Friday, 7 April 2017

a life update and a new favourite purple dress

Hello, world! It's been a while.

It seems like ages that I last posted, and I guess it was. A lot has happened since then. Last semester was pretty rough - everyone said it would be, but literally nothing could have prepared me for the insane amount of work I had. After making my last dress, I didn't touch my sewing machine for the rest of the semester. I got back into knitting a little by knitting microbe plushies as a fundraiser!

This semester, my workload has been a little lighter, but I've still had a lot going on and haven't had much time to sew. I've managed to finish a couple very simple knit dresses, but you know what? I wear a lot of simple knit dresses so that feels like a pretty huge frickin' accomplishment right now.

In other life updates, I'm going to Germany this summer! I'm mildly freaking out about finding somewhere to stay, applying for visas, and booking tickets, but I have an internship for 3 months at the University of Heidelberg studying Hepatits B virus!

At the beginning of May, I'll be in Berlin for two weeks for a language course, living with a host family, then I start my internship that goes until mid-August. I'll hopefully spend the last couple weeks of August traveling around other parts of Europe before heading back to Montreal for my last year of undergrad! International sewing friends, hit me up.

(Actually though, if anyone has friends/family/connections in Germany, especially in or near Heidelberg, I'm desperately looking for a place to stay!!)

Back to sewing, I made this dress back in January in a random burst of energy for procrastination. I saw that Heather from Closet Case Patterns had released the Ebony Dress and Tee, a flared knit swing dress, and bought it on the spot! I had wanted all summer to draft a pattern like it for myself (which I've actually done already for a friend and I know it really isn't that hard), but I guess I like shiny new patterns because for the first time in ages I actually felt like sewing, and I wanted to act on that while it lasted.

The same day I bought it, I taped together the pattern, cut out the dress, and sewed most of the dress except topstitching the neckline and hemming, because I didn't have matching thread. It was a pretty quick make considering that I hadn't sewn in months - it probably took me about 4 hours for all this minus hemming.

The fabric is from Our Social Fabric in Vancouver. My mom brought it for me when she visited Montreal this summer - the perks of having a mom that volunteers at OSF and already has too much fabric! It's a rayon/spandex knit that has nice drape and body, and isn't sheer at all.

The neckline is somewhere in between the scoop neck and the jewel neck. I thought the scoop neck might be too low, but next time I'll probably just make it as-is.

I'll be honest, before hemming this, I tried it on and hated it. I didn't bother buying matching thread to hem it and it sat, unhemmed, on my sewing table for 2 weeks and all the energy I suddenly had for sewing pretty much died. I felt like it looked like a maternity dress and was probably the worst possible shape for my body!!

A couple weeks later, I decided to see what it would look like shorter. I cut 4 inches off and then tried it on, and I loved it! It was pretty much knee-length on me before, which isn't the best look for such a loose fit, lemme tell you. Shorter, though, it's super cute!

I went out and bought thread and hemmed it the next day, and I've worn it way too much ever since. It's maybe not the most flattering, but it's cute and comfortable and I don't have to worry about it not fitting during periods of excessive stress-eating.

The fit around the arms isn't perfect - the pattern was actually revised to give the smaller sizes some more room in the arms, but not until after I'd made this one. It's a little snug but I have pretty small arms and shoulders so it's not too bad. It maybe doesn't sit perfectly on my shoulders which gives the hem a bit more of a high-low effect but I kind of like that.

So tdlr; this is my new favourite dress (sorry Alix)! It's a style I never would have seen myself wearing a year ago but I'm totally in love with it. It's so easy to wear and to dress up or down. I want to make many many more and live in them all summer (in Germany!)

Thanks to James for taking such killer pictures for me! And thanks to this beautiful city for being such a great backdrop. These photos were all taken in Old Port (and yes, I was a little cold!!)

Until next time xx

Friday, 28 October 2016

Meet Alix, the 70's Dress of my Dreams

Happy fall, everyone! There are so many things that I love about this time of year, but I've been busy busy busy so this will be the sparknotes version of a blog post so I can get back to studying/finishing sewing my Halloween costume.

Pattern: the newly released Alix Dress by By Hand London. They asked me to test and I absolutely fell in love with the design!! I made the mini version with the pleats, in a size 2/6.

Fabric: Cheapo poly satin that I bought at a local clothing store that was selling off their surplus. I normally hate poly (and still do), but I needed something on short notice and it was inexpensive. The right side is super shiny (as satin tends to be...) but I used the wrong side and I'm obsessed with the rich purple colour. (It also happens to be almost the exact same colour as one of their samples. Great minds think alike?)

Muslin: I got about halfway through a muslin then realized that I cut the wrong size for the neck yoke, but didn't have time for a new one. The only thing I changed was to raise the neckline a fair bit (I think 1 3/4"), although in retrospect I didn't need to - it was only because I cut the larger size of yoke that it was so low! Next time, I might lower it back down (or at least 1") because I think that might be a little more flattering (but still totally modest).

Sewing: Sooo I may have delayed starting this until very very close to the deadline in favour of studying for my biochemistry midterm, and by the time I started, everywhere that I could buy thread was closed. I had purple thread, but it was very cheap and nasty thread that my machine really doesn't like, so I used black thread for almost the whole dress. The next morning, I ran out and bought some purple thread to hem the skirt and sew the elastic casings at the wrist.

I contemplated French seams, but I was short on time so I just serged everything. Once I got partway through, I realized that French seams would have been way too bulky anyways, so I guess that was for the best - it probably saved me a lot of frustration! If I make another one when I have a little more time (like, maybe when I graduate???), I might experiment with bias bound seams. Some of the seams end up enclosed in the yoke and the waist panel, but a lot of them are still exposed.

I haven't had a chance to compare the tester instructions to the revised ones yet, so I won't comment on the construction at all. It was pretty straightforward, although I definitely had to follow the instructions more closely that I usually would!

I finished it up with a blind hem with my beautiful blind hem foot - I'm so in love with this thing. As much as I love hand sewing, sometimes I just don't have the time or the patience for it, so it's great to have a machine that does nice blind hems.

Verdict: Guys, this is the dress of my dreams!! The fit maybe isn't 100% perfect (I need to tweak the area right above the bust), but I absolutely love wearing it and it's perfect for fall. For class/everyday life (so class + the library), I wear it with tights, boots and a jean jacket (plus a scarf and sweater underneath because it's already cold...), but you could definitely dress it up with heels and some nice jewelry. The sleeves are roomy, but in a lightweight fabric, they're not so bulky that you can't wear a sweater, which is nice.

I've also been obsessed with this scarf this fall - it's Liberty and belonged to my grandma. We found it in its original package in her house, so we think it was probably a gift that she never wore. It's beautiful wool and despite not owning (or liking) much pink, it seems to go with a lot of my clothes!

I also just realized that I'm wearing my great-grandmother's gloves in these last few photos where I was too cold to take off my jacket! We also found them at my grandma's house, but my mom doesn't fit them so she doesn't think my grandma would have either. I have no idea how old they are, but they were found with a few other pairs that I would say are at least from the 50's, possibly older. They're made in Italy and lined in silk knit and oh my gosh they are amazing to wear.

So, I think that's it for this dress! I'm completely in love with it and want to make many many more (if I only I had just a little more time...). Thank you to the lovely ladies at BHL for inviting me to test, and thanks to my friend James for taking these pictures for me, in spite of the fact that I always seem to choose rainy days for photoshoots!

Thanks also to this beautiful city for being my backdrop. In spite of the rain when we took these photos, Montreal is gorgeous this time of year!

And with that, I'm heading back to the library. At least I'm wearing a killer dress!

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Pattern Testing: Itch to Stitch Belize Shorts

I'd be lying if I said that Montreal hadn't changed me - I've grown a lot and I've had to learn to live on my own in this city. Living here over the summer this year has been a completely different experience for me - but I've definitely had to get used to the heat, and my wardrobe has changed a lot from my past summer wardrobes.

With buying second-hand and altering old garments, I've managed to put together enough of a wardrobe that works for the heat (and my lab job, where I need to wear long pants), but something I was still missing was shorts. The only pair of shorts that I wear regularly are a pair of hand-me-downs from a friend, and while I love them and wear them all the time, they do occasionally need a break to be washed...

So, when I saw that Kennis from Itch to Stitch was looking for pattern testers for her Belize Shorts and Skort pattern, I put my name in right away, and I was chosen as a tester!

The shorts are loose-fitting with an elastic waist, but the front waistband isn't gathered so they're quite flattering. I chose view A, with pleats at the front, and made a size 0. I was in between a size 0 and a size 2 at the waist, but closer to a size 0, and I was smaller than a size 00 at the waist, so I chose the size 0. I cut the elastic the size for the 00 as the instructions recommend, although next time I will actually size down to a 00 or a little smaller at the waist.

I cut a muslin, and I was really happy with the fit! I didn't have to adjust the crotch curve at all, which is possibly a first for me, so I went ahead and cut into my fabric.

These don't take very much fabric (about 3/4 of a metre in my size), so I was able to make these out of the leftover fabric from my sleeveless Granville Shirt.

For the pockets, I used a scrap of black lining, although maybe gray would have been better - I was just in a hurry and that's what I had on hand!

I followed the directions pretty much exactly until they were finished, but I wanted them a little shorter, so I folded up 1 1/4" cuffs. The hem allowance was just deep enough for this (1 3/4"), but next time I would allow a deeper hem allowance so there's more than 1/2" folded under.

I also had to shorten the pockets a little, so they didn't poke out. I only shortened them 1/2" because I like deep pockets, but they're only just short enough, so next time I would probably shorten them another 1/2".

Since it was a test version, I took some photos before turning up the cuffs, and some after! Once the photos were taken, I tacked them in place.

I also added a line of vertical stitching at the centre back to stop the elastic from rolling in the casing, but this still wasn't quite enough, so I added three lines of horizontal stitching along the whole waistband, to look more like shirring. I really like how this turned out! My fabric has a fair bit of body for a lightweight fabric, so I spaced the lines 3/8" apart, but in something like rayon, you could probably sew them even 1/4" apart.

All in all, I LOVE these shorts! They have enough ease to me comfortable (and the elastic waist helps!), but they're just fitted enough to be flattering (although having said that, a lot of the testers did size down for a slightly slimmer fit - I went down a half size myself).

The herringbone chambray pattern looks almost a little like suiting from a distance, so these will be great to dress up or dress down. The linen and the loose fit make these perfect for the hot, humid Montreal summer, but I also think I'll be able to make these work for fall with tights.

I could also potentially wear these with my Granville shirt if I want to be super matchy-matchy (or I could just pretend it's a romper). I haven't tried this yet but I might just see how it looks!

This is also the first project that I finished off with a custom label from Dutch Label Shop - they contacted me a while back to ask if I'd like some custom labels to try, and of course I said yes! I've always loved the idea of adding labels to my clothes, but I've never gone out of my way to buy them.

I went with a few different kinds of simple ones, but if you're better with Photoshop than I am, you can also submit a custom design rather than just designing them on their website.

I'm seriously impressed by the quality and how professional these look. I'm going to love adding them to everything I make from now on! Since they're made-to-order, they do take a little while to arrive (I think I received them about two weeks after ordering, including shipping to Canada), and you do have to order quite a few labels at once (at least 30 for the simple kind), but now I have enough labels that I'll be using them for a very, very long time! They're a really nice finishing touch, and they makes me smile every time I wear these shorts!

If you'd like some custom labels for yourself, Dutch Label Shop has kindly offered a 15% discount to my readers with the code youngseamstress, valid until September 5th. Treat yourself!

(And a little disclaimer: I received my labels for free, but all opinions are my own, and there are no affiliate links in this post - i.e. I'm not receiving any compensation for posting about them or the discount code. I do really love them though!)

Another huge thank you to Kennis at Itch to Stitch for asking me to test! I love this pattern and I'll definitely try to make more before the summer is up. They come together so quickly and they're really easy to wear! I might also try view E with the skort.

(And a second little disclaimer: I received the pattern for free in exchange for feedback, but again, these opinions are my own. I'm so, so happy with this shorts and I kind of want to live in them for the rest of the summer!)

Hope you're having a nice, sunny weekend! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

New Hair + My Linen Granville Shirt

You know that feeling when you make something, and it actually turns out exactly how you pictured it and then you're convinced that you have the perfect piece of clothing that you would wear every single day if you could get away with it??

Well, meet my Granville Shirt! I made this a couple weeks ago and I'm so incredibly happy with it that I want to make hundreds more of these and completely would if I had the time.

Also, you might have noticed that I dyed my hair! If you follow me on Instagram or if you saw my Me-Made-May round-up, you probably know that I've actually had red hair for a few months now. When I first dyed it I used a kit (and a friend!), and it was right after my exams when I felt like I really needed a big change.

It was a little impulsive (not really like me!) and I was happy with how it turned out, but I realized that I maybe had a little too much hair to dye with a drugstore kit. Just last weekend, I had it done by a hairstyling student for a great price (less than I spent on drugstore dye!) and I'm SO happy with it. I love my natural colour but I'm ready to have fun with some different colours!

Anyways, back to the shirt!

It seems like a classic shirt has been on my sewing bucket list foreeever, and when Sewaholic released their Granville Shirt pattern last year, it seemed like it really was the perfect shirt! It has the perfect amount of ease and all the right details. Sewaholic patterns usually fit me pretty well, too, so it seemed like a great starting point.

When I made the muslin, though, it really needed some work. I don't have pictures, but the dart was completely in the wrong place for me, and the armholes were gaping like crazy, even after making the same alterations that Tasia made to make it sleeveless! It was also way too long, almost a tunic length, and big at the hips (although I expected that based on the sizing). I shortened it 4", but I ignored the shorten/lengthen lines because I needed the shaping at the waist to be higher. I cut two separate lines, one above the waist and one below, and shortened it 2" at each of them. To take it in at the hips, I just marked 1" in and drew a smooth curve to that point from the waist.

To make it sleeveless, you have to shave a little off the armholes and the shirt back where it attaches to the yoke - this tutorial explains it well. Tasia says she took the armholes in 1" and took 3/8" out of the back, but this wasn't nearly enough for me. I haven't made the shirt with sleeves, so I think I probably would have had to take in the shoulder and the back anyways - that's a pretty standard adjustment for me. In the end I took 1 3/4" out of the shoulder and 7/8" out of the back pieces.

For the dart, I started by raising it 1", but I needed to do something to fix the armhole gape. One of these days, I should probably learn to do a proper FBA, but I don't like how every tutorial I've seen ends up making the rest of the top wider at the bottom. Instead, I followed this tutorial on how to stop armhole gape - you basically pin a dart in the armhole where you would need it, and then transfer it to the bust dart. It basically doubled the size of the dart, and it worked really well to fix the gaping!

I made a second muslin with all these adjustments, and it was a lot closer, but there was still a little gaping in the back of the armhole. I considered doing the same thing with pinning a dart and somehow transferring it to the princess seams in the back, but this article said to just take a little out of the side seam for the back piece only so I did that for my final version. This also worked really well, although it made it just a tiny bit too small at the bust so I might try to add that back in somewhere for my next version. I didn't notice it at first, but after a little wear, the button band pulls ever so slightly at the bust.

Other than that, though, can we just admire the fit? I think I pretty much nailed it! There's a couple small things I'll change next time, but it's probably the best fitting shirt I've ever owned. It's a little wrinkled in these photos because I'd been wearing it all day, but that's just the nature of linen.

The fabric is a linen blend herringbone chambray that I bought on St. Hubert at the beginning of the summer. It was only $10 a metre and I got the whole top out of only a metre! Now I just need to figure out what to do with the metre I have left...

I've never made a classic shirt before, but it wasn't as difficult as I was expecting. I was mostly nervous for the collar stand but I followed Andrea's famous tutorial for sewing one and it went quite well! The only problem was that something must have stretched (or I just didn't cut it accurately enough in the first place), because I found the collar to be a little too long for the collar stand. I noticed it early on but somehow thought it would work itself out, so I didn't trim it down. It's mostly fine, but if I ever want to button it up all the way (which I never do), the collar overlaps slightly.

I also made a mistake and interfaced both the upper and lower collar by accident, because I wrote "Cut 2 interfacing" on the collar piece when I traced it. I keep meaning to check if this was my mistake or something on the pattern itself. It's not a big deal because the interfacing I used was pretty lightweight, but it would probably sit a little more nicely with slightly less.

As for the rest of the construction, I used flat-felled seams for everything so the insides are nice and neat.

To finish the armholes, I used store-bought bias binding because I was lazy and just sewed it with a 1/4" seam allowance, folded it over the raw edge, pressed it to the inside, and edgestitched. Easy peasy! I think the bias binding I used was maybe a little too stiff for the fabric (I think it's mostly poly), because it didn't stretch to the curve as nicely as a softer one would, and the edges don't quite lay flat. I don't think it's that noticeable, but next time I'll make my own. In fact I think I may just buy some black and white cotton and make a bunch of my own so I have a stock for times like this! The homemade stuff is so much nicer, even if it's not in matching fabric.

I used my machine's automatic buttonhole foot to make the buttonholes, and I can't get over how beautiful they are. This is probably one of my favorite features of this machine, because I've always struggled with making nice buttonholes. The only one that was a little wonky was the one at the very top because I don't think I trimmed down the seam allowance enough when I attached the collar, so there was a little too much bulk to make a smooth buttonhole. In the end, I just didn't cut it open because I'm never going to button up that button anyways!

I'm so, so happy with how this shirt turned out. It's a great summer style for throwing on over jeans or these rayon Value Village pants that I've been living in. It's so cool and comfortable for the Montreal heat, too! I've already worn it so much and I want to make more. In the fall I might try a version with sleeves, although sleeveless versions are almost more practical for layering cardigans over!

Next up, I'd love to make a shirtdress version! Stay tuned...