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Teal Flannel: Deer and Doe Bruyere

January 6, 2017
Bruyere Shirt

Bruyere Shirt  The Bruyere Shirt from Deer and Doe is a tried-and-true pattern for me. I’ve made several versions before and am always happy with the results. In the past, I have gone up a size and then taken it in as needed, but this time I opted to make my true size just to see the difference.  I still removed some of the width of the upper arm, but the fit was pretty good without any kind of full-bust-adjustment. I think I would still try one next time, to help move the waistband down a bit.

Not that I didn’t make any changes, though: I like to interface the waistband as well, which means I also add a lining that piece. I used French seams where I could, but I’ll flat-fell them next time. I took out about 1 inch of length on the bottom pieces, but I feel like I could take out even more. I also moved the button-holes down an inch (I like to line up one within the waistband and go from there).

I was happy to conquer the sleeve plackets this time! I used the pattern piece (and instructions) from the Colette Negroni which was quick, easy and gives a clean finish. I did laugh at how big they are, though. I need to grade the pattern piece down for a better proportion on a woman’s shirt. I was excited that I got them to work, but they feel comically oversized. THEY ARE ALL-CAP PLACKETS. I also sewed the arms on the wrong sides at first and the plackets ended up right at the front. I must remember to mark which arm is which!

I knew I was going to need some long sleeved shirts for winter and this teal Robert Kauffman Shetland Flannel (bought at the lovely Patch Halifax) is so comfortable. I ended up taking out one layer of the interfacing on the collar because the fabric is so thick. I found it was almost too think for the button plackets and they are a little stiff. I’m hoping they will relax after a few washings. This shirt got a lot of wear over the holidays. It’s great for layering and I’ve worn it with leggings around the house and a blazer and trousers out for drinks. (I also have it on in this news story about my project!)

Project: Bruyere Shirt

Total Cost: $76

Pattern: $20 (CAD)

Fabric: $50

Notions: $6

Time: 8 hours

Fit: I made a straight size 38, removing 1 inch of width from the arms and 1 inch of length from the bottom of the shirt.

What to work on: a quick make! This shirt includes 9 button holes, sleeve plackets, pleats, darts, a collar, etc. etc. After this and my winter coats, I’m ready for some less intensive projects.


Wardrobe Update #1

December 30, 2016


It’s time to check on the stats of my wardrobe project.

I’ve made 12 garments in total in the past five months. While I am proud of that (there are some very big projects hidden in that number), it shows me that I need to ramp up my production.

The percentage of handmade items compared to store-bought items has grown from 11% to 23%, but this is also because I have been able to get rid of some additional garments (my total number of garments has actually gone down from 94 to 92). You can see what I started with here.

So far, I have completed:

When I ran the totals, I had a moment of panic at the amount of money I’ve spent so far. I am rarely faced with the collected amount I spend on anything and I was a little surprised. However, if I went shopping and came home with all of those items for just $1000 I’d be high-fiving everybody. If I had charged (myself) for my labour–let’s say at $25.00 per hour ($50,000 per year pre taxes)–that would have moved the cost of those 12 items up by $3,400 for a total of $4,406.19.

There is a lot of fabric from unknown origins in my spreadsheet and I would like to work on changing that going forward. You’ll notice the price difference between the projects where you can trace the fabric and those of unknown origin.

Coming up on the Handmade Wardrobe:

2017 Make Nine Handmade Wardrobe

There’s a lot of spring in that collage and we’ve got at least four months of winter to get through first. Expect sweaters, long sleeve shirts, skirts and maybe a dress or two in the coming months.




Slow Fashion Army: Pauline Alice Quart Coat

December 7, 2016
Pauline Alice Quart Coat

Pauline Alice Quart CoatPauline Alice Quart CoatQuart Coat Insideimg_5650 img_5654 Pauline Alice Quart Coat 3Second up in my series of coats is the Pauline Alice Quart Coat. This coat is far more tailored in both style and construction than my Cascade Duffle Coat. This dramatic coat features many design elements, including princess seams, epaulettes, pleats and exposed zippers on the sleeves. I used a black Melton wool and Kasha (a double-faced satin/flannel fabric) for the lining.

I learned many new techniques for this project. There is so much interfacing in this coat (you can see more behind-the-scenes on my Instagram) and I certainly appreciated the extra effort once it all came together. I ended up adding even more interfacing to the collar and tacked down the side pleats because they were giving a fluting effect to the bottom of the coat that I wasn’t keen on. This was the first time I’ve put exposed zippers on a sleeve and also the first time I’ve MADE BOUND BUTTONHOLES! They aren’t easily visible in a photograph of a black coat, but they are there and they are glorious. I used the Sewaholic tutorial for reference and just took it step by step. Like everything in sewing, it wasn’t nearly as complicated or scary as I expected it to be.

I did have a little trouble with the instructions though. There are multiple steps in text followed by several illustrations in a row and I had to really focus to stay on track. The instruction booklet comes in three languages, so I can understand that a more detailed layout would result in something the length of a textbook. There is also a pdf “sewalong” and I found myself using that more often.

I am very proud of this garment. It’s a great coat – maybe even too great. It doesn’t look homemade, so no one (who didn’t already know that I was working on it) has asked me if it’s my own work. It feels like a secret I am bursting to casually drop into the conversation:

“I made this.”

Project: Pauline Alice Quart Coat

Hours to complete: 45

Total Cost $208.49

Pattern: $19.99

Fabric: $157 for outer and lining fabric

Notions (buttons, zippers, thread, shoulder pads etc.): $31.50

Fit: Straight size 40. I could have used a small swayback adjustment in the back.

Techniques: Bound buttonholes, shoulder caps and pads pleating, hand sewing.

What to work on: More scary things! Bring on the bras!

Burberry, by Me: The Cascade Duffle Coat

November 22, 2016
Cascade Duffle Coat

Cascade Duffle Coat Cascade Duffle CoatCascae Duffle Coat 4Cascade Duffle CoatCascade Duffle CoatCascade Duffle CoatCascade Duffle Coat

All images by North by North Photography

While I am passionate about mindful consumption, there is one category of clothing that I have decided not to place any restrictions on: outerwear. In previous years, I would only have one cold-weather coat, which I wore day after day after day, after day, after day. I live on the East Coast of Canada (we are basically North Maine), where snow is a usual occurrence from November well into May, with more than our share of storms thrown in for good measure. It is a very long season and I am often feeling as frayed at the edges as my sad coat by about February. So, in the interest of mental health, I hereby declare this the Year of the Coat!

First up in my series of outerwear is an item that I am so proud of, the Cascade Duffle Coat from Grainline Studios. I have been hoarding this beautiful Burberry fabric (bought online at Mood Fabrics) for over a year. I must have ordered exactly as much as I needed for my size (straight size 10) because I had just enough. It was scary to finally cut into it after all this time. I’m unsure of the fiber content, but it is so soft and warm. The only way I think of to describe it is sumptuous. I used Kasha for the lining (a fabric that is satin on one side and flannel on the other) and the coat feels cozy and substantial. It’s the nicest winter coat I’ve had in years and I finished it without a moment to spare – I saw my first snowflakes today.

As other sewists have pointed out, there are indeed 40 pieces to this pattern and the construction took me several 8 hour days and then some. I dyed the cording for the toggles with tea in order to tone down the original brilliant white colour. I love them, but I’m not sure how long they will hold up under bags and scarves and general winter weather. I may change them out for some made with twill tape instead. The coat itself is long, but I will take all the winter protection I can get! The pattern offers either a cropped or a long version, but I think I would like to try something that’s in-between as well.

When I told Alexa and Luke from North by North Photography that I wanted to have an outdoorsy shoot, they immediately suggested a trail that I’ve never been to and I’m so glad they did. Not only did I get some fantastic photos, but I also had a great morning hiking around the woods with them.


Project: Burberry Cascade Duffle Coat

Total Cost:$264 CAD


Fabric: $220 (including the coating, lining and interfacing)

Notions: $22

Fit: No alterations.

Techniques: Bagging a lining

What to work on: Gathering all my supplies in one go. I wish I had picked out fancier toggle buttons in the year I’ve had the fabric. I was all set to go with this project and then realised that I wouldn’t be able to get any toggles other than these locally.





Office Prep: Named Sointu Kimono Tee and Printed Ginger Jeans

November 1, 2016

Cropped Ginger Jeans ep_04ep_07ep_05 ep_03

One of my goals for this project was to create pieces that I could easily wear in a professional work setting. It can be a challenge to find ready-to-wear items that are a). age-appropriate and b). not boring. When I do find things I like I often have to alter them to fit properly anyway. I seem to be right in-between regular and petite sizing (I’m 5’2) and I have a curvy shape.

I stumbled across this great printed stretch-twill while looking for fabric to cover some chairs. It was mysteriously labeled “assorted denim” and I’m quite happy to report that it works easily for clothing. I used the Ginger Jeans pattern as a base, but eliminated many of the classic jean styling elements – including back pockets! I knew I would have matched the pattern of the pockets with the pant legs and they would have hopefully visually disappeared, so there didn’t seem to be much point in having them. I also have the Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers on my cutting table right now, but I prefer the higher waist of the Gingers – it’s very helpful when I am out on my bike. I am a frequent cyclist and having professional clothing I can bike in is a real plus.

The top is one that I can see myself creating many versions of, the Named Sointu Kimono Tee. I downloaded the PDF and had the top on in one afternoon! The only change I made was to shorten the length a bit. It’s basic but extremely useful and comfortable. And I can’t make everything in a dazzling print. The fabric is a fine sweater-knit I found at my local chain-store. I’ll be keeping an eye out for some heavier weight knits online – you only need a bit of fabric (I made it work with a 1/2 meter by adding in a seam at the center back and pieced the bias facing together) so I could really splurge if I wanted!

Lastly, thank you to my amazing photographers, the talented duo behind North by North Photography. Alexa and Luke immediately understood what I was looking for and made me laugh so much during our shoot.


Printed Ginger Jeans

Total Cost: 60.48

Pattern: $24 (CAD)

Fabric: $22.48

Notions: $14

Fit: I went with a size 8 since I didn’t really know anything about the fabric content and that worked out quite well. There is a bit of bunching behind the knee, so I might try a full-calf-adjustment in the future.

Techniques: Pattern-matching where possible.

Named Sointu Kimono Tee

Total Cost: $27

Pattern: $10 (CAD)

Fabric: $11

Notions: $6

Fit: No alterations needed.

What to work on: Making more work clothes! I’ve already worn both items many times.



Very Slow Fashion: Carolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co Fabric

October 6, 2016
Carolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co Fabric

Carolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co fabricCarolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co fabricThis project really tested me and not in a way that I was expecting.

These are the Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files, made in the Rifle Paper Co rayon from Cotton and Steel. They may be the prettiest things I own. They make me feel like a grown-up (and like I need more sophisticated bedding to match.) They have piping and french seams and I love them.

However, those fancy finishes add significantly to the sewing time and there were several points with this project where I thought, “I could just go buy a pair of pj pants for 12.99 at any store and be done with it.” In 30 minutes, I could have a cute new pair, for the price of a sandwich. There is very little instant gratification in sewing and it’s been surprising to see how trained I am to want something new, right away.

But, they would not be these pajamas. They would be the most basic, cheap things and clothing should not cost the same amount as the lunch special. My gorgeous pajamas are worth every extra bit of time I spent on them. And taking that time is hopefully going to help my brain learn to wait.

Some construction details:

I ended up making a second pair of shorts. The top is a size 6 and fits great, but the shorts are a slim cut and my original size 8 pair just fit. I like a little more lounge in my lounge-wear, so I went up two sizes for the next ones and extended the length of the cuffs. I used the beautiful selvedge edge of the fabric on the pocket and instead of the sleeve cuffs. I tried it as the trim on  the shorts first, but it gave them a bloomer-like effect that I didn’t like.

These pj’s are so soft and floaty! I am delighted with the final product. I will definitely be making flannel pair for the winter.

Project: Carolyn Pajamas in Rifle Paper Co fabric

Total Cost: $109

Pattern: $23 CAD

Fabric: $78

Notions $8

Time: I lost count, but I’d put them in the 15-20 hour range, including PDF assembly.

Fit: No specific alterations, but I’d increase the  width of the arm a bit next time.

What to work on: Patience. Just keep swimming.

Ginger Flares

September 13, 2016
Ginger Flares

Ginger FlaresGinger FlaresGinger FlaresGinger FlaresGinger FlaresOh man, these pants. What a difference from my first pair of Ginger Jeans! I decided to be bold and go down from a size 10 to a size 6 for the Ginger Flares from Closet Case Files. I hardly had to make any alterations to this size. I had measured myself for the last pair, but sometimes I have a hard time believing what the tape says and am convinced that I am either smaller or, most likely, bigger than that. My size also fluctuates easily, so I often feel like I don’t really know where to begin with a pattern.

Making jeans is so fun and easy and satisfying. While custom-fitting can take a bit of time, the actual construction process of jeans is very relaxing. I used the remaining yardage from my Cone Mills Kit, which is slightly lighter in weight and darker in colour than my other fabric. I used a notions kit from Thread Theory for the buttons, rivets, and zipper.

I have seen people with sewing blogs comment that making jeans was addictive, but I didn’t really believe them. Now, I understand. It’s all I want to make! This is great news, since when I started this project, I only had one pair of jeans and while they fit, I didn’t love them and only kept them out of desperation. I’m looking forward to getting rid of that pair and building up my collection.

Project: Ginger Flares

Total Cost: $98.00

Pattern: $18 USD + 7.50 for the flare expansion pack.

Fabric: $65.00. It was the other half was my Cone Mills denim kit from Closet Case Files.

Notions: 7.50

Time: 10 leisurely hours. This includes time for assembling and cutting the PDF expansion for the legs.

Fit: GREAT. I took 1 inch from the back waistline and 1.5 inches off the length, but I might increase that next time.

What to work on: Rivets. I have yet to find that magical balance between too long and too short. I’m either smashing through them or they come off.


The Saga of the Ginger Jeans

September 2, 2016
Ginger Jeans 1

Ginger Jeans 4Ginger Jeans 2GINGERS 5Ginger Jeans 3Ginger Jeans 8

Ginger Jeans 6I made a pair of jeans. I made a pair of jeans.

A fly-front, high-waisted pair of Ginger Jeans.  And they are amazing.

It took what felt like weeks to get here, but really, it’s a simple process of following the steps that Heather, the designer, has very clearly laid out for you. I gave myself a lot more work than was necessary through some groan-inducing mistakes. Here’s how it went:

I cut out some cheapie stretch denim I got at my local chain store to make a practice pair before I used the Cone Mills denim that I have been hoarding from one of the Closet Case Files kits. The fabric store didn’t have the amount I needed as continuous yardage, but I knew it wouldn’t be a problem since I am only 5’2 and the pieces were pretty long.  As I was cutting on a single layer (to avoid pant legs that twist), I needed to flip the pattern pieces to ensure I ended up with the right amount of legs. I did not remember to do this. I discovered my mistake only one I had cut out all the pieces. (The problem was that I did not have mirror images, and one side of each leg would have been inside-out). When I pulled out my other fabric piece, I discovered that not only was it not the same denim, it certainly did not have the same amount of stretch.

But, that piece was big enough to squeeze out all new pattern pieces. Luckily for me, Jenny from Cashmerette was making a pair of Gingers over the same weekend, she kindly live-posted each step on Instagram Stories (thank you, Jenny! So helpful). Top-stitching was going great, and the fly was surprisingly easy. Then I basted the legs together to test the fit.

I couldn’t even get them over my knees.  There wasn’t any stretch to the jeans beyond pulling the fabric across the bias. I laughed, and then I may have cried a little bit. And then I felt stupid for getting upset over an item of clothing. But really, I had wanted to practice. And I had been able to discover that making jeans is not a scary, or even complicated thing. If you have ever successfully put together a piece of furniture from Ikea, you are more than qualified to make jeans.

The next day I reprinted, assembled, and cut out the PDF pattern again (I figured that going up from an 8 to the size 10 wouldn’t be a bad idea) and pulled out that Cone Mills denim. It’s so buttery to cut through! I followed the sewalong posts and ended up taking them in quite a bit (both the inseam and the side seams). I took a wedge out of the center-back seam to help with the gap at the back and angled the side seams in even more at the top. The crotch is still a little long, (though not as long as it appears in the pictures) and the rise is a little too high-rise on me. I’ll go back to the size 8 for the next pair. But these are minor adjustments and this pair is awesome.

Hammering in that last rivet I felt simultaneously burnt out, and a sudden urge to immediately start cutting out another pair. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten more satisfaction out of making something. Thank you to Heather for creating such a great pattern and all of the many free resources that go along with it.

I made jeans!

Project: Ginger Jeans

Fabric: Cone Mills Denim

Total Cost:$108

Fabric/Notions: $29 for the cheap denim and $65 USD for all other items inclusively (rivets, buttons, needles, thread, fabric, etc.).

Pattern: $14 USD

Time: 1 week. This in includes all three pairs I started and the PDF printing and cutting. Making the last pair only took a weekend.

Fit: As above.

What to work on: Letting go of being a perfectionist. If I came across this pair in the store, I’d be dancing my way out of the fitting room to show you how great they are.jg

Skills/Techniques: First time I’ve used a cast-iron skillet for sewing!



A very wearable muslin: True Bias Southport Dress

August 29, 2016
Southport dress 1

Southport dress 2Southport dress 3Southport 8

I’ve got a dress! One that does not make it look like I should be giving a serious conference presentation!

I’ve purchased a few metres of some beautiful Nani Iro double gauze for a Southport Dress, but before I cut into that precious stock, I wanted to make sure the fit of the dress would be spot-on. As this was just a practice version, I didn’t bother with matching the print on this cotton ikat. I’ll save that (and french seams) for the next dress. I like that this pattern is finished with bias tape on the neckline and arms. It’s a nice clean finish inside, without any of the fuss of facings.

For the Southport Dress, I made the mistake of practicing “aspirational cutting”. I cut out the size I wanted to be instead of the size I currently am in that pattern. Good thing I wasn’t using my special Japanese fabric! Luckily, it was just a matter of one size difference and I serged the seams together to save some inches where I could. I cut out a size 2 and put in a 1-inch Full Bust Adjustment and added 1 inch to the skirt pieces to match. The fit is actually pretty great. A little snug through the arm scythes, but that’s all.  Next time, I’ll size up for a more relaxed fit. I can see many versions of this dress in my future!

Project: Southport Dress Muslin

Total cost: $38.00

Fabric: $16.99

Notions: $8

Pattern: $12.99 USD

Time: 6 hours (including cutting and assembling the PDF pattern)

Fit: As above. I’ll go up a size and lengthen the bodice next time.

Skills/Techniques: Full-bust adjustment, Bias binding, buttonholes.


Summer uniform: Made by Rae Luna Pants

August 17, 2016
Luna Pants 6

Luna Pants 1LunaPants3Luna Pants 7When I was making these pants, my partner said to me “Oh, are you making pyjamas?” To which I tersely replied, “These are not pyjama pants. They are pants in the style of pyjamas.” I mean, obviously, wink-wink!

I have an old pair of pyjama/harem style pants from H & M that I think I bought while traveling in Copenhagen several years ago. They were having a heat wave while we were there and I didn’t pack expecting that. I have worn them endlessly since then and have always wanted to make another pair.

I love my new Made by Rae Luna Pants. I have been wearing them nonstop and always get compliments on them when I am out. Who doesn’t love not-so-secret-pyjamas? When deciding on my size, I opted to cut out a medium, since the model appears to be leaner of leg than I am and I was making them out of rayon. The pattern was a good 4 inches longer than my pants, but after a few washes, they have shrunk right up to match.

They came together quickly, but I had some trouble with my elastic twisting. I think the size of the channel for it is a little small for the width of elastic I used. (I opted to use whatever was in my stash). There are a few changes I would like to make so that my next pair mirrors my original ones even more: a wider waistband (and a slightly higher rise) and a wider ankle band, shirred instead of using elastic.

Total Cost: $37.48

PDF Pattern: $15.50 CAD

Palm print rayon: $18.99

Elastic: 2.99

Time: 3.5 hours (includes time for PDF cutting and assembly).

Fit changes: None! But I’m very glad I thought to go up a size.

What to work on: Twisty elastic and following directions!