Almost a dress

There is a finished quilt that hasn’t been photographed. A shawl that needs ends woven in & blocking, another skein of handspun (woolen lace weight this time) and now an almost finished dress.

Almost finished! #armyofdresses

We’ve started to get some hot & humid temperatures here in Montreal (29°C yesterday) which have made me wish for more hot weather dress options. I have more options for “transitional” weather periods which is usually a fairly short period of time.Especially this year it seems.

This dress has been almost almost finished for a while. I cut out the pieces 2 summers ago, started working on it last year sometime and worked on it a bit a few months ago. I picked it up again this week as a quick finish. The vintage voile is just the thing for hot weather.

Now, I just need to finish attaching the collar, add some buttons and I’ll have another dress in the rotation.

So…what exactly happened in 2013?

Clearly last year’s efforts to try and post projects from 2012 bogged down any kind of posting about more current projects from 2013. So I’m going to do one mega post in point form of what the heck I made last year. Some of these projects have more pictures, feel free to click through to Flickr and have a look around.


I made 2 giant yellow tote bags.

Finally finished making a box bag from a thousand years ago.

Made a baby box bag out of the leftover yellow fabric and sent it to my Mom with the previously mentioned gianormous tote. She uses it to keep all her lipsticks together.

Made a set of 3 box bags as a birthday present for my friend Susie.

Started piecing a quilt. Finished the top, sandwiched it around Easter and slowly hand quilted most of it during the rest of the year. I have 4 blocks left to go.

Finally put button holes in 2 shirt dresses. I used the button hole attachment for my old Singer Featherweight. The resulting button holes are really nice.

Almost finished another shirt dress.
Made a 3rd version of Vogue 8728 for myself, with added side seam pockets and contrasting bias edging (didn’t have quite enough yardage).
Made 2 versions of the Amy Butler mini dress for my Mom. Cut out and coached her to sew number 3.
Almost finished sewing DKNY Vogue V1160, again for my Mom. Got stymied on the last step, rolled hem in polyester chiffon. Still have to finish that.
I paused sewing here for a while. Too much sweatshop sewing this summer.
Worked on the ever-growing hand pieced hexagons here and there.

Then did some Hawaiian appliqué during Christmas holidays. I finished a block I’d begun last year, and made it halfway through another block.


I finished spinning a batt I’d started in 2012 (I think). Aspen Grove Farm Batt purchased in Lunenburg during our 2012 summer trip to the Maritimes.
Then I started spinning another batt purchased from Lettuce Knit during a weekend trip to Toronto. It’s still waiting on my wheel for me to finish it.


This was the year of the striped baby blanket. I made 3, and have given away 2. I really like the colour combo on the 3rd one, but fear that most people might find it too ugly? And the 3rd baby’s Dad is a big Montreal Canadians fan…

I started a Damson shawl, then put it away for bad behaviour (not enough yarn and too ugly).

I knit the 2nd Cladonia shawl for my Mom.

I made myself some “early Winter mittens” to wear from 0°C to -15°C, then it’s time for stranded mittens to take over. I started these as cable on the side mittens, but didn’t like them. So I switched to a knit from the top pattern.

I participated in the Westknits Color Craving Mystery Shawl, which ended up kind of giant.

I finally finished my Koigu Pomatomuses. These were going to be flip top, and I did make one of the tops. Then I decided I would find the tops more annoying than useful, so finished them as is.

I decided that after five Winters of wearing the same beret, it was time for a new Winter hat. After scouring all the slouchy cable patterns I could find, I finally settled on Rosebud. And then I knit 2.

I started some leg warmers over the holidays which are still in progress.
And I think that’s everything. Phew.

One day, these Ceylons will have buttons

(mostly) Finished Ceylon Added pocket Added cuff band

Pattern: Colette Patterns Ceylon
Materials: Heather Bailey, Nicey Jane Hop Dot Sky
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Modified sleeve (added cuff band) & added pocket.
Start Date: Spring 2012
End Date: Still needs buttons :/

(mostly) Finished Ceylon Added collar

Pattern: Colette Patterns Ceylon
Materials: I think it’s a Moda dot?
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Added collar & modified/slightly de-puffed sleeve.
Start Date: Spring 2012
End Date: Still needs buttons :/

The one down side to my awesome old sewing machines is that I can’t easily make button holes. I also have a special desire to have a closet’s worth of amazing shirt dresses. I should probably figure out a solution one of these days. In the meantime, here are some (mostly) finished dresses that keep hanging around patiently for me.

Summer Dresses – Vogue 9728

Finished Vogue 8728

Pattern: Vogue 8728
Materials: Nani Iro 2012 Fuccra grey
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Skirt cut to knee length.
Start Date: Early Summer 2012
End Date: Early Summer 2012

Finished Vogue 8728

Pattern: Vogue 8728
Materials: Peach ‘n Pink dots
Modifications: Pattern fitted to my measurements. Skirt cut to knee length.
Start Date: Early Summer 2012
End Date: Early Summer 2012

Here’s a couple of dresses that I made last year. Both of these were finished by summer. They were favourites for that season and anytime I needed a summer memory pick-me-up. Wearing the polkadot version with black tights and my saddle oxfords makes me feel like I should be a tap-dancing Minnie Mouse.

SXSW Swag Hack

My office sent a couple of people to the SXSW Interactive Conference this year. When they came back, they were quite generous in sharing all the free swag they got. I really liked the artwork on the t-shirt I picked, but it was WAY too big for me to wear and way too awesome for this shirt to be destined to be a nightshirt. So instead, I brought in to Effiloché for my sewing tutorials one Saturday. Made a sketch of how I thought it could be converted into to a dress and Anne helped me make the transformation. Original SXSW Swag T-shirt My brief sketch of how I wanted to “hack” the t-shirt. T-shirt Hack Schematic I used this old pajama t-shirt as a guide of how I wanted the finished t-shirt dress to fit. Original Swag T-shirt & Favourite PJ top The armholes, neckline and side seams were all modified. I also added in 6 vents in a contrasting grey jersey fabric to create a full skirt. Ta-da! This T-shirt is now a dressPattern: Improvised from favourite PJ t-shirt top Materials: XL T-shirt brought back from SXSW by a coworker Date: March 17, 2012 I plan to draw up the instructions of how I made this transformation but this post has been waiting in draft limbo for too long. Maybe I’ll post them at some point.

2011 Catch-up: The Mock-up Fairy™

Complete with beehive
Yup. Hallowe’en. I wasn’t planning on dressing up but a conversation with co-workers while leaving work one day gave me the most perfect idea. Our office social committee came up with the theme of Fairy Tales so I figured I could dress as I wanted, slap on some fairy wings and be a sarcastic fairy. And that’s pretty much all I had to do was buy wings.
Sparklie sparkle sparkles
I work as a Graphic Designer here in Montreal and I’m often asked to make “maquettes” or mock-ups for different client presentations. Over the years that I’ve worked for my company, I’ve gained the reputation of being the Queen of Maquettes. I’ve built prototypes of milk cartons, juice boxes, die-cut what-have-you, boxes with drawers and inserts from scratch. All kinds of things. So once I thought a bit more about my costume concept, I realised I had recently completed the perfect dress to become The Mock-up Fairy.
The Mock-up Fairy™
Remember a million years ago when I declared I was going to make an army of dresses but somehow didn’t even finish one? Well, I finally finished it a week before Hallowe’en. I decided to postpone its debut until I would wear it as my costume. And it fit the bill perfectly.
Sparklie eyes
I spent sometime researching bee-hive hairdos because what else goes better with my new pair of retro glasses?
The bee-hive
Though all I had to do was buy some wings, I waffled about whether it was worth it. But I made myself go out and ended up getting the biggest, most ridiculous wings I could find. I got in the spirit of things (finally) and bought as many sparkly things to go with: make-up, nail polish, giant plastic ring. I used a tiara I got as a joke V-day present that lives on my desk.
The Mock-up Fairy™ - the full outfit
The costume was widely well received, though I was better recognized as the Fairy Godmother in Shrek. Not quite what I was aiming for, but not a bad serendipitous result.
These wings are sitting compatible
Oh and no one could really believe that I was able to work with my big ass wings, but as you can see from this re-enactment when I got home, that they are quite office chair compliant.

Introducing Black Beauty & the Big Green Meanie

Though I usually prefer to attribute human names to my inanimate objects, it seems that my sewing machines get more elaborate monikers.

Black Beauty

I brought a sewing machine when I came back from my Albertan Christmas holidays. This little Singer Featherweight rings in at 20 lbs and fit nicely into my smaller suitcase with all my socks packed in and around it.

I finally took it to Monsieur Machine à Coudre a few weeks ago and he was able to fix it right up. As soon as I started using the newly serviced machine, I started calling it “Black Beauty”.

The Big Green Meanie

Now I’ve been searching for a name for this Mint green machine that came to me through the crafty grape vine. It’s a temperamental fella and nothing I thought of seemed to fit. Until last week when writing an email that never got sent, when the words just rolled right out of my finger tips. The Big Green Meanie. When I used the machine later that evening and it didn’t mis-behave in anyway, I knew I found the name that fit. (Though Black Beauty was a little miffed that her name wasn’t quite as 50’s gangster, but she’ll have to get over it).

Ladies & Gents, allow me to introduce you to my sewing machine line up. That’s Black Beauty on the top weighing in at 20 lbs. And secondarily (though not in our hearts) is the irrepressible Big Green Meanie!

Non-spinning update

I just wanted to pop in and let everyone know that my old cranky sewing machine and I have seemed to make up with one another. I managed to work for most of the day on my scissor shirtdress with minimal complaints. I think his bobbin cartridge needs a tune up but other than that he was very well behaved. It would seem that he likes his new more permanent home beside the refrigerator instead of the more temporary digs in front of the stove/washer/dryer/fridge. I guess being in the way made him nervous.

I think my sewing machine is definitely a he though I’m not entirely settled on his name. Edmund jumps to mind but I’m not sure about it. Ooo, or Oliver? Any thought? I’ll have to get a photo so you can be properly introduced.

Since I believe in posts having photos, take a gander at what happend at the last session of Les Courtepointistes:
Block Check

Mr. Peabody’s tumbling blocks quilt is coming along REALLY nicely. We decided that he was about halfway through making all his blocks and it looks FANTASTIC. Don’t you agree?

An army of one

I have begun my army of dresses with McCall’s M4769. After playing fantasy seamstress and as the patterns begun to arrive in my mail box, I took them with me to my regularly scheduled crafterday at Effiloché and continued to play the game.

Turns out adding fabric makes the game more fun, but hard to stay reasonable. I was going to start with getting fabric for one dress and it quickly became fabric for 5 dresses. In the end I kept things reasonable and only bought fabric for 2 dresses. Very restrained I think.

Daniel helped me fit the pattern in the style of Fit for Real People. There’s a bit of a learning curve with these techniques but I think it’s worth the pay off to get a dress that actually fits properly.

The last time I sewed garments was back in the summer between grades 6 and 7 when my mom decided my brother and I would learn to sew. Our aunt, a self-taught seamstress and my mom showed us how the basics of making clothes. I ended up with a closet full of dresses and my brother got a complete wardrobe of colourful vests (it was the 90’s after all). That year my mom bought a serger for us to use so I’m learning about “properly” finishing the inside of a garment. French seams, bias tape and all that jazz.

It’s coming along quite nicely. Well at least between fights with my vintage free-to-me sewing machine. I try to show reverence and respect. I even recently moved it to a more permanent part of the kitchen so it may feel more cooperative. I’ve been giving it some personal space for a while, but I’ll try it tonight and see how hospitable it feels. Fingers crossed that it goes well.

I have had some difficulty fitting the sleeve cap into the armhole. Our adjustments to the sleeve seem to have added an awful lot of fabric to the top. I hand basted it into the dress. The effect of a 19th century sleeve in a 20th century dress design really doesn’t jive.

So I rebasted the sleeve into position, taking the excess fabric into two pleats near the top. It’s still not quite right. I think I might have to adjust the pleats a bit to get them to sit nicely. There’s a lot of fabric in each pleat so I might try splitting 2 pleats into 4: two smaller ones on the front part and 2 on the back part of the sleeve.

I’ll keep you posted.

Oh and don’t these shoes look cute with the dress?

Fantasy Seamstress

My best friend lives in LA, so we very rarely get to go shopping together. Instead of giving up on it entirely, we sometimes play fantasy wardrobe and send each other things through iChat or email. Recently my friend got engaged and was stressing out about finding a dress. In comes fantasy wardrobe to the rescue!

Disclaimer: I’m not a big super girly, wedding-planned-since-I-was-5 kind of girl. It’s taken nearly 20 years for me to get back into wearing dresses voluntarily since my pink lace pinafore ridden childhood. My dad was a sucker for pink. And lace. And cute dresses. I still can’t stand any kind of barrette or headband in my hair and regularly cut my own bangs.

But to my surprise, it’s super fun to pick out wedding dresses—for someone else—online. Lisa’s a good sport and didn’t seem to mind that I kept emailing her all these dresses that I found for her, including potential bridesmaids dresses. I even spent some of my lunches at work on the hunt. Then I realised this might not be the best of ideas. I could be starting some interesting rumours as everyone can see my computer screen as they walk down the hallway. Either I’m getting married and am an insta-bridezilla, or that I’ve snapped and started planning a fantasy wedding to an imaginary groom to keep from feeling sad and alone. So I decided to keep this activity at home.

At some point, my fantasy-wedding-dress search turned into a fantasy-I-have-a-wedding-to-go-to dress search. I found some very lovely dresses in the not-so-lovely $300 range and I suddenly recalled the difficulty I had finding a dress for the last wedding I went to. It was expensive, took 5 hours of shopping to find and still needed a safety pin to keep from showing my bra. Then it occurred to me, I could MAKE a dress.

So Fantasy Wardrobe turned into Fantasy Seamstress. All the fun and excitement of Fantasy Wardrobe, yet with the added super fun benefit of being closer to becoming reality. Pair this up with my recent discovery of A Dress a Day and I’ve got a new mission: convert my wardrobe of jeans + t-shirts into an army dresses!

I scoured the McCalls/Butterick/Vogue Pattern sites for stuff I liked/would suit me and have started accumulating patterns. Right now I’m working on a Scissors dress. A scissor dress (in this context) is a shirt dress made from Momo Wonderland Snip Snip in blue. Daniel from Effiloché has been helping me fit the pattern and teaching me some proper garment making tricks. In exchange, I have been knitting a dress for a project of his.

A trip to an amazing vintage shop has jump started my vintage pattern collection. But that’s a post all in it’s own.

Waiting in the wings are some pretty fantastic patterns and fabrics.