Friday, September 29, 2023

Literary Sewing Circle, Fall return teaser!


Some of my regular readers may be wondering about the Literary Sewing Circle! At this time of year, it's customary to start up an Autumnal round. 

And I'm happy to announce that yes, we will be having a new round starting up soon. It's starting up a touch later than usual but will be going ahead.

I'll be announcing the title for this round on Friday October 6th, and as usual we'll have 6 weeks of inspiration and book talk, and then a couple more weeks to finish off our projects and share them. 

Here's your hint to carry you over until next week: 

We're going back a century to read a Canadian classic, with a beautiful Muskoka setting, some snark, and some romance ... I think many Canadian readers might guess this one right away! 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

BarbieCore Butterick 6889

My latest project for the Fabricville blog is just squeaking in to the end of summer dress season. But when I saw this combo I knew I had to try it! The pattern, 6889, is a Retro Butterick 50s release, I've had my eye on it for a while and decided to try it now. There were a few interesting fabric choices in the latest Fabricville options, but when I saw this pink printed cotton I suddenly felt that I absolutely needed to make a BarbieCore vintage inspired dress. 

This is a quilting cotton so doesn't have as much flow as the fabrics that are recommended for this pattern, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. I do think it turned out well, but in a lighter fabric, the gathers at the waist will fall more lightly that they do in my version. 

I made a few adjustments -- mainly in length, as usual for someone who is barely 5'2"! I found that the bodice of this pattern is quite long, and I ended up taking about 1.25" out above the waist, so that the ties would fall on my waist. I didn't want a lot of blousing, as the pattern image shows that it's pretty sleek. I did end up with some blousing, however, and do find that there is a lot of ease in the bodice, even though I cut it according to my measurements. The neckline fits very well, however, and isn't too constricting, which is something I thought about while cutting this out. I also took about an inch out of the skirt length, and used a 1.5" hem as well. 

The other small alteration I made was to add in a side pocket on the right side (opposite the buttons). I always need a pocket! I think you could add patch pockets as another option, as they would fit quite well into the retro aesthetic. But I just added a side seam pocket, using one of my standard templates. 

I used the required 1/2" shoulder pads as per the pattern, as I felt that they would finish the look, although I didn't cover them with fabric, which was an option, with pattern pieces for that purpose included in the pattern. And I'm quite pleased with the pretty shell buttons that I found at Fabricville to finish this one off! 

As to the pattern itself, I wouldn't recommend this for a beginner. There is a lot of hand sewing to get things secured, and there is also the line of buttons on the side. I do find that I can put it on over my head without undoing any buttons though, so to simplify this project you could easily add buttons to the side band without making any actual buttonholes. The instructions are a bit vague in places; I found them difficult to decipher in the stage of putting the side button bands on (yes, there was unpicking...) I felt like the instructions could have been a bit more expansive, even though the dress itself was fairly simple overall.

So this dress took a little longer to put together than I'd planned but in the end I am happy with my Barbie influenced dress! It's a bit different from my usual style, especially with the close fitting neckline, but it's always fun to try something new.  

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Weekend Review: Me & The Boss


Me and the Boss / Michelle Edwards; illus. by April Harrison
TO: Anne Schwartz Books, c2022.
40 p.

This was a darling discovery, a heartwarming book about the relationship between two siblings, and the sense of efficacy that comes from sewing.

Lee is a little brother who follows his big sister Zora everywhere. This includes to a sewing class at the local library, where Mrs. C. is teaching kids some handsewing. Zora makes a pretty flower on her fabric, but Lee makes a bit of a mess - he's so much younger than everyone else. But he's inspired. And later that night he gets out of bed to try again, and ends up mending the hole in his jeans pocket. And then sneaking into Zora's room to sew the ear back on to her favourite teddy.  

Lee's persistence and the way that he feels strong and successful after figuring out how to use these new skills to make life better is such a wonderful message. And the relationship between the siblings is also sweet, while realistic as well. 

This is a charming picture book that sewists (and library lovers) will enjoy. Definitely check this one out! 

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Weekend Review: The Embroidered Wardrobe


The Embroidered Closet / Alexandra Stratkotter
NY: Abrams, c2022.
160 p.

This is another book I picked up in my recent Book Outlet splurge. I love embroidering, and this book is all about using stitching to embellish your wardrobe. I really enjoyed this one! 

I didn't realize until I received it that it was written by a fellow Canadian. How nice to see that! This is a delightful read -- nothing earth-shattering, as it's basically about using stitching to beautify and update your wardrobe, but it's nicely laid out. The photos are beautiful, the instructions are fairly clear for all the stitches, and there are some beautiful motifs. I liked her colour palette and choices, even if they aren't always my own. 

The only that doesn't work -- just for me personally -- is the use of wool crewel threads. They look lovely on a sweater but there's something about the texture of wool threads that's like nails on a chalkboard for me -- I literally can't use them! If you don't have this strange reaction to wool threads then go for it :) 

Many of the motifs shared here are nature themed, from florals to bugs, houseplants to suns and stars. She even has some lettering options, and tips on how to use cursive style lettering effectively. There are examples of stitching on collars, lapels and necklines, even pant legs and jacket backs. There are projects for accessories like caps, bags, or shoes -- and even a very unusual choice to stitch onto a bralette! The different bases that she stitches on require different threads and stabilizers, and she does go into choices for each. 

This is an inspiration book, and it's beautifully put together. The photos are really lovely, and there are enough closeup images of the stitching to satisfy a reader. There are colour and stitch guides for each project that are easy to follow, and there is a wide variety of ideas about what to stitch on. I found a couple of the monochrome examples particularly nice. If you're thinking about adding more embellishment to your clothing via stitch, this would be a fun book to investigate. Enjoyable! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Fall Sewing Plans


Well here it is, September already! I didn't quite finish all my anticipated summer sewing but it's time to get moving on Fall sewing next. 

I have a couple of summer dresses that I am currently working on -- to be shared soon -- but after that it's the big switch-over to autumnal/winter sewing. I'm not as organized this year as I've been previously, but I'm basically sticking with my winter wardrobe outline that I set in September 2021. I'm not done with bright colours and suiting influenced silhouettes yet. 

I have a couple of items on my Make Nine 2023 that I'm planning to make soon, Butterick 5938 and Butterick 6127.

I'm also planning on Burda dress 103-03-21, and a Burda skirt & waistcoat set.

And I think a Fresco blouse by Studio Calicot (from my Make Nine) will be a great addition. 

Another blouse I really want to make is the Barbara from I Am Patterns. 

I'm sure I'll come up with more ideas and get distracted from my organized plans as always! But these are the items I'm hoping to finish by the end of the year. 

Do you make big plans or queue up your projects? I don't generally go beyond a handful but doing a wardrobe planning process has helped me both whittle down ideas and focus on fabrics. 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Weekend Review: Zero Waste Patterns


Zero Waste Patterns / Birgitta Helmerson
London: Quadrille, c2023.
192 p.

I've been looking forward to this new Zero Waste book by Birgitta Helmersson, and was happy to find it in my library. I enjoyed looking through it, and reading her background to how and why she got to the Zero Waste pattern making stage. I also enjoyed the layout; logical structure and lots of nice large photographs of various models wearing the projects. 

The subtitle of the book is "20 Projects to Sew Your Own Wardrobe". There are 20 projects by virtue of variations on 5 basic blocks - Tee, Trouser, Singlet, Skirt and Shirt. They are all in the traditional zero waste aesthetic - natural fibres, no prints, very loosely fitting with not many shaping options in them. And elastic waist skirts and trousers. If you like this aesthetic or can see past the oatmeal/beige colours, I think this will be a great book for you! 

The instructions are well laid out, with cutting diagrams all fairly large and clear, including coloured notations for folds, slits or other special things to note. There are a handful of actual patterns for facings, pockets etc but these are so minimal that they are all printed inside the front and back covers (double fold covers) to trace off. She also explains the sizing of each pattern and the limitations when using the width of fabric as the base for a pattern (sizes are UK 6-30/US 2-26). There are suggestions given to enlarge a pattern when needed, by adding side panels or other ideas. But the fitting is pretty loose on most of these items also.

Unfortunately for me personally, I'm not really a fan of this kind of really oversize, boxy clothing. There is one variation on the shirt block that was interesting to me, as it has longer gathered sleeves and a bit more interest in detail. But I don't think I'm that likely to try any of these out very soon. I appreciate this book, though, and can see how the right reader will find this very helpful, as it not only has pattern charts but quite a lot of information on the zero waste approach. And it's pretty! 

I was glad to have the chance to read this through my library, and appreciate the availability of this kind of sewing book. 

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Weekend Review: How to Sew Clothes


How to Sew Clothes / Amelia Greenhall & Amy Bornman
NY: Abrams, c2023.
208 p.

I picked up this new book recently just to take a look (at Book Outlet, which I have a small addiction to). It has just a few basic style patterns in it, so I wasn't sure it would really do it for me, being pretty starter level. But I was so wrong. This is a great book! 

It has a handful of designs in it -- and you can see the contents fully laid out and explained at the All Well Workshop's website. But it really lives up to its subtitle -- it's full of easy hacks, clearly explained, to extend the potential of a basic pattern. The patterns themselves are on sheets folded in the back of the book, for tracing. There's the famous All Well Box Top, a Cardigan Jacket, and a couple of bags, but from that you can build a pretty good start to a wardrobe. 

I really like the layout and the relaxed tone of the book. The photography and sewing instructions are nicely done, appealing and easy to use. And the authors have an encouraging, casual tone but also give you lots of solid instruction and guidance. 

There's a section of sewing basics, and one on tips for the sewing life -- I haven't seen anything quite like this in other sewing books and it's wonderful. It talks about things like how to use Indie patterns and pdfs, keeping a notebook of projects, tracing existing garments and so on. Very basic, in the sense that there will no confusing jargon for any newbie reader. 

And there is another section at the end with tips on continuing with your sewing journey. It's a series of short tidbits on many different topics, and I loved the first one: Prioritize by Excitement. If you're overwhelmed by project options (and who isn't at some point) they say pick the one you're excited about. Such good advice! There's also bits on ebbs & flows, finding sewing friends, perfectionism and more. And of course I appreciated the shout-out to sewing book sections at the public library! 

I was very impressed with this book as a whole, it feels like one of the gentlest and most approachable beginner books I've seen. It's completely non-intimidating, but still doesn't dumb down the process of learning to sew, and offers encouragement to grow past a pattern and improve your sewing skills. This will be my first choice to offer to beginner sewists in future. I thought it was great.