Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Since returning to sewing, I realized I needed not only to stock up on fabrics and patterns but also on the little things like..Buttons!  The other day I walked back my favourite thrift shop. I found small tea lite containers filled with buttons. They were clever and had sorted them by colour. I brought some home and had fun sorting them out. I like the real old fashioned ones. I especially love that red one in the middle!
I have discovered a great Canadian online store, Warp & Weft. The wonderful owner, Esmari, always does a lovely job packaging the goodies. 
W & W is my Canadian source for M & M (Merchant & Mills). Did you notice that, Esmari? Cute!

I purchased some fabrics. The daisy and the polka dots are from Merchant & Mills) and the blue and orange voile is from the Bromley Collection by Victoria & Albert museum for Rowan fabric.
Yum.  Go visit Warp & Weft. She's got some lovely things on sale!

Tomorrow I am taking my Pfaff serger to the serger doctor again. Any advice on sergers? I am having a lot of problems with the thread tension.

Happy Sewing!  (p.s. I made 3 posts today so be sure you see them all!)

My first Liberty Scout

From my Lemonade Top, I am now rewarded with a beautiful new Scout tee. *sigh*  Smiling a lot as I show you this.

The fabric is Kaylie Sunshine from Liberty of London. Tana Lawn. Heavenly!

I did make the sleeves 3/4 length, as per Jen's tutorial. I also followed her tutorial on doing french seams on this as well. Thanks Jen for the wonderful tutorials!

And yes, there will be many more Scouts to come!

The almost-Shearwater Kaftan aka the Lemonade Top

After my last series of post, I spent the best part of a week organizing my room. I added two new hobbies - painting and sewing - this year and that was just a recipe for chaos. It's a bit better now but it's more like controlled chaos!

Anyway, I had a lovely piece of blue and white Nani Iro striped fabric just waiting to be shaped into a top. I abandoned my original plan to stitch a Scout tee (which I now regret!) when I saw the Shearwater Kaftan. Perfect, I'd thought, blue and white stripes spell summer on the beach!

Due to no fault of the pattern, here is what I've done and the lessons learned:
  • the stripes are uneven and it turned out I used the heaviest stripes near my hips so I looked like a giant bell. Not a pretty sight, so I thought ok, let's make it short like the Scout tee. 
  • I did not do a muslin first. *sigh* It was bound to happen - over confidence! Yup. The minute I put my left arm in through the first sleeve, I knew it was going to be snug. I won't go on with my struggles debating what to do but just tell you...
  • here's my solution - to add a gusset and a strip of fabric to each side. This article was very helpful.
  • Next time I will make the front slit shorter so I can wear it without a tank underneath.
  • I made shorter sleeves because, guess what, I did not have enough fabric to start off with! 
Are your eyeballs tired of rolling around? Yeah, it's my "got a lemon? Make lemonade" top.

At the same time that I was making this, I had this book from the library. (Gosh, I guess I do like blue and white stripes!) Books can sometimes arrive at just the perfect moment in one's life.   Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman who "shares her suggestions for finding beauty in the world even during the toughest times."
Happy Sewing! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Plans for August sewing

So, what did you think of all my posts and garments made? I posted this all on August 4. Everything I've been wanting to say and show for awhile, all done in a few hours.  I had to grit my teeth and said "Just Do It! then you can go play..." Sounds like what I used to say to my son.

As you can see by my previous posts, July was really my "dipping my toes in the water" but then just plunging in and enjoying the swim! It's been great getting back into sewing AND learning lots of new things. I think it's great that there are so many independent designers out there creating such wonderful garments. Ditto with fabric designers. Ditto all the wonderful bloggers out there!  I have only begun to scratch the surface, I'm sure.

For August, new patterns to test out (read "muslin"):
Gosh, I could get on a plane right now and head to London - visit Liberty of course, but Merchant & Mills! OMG, I love everything I see online! (Aren't I lucky?)

I will show you the two other pieces of Nani Iro that I got last month. They are bigger pieces for long sleeves so I won't be using them for the Scout tee. I am waiting for other fabrics to arrive. When they do, you know what I will be stitching first to see me through this hot weather! 

I hope you have made it through all my posts. Which garment did you like from July? I would love to know! Thanks for visiting.

Prototype #7 - Wiksten Tank

OK. Final finish of July. While I loved the Wiksten Tova, the Wiksten Tank has given me more issues with fit but here is where the use of a muslin has really helped.

Initially I had cut out an XL. While the tank is a loose fit (so you can pull this over your head without closures), there was a lot of gaping around the armhole. While I fiddled with the muslin - lots of basting, trying on, re-basting, etc - I decided to go back to the pattern and trace out a L size. I also added about an inch in the front neckline as I felt it was too low for me. I did a tiny adjustment in the back, as per Rae's blog post here, which was really helpful.

I cut out the Large with a cheap cotton (I still wasn't confident about the tank). Here's how it looks.
I guess it looks alright hanging there. It is definitely a quilting cotton and one which I don't enjoy wearing. The pattern is cute though and I had lots of fabric to use. I used some as the seam binding for the Scout tee in my last post, which I think was a great lessons learned for me.

Prototype #7 - started and completed July 31, 2014!

Will I make this again? I'm surprised to tell you I'm not sure. For one thing I don't wear that many tank tops. Bra straps are always an issue for me. If I make this again, I will definitely use a nicer fabric.

Project #6 - Scout tee by Grainline Studio

Right now I think I love this more than I love my Tova! That's because with this hot weather, the Scout tee is more wearable. Plus, it's in Nani Iro double gauze. Wow. Wow. Wow. Scout tee plus Nani Iro. Love times two!

When I first got back to sewing, I had discovered Liberty of London Tana Lawn fabrics and just fell in love with the myriad of colours and designs. Of course, the quality of the lawn was a big factor too.  As I slowly found my way around the sewing community, I found the Nani Iro fabrics. Also, this was enabled by Nani Iro month in June, hosted by Frances of Miss Matatabi fame. 

Nani Iro fabrics speak to the artist lurking in me, and the child too. I absolutely loved the designs and finally got my hands on some via Frances' shop. I was so excited when the fabrics arrived! Frances had wrapped the package beautifully too.

So, I had to use this colourful fabric for Scout. I only had 1.5 meters and had to be creative with my pattern placement but I got the body and sleeves cut out. I used a quilting cotton for the seam binding which, in the end, turned out to be a good idea because it provided stability to the double gauze which is a bit loosely goosey. 

Ahem. Apologies for the wrinkly bits but, literally, it's been hard to get this thing off me. I wear it a lot! It's perfect in this hot weather too. I love this stuff  I need more. (Geez, spoken like a true addict, eh?)

Project #6 - started and finished July 2014

Oh yeah, Scout tee - fits me beautifully. Love the pattern. Will be making lots, including a 3/4 sleeve one(s) in the fall.  I've ordered more Nani Iro which I hope will arrive soon so I can make a couple of more of these great tees. August promises to be a hot month around here!

Prototype #5 - Sorbetto Top by Colette Patterns

A Free Pattern, and from Colette Pattern too! You gotta get it here.  This was my first digital pattern download. The download itself was easy. I went to a print shop and it was printed in colour which was quite pricey. In retrospect I think I could've got it done in black and white.

Now, here I will talk about sewing wearable muslin vs actual muslin.  I have stitched 4 "wearable muslins" which is just a way of saying "I don't want to waste time and money stitching a muslin just to throw it away, so I will use cheaper fabric instead so that if I goofed up it won't cost me as much." Hmmm. After 4 tops, I decided to go the muslin route and try that because when I make a wearable muslin I am finishing EVERYTHING. When I make a muslin all I am after is the fit and I do use white muslin so I can also mark it up, and it's easier to see the fit on the plain white fabric. When I use a cotton with prints it is more difficult to judge the fit.

So, Sorbetto Top muslin was made. I was amazed at what a nice fit it was without it being too roomy! Then because I had 2 pieces of quilting cottons I've always loved together, I decided to use them for this top, BUT also to try out a design idea because I didn't have enough on either fabric to make the entire top.

Here's the pattern with my chicken scratches for design ideas.
I ended up with an inverted pleat (I think that's what it's called).  BTW, the posies of this fabric helped me name this blog!

You can tell from the photo I've been wearing it. It's been great during these hot days of summer. The one thing I will say is, while I like the design change I made, the fabrics are not entirely suitable to it. The green stripe fabric underneath is a tad heavier than the green floral so it's not hanging that well. However, I've finally be able to use these two fabrics together and that's it. Cross that one off my list.

Prototype # 5 - started and finished July 2014

Again, I would like to try this with fabric with a softer drape. Plus there are many variations of this design out there so I would like to try them out. I would like to try another Colette pattern as the fit was quite nice.

Prototype #4 - Wiksten Tova

Oh, Wiksten Tova, how I love thee, let me count the ways!

After my struggle with my last garment, this was such a breeze. What can I say but I made it, I wore it, I loved it.  It was a little tricky sewing around the corners of the front piece but that was about all. I don't love the fabric, again, wearable muslin. I can't wait to use some Liberty Lawn on this one!

We've had such hot weather in July which is still going on so I have not been wearing this much. Next time I will reconsider whether taking the sides in a bit may be helpful.

Prototype #4 - started and finished July 2014 

I will definitely make this again, many times over! It will be wonderful in Fall weather.

Prototype #3 - B6024 View D

For my third prototype I used a Butterick pattern B6024. Stitching a Butterick pattern is like going back to my high school days!
Since I was using cheaper cottons I only had a piece that was 2 meters. View D is the one on the lower left. I made my top shorter so that I could fit everything in.

I had a lot of issues with this top:
  • First, when I made the cutout V it didn't look right. I blame that on me. To remedy the situation I sewed it up from the wrong side and made it a tiny tuck or pleat which went with the other pleats on the top. The pattern on the fabric (which I love) also hides this well!
  • The top was very wide. I don't think I even took a photo of initially how wide it was. Anyway I took in the sides about an inch each side. It's still a roomy top.
  • The sleeves were weird. They stuck out. Maybe it was because of the quilting cotton was too stiff for this style. I made 3 little pleats on the sleeve which made me look less like a samurai!
So, at this point, I am wearing my newly printed top. I am sitting down at my computer. As I sat there for awhile I felt a draft going down the front of my top and I thought "hmmm, not a good thing". Then I grabbed one of those thick binder clips I had around my desk and clipped the front close just to keep the draft out.  I like the fit so much better that I decided to do this on the top by sewing the tuck and adding a decorative button. 
This is my fudge-it blouse. It works but it won't win any contest. I do like the way they did the seam binding finish around the neckline, much more than some of the other patterns I will encounter later. The seam binding is wider and therefore easier to handle.

Prototype #3 - started and finished July 2014 

Will I make it again? I think so but I will (1) scale down the size and (2) use a fabric with softer drape. I would like to try the white blouse version on the pattern.

Prototype #2 - Stylish Dress Book, Dress E

Another interesting find is Japanese sewing books. Who knew? But again, the Internet is a wealth of information, and I have found a sort of cult following for this style of clothing. I happily joined in! Here's the book in Japanese but a lot of her work has been translated into English and you can easily find them on Amazon.

The dress on the cover is the "famous" Dress E.

How it went:
  • Tracing off patterns off Japanese sewing books is probably the biggest challenge but I also think is a great exercise for the brain cells! If you have never done it before, just make sure to allow yourself time, space and plenty of light to see. This is also where the Swedish tracing paper comes in handy.  One important thing to remember - Japanese sewing patterns do not have seam allowances in them so you have to add them in yourself. 
  • The sewing itself was easy peasy. The pattern actually used facings rather than seam bindings, which seem to be "the" way, to finish off the neckline. 
  • The fit...I have a few things to say about that!
The Fit as per pattern:
As you can see it's very wide. Granted that is the style of the dress. However, it was so ginormous on me that the front hung well forward so that my husband said to me "Did you know that your hem is uneven? The back is way shorter than the front."

Hmmm. First sewing challenge! At first I thought I had messed up with the pattern pieces to start off with but I double checked and the pattern pieces were correct. I scratched my head. I wore this tunic for awhile and decided to take the plunge and take in the sides. After all, self one said to self two, "this IS a wearable muslin you made!"

So, I started slowly from under the arms and gradually took in about an inch on each side. Basted it I mean. Then I tried it on. Magic - my tunic now hangs evenly! No more uneven hem! Light Bulb moment - definitely a Lessons Learned!

Here's how it looks AFTER:
Much better. I love wearing it though not really love the cotton I used. I would like to use something with a softer hand. I love the pockets too.

Prototype #2 - began and finished July 2014

I will definitely make this again. Next time I might try seam binding to finish the neckline. At some point I would like to make one with 3/4 length sleeve too. 

Prototype #1 - Schoolhouse Tunic

It all started with the Schoolhouse Tunic by Sew Liberated.

When the back-to-sewing-clothes bug hit me in June I decided I had to find out what fabric stores we still had left in the city. Sadly, not many. However, there is a new-to-me one called Spool of Thread, and I love that store! They have a class where they teach how to sew the Schoolhouse Tunic. I didn't need a class but I bought the pattern, and it cemented my love for sewing again!

It did take me awhile, of course, to get started...like getting my sewing machine tuned up. Ditto my serger that hasn't moved in 20 years and seemed to refuse to budge. They have now been to their respective "doctors" and once more, put to the task.

There is a lot of advice to stitch a muslin before stitching the actual 'good' garment. I decided that I'd rather stitch "wearable muslins" using cheaper cottons and got some on sale for my first projects. (Whether this was a good idea will be reviewed later.)

How it went:
  • Prep time took way longer than actual sewing time.
  • Swedish tracing paper! Love that stuff! You use it to trace your size off the original pattern.
  • I took my time with this, like learning to ride a bicycle, it took me just awhile then my confidence grew the more I sewed! However, I think if I had tried to go too fast I would've been stabbing the garment with a seam ripper! 
  • Overall, the garment was easy to put together and it fit me quite well. The weather has been too hot to wear this but it will get good use in the fall.  I love that fabric and am happy I got it on sale!
This fabric was in the quilting cotton section in the store but it has a bit of a softer drape which was good.  This tunic is meant to be worn with a tee underneath, hence the deep V.  Also this allows for pulling this over your head without the need for any closures (eg buttons, zips). I am wondering whether I might change it so I close up the V a bit. We shall see.

Prototype #1 - began and finished July 2014

Yes, I will make this one again!

An August Beginning

Starting the first post of a new blog is always that little hill to climb but, finally, here I am.  An August Beginning...both in the sense of this is the month of August, but also in the adjective use which gives it a good omen. Also, today is 08.04.2014 and I like those numbers!

So, why this blog when I already have a blog here? Well, when the back-to-sewing bug hit me out of the blue in June I took it up with a passion. It was a whole new arena to explore. After all, I used to sew but I haven't done so for at least two decades so a lot has changed and I like learning new things.

I took a break from my other world and dove into the world of making one's own clothing by cloth. Wow - there's fabric love and there's also sewing pattern love. I'll talk about bits of my learnings as I go.

I started this blog literally as a way to hang up the clothes I make, hence, "A Closet full of Posies". It's a way to help me chronicle what I am stitching, lessons learned, etc. I also hope to find other "sewists" (yes, that was a new term to me) too.

I would be interested in what you think of what you see and read here. I'm in a learning mode and would love others sharing their knowledge with me. (Thank you in advance!)

Enough words. I made seven pieces in July - it's time for show and tell.