Sunday, 23 March 2014

More Sewing for Me and Bad Photography

I thought I would post some more of the things I have made for myself over the past few months, and unfortunately the one thing they have in common is that I have pretty bad pictures of most of them. I think finding time to take good blog pictures is way more difficult than finding time to sew. You need to have time when you are not too crazy rushed (like mornings), when there is decent light, someone around to take the pictures, and a reason to be groomed and wear make-up, etc. These factors rarely coincide. Thus, voila some blurry photos!  (But hopefully, the clothes may be interesting. And at least there are some cute kids in some of the shots.)

First up, here is something I made myself last summer - one of my first grown-up outfits since I started sewing in earnest last year. The pattern is the internet sensation, the Washi Dress by Made by Rae. I made it with this fabulous fabric I ordered from the custom-fabric-printing site Spoonflower: Dapper Gentleman Out for a Hack by Ragan.(All Ragan's designs are equestrian-themed and I love them. I have posted a shirt I made my daughter out of some of her fabric before. I have a hard time resisting buying it all.)

Equestrian Washi Dress sewn by Cicely Ingleside

There's me, taking a selfie with my iphone. I didn't have enough fabric for the whole dress, but the back is done in the horse-theme fabric too. I made the front bodice with white cotton, but bound it with bias tape made from horse fabric. (That sounds bad. I mean, horse-themed fabric, not fabric made from horses.)

The pattern in involves shirring the back with elastic thread (I didn't even know what that was!), but it gives clear instructions and turned out to not be too hard. I got lots of use out of this dress last summer - was perfect for warm days.

I made another Washi Dress for my sister D for her birthday. Here is the bad photo:
Gold and White Washi Dress sewn by Cicely Ingleside

It's hard to see the nice fabric, but it is white cotton with gold block print from India - very nice. I bought it from the shop Desi Fabrics on Etsy, as well as the gold "Gota" trim that is at the bottom of the dress, and which I hand-sewed on. The waist line and the neck are bound with gold bias tape.

Then, since I was on a roll, I made my other sister (let's call her "L") a Washi Dress for her birthday. I searched and searched for the right fabric, but eventually settled on one which is featured in the Made by Rae How to Add Sleeves to the Washi Dress tutorial. It is called "Records" in the Ambrosia colourway, by Melody Miller. I bought it from the Etsy shop Kicoli. It is 85% linen and 15% cotton, so it drapes really nicely ( less stiff than cotton) but not scratchy like linen can sometimes be.

Records Washi Dress sewn by Cicely Ingleside

I didn't get a picture of my sister in the dress because she lives too far away (sniff...) on the West Coast of Canada, while I live on the East Coast.

I had some left-over fabric after slip-covering my daughter's chair in this geeee-or-geous Anna Maria Horner fabric called Ghost Wing in Aqua, bought from Westwood Acres Fabric. Shhh... don't tell anyone that I am dressed like a chair.

Ghost Wing Aqua Shearwater Kaftan sewn by Cicely Ingleside\

The pattern I used is the Shearwater Kaftan by Make it Perfect. I really liked this - the pattern has a really nice fit, and it was really well written.

Ghost Wing Aqua Shearwater Kaftan sewn by Cicely Ingleside

I liked it so much, I decided to make one for my sister D for Chistmas. After a long and hard fabric search, I settled on..... the same fabric. But in another colourway: Ghost Wing Dusk. I ordered it from the Canadian store Greenwood Quiltery, which has a good selection of mostly quilting fabrics, including nice modern lines.

Ghost Wing Dusk Shearwater Kaftan sewn by Cicely Ingleside
Crazy sides of the photo due to my unskilled attempts at Photoshop-cropping-out of the mess beside the bed upon which I laid the shirt.

Finally, because I got free shipping if I ordered more fabric (excuses, excuses!), I bought this fabric I had been eyeing: Paint by Number Deer, by Erin Michaels for Moda fabrics. 

I used it to make the Banksia top by Megan Nielsen patterns. This was the first pattern of hers I have sewed, and it was really impressive as well - great pattern, great instructions.
Here's a terrible selfie:

Banksia top in Paint-by-Numbers-Deer sewn by Cicely Ingleside

Yes, I did change my iphone case.

I think I could have sized down one size for this one. I know it was kind of risky to use quilting cotton to make a shirt with a large collar. So, to avoid looking like I stepped out in an 80s big-collar, puffy-sleeve, floral type thing, I decided to toughen it up with my pleather jacket and some tough-girl studded bracelets.

Banksia top in Paint-by-Numbers-Deer sewn by Cicely Ingleside

My son took this photo from the bottom of the steps. Did a  6 year-old take better photos than me?  Hmmm.... better work on the photography side of things.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Sewing for Me

St. Patrick's Day Nani Iro Bubble Skirt sewn by Cicely Ingleside

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Newfoundland!  "Outside Ireland itself, there is probably no more Irish place in the world than Newfoundland." The internet attributes this quotation to the Irish writer Tim Pat Coogan. I can't guarantee that that is who wrote it (because, well, the internet), but this certainly is a place where the Irish history is strong. The oldest Irish immigration to Canada was to Newfoundland, and its influence in the culture and the accent are still obvious. There is some interesting information about the Irish-Newfoundland history and connections here and here.

In celebration, I thought it was time to make something with this cool green Nani Iro fabric that kind of looks a bit like shamrocks. I bought it on a trip to Ottawa, from the lovely store Fabrications. It is a double gauze cotton, and the people at the store told me it was a discontinued print that they had managed to procure. I was going to make something with it for my daughter, but I really wanted it for myself.
St. Patrick's Day Nani Iro Bubble Skirt sewn by Cicely Ingleside

I'm proud of myself because this is one of the only times I have tried something without a pattern (and had it work out). I drew my own skirt lining based on my measurements and cut it with plain white cotton, then did the outer skirt as a bubble skirt with the Nani Iro fabric. I relied on these two tutorials from Straight Grain (for a kid's bubble skirt) and Melly Sews. However,  I added my own waistband above the bubble skirt. I made it loose so it would sit lower than my waist  - so that the voluminous-ness of the bubble skirt would not make me look heavier around the middle.

Since I have a backlog of things I haven't posted, here are some other things I made myself over the last while. 
Blue & White Porcelain Crepe Dress sewn by Cicely Ingleside

This dress was made using the Collette Crepe Dress pattern, and a fabric called Blue & White Porcelain, which I bought from  It is a wrap dress that wraps in the back and has a tie belt (kind of hard to see what with all the pattern going on. Next time I'll make it with a contrast fabric.).

Blue & White Porcelain Crepe Dress sewn by Cicely Ingleside

It's a nice pattern, and the dress will be really good for summer (if it ever comes!).  I would agree, however, with this post on Sew Country Chick, that it has a big fit and I could have gone down a size, and the use of facings on the arms, neck, and back were a pain. (And I actually ended up sewing them down.) Next time I would just replace them with a bodice lining.

Blue & White Porcelain Crepe Dress sewn by Cicely Ingleside

Finally, I also recently made myself this knit dress which I loooove, using the Penelope Peplum pattern along with its skirt add-on, by See Kate Sew. I chose the circle skirt and half sleeve options. The fabric I used was from Girl Charlee. (I bought it months ago; I don't think it's still listed on the site.)

Polka Dot Knit Penelope Circle Dress sewn by Cicely Ingleside

Now, the pattern is very specific that the fabric used is supposed to have 30% or more stretch and tells you how to figure this out. My fabric did NOT have that much stretch, but I really wanted to use it to make the dress. So, my first version of the top was crazy tight and stopped  way above my belly button. I tried it on and almost fell over laughing. I was tempted to take a picture of it to go with this post, but decided I didn't want my bared midriff immortalized on the internet.

So, I made a second version of the top, slightly larger. I also added 3" at the waist. I am on the tall side, and I always have trouble with shirts and dress waists being too short. I am very happy with how the fit turned out, and I think I am going to add length to the waist area of other patterns in the future. The fabric has stretched out after wearing it a few times, so maybe I didn't need to make it that much bigger.

Polka Dot Knit Penelope Circle Dress sewn by Cicely Ingleside

 The added waist length did make the skirt longer, and so I considered shortening the skirt too. I think it would look cute as a shorter dress, no? However, I will save that until next time I use the pattern. I definitely will use it again, when I find some more knit fabric I like. It's an easy sew, too. I have received a lot of compliments when wearing it, which is always nice.

Polka Dot Knit Penelope Circle Dress sewn by Cicely Ingleside

So, here's hoping your St. Paddy's Day is fun! We'll be eating potato cakes, made with my half-Irish grandmother's recipe.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

I'm Learning to Sew with "Knits"! (You know, t-shirts and stuff)

T-shirt sewed by Cicely Ingleside

This is a post I had originally planned last August - I'm kind of behind on my posting. For whatever reason, I had a hard time getting decent photos of these t-shirts, even though I had at least two photo sessions. So you will see photos taken randomly over the course of the last 8 months. So, no my kids have not been growing at weirdly fast rates or anything. Just to clarify.

I decided last summer to try sewing with "knits" - that is, stretchy t-shirt material.  (This is different than non-stretchy wovens, like quilting cotton.) I was nervous about this, as it is supposed to be trickier, and I read a lot of blog posts with tips on sewing with knits. Although I haven't found it too much more difficult so far. (Definitely easier than sewing with slippery satiny fabrics.) What the advice basically boils down to is:
1) Use a 'ball-point' or 'stretch' needle in your machine
2) Sew with a zig-zag stitch on your machine, or use a serger.

If you are looking for more detailed advice, you can check out my Pinterest board here, which has links to a number of blog posts that involve tips on sewing with knits. (There is a lot of other stuff on that Pinterest board too; just check out the ones that mention knits.)

Here is the first knit thing I sewed:
T-shirt sewed by Cicely Ingleside

The super-cute polka dot cotton jersey is from the Etsy shop Land of Oh. I have bought from them a few times now and am always impressed. The prints are cute and the material is good quality. I'm not a big fan of synthetics, and they have a good selection of cotton knits.

The pattern I used was the popular Flashback Skinny T by Made by Rae. I think I may have extended the short arm option by adding cuffs.  Now, the pattern calls for using ribbed knit material for the collar and cuffs, but I wanted to use the contrasting polka dot material I had, which was not  ribbed. It didn't occur to me that a rib knit would have some more stretch and the collar measurement would therefore be smaller. I realised the hard way after sewing on my material that if I don't use a rib, I will need to lengthen the piece. Okay, so now I know that.

Next I sewed this:
T-shirt sewed by Cicely Ingleside

The (very flourescent!) orange striped material is also from Land of Oh. The pattern I used was the Go To Signature Dress by Go To Patterns, cut to the tunic option. It is a very versatile pattern, with many options. This version has shirring at the back with elastic thread. Yes, she is wearing shorts underneath. I told you I had trouble getting good pictures.

Next, I sewed some Recess Raglans (pattern by See Kate Sew). And I learned that a raglan shoulder is angled like a baseball-style T, while a traditional t-shirt (like the Flashback Skinny T above) shoulder is straight up and down.

T-shirt sewed by Cicely Ingleside
Mr. N. in a Recess Raglan
I really like this style. The cute adorable raindrop fabric is from Kitschy Coo. It is an organic cotton by Lillestoff, as is the floral cotton for my daughter's raglan (below). The cuffs and collar of both shirts are made with a cotton rib knit from Land of Oh. So, yes, I went and bought some rib knit. Very glad I did.

T-shirt sewed by Cicely Ingleside
And finally, I have for you more cute Lillestoff fabric, made into a dress using Kitschy Coo's Skater Dress pattern:

Snow White Skater dress sewed by Cicely Ingleside

For this dress, I got up the courage to try my "double needle".  This can be used to sew two straight lines on the front of your fabric whie it zigzags on the back, so can be used for hemming knits instead of a zig zag stitich. Look how much better it looks: (At least on my machine, which has a quite ugly and non-width-adjustable zig-zag stitch.)

T-shirt sewed by Cicely Ingleside
Ugly zig-zag stitch at neck

Snow White Skater dress sewed by Cicely Ingleside
Nice red double lines from the double needle

It turned out not to be hard to use the double needle at all. I watched this 3 minute tutorial that my sister sent me. All you do is put the double needle into your machine like a regular needle, then put two spools of thread on top, thread them through the machine as if they were one, until you get to the needles where you put one thread in each needle. Super simple.

Overall, I am very happy I tried sewing with knits and will definitely be doing much more. It's easy, and makes comfortable, practical clothes.

One last shot of the Snow White Skater Dress:
Snow White Skater dress sewed by Cicely Ingleside
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