Ice Cream Dress

Perhaps not terribly original, but I NEEDED to make an ice cream dress for the summer out of this ice-cream fabric. To balance out the girliness of this concoction, I also made one out of chambray. It was the same chambray as my Tova Top, which I didn’t realize until we wore them together and everyone kept giving us funny glances. The chambray one has disappeared somewhere into the depths of the laundry, so you’ll have to be happy with the picture of this one. 🙂

The (somewhat predictable) ice cream Ice Cream Dress

Pattern: Oliver+S Ice Cream Dress
Fabric: Lisette poplin?? And I think the solid is a Kona quilting broadcloth.
Difficult: Novices have no fear!

Sketchbook Shorts

Mmm – a nice breezy pair of linen sketchbook shorts.  I don’t think I’ve made the shorts on this pattern before, although I’ve made the shirt a couple of times.  Overall, a very quick sew.

Sketchbook Shorts

Pattern: Oliver+S Sketchbook Shorts (Warning, if you have a “first edition” paper pattern, be sure to check the errata as there are many.) I’m sure the PDF version available now has ironed all this out.
Fabric: Linen of unknown origin – from stash; probably $12/yard I’m guessing?
Time: 2 hours all in.
Size: I made a size 4 but added some length for my almost 5-year old, mainly because I have not yet traced the next size up.

Dusting Off the Machine

There have been a couple of interesting articles about sewing and fashion lately.

First is  this NYT article a friend pointed out to me about how more people are sewing as a hobby.  I really liked the bit at the end about how sewists become more discerning customers because they understand the construction of a garment.  When I’m walking down the street I’m always amazed how many people are wearings things that don’t fit them properly, or how much cheap synthetic fabric we wear.  In a meeting recently I was staring at the tidy, barely visible hand stitching on another person’s (no doubt) expensive suit, and feeling pleased that tailoring hasn’t become a completely lost art.

That brings me to my next one – this Slate  article  about our culture of disposable clothing.

The funny thing about my one-year challenge of not buying any clothing for myself and the kids is how easy it’s been (though I must confess Grandma has bought some t-shirts for the kids).  My family really did not need as many clothes as we were accumulating when I was shopping more regularly.   I don’t have to make as much stuff as I used to buy, because let’s face it, that’s not really particularly economical either.  In a sense much kids’ clothing is by nature disposable given that it can get stained, ripped, torn or outgrown very quickly, but when I make the clothes I can take down a hem, and size them right to fit my lean, tall kids.  And most importantly, I can pare down on the unnecessary.

Sewing/Knit Kit

The wonderful thing about knitting is that even if you’re having one of those don’t-get-home-before-9 weeks, you can still fit in a little time to knit… on the bus, when your kid gets up at 5, or even walking along Hastings Street in heels.  I didn’t think it would be right to knit at a conference, though it was very tempting to do so under the table cloth.

But the projects take a little more time, so there’s less to blog about. I’m still plugging away my Purl Cap-Sleeve Lattice Top.

Apples and Oranges Sewing Kit

Last weekend I made this little sewing “kit.” One’s meant for sewing, and has a needle pad (you can see it “inside” the apple). I didn’t do the needle pad on the green one, as I plan to use it for knitting heart, like stitch holders and a darning needle.  This is a great little kit to toss in your purse for all that knitting or sewing on the go.

Pattern: Apples & Oranges Sewing Kit by the Straight Stitch Society
Skill level:; Not-for-the faint of heart. A bit finicky, and a zipper, curved seams and quilting techniques mean that I wouldn’t recommend it to a beginner. But loads of fun.
Fabric: All scraps – great scraps project!
Notions: Batting, zipper etc.
Time: Hm… don’t remember. I did it in fits and starts. Not very long though – I finished in a day and that was doing both of them. Probably under 2 hours.

Skirt Week

This post was going to be about the wonder of buttons and a commentary on the fantastic Slate article on the history of buttons. But then I logged in to see a comment telling me I won a prize in Skirt week and now I’m too giddy to talk about buttons. My Crescent skirt won “Judge’s Choice” for the Full Skirt Category and I’m feeling all Sally Field: “You like me! Right now you like me!”

Speaking of buttons – I now have a button:

I never win anything! Okay, that’s not true. I have won something twice. In about 2002 I won “Fire Safety Week” draw at my work, and an e-mail went out to the whole Department (over 1000 people) saying I’d won and advising me to collect my prize. I did and it was a…fire extinguisher! Very useful indeed, but not quite as exciting as the e-mail had intimated. Another time I entered a draw at my supermarket. First prize was a year’s worth of groceries. I did not win first prize. I won second, and it was a snowboard. I do not snowboard. And it was a large man’s snowboard. And I won it in May. We sold it on Craig’s list a few years later so that worked out. But needless to say, this was far more exciting than either of those occasions.

Thanks to Crafter’s Hour for hosting the contest, and thanks to every single judge. I won by one vote, so every vote really did count! And wow, there were some truly lovely skirts on there, some of them beautifully elaborate. That Star Wars skirt is awesome! I wish I had some Star Wars fabric – P would go wild for it.

Rhubarb Pie-Making Dress

I’ve been wanting a slightly vintage-y feeling housedress recently – something comfy but pretty. I always think of the Lisette Patterns as quite modern and not vintage-y, but I was looking at View C of the Traveler Dress and realising that it could have a very 1930s feel in a vintage-y fabric. It’s actually a fabulous pattern because you get two classic dresses and a blouse all in one.


The fabric is Denyse Schmidt for DS Quilts (which I got at Joann’s on my April trip to the U.S., since sadly they do not ship to Canada.)


This dress is definitely not my usual style, but I kind of love for that very reason. I need more giant bouquets of flowers in my life. And on my clothes.

The dress went together extremely quickly – I decided to make it, cut it out, fitted it and finished it (except for the buttons) all in a day – a day on which I went on a very long bike ride. Mind you, I was up excruciatingly early with the kids, and those wee hours of the morning can be quite productive.

Fabric: Denyse Schmidt; I think I had 2.5 yards, which was slightly less than the pattern called for.
Time: Everything – about 4 hours. I had made the dress before in View A, so that helped.
Skill Level: Novice sewists should not be intimidated by this dress.
Muslin: No, but as mentioned I had made View A. The skirt is not fitted, so that also made it easier.
Cost: Fabric was about $20.

Now we just need some warmer weather so I can feel appropriate wandering around in the neighbourhood in florals.

Crescent Skirt

I didn’t have to work this weekend, which was absolutely lovely. The past few months have been insane, and I spent much of last week sick, and then the weekend at the office. Our big deliverable was due Thursday, which meant I was actually FREE! Since I work four days a week that meant three lovely, long days of non-work related activities.

For those of you who don’t consider domestic activities to be relaxing, this may sound insane, but in my non-working bliss, I made homemade ice cream, cookies and a cake as well as homemade soup. I also knitted the cuff of a sock for my sock-making class, finished my Crescent Skirt, started and finished (other than buttons) a Lisette Traveler Dress and weeded the garden. My productivity was vastly aided by the fact that J was out on Friday night. Oh, and I went on a five hour bike ride with J. The kids are coming back from the park any minute with J to have soup. Perfection.

In the meantime, I will share you with the Crescent Skirt… I did as threatened and used the same fabric as I did for M’s Hopscotch Skirt.

Crescent Skirt

I think the Sewaholic patterns all use geographic names from around this area, so I was trying to figure out what “Crescent” refers too. I think it must be the beach out in White Rock. I actually don’t know the suburbs of my city very well, so I can’t really picture what the beach is like. I keep thinking of Crescent Street in Montreal, which has a much different reputation. It may have changed in the past few years, but it was a place with clubs and pubs and bars and lots of drunken tourists everywhere. But strangely, I think this skirt pattern could work for either location.


The details:
Pattern: Sewaholic Crescent
Fabric: Lisette Twill from Joann’s
Difficulty: Hm… intermediate-ish? It’s not a difficult pattern, but cutting out the many, many pieces for the waistband, then interfacing them all, took a little bit of time, as did the yoke.
Cost: Hm, pattern was $17 or $18? Fabric, maybe $15 worth? I probably used about 2 yards. I also accidentally cut one piece two short, which meant I had to recut.
Time: Maybe 4-5 hours? The first night, I just traced, cut and interfaced, and then I sewed it in a few little spurts of activity.
Muslin made? No… I didn’t think I’d need to since it was really only the waist measurement that mattered. It does sit lower than I expected – above the hips rather than on my natural waist. I could have easily changed after making the waistband, but I decided to go with it. I think it would also look cute a size smaller and sitting up higher on the waist though.

Oh, and here’s the Rhubarb Cake I made:

Rhubarb Cake

Bonus is that, although P loved helping me harvest our ginormous rhubarb plant, he doesn’t seem to like rhubarb. So I get to eat all!!! Yum. The cookies on the other hand…

Weekend Round-up

A weekend that goes by without any sewing at all is a sad weekend indeed. I was laid up for 3 days this week with the stomach virus from hell. Have you ever had an illness where you seriously wondered “Could this could kill me? And if it would end this pain, would I be okay with it?” Because that’s where I was at this weekend. Not only too sick to sew, but too sick to knit, which is sick indeed. And then of course I had to work all weekend to make up for the off days. I don’t usually like to use the word “Sigh” as punctuation but… SIGH!

On the bright side, I did start a sock-making class at my local yarn store. When I decided to do my one-year challenge, I said that I wouldn’t make socks and underwear. But then I thought, but how would I make socks if I wanted to? I looked up a pattern in a book and it seems pretty complicated, so when I was pretty excited when I saw this store offered classes… I won’t apologise for what gets me excited these days! If you see me taking an underwear course, you have permission to snicker.

I don’t intend to knit every pair of socks the kids need this year, but I’d like to try and make one each. I’m actually making the socks for J though since I almost never sew for him, and since I needed to give some sort of reason for why I was spending two hours of our anniversary in sock-making. He was a bit underwhelmed at the prospect of socks, but I have no (well, only a few doubts) that once he tries them on he’ll change his mind!

At the class I learned that I have been casting on an entirely unusual way. A friend’s mother showed me how to do it when I was seven, and I’ve been doing it the same way ever since, but what I was doing was a cable cast-on and there’s another way, apparently. I have quite a bit of homework to do for that class, so knitting may take center-stage this week too, although hopefully I will finish my Crescent Skirt soon. That’s my current work-in-progress.

So, I am now over a month into my one-year clothing challenge and am proud to say I have bought nothing for myself or the kids during that time. In that time, I have made M a top, two skirts and a vest. I made P a pair of pants. I’ve made myself two dresses (one work-friendly, one-casual) and a blouse. So despite a weekend without sewing, not too shabby overall. If it seems like P is getting short shrift, it’s party because I want to do some knits for him, and am saving up for a new serger. After years of being relatively indifferent about what he wears, he has decided within the last couple of days that he only wants to wear either a Lightning McQueen tee or a one with a robot on it, so I’m going to have to find some jazzy knit prints to make sure we don’t all lose our minds.

M is (almost) 2!

Miss M is going to be 2 in less than a week! We celebrated in style, with cake and whipped cream and cousins.

If you came to see Miss M you’d probably see her acting all shy at your arrival. She and her cousin B were out-shying each other. But once she knows we’re not leaving and you’re not a sitter, she’ll boss with the best of them. You’ll hear “Nooooooooo!” a lot, and see a big mischievous grin. I always feel I got off easy with P in his twos. His challenging stage was 3. I think M is going to be the quintessential 2-year old though. If she has any sense you want her to do something, she is going to refuse to do it. If she senses that I want her to wear an outfit, she will scream bloody murder. I won’t lie – there was some screaming to get her into this outfit. She also knows now that I want her to pose for a picture, and her answer is “No JEEZ!” which translates to “No ‘Cheese!'” which translates to “No, I am not going to say ‘Cheese’ and smile for your picture Mummy!” Hence the reason the only picture I have that shows the whole dress has her covering her mouth with a toy cowboy hat.

Croquet Dress and Skort

She is a girl of few words. “Say your name M!” I urge, and she gives me the “Nooooooo!” and that grin I was talking about. But for a child with so few words, she can definitely get her point across through mimes and so on. I’m rarely confused about what she wants – whether it’s her plaintive sign for “hungry” or a request to draw.

Croquet Top

Both she and P were sick 10 days or so ago, and it took her quite a long time to recover. It was a week of “Uppa! Mummy! Uppa! Mummy!” all.week.long. I do not fare well with such neediness. Every now and then I can relax into it, but somehow it always coincides with a particularly busy time at work. It’s been really nice to see her happy and playing again. She feeds tea to all her babies. She chases P around “roaring” like a “scary witch” (at least that’s what he calls it… it looks more zombie-like to me). And best of all, she sleeps a little better, which always makes the household mood a bit happier.

Of course her birthday party warranted a new, summery outfit. Nevermind that it poured rain all day.

Outfit: Oliver+S Badminton Top + Skort Pattern
Skill Level: Rated 1 scissor (Easy), but I found the yoke a little tricky. It was certainly more complicated than the Nature Pullover, which is rated three scissors. The skort is super-easy though.
Fabric: Top is Ann Kelle with unknown blue for yoke/bindings. The blue looks like a voile to me, but I have no idea where I got it. Skirt is Denyse Schmidt’s DS Quilts for Joann’s
I will definitely make multiple versions of the skort, and probably one more top, just because I want to perfect that yoke. Although it was a bit tricky, I was buoyed by the instructions which said something like “If this part is a bit fiddly, you’re on the right track!” The skort was a breeze to sew, although I accidentally sewed the hem facing on the outside. (This is what happens when you sew when the kids are awake.) I’ll chalk it up to a happy accident as it made me realise you could do a two-toned skirt that would look cute too, and I think it looks fine as is, so I didn’t leave it.

Hopscotch Skirt

It’s been such beautiful weather lately here. We had a few rough and rainy summers, so I hope this one is going to be different.

I noticed a few blogs were promoting Skirt week (or maybe Skirt fortnight?) so I decided to focus on skirts this week. First one I made was this Hopscotch Skirt for Miss M. Have to say, it’s really hard to take a good picture of a (n almost) two-year old in a skirt, what the waistband all snug under her belly and the gaping skirt and the neon “Holey” shoes she insisted on wearing. In fact this photos might even be an example of why not to make a skirt for a two-year old. But watching her waddle up and down the ladder at the park with a flowery diaper cover underneath is pretty darn cute. Besides, is there anything more comfortable in summer than wearing a skirt?

Hopscotch Skirt

And in the tradition of many sew weekly posts I thought it might be useful to add some summaries
Pattern: Oliver+S Hopscotch
Fabric: Lisette from Joann’s. Is it twill? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely bottom-weight. (Checked, and yes it is twill)
Time to make: About two hours. The construction is very simple. The pockets took a bit of time, as did the buttons.
Skill level: Novice
Size: 2, but it is quite big on this tall lean baby. I bet it will still fit next summer. I always find the O+S patterns to be generously sized, but then my kids are quite thin.
Cost: Pattern was $15 (but I will make this again) and it was about a half yard of fabric, so maybe $8? Only notion was a few cents worth of thread.

With anything I make for M, it has to have a “hook”, and by that I mean something that appeals to her. She is ornery knows what she likes, and otherwise she won’t wear it, insisting on leggings and the same black dinosaur (“ROAR!”) t-shirt. Now I love that t-shirt too, and maybe it would even go well with this skirt. She is much more opinionated on her clothing than P ever was. the only thing I recall him balking on was overalls. The “hook” here is the bright buttons. She is obsessed with buttons. I am always finding them in the toy cash register or purse. (But don’t worry I only let her play with the giant ones which are not choking hazards.)

I’m wondering how dorky it would be if M and I had matching skirts, because I have a lot more of this fabric, and I really like it. I guess we could commit to not wearing them on the same day.