing projects, in all my shaggy, non-make-up, what-is-the-sun glory.

Masks, because it’s gone from fringe accessory to public participation necessity. I used the Marfy pattern and made it 1000% more complicated for myself by insisting on screen printing, stenciling,  and stamping them in such a way that they match up across the centre seamline, for no reason whatsoever except that it sounded like an interesting challenge. This inspired a few cursing fits but I think they turned out pretty well in the end.

I also embarked on a large collection of stretchy pants with pockets.

For the first time in my life, I’ve needed them.

Tailored wool pants are not a great choice when you’re working 8 hours at the kitchen table with a puppy who insists on being on a lap and who sheds–not sparingly, but in a fluffy cloud that follows her like Pigpen’s dust. I have leggings of the “can wear them for an hour for a workout” variety, because their lack of pockets means I have to take off my insulin pump, which I can only do for so long.* I had two nice-ish pairs of non-stretchy jeans that are great for going out shopping or for casual Fridays at the office, but that I don’t generally wear for just hanging out.

And I had exactly one pair of stretchy jeans with pockets comfortable enough to sit at my new kitchen-table-office for hours at a time, but also seven years old and starting to wear through the knees.

So I ordered myself some leggings fabrics from Discovery Fabrics and went through the stash for any stretchy bottom-weight stretch cottons I could make into pants and went to work.

First up: two pairs of Jalie Eleanore jeans.

I have never, ever before in my life owned or wanted pull-on jean-like pants. But these were desperate times. I quickly drafted a simple pocket in the front seam (the one that looks like a pocket, but isn’t) and made one pair from an extremely stretchy blue twill with a snakeskin like embossed pattern on it from Downtown Fabrics, and another in a fantastic huge floral print with less stretch but just enough to make these work (from another Queen W store, but I forget which one).

God, I miss Queen West.

It is Jalie, so of course the sizing is impeccable and everything lines up. I can’t comment on the instructions since only partial ones were included with the pattern (which directs you to their website for the rest). But the partial directions get you through to the faux fly just fine, and if you’ve made pants before, you know what the rest is anyway.

Continue reading #SolidarityChic, plus #SewcialDistancing

#SlowFashion2020: Create Your Own Sustainable Challenge — Frivolous At Last

Now here’s a sewing challenge I can get behind completely.

But as someone who already almost never buys clothes, it was challenging to think of a pledge to make! Here’s what I’ll be working with:

1. I’m going to work on appreciating beautiful fabrics with my eyes instead of my wallet: just because it’s gorgeous and would make the perfect pattern-x doesn’t mean it needs to become MY version of pattern-x. Gods know at this point when I add fabrics to my stash it becomes a project at the end of such a long list that it will take me years to get to it, at which point I won’t want to make that pattern anyway.

2. I’m going to find other ways to support the local fabric stores I love besides buying fabrics I don’t need. I’ll take the classes or workshops, or introduce friends to them, or give gift certificates for classes/workshops/products to friends, etc. Because I do want these stores and places to thrive and often that means I am buying things I don’t want and can’t use (even though they are very nice!); I need to find another way.

3. I’m going to work on slower sewing projects. There is this loop I’ve been caught in where, to justify the fabrics I’ve bought, I try to race through the sewing projects so the stash doesn’t get “too much,” which just transfers the excess from the stash to my closet, where I can’t possibly wear it all. So I want to work on slowing down on the sewing: make more complicated clothes, screen print or embroider projects where appropriate, and make more things for other people.

I’m also looking at the 30 Wears Challenge, which also asks you not to buy (or make) a piece of clothing unless you believe you will wear it at least 30 times. This sounds like a good judgement check at the moment of purchase or cutting and I’ll be posting about this and the slow fashion challenge on IG. But, you know, probably slowly.

 

I can’t believe 2019 is almost over! What are your sewing hopes and plans for 2020?


Hi friends! Happy holiday season to you! As we come to the end of another year, how about a fresh new challenge for a fresh new 2020? I’ve started up Slow Fashion 2020, where you decide what challenge you want to set for yourself in terms of being more sustainable with your clothing making/purchasing. As […]

via #SlowFashion2020: Create Your Own Sustainable Challenge — Frivolous At Last

A cozy travelling duo: Simplicity 5271 and Butterick 5934

I know, another sewing post! Don’t faint.

Today we have a double post: pajamas and a duffel bag.

(Both of which were made for a trip, although both were needed too. The pajamas because I haven’t had a proper pair of new winter pjs for decades; and the duffel bag because the last one I bought was in university and is falling apart, and also sucks.)

(And the trip because I was totally exhausted and feeling burned out on the job/house/dog/kid/kid’s medical needs/my medical needs/climate action overload, and happened to read about an author’s trip to the middle of nowhere with her kids so they could have a night dark enough to see stars. And I thought, oh god, yes, a night dark enough to see stars … but maybe without the kid, just this one time. And I booked a teeny cabin in the middle of nowhere over Canadian Thanksgiving.)

Pajamas!

(Simplicity 5271)

This is a Simplicity pattern that I’ve used for Frances many times. You know it’s old, because I bought this Simplicity pattern in a Fabricland store, and they haven’t carried them for years (cost dispute). But it’s a good basic pattern.

This lovely cotton french terry I picked up on sale at Needlework. I think it’s gone now, but it’s so gorgeous. Almost too gorgeous to make into pjs. (Almost.) Neck band is a bit of scrap cotton ribbing.

I actually chose the size based on my measurements (for a Big 4!) since I wouldn’t care if the PJs were too roomy and the finished measurements looked ok. As a unisex pattern with all sizes in one envelope, I didn’t have to worry about not having the size I needed. Very much appreciated.

And look! Look at these! These are perfect PJs for hanging out in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere with a book and a cup of tea.

Luckily, they’re the perfect PJs for hanging out on a sofa in the suburbs with a book and a cup of tea as well. I am set.

Duffel Bag!

(Butterick 5934)

Alice in Wonderland was one of the first books I ever read. I read it and its sequel probably dozens of times when I was in elementary school. I used to dream about finding portals to other worlds (Narnia too).

So when the anniversary Alice fabric was released a few years ago, I snapped up some of the canvas–again from Needlework–and good thing too, because it didn’t last long.

Yes, it does have Bill the lizard flying through the air! There are teapots and cups full of tea stacked willy nilly! The Cheshire cat’s floating grinning head is hovering in mid-air! The dodo bird is marching in his goal-less circles! There’s the Queen, the King, and the White Rabbit! And yes there are little metallic flourishes all over it! It is perfect.

I haven’t read the book or watched the Disney movie for decades, but every time I look at poor Bill on the duffel bag, I think, “There goes Bill!” And I guess if you were less of a die-hard fan and don’t remember Alice eating or drinking yet another thing she shouldn’t and growing to fill the house she’d entered, to the point where her leg is jammed up the chimney, and they send poor Bill the chimney-sweep in to try to flush her out, and she kicks him sky-high when he tries, that might not mean much to you. But basically, this duffel  bag was loaded with memories as soon as it came off the sewing machine, which is pretty well perfect.

It’s lined with two quilting cottons: one for the main, and a Tula Pink snails print for the zippered pocket, both again from Needlework, probably neither still available. The contrast handle fabric is a cotton twill from King Textiles in Toronto, and the bottom contrast fabric is a Merchant and Mills oilskin–also Needlework, and still there! It gives a bit of extra toughness and waterproofing that’s useful in a travel piece, I think.

The pockets that came with the pattern
The zippered pocket that did not come with the pattern, but is very easy to add in.

Two layers of interfacing: I had to move the sewing machine to a big table to squeeze the bag through the throat for the last few steps, but it was worth it.

This pattern is OOP, but overall it worked out well. All the pieces fit together, the instructions were good, and it makes a nice roomy bag.

(I haven’t yet made the detachable strap; I didn’t have the right hardware. The zippered pouch I added following the instructions in Lisa Lam’s The Bag Making Bible.)

Sizing Note

Wonder of all wonders, I used a body measurement chart to pick a size for a Big 4 pattern, and it actually worked. Of course, this is a loose-fitting garment where the penalty for getting it slightly wrong is very low.

Burda 10/2018 Pants #114: Every work wardrobe needs a pair of bright pink pants

Holy cow, a sewing post!

I have been sewing–slowly–but not many new patterns, and I’m not someone who likes to review patterns I’ve already reviewed unless I did something substantially different. And there’s not a whole lot of gaps in my wardrobe to fill right now, so not much need to sew.

One thing I have been trying to make more of lately is pants for work, hence these:

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They are swishy, they are magenta, they are linen/rayon. In the magazine they made them up in cashmere, but I thought it best to try it out in something a little less expensive (but still wearable) first. This is the second pair I made; the first version, in rayon twill, is just a smidge too stiff for the pleats. Also, since the pattern has a belt, I made the whole thing up in a size 40 thinking I could just cinch it in. And I can, but it doesn’t look right or feel right with everything hanging from the waist tie, so I don’t recommend that. The twill pants I do still wear, but not as much as I would have liked to.

The linen/rayon blend is much drapier, and I cinched in the waist by about an inch on this version, so it can actually stay up on its own without hanging off the belt, and that helps. The linen/rayon is from Needlework; the magenta was pretty popular and went fast but I think this was the only cut to end up as pants.

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The Side

The pattern goes together well; it’s a side zipper rather than a fly, so it’s not time consuming, as pants patterns go. I stabilized the pocket edges with selvedge from a scrap of pink poly chiffon, so it is both very thin and very stable. And I did my now-standard buttonhole-on-the-inside-of-the-pocket trick to make it more functional to wear with an insulin pump.

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The Back. It is big.

They’re … not slimming. That would be my one cautionary note, if it matters to you. Otherwise it’s a good pants pattern that makes work-appropriate and comfortable pants with a few fun details. I’m not sure if I’ll use my cashmere on these (are they too trendy? Will the pleats and bow be unwearable in a year or two?) but I enjoyed making these ones.

Sizing Note

In Burda, according to the their body measurement chart, I should be making pants up in a size 40/42. For the first pair, I made a straight size 40, which was too big in the waist. For the second pair, I made a 38/40; this is my usual Burda size, and it fit just fine.

MeMadeMay 2019 Recap, Holy Cow

I did it. Thirty-one days of me-mades, no repeat outfits. The hardest part was that Frances had uptillion doctor’s visits (more on that in another post), and on those days I worked from home, and I just don’t have as many homemade casual clothes as I do clothes for work. But I still did it!

As promised, here are links to all the blog posts about the projects including patterns, sizing, adjustments, and fabric sources. Here we go:

Day 1:

Burda 02/2017 #111 (unblogged). Love this sweatshirt pattern, not least because of the pockets! in the front. Sweatshirt fleece from King Textiles.

Day 2:

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Burda Magazine Dress and trench coat. Embroidered bag adapted from the book Bags in Bloom.

Day 3:

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Burda magazine top and Jalie Women’s Stretch Jeans.

Day 4:

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Grainline Linden sweatshirt.

Day 5:

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Grainline Linden t-shirt, cropped (unblogged) with storebought jeans.

Day 6:

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Burda Magazine blouse (unblogged version of this shirt) and Burda paper-pattern skirt, clutching a Burdastyle magazine jacket and the same embroidered bag.

Day 7:

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Sewaholic Renfrew t-shirt; Vogue 9155 view C pants (unblogged. Mini review: Should be a 16/18 based on their body measurement chart, but as always, tons of ease so I sized down to a 10/12. The fabric is a Fabricland ponte. Because of the knit I omitted the front fly closure and these are pull on, and it works, but in retrospect it would have been better to keep the closer and use woven interfacing in the waistband to eliminate the stretch because they do bag out over a day of wear).

Day 8:

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Jalie Mimosa t-shirt

Day 9:

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Burda magazine shirt, Patrones magazine pants

Day 10:

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Modified Sewaholic Renfrew t-shirt, Jalie Women’s Stretch Jeans.

Day 11:

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Burda 6910 t-shirt (unblogged and out of print! Mini review: rayon jersey from Fabricland here. It’s been so long I don’t really remember this one anymore but it looks like I cut out a 10/12 on this one. I seem to remember taking in the waist a bit because the gathering at the waist adds a lot of extra space), Burda magazine bomber jacket.

Day 12:

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You can barely see it, but the shirt I’m wearing is a Jalie Mimosa t-shirt without the sleeve ruffles.

Day 13:

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Burda magazine shirt.

Day 14:

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Vogue patterns t-shirt, Burda magazine pants (New and unblogged so far, but hopefully I’ll get to it. Rayon twill from Needlework. I went with a straight 40 on this one reasoning that I could use the waist tie to cinch in the waist, and while yes that kind of worked, it would have been better to alter the waist down to the 38 and not have everything hanging off the tie).

Day 15:

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Modified Sewaholic Renfrew T-shirt, Patrones Magazine pants.

Day 16:

Knipmode magazine dress, Burda patterns blazer.

Day 17:

Burda paper patterns shirt, Patrones pants, Burdastyle magazine bomber jacket

Day 18:

Sewaholic Renfrew t-shirt, Burda paper pattern skirt (I got a huge kick out of wearing an Art Gallery Fabrics skirt to an art gallery). Jacket is a hand-me-down.

Day 19:

Sewaholic Renfrew t-shirt, StyleArt Jasmine pants turned into shorts.

Day 20:

Butterick t-shirt, Burdastyle magazine bomber jacket (again)

Day 21:

Simplicity wrap skirt, Sewaholic Renfrew t-shirt.

Day 22:

Burdastyle magazine for the blouse and trench coat, StyleArc Jasmine pants.

Day 23

Vogue patterns dress, Burdastyle magazine trench coat

Day 24:

Butterick patterns dress.

Day 25:

Burdastyle magazine shirt.

Day 26:

Sewaholic Thurlow shorts (unblogged, stretch linen from Downtown Fabrics) and a Grainline Linden t-shirt (also unblogged).

Day 27:

Butterick t-shirt in what was claimed to be a linen jersey but which I actually think is rayon (Downtown Fabrics), Patrones pants.

Day 28:

Burda shirt, Patrones pants.

Day 29:

Vogue patterns dress, Burda jacket.

Day 30:

Butterick shirt with Grainline Scout sleeves subbed in, and Jalie Women’s Stretch Jeans.

Day 31:

Can you tell I was completely Over It by then?

Burdastyle blouse, Patrones pants.

BONUS! Dance class outfits:

Burdastyle magazine leggings and an unblogged Burda sweatshirt. I even made myself a practice veil from a poly chiffon bought during a Fabricland members’ sale.

Incidentally this is the best pattern for dance class leggings ever.

BONUS! Pajamas and lounging about:

Pants from Amy Butler’s In Stitches (never blogged: pattern works fine but not worth the price of the book on its own; fleece from Fabricland, cotton in the short version from Needlework), tops are Grainline Linden t-shirts and Burdastyle t-shirts (unblogged as I didn’t like the way it looked, which is why it turned into a pj top instead of a regular t-shirt)

BONUS! Dance socials

McCalls dress, Burda magazine jacket; modifified Sewaholic Renfrew and StyleArc Jasmine shorts


I think I did good. I definitely proved that I don’t need to make myself any more clothes, so I stopped and sold my sewing machines.

Hahahahaha! … no. Two of the above garments are ones I made this month, another two have been finished and are waiting for a chance to wear them, and I made myself a dress for Hamilton Frocktails.

Shamelessly stolen screenshot of the IG story.

Sewaholic Cambie in a silk/cotton voile from Fabricland, lined in a white silk/cotton voile. It is the dreamiest, floatiest stuff for a dress, and also pretty fun to dance in as I then wore it out to a dance social which technically was in June so it didn’t count for MeMadeMay. Probably won’t blog this one since there’s nothing different about this one than the first, except that the silk/cotton voile has so much body that I just put in a simple a-line skirt lining instead of the gathered one.

Here’s to 11 months of no daily outfit selfies. Hurrah!

A Rainbow of Renfrews

I keep promising to post about my Renfrew hacks, and I keep finding other things to post about, but no longer! Today is the day I finally write about the approximately twenty I’ve made over the years, fifteen of which I still have (the others long since having worn out and joined the Great Scrap Heap in the Sky).

What today is not, is the day I have new pictures of all of them. Sorry about that. Work explosion + endless housetraining + regular life = absolutely no time for photos. I keep telling myself that this will be the weekend I find an hour to take some … and then the weekend says, “Hey, there’s two community climate talks, and you’re getting your haircut, but I’m sure after groceries and laundry and cooking and housework you’ll still have some free time,” and then the free time laughs and says, “you forgot that you need to stare frantically at a puppy wondering if she’s circling and sniffing because she has to pee or because someone dropped food there two years ago, but maybe there’s an hour in there somewhere,” and then the hour in there somewhere says, “lol, no, this hour is booked solid for staring into space while sitting catatonically in the most comfortable chair in the house.” As it turns out, they’re all right. I’m reading a lot, because that’s something I can do in ten second snatches while worrying that the dog is about to pee on the floor. I can sew a bit in two-minute intervals here and there, though it takes forever right now. I found twenty minutes on a long weekend for photos of three of them. Maybe next month.

My entire sanity is banked on the idea that someday Juniper will learn that pee goes outside, not in the kitchen.

Straight Up

I’m not Sewaholic’s target market, obviously, but I found that I could get a good fit with a size 8 and an FBA. I’m not a fan of the bands, so I just hemmed mine; otherwise these are as indicated in the pattern, and don’t need much explanation. These are made from cotton, rayon or bamboo jersey, or rayon or cotton rib knit.

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I will say that if you like a snug fit, you can’t beat a fine rib knit. The stretch and recovery are fantastic and it’s so comfortable.

Neckline Gathers

In Which I Transfer About Half of the FBA Onto the Neckline

I like this one a lot, obviously, and it’s not so hard once you’ve got a front pattern piece you’ve transferred the markings to. I find it doesn’t matter if you use the v or scoop neck piece because the process of gathering the neckline is going to round out the neckline anyway.

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Here’s the basic process:

  1. Do a regular rather than a slide-and-pivot FBA on an unaltered pattern piece that is about half of what you need (eg. I normally need 2″ on each side; in this case I do a regular 1″ FBA).
  2. Slash the neckline to the bust apex and rotate the side dart into that. Remove the waist dart by re-drawing the side seam.
  3. Use this piece to do a slide-and-pivot for the remaining additional space you need across the bust.
  4. Make a mark on the neckline about 3″, maybe a bit more, away from where you slashed for the neckline gathers, and write on the pattern how much gathering you’ll need. (eg. say you spread the neckline 3″ to create the space you need, and there’s 5″ between that cut and the centre and 3″ to the mark you just made; you’ll want to gather the double of that total ((3+5+3)x2=22″) into the space of the original doubled total ((3+5)x2=16″). That will ensure your neckband length remains the same between the original and the gathered version.
  5. You know how to gather….

Two caveats:

  1. You can probably put all of the extra you need in the neckline gathers if you don’t need to add much. Over an inch or so and you’ll find the gathers get very thick on the neckline and no longer look so nice, which is why you also still do the slide-and-pivot.
  2. This will still make for a snug t-shirt. If you want a loose, drapey t-shirt with a gathered neckline, add extra to the side seam all the way down.

You can probably figure out for yourselves which of these I made loose and which I didn’t. You want something with a pretty decent drape for this; stiff won’t work with the gathers. So these are mostly rayon or bamboo jerseys with one sparkly metallic spandex knit.

Centre Gathers

I only did this once, and because it’s black, I never wear it–but it does work:

  1. Your centre front fold line is now a seam; add a seam allowance.
  2. Do a regular FBA to add what you need.
  3. Rotate the side dart into a new dart line drawn at a parallel point on the centre front seam, and as with step 4 above, make a top and bottom gather mark, and figure out how much you need to gather that into to keep the original centre seam length.
  4. You know how to gather….
  5. Use a non-stretch stick to sew the centre front pieces together. In my experience, a stretch stitch here, given the weight and location, will weigh the gathers out and the whole thing will just sag.
  6. Construct the rest of the t-shirt as you normally would.

This will add a dart bump to the centre front, just as it would the side, that will mostly have to be removed during construction; you won’t need to keep that rounded part for the final shirt construction.

Again, this is a bamboo jersey, as that gathers nicely.

Ruffle

This is an easy but fiddly variation on the basic t-shirt that assumes you have a well-fitting adjusted front piece. I used the ruffle from the button-down shirt in Burda 8/16, shirt 103, though I added about 1″ to the width at the top of the ruffle to make it a bit more dramatic.

Additional steps to attach it to the t-shirt:

  1. Sew the ruffle pieces together at the centre front using a non-stretch stitch and a walking foot; press open.
  2. Trim away any parts of the seam allowance that are visible from the front when the ruffle is laid flat(-ish).
  3. Assemble the t-shirt as you normally would, except for the neck band.
  4. Very carefully pin the ruffle to the t-shirt front:
    1. Down the centre,
    2. Along the neckline, and
    3. Along the yoke line (you’ll fold this down before sewing it on, but right now you’re just trying out the ruffle location)
  5. Try it on and figure out if you want the ruffle where it is, or higher or lower, and adjust until it’s in a spot you like.
  6. Use something like wonder-under to adhere the ruffle where you like it.
  7. Using a narrow zig-zag stitch and a walking foot, sew the ruffle to the centre front and the yoke (now folded under), and baste to the neckline.
  8. Try it on to have another look and make sure you’ve trimmed away any parts of the ruffle centre-front seam allowance that might be visible, depending on how it drapes.
  9. Finish the shirt by adding the neckband etc.

Voila! A t-shirt with a dramatic ruffled front.

I like this a lot with this rayon rib knit (from Needlework) because of the drape and fit; you do want something that has good enough stretch and recovery to fit your body snugly but also enough drape to make a nice ruffle. Even better would be a rib sweater knit with good drape and a more interesting texture.  (I had a storebought t-shirt like this once upon a time; it was a sad day when it wore out, and I’ve never found a sweater knit fabric that would make a perfect replacement–but this is pretty good!).

Embellished

I did this one once upon a time too: basic Renfrew, embellished with pieces of the same fabric. Basically circles, with a straight line cut from one edge to the centre, opened up to make the cut edge a straight line, and then sewn in various places to the shirt.  Fiddly but not hard.

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There you go: a bunch of t-shirt variations on a basic fitted block that will add more interest and variety and replace some need for a FBA. It doesn’t have to be a Renfrew, obviously; whatever pattern you have that’s already adjusted to fit you well will work.

It Came from the Ends Bin: Jalie Basic Blog Tour

Please pretend the messy background doesn’t exist. I promise I have a good excuse.

It’s a good thing people sit down when they read blogs, because, Dear Readers, this post is part of a blog tour.

I know! But it’s a Jalie blog tour, and I’ve made a big deal before about how their sizing proves that it is possible to create a sizing system that is predictable and consistent between patterns and doesn’t have acres of excess ease, and their clothing patterns are generally beautifully put together and really meticulous, so when I saw that they were looking for another Canadian blogger or two to participate in this tour, I thought–why not?

They were also willing to be flexible and allowed me to get a paper pattern for the price difference between that and the pdf. I wanted to participate, all right, but not at the expense of replacing my broken printer to print out the pattern and tape it together. So up front, I did receive a $1+shipping Mimosa t-shirt pattern for this post.

(You can find all the details about the tour, including other participants, a sewalong and the prizes, at the bottom of this post. As usual, Dear Readers, I have a whole lot to say first. Happy scrolling!)

I had my eye on the Mimosa t-shirt since their last release. Technically I already have a well-altered basic t-shirt pattern in the Sewaholic Renfrew, but I really love the shoulder ruffle on the Mimosa and it’s a drapier, looser fit, which is nice to have as an option.

I had grand plans for this post, I’ll have you know: I was going to make two t-shirts each for my daughter and I, one for testing and a final one, and maybe one for a friend. This did not happen. I’ll tell you why.

I am exhausted, Juniper is confused: this is our new household status quo

This happened. Juniper happened.

Juniper is a Cavalier puppy, about two months old, having an absolute and intense love affair with her teeth. She chews everything she can reach–some of which we can move out of her way, some of which we can’t–and much like my human baby at that age, generally refuses to sleep unless she’s in physical contact with a person. Add in a few illnesses (on our part), a couple of major snowstorms, and some work deadlines, and holy cow. There were days I felt good if I had a shower and put on clothes. Finding five minutes to pin a seam felt like an unimaginable luxury. You all know what I’m talking about.

Fortunately I was able to get to the fabric store for fabric in advance, and get this: it’s t-shirt fabric from the ends table at about $3/metre, cotton/poly/spandex and rayon/spandex blends, and all very soft. I love a cheap project.

What I did manage to get done was a test t-shirt for Frances and myself, and a final t-shirt for me.

Test t-shirt: The Front

Frances alterations are always challenging due to her medical issues, but she liked the tie sleeves, so I copied out something in her typical size mishmash and we gave it a try. I need to redistribute some of the ease from the back to the front to make it more comfortable for her, but overall the fit was great, the neckline, shoulders and armscyes were perfect, and the tie tabs on the sleeves worked beautifully. I didn’t photograph it as the test fabric was much too sheer to be worn, but it did happen–promise. And I’m still going to make her a final version. It just might be in 2020.

For my test version, I traced my standard Jalie size of T through the shoulders/neck and the sleeves and for the back piece, but upped from my usual U in the bust to a V for the whole front side seam to give me extra bust room without having to do a full-bust adjustment. I wanted to see what would happen if I just let it be drapey and loose. I cut it out in this gorgeous wine-coloured rayon/spandex jersey and, as it was a test, left off the shoulder ruffle to save time.

The Side

It sewed up very quickly, and all of the notches and seam lengths matched. I did alter the construction order a bit by sewing one shoulder, then sewing in the neck band, then sewing the other shoulder, as I find that simpler than adding the neck band in the round afterwards. On the test version it ended up a bit uneven, but this method worked great for the green one. I used the coverstitch for hemming and the serger for construction.

The Back

It is definitely not too small.

The shoulder, back, and armscyes are fine. The front is quite big, but I think this is more to do with sizing up to a V to avoid the FBA. However it’s also an extremely stretchy, drapey fabric, and if I were to make this again in a rayon/spandex jersey I would size it down through the bust and waist. The sleeves are a bit long on me, but that’s normal for me in all sewing patterns. I almost always have to take out an inch.

The hip split in the hem worked out very well too. It gives just the right amount of room in the hips. I think there’s a goof in the instructions; it says to hem the bottom at 1cm and I think it should be 2cm. At least, that’s what I did, and it worked out better for me that way.

The second, final make was in an emerald cotton/poly/spandex blend with a nubby weave; it had a lot less stretch, so I did not size down for this version. I did, however, remove an inch from the sleeve length and add the shoulder ruffles.

The Side, watching the dog on the stairs.

It’s such a pretty colour, and I really like the ruffles. It’s important to be careful when attaching the ruffles and sleeves, as it’s easy to be off a little and end up with ruffles of different lengths on the final product.

The Front

I wore the shirt with these high-waisted jeans so I could show what it looked like tucked in, and realized afterwards that the jeans are Jalie too–their stretch jeans pattern. So it’s a whole Jalie outfit, though not on purpose.

The Back

Overall I really like the Mimosa; in a drapey fabric the extra room is really pretty, the shoulder ruffles are well-drafted and attach nicely; it’s a beautifully constructed and published pattern, as theirs always have been for me. Highly recommend.

Sizing Note

I did what I normally do with Jalie patterns and went by the body measurements on the package, which puts me at a size T with an FBA for most of them. The insturcitons on the Mimosa say to choose a size based on bust measurement, and I think if your bust measurement differs little from your waist/hips, that is probably safe; however, if you’re busty this may not work for you. A size T for me is based on my waist, which is my smallest measurement and gives me the shoulders/armscyes/neckline I need, and then for the front I sized up to a V to give me some extra room across the chest. Because of the stretch in the fabric, this worked well, I should have gone for a Y if I was going by boobs alone and that for me would have been much too big.

Now on to the blog tour details:

GIVEAWAY!

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Are there some Jalie patterns you’ve been itching to get? Now’s your chance to WIN YOUR JALIE WISHLIST! Head over to Jalie’s website, create an account, add your favorite patterns to your wishlist, and complete the rafflecopter form below (patterns must be added by February 12, 2019 11:59pm EST to be eligible). Incomplete entries will be eligible for fabric prizes only.

For extra entries, join our Jalie sewalong! Make a Jalie “basic” between January 28 and February 12 and share it on Instagram with hashtag #basicallyjalie and/or in the Basically Jalie Album in the Sewing with Jalie Facebook group.

We are so grateful to our generous sponsors who have teamed up to provide the following prizes (please stop by their shops and show them some love!):

Grand Prize (Worldwide)
Win Your Jalie Wishlist – Up to $100 CAD in patterns!
Discovery Trekking Outfitters – One (1) x 50 USD gift card
D&H Fabrics co. – One (1) x $50 USD gift card

Sewalong Prize (Continental USA only)
Win Your Jalie Wishlist – Up to $25 CAD in patterns!
The Sewciety – One (1) Subscription box (value: $48 USD)
Simply By Ti – One (1) x $20 USD gift card

Sewalong Prize (Worldwide, excluding Continental USA)
Win Your Jalie Wishlist – Up to $25 CAD in patterns!
PatternReview.com – One (1) x $30 USD gift card
Discovery Trekking Outfitters – One (1) x 50 USD gift card

(Note: gift cards exclude shipping unless otherwise stated on sponsor website)

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Blogger Lineup

Be sure to visit these talented sewing bloggers during the tour:

Wednesday, Feb 6 – The Petite Sewist | auschick sews | Replicate then Deviate | Deepika Blogs

Thursday, Feb 7 – Sew What Yvette | Sew Cucio | Shalini’s Sewing Space | Curtiepie | A Jennuine Life

Friday, Feb 8 – SeamsLikeStyle | It’s Liesel | SewSophieLynn | Danvillegirl Sewing Diary | Skirt Fixation

Monday, Feb 11 – The Crafting Fiend | Sprouting JubeJube | its sew colorful | Diskordia’s Curvy Sewing

Tuesday, Feb 12 – All Things Katy! | BigFlyNotions | needle and the belle | Zoopolis

To think that once upon a time, I thought I didn’t like yellow (Burda 8/18 Jacket #111)

I saw this brilliant yellow scuba-weight stretch faux suede in FabricLand, and petted it a lot and left it there.

And then I saw this fantastic fun jacket in the August 2018 Burda issue.

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And then I determined that they were meant for each other, waited for the members sale, and bought enough of the faux suede to make it up.

The Front. Yes, we have entered Crappy Indoor Photo Season.

I’m not sure the fabric agrees with me: the pattern is meant, I think, for something lighter and drapier. This faux suede has a good bit of body. But I kind of prefer it that way: it makes for some dramatically puffy sleeves. It also is not at all keen on pressing. Nothing would make it lie flat. Eventually, I got out the double-sided tape from actual suede projects and used it to make the seams lie flat and, on curved seams, did some careful catch-stitching. It made it a more complicated and time consuming project, but it’s worth it to have nicely flat seams.

The Back

Standard 2″ FBA on each side of the bodice, rotated into the shoulder and waist darts.

There are a few issues with this pattern:

  1. It’s supposed to be a tall pattern? And yet here it is, not shortened or altered at all, and it’s kind of … short. I know I’m a bit on the tall side, but my height is not in my upper torso. I didn’t even have to shorten the sleeves, which is unheard of for me.
  2. I am 99% sure that the measurements given for the tie belt pieces are incorrect. They are barely longer than the corresponding waist measurements and certainly wouldn’t hang down, and the width is enormous (5″!) and it calls for 2. !! I basically cut one 5″ strip that is the fabric width and did the normal fold-and-sew, and I think this looks much closer to the pattern photo than what you’d get with the measurements they provide.
The Side

Otherwise it’s a fun jacket, it’s yellow, it’s stretchy so it’s super comfortable, and it’s thick so it is warm enough for fall … though not necessarily for the fall we’ve had. Still, I was determined to wear it to work at least once.

You can hardly see how tired I am what with all the colours. Right?

All day people were giving me looks, Dear Readers. Their eyes would widen and they would quickly take in the outfit, and then look away. I happened to wear this get-up on our municipal election day, and I’m happy to say that the lady manning the polling machine was very complimentary on this colour combination. But she was the only one.

Sizing Note

In Burda tall sizes I should be a 80-88 based on body measurements. This pattern had 76 and 80 on the tissue, so I traced the 76 and widened it to the 80 at the hips, then did my usual FBA on the bodice front. As I described above, I would be cautious about any length alterations: it didn’t seem particularly tall.

We were bound to get to fall sewing eventually: Burda 2/17 Coat #103

After the summer sewing orgy and my decision to try limiting myself to two new garments for me each month, I thought I’d start with something nice and complicated and time-consuming … like a trench coat. This pattern from Burda was nicely tailored and classic, and my favourite local fabric store was selling some beautiful heavy linens that felt like they would make great transitional outerwear … and here we are.

Mind you, it took forever. This coat was the only thing I sewed for myself in September. (Yes, it is January.)

I did my standard 2″-per-side FBA, left in the side bust dart, and rotated the waist dart into the waist tucks.  I did a quick muslin of the bodice pieces to be sure it would work before cutting it out of the linen–not a step I usually bother with but I knew this coat was going to be a complicated sew and I didn’t want to get to the end and realize it didn’t work.

The Back

I did Hong Kong binding for the first time ever, and it was by far the most time consuming part of the entire project. It’s scrap from a silk/cotton voile from a couple of previous projects, so maybe a bit nicer than the standard bias binding, but super soft and lightweight and a great match for the linen. It’s a bit wonky but … well, hopefully people won’t be scrutinizing the interior of my trench coat while I’m wearing it.

Also, one side of the notched collar is a bit wonky. The linen is just heavy enough not to want to be tidy and small in complicated seam allowances, and it was getting to the point where my efforts to fix it were making it worse instead of better, so I stopped. It looks fine for the general public but I’m sure my fellow sewers would spot it a mile away.

The Side

This was one of those years where we had summersummersummersummer, approximately fifteen minutes of fall, and then winter. In other words, it went from too hot to wear a jacket to too cold to wear this jacket very quickly, but I did get a few good days of trench coat weather in there and it was comfortable and swishy and also nicely teal, which is all I really wanted from it.

The Front

Sizing Note

My standard Burda sizing: I should be a size 40-44 based on body measurements, and this was a size 38, graded to 42 at the hips, with a 2″ FBA per side on the bodice. Basically I sized down by 1 throughout except for the bust.