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Handmade Wardrobe: One Year In

September 7, 2017

The fall season always feels like the true New Year to me. It’s the time of year when I haul all my sweaters out of storage (a.k.a. the plastic tub under the bed) and go through my clothes, including my older handmade items. I spent the Labour Day weekend doing just that, as well as going through my fabric and patterns.

One year after starting my handmade wardrobe project, I have tallied up my makes and my remaining store-bought clothes. My current wardrobe consists of 69 items in total. At first glance, I was disappointed that my handmade total was only 55% (it feels like it should be higher), but when I looked back at my Before post and my first update, I saw a big jump.

True Bias Odgen CamiRifle Paper Co EspadrillesJupe ChardonGinger Flares Grainline ArcherSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSaunio CardiganDove BlouseToaster Sweater 2Bruyere ShirtPauline Alice Quart CoatCascade Duffle CoatCarolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co FabricGinger Jeans 2Luna Pants 6Grainline Linden 1

Insights so far:

  1. I find it fascinating that my total number of garments continues to dwindle, despite my new makes. Part of this is due to the fact that some of my clothes are finally falling apart faster than I can replace them. But, it has also been interesting to see that I really don’t need that many clothes. My total number includes everything except shoes, socks, and underwear (although I do plan to make some of each of those), so the number of day-clothes is relatively small. I’m not someone who believes in a capsule wardrobe or a uniform, but it seems like I might end up with a capsule collection without meaning to.
  2. I need to sew a season ahead. This one isn’t really fun, but if I don’t, it’s suddenly September and I didn’t manage to make a bathing suit to use during our brief hit of summer. Making 2 winter coats in October last year turned out to be excellent timing.
  3. I need to capitalize on my enthusiasm for a pattern and batch-sew multiple items at one time. You know that saying “If you find something you like, buy it in several colours” Yep. I need to do the same thing for sewing.
  4. I love Named Patterns! In the past, Named would not have been my go-to pattern company, but my Sointu Tee, my Kielo Wrap Dress and my Saunio Cardigan have been some of my most worn, and most loved items.
  5. Everything takes longer than I think it’s going to. Everything.
  6. 99% of the time, I am wearing at least one handmade item each day.
  7. My sewing productivity still goes up and down, depending on my available time and the weather.  I am so happy to have this project to help me re-focus on consistency. I am more excited about my goal than ever. I want to make so many things! Each garment gets me excited for the next and I have a whole stack of different patterns I want to make.

Here’s the breakdown of the total cost:

 

Goals:

  1. I have been procrastinating on the scary stuff: bras, bathing suits, and bags.
  2. I want to make at least one party dress (or tuxedo type suit?) this year (something for Christmas Eve or NY EVE).
  3. I still need to work on knowing where my fabric comes from. I’m glad that some of the fabric stores are taking the opportunity to make the origin more clear in the listing online. I’ve got some Japanese flannels and some more American denim to use as well.
  4. A trip to Art and Sole Academy. I have been drooling over their workshops!

Instant Classic: Odgen Cami from True Bias

August 13, 2017
True Bias Odgen Cami

True Bias Ogden CamiTrue Bias Ogden Cami

True Bias Ogden CamiTrue Bias Ogden CamiTrue Bias Ogden CamiTrue Bias Ogden Cami True Bias Ogden Cami  The Odgen Cami is probably one of my top 5 favourite indie patterns.

I chose my size based on my bust measurement, but I was still expecting this top to be too tight around the bust and to hang out from my body like a tent. Instead, I have the perfect amount of ease around the bust and I don’t feel like I am wearing a maternity top at all. I shortened the the straps by 3 inches during the construction, which turned out to be the right decision; except, I forgot to account for that lost length in the bodice and the inner facing.

Instead of landing under my bust, the facing hits me mid-boob. At least you can’t see it! The camisole ended up being a little short overall without those three inches, but I still have enough length to tuck it in to my high-waisted pants. I tend to have wider bra-straps, so I’ll be adding some width to those straps next time. I expect I will soon have many of these camisoles. This pattern only takes an afternoon to make and barely a metre of fabric!

I purchased a remnant of this Cotton and Steel rayon awhile back and was so happy to put it to use! I made this Ogden back in the spring and unfortunately, I have found this fabric shrinks every time I wash it (rarely, hand-wash, line-dry) so the shirt is slowly getting smaller and smaller. The colour also faded right away. This was from the first rayon line from Cotton and Steel, and I haven’t had these issues with my subsequent rayon purchases.

I wore this outfit out on a wonderful night out to celebrate my 10 year anniversary a few months ago. I was hoping to get my Kielo dress done in time to wear on our indulgent adventure, but in the end, I was happy that I didn’t rush that project and I felt so comfortable and relaxed in my cami.

Project: Ogden Cami with Cotton and Steel Rayon

Total cost: $35.00 CAD

Fabric: $20.00

Pattern:$13.00

Notions: $2.00

Total Hours: 4 (includes PDF assembly)

Techniques used: French seams

Fit: Size 8, straps shortened 3 inches, No FBA required

What to work on: Using up those fabric scraps making more!

DIY Rifle Paper Co. Espadrilles

August 8, 2017
Rifle Paper Co Espadrilles

Rifle Paper Co Espadrilles Rifle Paper Co EspadrillesRifle Paper Co EspadrillesRifle Paper Co EspadrillesDritz Espadrilles made with Rifle Paper Co canvas.Rifle Paper Co EspadrillesDritz Espadrilles made with Rifle Paper Co canvas.I have been looking to add some accessories to my handmade wardrobe for some time now. I had looked at kits for DIY espadrilles on Etsy, but unfortunately, they were just too expensive (including the exchange, shipping, and duties, getting a kit from Spain to Canada was going to be around $250.00). Then I found espradille soles for $9.99 on Amazon (made in China) but since they come from the quilting supply company Dritz, I decided to try to find local vendor instead. Well…I tried calling the chain fabric stores in my area and none of the employees had any idea what I was talking about. Then I tried calling bigger centres, with the hope that they might carry them or at least know what I meant, but to no avail. Not even Toronto! So, Amazon it was.

As for the fabric, I bought this Cotton and Steel/Rifle Paper Co canvas at Patch Halifax about a year ago with this project in mind. I used the – always lovely – selvedge edge design of the canvas for some pull tabs at the heel. You could probably get away with using a fat quarter of fabric for this project, but since I wanted to play around with the pattern placement, I bought half a metre to be sure. The lining is Robert Kaufman Essex Linen.

The shoes are a lot of fun to make! I’ve never done any kind of blanket stitch before, and I laughed at my own smug sense of achievement. It feels like a skill I should have picked up at Brownies or at summer camp somewhere. There are many sew-alongs and tutorials available online, but the best one is from Ada Spragg. I used her photos for reference each step of the way (Thank you, Sophie!).

A few issues: First, all of the tutorials wanted me to add a seam allowance to the pattern pieces, but my copy included them (maybe Dritz has updated their pattern?). Also, the instructions DO NOT recommend enough thread to finish a shoe!

The other, terribly sad issue was that after all that work the shoes are too big. The soles only come in full sizes and I generally wear a 6.5 (37 EU), so I went with the 7. I’ve now ordered the size 6 soles to compare, and I am going to see if there is some kind of insole combo that will fill this pair out for me.

Despite these setbacks, I loved this project.

Project: DIY Rifle Paper Co Espadrilles #1 

Total cost: $45

Fabric: $20

Notions: $25

Total Hours: 10

Fit: Size 7

What to work on: the final toe-cap stitching. Mine isn’t nearly as neat or as full as I would like (I think I had too much wax on my thread by that point.) I won’t use blue chalk next time either.

 

Summer of Basics: Chardon Skirt

August 2, 2017
Jupe Chardon

Jupe Chardon Jupe ChardonJupe ChardonJupe ChardonAs my pile of store-bought items dwindles down in my closet, I’ve realized that I’m missing some key items: basics. I need bottoms in particular, and some solid items in general. I often start planning a sewing project based on a piece of fabric, rather than starting from the idea of a garment and my love of prints has been well represented during this project, but it is getting harder to come up with an outfit that I can wear to work. So when I saw the Summer of Basics post from Grainline Studios, I knew I would be joining in.

First up was a Chardon Skirt from Deer and Doe. This was to replace an old Zara skirt I had for years and wore until you could practically read through it. I’ve made this skirt before and know that it’s a silhouette that works for me and a pattern that doesn’t require any alterations. I love the shape and I love those deep pockets. I used some charcoal grey stretch-shirting that I had in my stash and it makes for some crisp pleats. It looks grey or blue or purple, depending on the light. I used black bias tape to finish the hem, used a plain old regular zipper on the back and finished the seams with my serger. I’ve been wearing this skirt a lot already and it’s really come in handy during the warmer temperatures. I’m happy to have a neutral basic in my wardrobe again!

Project: Chardon Skirt from Deer and Doe

Total Cost: $41 (CAD)

Pattern: $21

Fabric:  $14

Notions: $6

Total Time: 6 hours

Techniques: Bias tape hem, serging

Fit Adjustments: None! I made a straight size 38

Indiesew Blog Tour: Tank Top Bonanza

June 21, 2017

When I was contacted by Allie from IndieSew to participate in the Great Tank Bonanza of 2017, I knew that I wanted to try my hand at making active wear. I prefer racerback style sports bras, so I was really excited to test the Rumi Racerback from Christine Haynes and the Adventure Tank from Fancy Tiger Crafts. I used performance jersey for all components of both shirts and put my serger to good use!

Rumi Tank

When I was trying to decide on my size, I got out an old Lululemon tank and laid it across the pattern pieces to compare. The Rumi has a more forgivable shape – it has a slight curve below the bust and then skims away from the body – but I was surprised that it was so much shorter than my RTW tank. I added two inches to the length. The pattern is designed for knits, but since I was using super-stretch jersey, I made a size two rather than a size four.

The binding went on very smoothly and I really appreciated that the instructions were full-colour photographs. I often forgo instructions if there is a sew-along to follow, so this was like having sew-along posts conveniently in one document. The scoop of the neck is pretty low, so I think for my next version I’ll raise it an inch. There is a slight curve to the hem of the shirt, and the back of the tank is what I think of as a traditional racerback style.  I knew I loved the Rumi because I started wearing it before I even finished the hem!

Adventure Tank

This is what I’ll be wearing to run this summer! The curve of the hem is more pronounced on the Adventure Tank than the Rumi, and the racerback has a v-shape that I really like.  The neck line is higher and gives more coverage overall. The body is boxier in shape and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. This tank is also pretty short. I added two inches to the length here as well and took out an inch and a half from the shoulders. I wasn’t sure about the size, so I made a small, but I’ll try the medium next time. The arm and neck bindings were more challenging, but this was only due to the slippery texture of this particular fabric.

Overall, I think both tanks are a great addition to my wardrobe and I was delighted with how each pattern translated into activewear. Like Allie, I made the two tanks in a single afternoon and hardly used any fabric – perfect stash busting project! It was a nice way to dip my toe into sewing activewear and build confidence before taking on more complicated garments. Thank you so much to IndieSew for having me along on the blog tour!

 

*IndieSew provided the patterns for this project and compensated me for my time. All thoughts are my own.

 

 

Summer Uniform, 2017 Edition: Named Kielo Wrap Dress

June 12, 2017
Kielo Wrap Dress 1

Kielo Wrap Dress Kielo Wrap Dress from Named Patterns Kielo Wrap Dress from Named PatternsKielo Wrap Dress from Named PatternsKielo Wrap Dress from Named PatternsI would never have considered making the Kielo Wrap Dress until I saw it in person, at Patch Halifax, where I was able to try on the store sample. Sometimes I have a hard time visualizing beyond the models and styling for Named Patterns to how I think the garment would look on me. I shouldn’t have let that dissuade me, because the Kielo is a magical dress that looks amazing on all the different bodies I have seen in it.

I used a black bamboo cotton and made a few fit alterations based on the sample:

  • I cut a chunk out of the centre back seam (2 inches wide tapering down 3 inches)
  • Raised the back slit by 4″
  • Cut 1.5 inches out of the length of the bodice, just above the bust-dart. I wanted to keep the neckline where it was, but raise the arm holes a bit and move the ties to my natural waist.
  • I skipped both the back darts and the interfacing on the ties.

Oddly enough, I didn’t need to shorten the dress at all. I’ve seen it on people taller than I am though and it hits them at the same place. I pull up more of the skirt in the back to create a tucked-in effect, but I’ve left the back long here for the photos. It’s a quick make, but I did get held up on the knit bias binding for the neck and arms. I wish there was a pattern piece for them, since there are optional instructions for them with the pattern.

This dress feels like the sexiest Secret Pyjamas. I could easily wear this to a formal event, but also with a jean jacket and some flip-flops all weekend. If you see me in this dress, I will salute you with my flying-squirrel wings. I hope you will also be wearing a Kielo and can salute me right back!

Project: Keilo Wrap Dress

Total Cost: $62

Pattern:$20

Fabric: $40.00

Notions: $2

Total Hours: 8

Fit Adjustments: I made a US size 4, but with several adjustments: I took a 2 inch wedge out of the CB seam at the neck, raised the back slit by 4 inches, and took 1.5″ of length out of the top bodice. I also skipped the back darts and interfacing on the ties.

See also: I didn’t think I was going to love my Saunio Cardigan from Named either, but it’s become one of my favourite pieces!

 

Navy Tea House Dress from Sew House Seven

June 5, 2017

Tea House DressTea House Dress    Tea House Dress Tea House Dress Tea House Dress

Well, hello there. Welcome to the dress of pocket dreams.

I’ve had the pattern for the Tea House Dress (from Sew House Seven) for at least a year, but I held out on making this dress until I found the perfect fabric. When I saw this Robert Kaufmann Indikón Cotton Yarn Dyed Fabric at Patch Halifax, I knew it was exactly what I had been waiting for.

I played with the direction of the stripe and used the wrong side of fabric on the front and back plackets, the centre front skirt, and the sleeve cuffs. I’m glad that I opted for the shorter version, as the longer one is a lot of dress on a 5’2 person, but also because I still used nearly 4 metres of fabric on this one!

The neckline is the perfect depth on me and I didn’t need to do any kind of full-bust-adjustment. The only tricky part of this dress was the front placket. The instructions have you gather the front inside edges ever so slightly and press the pieces until they are totally flat. I’m not entirely sure what purpose that ease serves. I was able to get one the way I wanted, but the other wasn’t quite as good. I found that topstitching the front placket, which connects it to the lining placket, creates a slight puffiness in the front.

It’s a minor quibble though. I am delighted with this dress. The fit is spot-on; it’s very flattering; I love a Dolman sleeve and, of course, those pockets! In fact, this may be my favourite make of this project so far.

Project: Tea House Dress

Total Cost $108.25

Pattern: $24.25 (18 USD)

Fabric: $80

Notions: $4

Fit: Straight size 4

What to work on: That teensy bit of fullness in the front placket

See also: My beloved (and much worn) Toaster Sweater is also from Sew House Seven. I’ve got my eye on the Nehalem Pant pattern too!

 

 

Gingham Archer

April 16, 2017

I really should re-name this project Erica Makes Blue and White Shirts.

I’ve had this fabric forever and I kept using it for interior pockets on jeans and other items. It’s soft, crisp and with a bit of stretch. I realized that I’d better hurry up and make an actual garment out of it before I cut it down anymore, or I’d only have enough fabric left for…more pockets. I made this shirt at the same time as my Striped Archer, but made a few planning mistakes on this version that the striped one benefited from.

  1. I forgot to account for the seam allowances when laying out the pattern pieces for cutting. The Archer has a sewn-on front placket on one side of the shirt, while the other side is folded under twice. This meant that instead of having a continuous pattern across the front, I ended up having to shave off 1/2 from the folded side to create a more balanced effect.
  2. I did the same thing on the back. The stripes are 1′ wide and I easily could have planned for the external pleat to go over one stripe, like this great version from Helen’s Closet. I turned the pleat inside so that it wouldn’t stand out too much.
  3. I ended up making two collars because I cut the first one with horizontal stripes. It looked much better on the bias.
  4. I tried to take pictures of a bright shirt outside, in Canada, in April. Weather ensued and it took 3 attempts to get it together.

However, please don’t let all of this nit-picking trick you into thinking I don’t love this shirt. I was feeling a little over it by the time I was finally done, but haven’t stopped wearing it.  I put out a call for button opinions on Instagram and was very happy with my choice (they are from The Mariner’s Daughter).

I understand why people who sew tend to have an Archer for every day of the week. This one feels the most boxy of the three I have made, as the fabric has the most body. It’s also the version that has convinced me to do a narrow-shoulder-adjustment next time. But I really will need to wait to make another one: I am on a shirt-making moratorium until I round out this handmade wardrobe of mine. Dresses! Bras! Pants! Shoes! Anything that uses a zipper! Let’s do it!

 

Project: Gingham Archer

Total Cost: $52

Fabric: $20

Pattern: $22 (Since I already own this pattern, I will remove the cost of it from the total cost of my wardrobe at the update).

Notions: $10

Time: 10 hours

Fit: Straight size 6, but I will definitely be doing a narrow-shoulder adjustment next time.

Techniques: Pattern-matching until my head hurt, burrito-roll shoulders, buttonholes, the alternate collar order.

 

Striped Archer Button-Up

April 2, 2017
Grainline Archer

Grainline ArcherGrainline ArcherGrainline ArcherGrainline ArcherGrainline Archer Grainline Archer I was supposed to be taking a break from button-up shirts and working on rounding out my handmade wardrobe. However, when I saw this fabric wedged waaaay in the back of the sale bin at my local chain fabric store (during an ill-fated attempt to find more bra fabric), I knew another one was in order. And then, I figured so long as I was going to be making one Archer Button-Up (from Grainline Studio), I might as well make two at the same time and use up some lovely fabric in my stash (post on the other one coming up next).

I wanted a really classic shirt, so I skipped the great butt-ruffle this time. I thought about doing a narrow-shoulder adjustment, but I wanted it to look slightly oversized and not as tailored, so I made a straight size 6. As this make required an extreme amount of pattern-matching, I decided to save myself at least one step and simply serge the edges of the fabric before sewing–although, it felt like cheating after all the French and flat-felled seams I’ve been doing.

I cut out the pattern pieces very, very carefully. Luckily, the stripe is 1/4 inch in width and there are 1/2 inch seam allowances, so that simplified things. I was able to plan ahead and ensure that there is no break in the pattern across the front of the shirt. I used the stripe, however, in a contrasting direction for the collar, that big ol’ pocket, the cuffs, and sleeve plackets.

This is probably one of my favourite makes of this project. Classic, made with care, and you would never know that it’s homemade! My other Archer has been getting a ton of wear, so I’m happy to have this one to add to the mix. Mother Nature was not keen on letting me get photos of this shirt. I try not to wear a garment before I take the pictures, but it was taking so long that eventually I gave up. When I put it on, I realized that I’d forgotten to put in the buttonholes on the sleeves! I’ll be adding them in, but I wear them rolled up so much I think some sleeve-tabs are also in order.

 

Project: Striped Archer Button-Up

Total Cost: $46

Fabric:$20

Total hours: 10 hours

Pattern: $22 (Since I already own this pattern, I will remove the cost of it from the total cost of my wardrobe at the update)

Notions:$4

Fit: No alternations. Straight size 6

Techniques: Buttonholes, so much pattern matching, and the alternate collar order

 

Sewaholic Oakridge Pussy Bow Blouse

March 12, 2017
Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse

Sewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge BlouseSewaholic Oakridge Blouse

I’m calling this my “Corporate Headshot Day Outfit.” It feels very Follow the Money, no?

For this make, I used a light weight stretch poplin from my fabric stash for the Sewaholic Oakridge Blouse. It’s crisp and I love the rich colour. I knew I wanted a larger statement bow, so I added two inches to the width and eight inches to the length. I wanted to up the drama, but also balance the proportions with my bust.

Sewaholic Patterns are (were?) made for pear-shaped bodies, so a full-bust-adjustment (1 inch) was in order. I was planning on adding width to the sleeves, but I was on a roll with my French seams and forgot to change the math.

The fit is better than it appears in the photos. I have found that this stretch fabric sticks to both my bra and the pant fabric. I don’t know if that’s due to fit, or just that it was -24C at the time of these photos. I have made a version of this shirt before (the one without the bow) in a plain cotton and I don’t get any excess fabric around the armpits on that one. It’s nothing extreme, but I’ll be interested to try this shirt on with a different – handmade – bra. (Insert all the prayer-hands and fingers-crossed emojis for that particular experiment).

Project: Oakridge Pussy Bow Blouse

Total Cost: $55

Fabric:$25

Pattern:$22

Notions: $8

Time: 10 hours.

Fit: Size 2 with a 1 inch FBA, super-sized the bow.

Techniques: French seams, internal sleeve plackets, buttonholes.

What to work on: Making a better bra! And some dresses, and some trousers. I’ve been on a shirt making streak, but I’ve got to stop procrastinating with them.