Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Traditional Newfoundland Plaid (and some Manitoba Bison)

Traditional Newfoundland Plaid (and some Manitoba Bison) sewn by Cicely Ingleside

The blog Elegance and Elephants is hosting a series called "Roots: Sewing Your Heritage", where people are invited to sew their children clothes based on their heritage. When I saw this, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to sew something with the Newfoundland plaid fabric I eye every time I am at the fabric store - that is, at any fabric store in the city, because they all carry it! (Okay, there are only 3 fabric stores in the city, but still.)

My kids are Canadian, and their heritage is a big mix: French, Polish, English, Irish and even a bit of M├ętis (a race created by intermarriage between Canadian First Nations people and European settlers). So there was no clear traditional dress I could identify for them. I was raised in the Canadian province of Manitoba, and have lived in 4 other provinces since then, but my kids have spent most of their lives here in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where we have lived for the past 3 and half years.

Traditional Newfoundland Plaid (and some Manitoba Bison) sewn by Cicely Ingleside

Now, before moving here, I would have said I would be more likely to know a province's flag, and maybe be vaguely aware of the official flower. But people here are aware of the Newfoundland plaid!   Maybe because the Irish heritage here is so strong - even the Newfoundland accent has a very strong Irish-like lilt.

When I first moved out here to the Atlantic coast of Canada, I went on a trip to the neighboring province of Nova Scotia, and bought my daughter a handmade plaid kilt - not being aware that it was the Nova Scotia blue plaid!  Greeters even wear it at the Halifax (NS) airport.

So now, my kids have locally appropriate plaid clothes!

Traditional Newfoundland Plaid (and some Manitoba Bison) sewn by Cicely Ingleside

I decided to make some more modern clothes with the traditional plaid. For my daughter, I found a lovely lightweight cotton version of the plaid at the local quilting store Sewing World. I sewed her a dress using the pattern for the Daydream Ruffle Dress by See Kate Sew. I love the high-low hem!

Traditional Newfoundland Plaid (and some Manitoba Bison) sewn by Cicely Ingleside

For my son, I bought a heavier version of the plaid material - the kind of weight you would use for a kilt. I sewed him pants using the Number 9 Trousers pattern by Shwin Designs.

Traditional Newfoundland Plaid (and some Manitoba Bison) sewn by Cicely Ingleside

I also wanted to throw some of my heritage in there, so I made him a t-shirt with bison on it, the animal symbol of my home province of Manitoba!

I created a stencil using my Silhouette cutting machine (so handy!) and used it to paint bison all over some white cotton jersey. I used black jersey for the back and arms. The t-shirt pattern is the Flashback skinny tee by Made by Rae

While I was at it, I sewed up another Flashback Tee in some tiger fabric, since this was on my sewing to-do list.  Same pattern, different fabric.  The fit using this material seems more snug.
Traditional Newfoundland Plaid (and some Manitoba Bison) sewn by Cicely Ingleside
Doing his best tiger impression to go with the t-shirt.

My son loved this fabric and wore the shirt all day. It is a Lillestoff organic cotton fabric I bought from Kitschy Coo.  (Amanda from Kitschy Coo was so wonderful to deal with, I want to add!  Great customer service.)

My husband requested a bow-tie in this fabric too. I made him one but neglected to take pictures. He's never worn a bow tie before. We'll see if he wears it. That would be a picture worth posting!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Reflections on a Year of Sewing

Reflections on a Year of Sewing | Cicely Ingleside
This is my sewing set up when I started sewing regularly a year ago, at the kitchen table, moving the machine off at mealtimes!

Well, it is about a year ago that I first started to sew regularly after a couple of months of reading blogs, and so I have been thinking back on the past year: what has changed, and what I have learned.

1)      No more sinking feeling!

I no longer have that horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I am sewing something and wondering if it really is going to look like an actual pair of pants or not when I turn it right-side out. I think the lesson I draw from this is that the more you do something, the more you learn. Hmmm…. A pretty obvious conclusion, I guess, but I am glad that I know now from doing it over and over again how a sleeve looks when it is pinned properly to an armhole. Malcolm Gladwell would be proud. (I don’t know if any of you read his book Outliers, but he has a chapter where he discusses how super-successful people all had to spend 10,000 hours practicing. I have not spent 10,000 hours sewing, but hey, I don’t need to be the Beatles of sewing. Being good enough to make things that don’t fall apart makes me happy right now.)

2)     I hate plackets. But button holes aren't that scary.

A year ago, when I was sewing a pattern that had “placket” pieces in it, I had no idea what these even were. It turns out that they are the little slit openings in necks or sleeves of garments. And they are my nemesis!!  Okay, less dramatically, I will say they are a pain and I am still not good at them.  On the other hand, I was very scared of button holes too, but now that I have figured out how best to use my machine to do them, they turn out fairly decently. This leads me to my next point, which is:

3)      Getting over the learning curve is the hardest part.

It is the learning curve – or the figuring things out at the beginning which is the hardest part. Once I can do that, it becomes easier and easier. For example, now that I know how to attach my walking foot (ooooh, a year ago I did not know what a walking foot was!), it’s not that hard and I can do it in a minute or two. Photoshop was a huge mystery when I first opened it but now I can do about 3 things fairly well. So, I just need to tell myself this whenever there is something I am intimidated to do. (Do you hear that, zipper foot and double-pointed needle, sitting there all unused on my sewing table?) And you know, the satisfaction of learning something new is sometimes the most rewarding part of all this.


4)      A fabric “stash” is useful. (But can get out of hand.)

I started off only buying the exact supplies I needed for a given project. But that led to the need for major advance planning and lists of supplies for everything I needed to make, along with multiple trips to the sewing store. And when my son requested a Spiderman costume right after Valentine’s Day, our local fabric store was entirely out of red cotton for a month. Then I started noticing that many sewing bloggers referred to their “stashes”, and I thought, well, maybe it would reasonable to have a few options of fabrics and buttons and zippers on hand. So, I started doing that, and I will say, it is really useful!  And above all, makes me able to be more creative on the spur of the moment – deciding what I want to make, and what would go together. And thank goodness for downloadable patterns because that makes it even easier.

Now the downside of this is that a stash can go too far. Once you have an appreciation for fabrics, and then buttons, and then other zippers, etc., you get seduced by all the gorgeousness out there on the inter-webs. I have seen pictures on the internet of some sewers’ stashes that are seriously out of hand!  (Like rooms full!) Now, my stash is still pretty modest, but I did find that it grew unexpectedly because the things I was sewing changed. First I was sewing with quilting cottons, and I have a little pile of those I need to use up. Then I wanted to start sewing with knit fabrics, to make more comfortable garments. And then I had a pattern that called for voile. And I decided I wanted to move more into sewing with linens. And then winter wools were appearing in the store.  So….. I now definitely have a good variety of fabrics, and this year, I am resolving to use some of them up before I buy more.  (Though I may allow myself some exceptions for special projects…..)

5)      Respect my limitations.

I find blogging and sharing my projects satisfying, because I can say “See what I made?!” to someone other than my husband, who admittedly is supportive and encouraging, but fundamentally appreciates sewing in the same way I appreciate football.  However, I work full-time and have two young kids, and my spare time is limited, so I can’t do everything. I get a lot of fulfillment and satisfaction from sewing and creating, but photography and photo-editing and having awesome themed settings for photo-shoots is just often too much work.  So I will do what I can to get good pictures, and hopefully will slowly learn more Photoshop, etc. but that isn’t my forte.  And I like doing sew-alongs for Blog events, but not when I can’t fit it in my schedule without stress… so I will do some sewing-along when I can.


 So, those are my reflections on the year gone by!  Thanks to all of you who are supportive and read my blog (Hollah! out to you, Monique!) and have helped to encourage me in this exploration of my creative side. Having been more of an academic-type all my like, I didn’t believe I had a creative side. But I am so thankful that I have been finding it because it makes me very happy, and is something I hope I can encourage in my own kids too.

Reflections on a Year of Sewing | Cicely Ingleside
My sewing space has evolved - this is my current corner of the basement.

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