New Pants!

I’ve been doing a lot of sewing for M lately. You might think that’s just because she’s a girl, and sewing cute girl stuff is more fun, but really it’s not. Sewing pants is just as fun as sewing a dress. P just has so many clothes right now that I really can’t justify making him anything. I’m sure I will soon, but I need him to have a growth spurt first. Or maybe a change of seasons. If I had some sweatshirt fabric I’d make him a sweatshirt, but, well, I don’t.

Anyway, here are some pants I made for M. They are lined, and it was my first attempt at lining anything. I didn’t have a proper pattern for the pant legs, so I based it on another pair of pants she has, but sizing is still not my forte. They are a bit, um, snug. Her enormous cloth diaper bum doesn’t help either. Still, we will wrestle her in and out of them a few times, I’m sure!

I’m also working on a quilted baby sleep sack for her, which is coming along nicely. But I think my next project should be for P. Maybe this car house. It would definitely get a lot of use in this house!

Crafty Friday Fail

I can’t believe I’m messing up on crafty Friday already and have no completed or in progress crafts to show you. Part of it is that I’m away from my computer so I can’t get to my photos. Also, my project last weekend was a bit of a “fail.”

I decided to make a dress from a vintage dress pattern. Maybe I watch too much Mad Men, but those mid-century fashions are so gorgeous yet simple. I’ve collected a few ’50s and ’60s patterns but this weekend was my first effort at putting one together. The dress went together very nicely, but it was far too small so I got frustrated and took it all apart.

Here’s some lessons learned on working with vintage patterns. First they are all sized – something I didn’t know when buying my first one. Many (most? all?) modern patterns tell you wear to cut if you are a size 4 or a size 8 or a size 14, but the old ones just came in one size, so it’s important to get the right one unless you want to be troubled with resizing. Most of them have measurements on the back.

Second, the sizes mean nothing to the modern person. For example, my “vintage” size is about 10 sizes bigger than what I wear at, say, the Gap.

Finally, even if you “match” the measurements, it’s a good idea to baste your seams (so you can undo them easily if necessary) or even make a muslin. I’m quite convinced women were proportioned differently back then. Or maybe they just wore giant bras and very restrictive undergarments, I don’t know. All I know is that I tried to make the dress according to my measurements, but it was still itty-bitty on me. I was grateful that I used very inexpensive fabric, which I’ll eventually recycle into something else.

And my last note is that vintage patterns assume a lot of knowledge which the modern brand-new seamstress may not know. For example you’ll be plugging along it was say “Do x, y, z” and you’ll do x, y and z and then realise the rest of the sentence was “Do x, y, z having done a, b and c.”

I will make the pattern again and will show it off when I do. But I have a few other projects I’m keen to work on too.

It was still a lot of fun – that crinkly aged paper, cut by some person long ago, the adorable drawings on the pattern envelope. As always I learned a lot. I want to grab some kids vintage patterns too – maybe a ’70s dress or set of overalls. That would be fun.


Someone forwarded me this link and an “invite” to Pinterest. This site is totally up my alley – I have a huge folder in my Documents of “Ideas” – pictures I paste off the Internet and file away for future reference. This is a perfect way to do it in the cloud, and of course it has a social networking aspect to it as well, so you can get ideas form other people’s virtual bulletin boards. Trying to figure out a way to put it in my sidebar… got to find a Widget. If anyone wants an invite, let me know – I think I can give out invites although I’m not totally sure.

Introducing Crafty Friday

So I’ve been thinking more about how this blog is going to work. Part of it is just personal stuff – me writing a record to keep of my beautiful babies and life and so on. But I know that isn’t enough to sustain my blog, from past experience. So to keep me moving and motivated, I thought I’d have some “theme” days. Fridays are going to be crafty Fridays. There might be more craft stuff in between, or more recipes, or just a lot more blabbing about me. But without further ado, here is our first official Crafty Friday post.

To learn some quilting projects, I have been working my way through Denyse Schmidt’s book. She has a lot of great little projects in it, as well as some full size quilts. This isn’t the most glamourous one, but it is useful! I had some leftover batting and fabrics around, so I whipped this up to practice some machine quilting techniques. I tried my hand at freehanding on the back (which looks pretty bad), and did some purposely crooked lines on the front. I lined the inside with an old receiving blanket to add extra protection. I probably should have used some extra batting, because it’s not something I’d want to carry a hot plate across the room. But since I have a small kitchen it’s working fine, and it certainly looks better than the two burnt, stained mitts that used to be hanging on my stove!

Quilting 101

My quilt

Two weeks ago I decided, somewhat on the spur of the moment, to take a quilting class at my local sewing lounge, Spool of Thread (which, by the way, is a very cool place with loads of gorgeous fabrics and very friendly owners.) I’ve always been intrigued by quilting, but somewhat intimidated.

The class was a Quilt in a Day class, where we did a simple patchwork quilt. I had so much fun! Sewing at a machine can be a bit of a solitary pursuit, so it was fun to do it in a group where we could chat, commiserate and, most of all, learn from each other. in the course I learned some basics of cutting, piecework and so on. I did learn that it’s a bad idea to choose a very geometric print for a patchwork quilt, but I still think it turned out quite nicely for a first effort! Excuse the picture – I had a tough time taking a good one and it was very dark.

Snuggle-tested and P approved!

Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress

I was listening to CBC Radio 2 this morning and the host was talking about four stages of learning.  As summarised by Wikipedia, they are:

  1. Unconscious Incompetence
    The individual neither understands nor knows how to do something, nor recognizes the deficit, nor has a desire to address it.
  2. Conscious Incompetence
    Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, without yet addressing it.
  3. Conscious Competence
    The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires a great deal of consciousness or concentration.
  4. Unconscious Competence
    The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it becomes “second nature” and can be performed easily (often without concentrating too deeply). He or she may or may not be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

I think with my sewing right now, I am somewhere between two and three.  I have enough knowledge to plow (plough?) ahead, but I often make mistakes.  Still, I learn from these mistakes, which is great!

This week I decided to make a dress for M from an Oliver + S pattern I bought a few months ago. I’m quite pleased at how it turned out. It was definitely not perfect, mostly because of the fabric I chose, a light knit. Working with stretchy fabric definitely takes practice, but given that it’s January (or was when I made this), I wanted something warmer than a simple cotton. If I did it again, I might make the yoke and hem from a cotton and the rest of the dress from jersey, although I’d definitely have to prewash in that case.

The hem and notched pockets are a bit wonky. But I really liked the curve of the pockets. I used this method for achieving smooth corners from April 1930s and it was so much easier than trying to iron them under “freehand.”

M showing off her ice-cream dres

I’m sure I’ll make this dress again and I suspect it will go a lot faster the second time.