Tuesday, September 17, 2019


September seems to be the month of scrappy sewing over on Instagram -- I am still intending to sew along with #scrappySeptember via the Make A Garment A Month group. To that end, I've been trying to decide on a project!

I do love to use up my larger offcuts by putting them together into something else, and I especially love print blocking, when it's done right. I don't sew with too many solids so don't do a lot of solid colour blocking -- just because I don't have many of those scraps to work with.

I was thinking about some of the ways in which I might use some of my larger remnant pieces for this September's scrappy challenges, and that led me to investigate which patterns I already own that might fit in well with this technique. It turns out I have quite a few. So I thought I'd share them with you for inspiration. If you have any patterns that you find helpful for this kind of project, please share them in the comments.

This is a pattern that I just bought; couldn't resist the silhouette or the scrappy potential!
Now this is a pattern I've had for a very long time, and I've made View A before. It might be time to try the short sleeved View B and use up a few interesting pieces of scrap fabric.

I just bought this one is our local fabric store's amazing moving sale. I had missed it altogether so was happy to pick it up now that I am thinking of scrappy sewing. It's made for lightweight fabrics but I'm thinking that maybe some velvety bits might work too... 

McCalls 7466
It's obvious in this pattern that View D is specially created for scrappy goodness! I can imagine it in wild print blocking -- that would be fun. There is a denim version like the pattern cover over on PatternReview; someone actually made this one and it is so fun.

Another pattern that I just picked up in our local sale. I'm not a huge Marcy Tilton fan, but I'm willing to give this one a try. I really like the simplicity of View C -- maybe this one could use up some of the larger solids in my stash, of which I have only a few!

This might be perfect for some of the smaller pieces of lightweight fabrics like challis or crepe in my scrap pile. I like a nice oversize pullover top and this one looks cute to me.

I've had this one for ages, a pretty Zandra Rhodes design that I bought thinking of a Christmas dress. But many holidays have come and gone and I still have not made it...Perfect for those glitzy bits!

You can't quite tell with this one unless you look at the line drawings, but there are
 multiple  seam lines here to help you break up the fabrics you choose. I think it would look 
nice with some subtle scrappiness in the fabric choice.

Obviously the jacket is the leftover fabric project in this wardrobe pattern. You could make
 all the other pieces and then use the leftover bits to make a matching jacket. 
Or just make a jacket  on its own with all the remnants currently in your stash. 

Any of these patterns would be fun to try! Maybe it would reduce my scrap stash.

Then of course, I might always try a Bargainista copy of my favourite Dior dress of the past few years:

Take a look at the whole show for more inspiration!

What about you? Do you like print blocking? Colour blocking? Do you like to save and use your scraps?

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Weekend Review: Happy Homemade Sew Chic

Happy Homemade Sew Chic / Yoshiko Tsukiori
trans. from the Japanese by Masashi Karasawa
North Clarendon VT: Tuttle, c2013.
64 p.
This week's feature is another book by Yoshiko Tsukiori -- I think she is my favourite so far among all the Japanese pattern books I own. Her style is casual, natural, and just quirky enough for me. 

In this book she shares 20 patterns, most for dresses or tunics, though there are some pants and jackets in here too.

Like her other books, this one has Westernized pattern sheets in the back to trace. The size ranges up to a bust size of 40 1/4" and hip size of 43 3/4". So while it's a limited sizing, it is larger than many other Japanese sewing books. I just squeak into the largest sizes here. The patterns are fairly boxy and geometric, though, so if you have any experience at all with altering patterns, you should be able to adapt them upward to some larger sizes.

As usual, my favourite patterns here are for dresses. All of these on the back cover appeal to me --  although the black one, upper centre, (Dress R) is the one that I'd like to make first. 

Even with that, the lower right is a linen jacket that has kind of caught my eye as well. I might have to make something that -- gasp -- isn't a dress! The reliance on linens, natural cottons and lovely prints is so appealing.
Here's a better view of the jacket
I like this series, and hope to find all of them someday. I just have to find the time to trace all of the appealing designs so I can break out my ditsy prints. I love the solids, but the one below looks so prairie retro. It's funny that there is that similarity.

This reminds me of a prairie apron
Anyhow, I recommend this one for the inspiration, and for the variety of designs in it. Between the pants, skirt, blouse, jacket and many dresses/tunics, you could make yourself an entire wardrobe with just this book. Also, the patterns are basic enough that many variations could be made to shake them up a little, too. 

If you're interested in Japanese sewing books, this one is a good bet to start with. I'm hoping to share my own Dress R before the end of this year! 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Literary Sewing Circle: A Tale for the Time Being

Fall has arrived, and with it our Literary Sewing Circle autumn round! I'm really thrilled to have both a wonderful Canadian book as our featured read, and an amazing sponsor too!

I'm happy to announce that our group read for this round of the Literary Sewing Circle is

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki


In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future. 

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

(from Goodreads)

About Ruth:

A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia, and New York City.

Her first two novels, My Year of Meats (1998) and All Over Creation (2003), have been translated into 11 languages and published in 14 countries.

Her most recent novel, A Tale for the Time-Being (2013), won the LA Times Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award.

(excerpted from Ruth Ozeki's website)

photo by Latrippi

This book is available for purchase in both hard copy and ebook formats, as well as in audiobook format (read by the author!)

You can find many formats at all of these locations:





Book Depository


Chapters Indigo


Barnes & Noble


ABE Books

Or, of course, check your local library!


How does the Literary Sewing Circle work? We read a book together, discuss it, and then make something inspired by our reading. As long as you can point out what inspired you from your reading, even if just a sentence, you can share your makes in our final roundup!

Anyone can join, and you can sew, knit, quilt or embroider - any textile art that you like doing - to participate. This is a reading/sewing circle, very low-key; no competitions here, just reading and sewing for fun. Although we are very lucky to have a special sponsor offering this time around -- one of the finished projects will be chosen at random to receive the free pattern offering. Just finish and post your project by the end of the linkup and you will have a chance to win.

There is no official sign-up to worry about; just start reading along if you wish, and leave your thoughts on the book or your project on any of the Literary Sewing Circle posts. We do have a dedicated book discussion post halfway through and again at the end, but leave your thoughts anytime. And when the final post goes up, so does the project linkup -- you can leave a link to your finished project there, whether it is on your blog, a pattern site, or even Instagram. It's easy :)

So, join in, and share!

Literary Sewing Circle Schedule

Sept 13 - Announcement & Introduction

Sept 20 - Inspiration post & featured sponsor

Sept 27 - Author feature

Oct 4 - Halfway mark: book talk

Oct 11 - Inspiration post

Oct  18 - Final Post: book discussion wrap up & posting of project linkup

(The project linkup will be live until November 15 - a month - so you have enough time to get your project posted)


And now for our sponsor! 

Yuki of Waffle Patterns has agreed to sponsor this round of the Literary Sewing Circle! Waffle Patterns are chic modern styles with a Japanese flair, and can be purchased via the Waffle website. 

Waffle Patterns has just released a new jacket pattern, the Arare pullover, a classic anorak style jacket which is currently on sale as a launch deal. Check it out!

Anyone who reads along and posts a link to their finished project by Nov 15 will be eligible for the draw to win a 30 Euro coupon to the Waffle store! (~3 patterns). Get your projects in to have a chance for this great sponsor offer. Thank you Yuki!

My favourite Waffle pattern: the Snowball Dress!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Literary Sewing Circle Coming Soon!

The Literary Sewing Circle title choice will be announced here tomorrow morning! 

I am excited about our new read and hope you will be too.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Spotted Gauze Sorbetto

Hazy summer day!
I bought some double gauze in the sale at my local fabric store -- I've had my eye on this particular bolt for a long while but when I finally decided to buy some there was only one metre left.

So what to do? Make another TNT -- that I way I know it will use the fabric well and it will fit me.

Excuse my squinty eyes -- I just got back from the eye doctor!
So I got out my Sorbetto pattern and went back to a variation I've used before when I have barely a metre of fabric to play with. I lay it out with the pleat placement line for the front actually on the front fold, to eliminate the pleat and fit the top onto limited fabric.

And I use an old add-on short sleeve pattern.

It worked -- it just fit onto this small piece of polka dotted double gauze. I made a few changes due to the fabric though. I sewed it all using French seams, to avoid any fraying or separating along the seam lines. It gives such a nice finish. With a 5/8" seam allowance, I like to sew my first go at 1/4", trim that down to about 1/8" and then finish it off with a 3/8" final seam. Trimming the first line helps to avoid loose threads and fabric coming through the final stitching.

I didn't want to press this much, since I wanted to keep the hand nice and crinkly, so to hem the sleeves and bottom, I stitched a line at 1/4" then just folded it up at that line and over again, finger pressing and then stitching it down. I then gave it all a light press with steam and that got all of the waviness out of the hems.

To finish the neckline, I magically had the perfect denim blue cotton bias binding in my stash that I thrifted a while back. I finished it with the binding and gave it another gentle steam press to get the neckline smoothed out. The binding is slightly heavier in weight that this airy fabric so it did sag outward a bit, but I think the pressing fixed most of that.

This was a straightforward make that I took a little extra time with to use the fabric to its best advantage. I'm glad I went a bit more slowly because I really love this finished top.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Weekend Review: Sewing Happiness

Sewing Happiness / Sanae Ishida
Seattle: Sasquatch Books, c2016.
240 p.
This is a different kind of craft book. It's about the author's journey from corporate intensity to a chronic illness to finding a new and balanced way to live. She does this partly through craft. 

When the stress and full on nature of her corporate job leads Ishida to develop Graves' disease, a thyroid dysfuntion, she has to re-evaluate her life and find a way to heal herself without filling herself with drugs. 

She finds that eating better -- healthy foods, mindfully prepared and eaten -- sleeping properly, and sewing are her routes back to better health (to a point; Graves disease is irreversible). The meditative nature of sewing reduces her stress and lets her feel competent at something again, both important to her mental health. She decides that she's going to spend a year sewing all of her daughter's clothes. (this does not sound relaxing to me, but perhaps for a high achiever it helped to have this kind of concrete goal). 

Knit Tank Dress

Her story is moving, and it makes this book more than it would be otherwise. It's a good approach for other busy corporate mom kind of readers who are looking or needing to make a life change. Especially if they are new to sewing and need encouragement to begin.

The projects are loosely arranged around the seasons, twenty projects in all. They range from a pillow or a bag to yoga pants or children's dresses, but they are all focused on comfort and making your life beautiful. Ishida is inspired by the simplicity and aesthetic of her Japanese heritage, even including some sashiko stitching in a few projects.

I think that the project I found most unique was an easy fortune cookie advent calendar -- while I probably wouldn't make a whole advent calendar, I like the idea of the fortune cookie and can imagine lots of ways to use it in other settings. 

The projects are all simple -- nothing challenging for someone who has sewn before. But something to note is that none of the projects have patterns, per se. Like many Japanese sewing books there are measurements in the back of the book for each project, alongside hand drawn instructions. The basic nature of most of the projects makes this feasible for sure, although the yoga pant & knit dress are odd ducks for me -- you're told to trace a garment that you already have. So I guess if you want to make those projects you'd better already have some ;) 

In any case, although the projects are mainly home dec items and I probably won't end up making any of them, I did find the book soothing and honestly told, with beautiful photography throughout. If you can find it at your library it's definitely worth a look. 

Origami Pillows

Friday, September 6, 2019

Floral TNT: Kwik Sew 3559

Sometimes you try out new patterns and muslin things and get frustrated at the changes and the difficulties you're having.... so you pull out a TNT as a refresher!

This floral dress was a quick sew made from my favourite knit pattern, Kwik Sew 3559. I've made it many times -- six times as a top and three times now as a dress. It's a simple pattern with nice lines and fits me really well. The only catch is no pockets. Though I add pockets to everything, I didn't to this one, mostly because my recent sewing streak was a series of fails, so wanted to be sure this would fit right first!

I did get it to fit properly, using my usual adjustments (cutting a M at the shoulders and bust and adding to each side by the hip level to make it just a touch larger than the L size line).  I pulled this pretty poly knit out of my thrifted stash, and was planning on making a tunic length, but fortunately had enough to make it dress length instead. And I have enough bits left to make up some pattern-matched patch pockets for the front that I'll be adding shortly.

I love this pattern for its easy fit and the shape. I like the little gathered front yoke and the way that the cut-on sleeve fits (although I did add an inch to the length of the basic sleeve on this version).

I've made in everything from a t-shirt weight jersey to this stable poly knit, and it works each time. Sometimes it is nice to make something that just works! One more piece from my stash used, as well -- I bought it because it was so pretty, so I am glad it's now out in the world.