Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Book Review

The Pattern Artist
by Nancy Moser
ISBN:  9781634097925
Published by Shiloh Run Press, An Imprint of Barbour Publishing Inc.
Canadian paper-book price:  $20.99
Genre:  Fiction / Christian / Romance

The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser only came to my attention via a mention in Vogue Pattern magazine. There is even a link to the book via the Butterick website. I was intrigued. And this set into motion my search for the book to discover more. I will admit that I did have a challenging time to find the book while in the bookstores because the last place that I thought to look was the religious section and that is where it was, not the fiction section where my search was focussed. 

I hoped this piece of fiction would be filled with rich sewing details. I really wanted to love this book but to be honest, I had a hard time getting into the story. Unlike, The Pink Suit by Nicole Kelby, the sewing and design details appeared to be an after thought. Sure, there were turn-of-the-century historical details throughout regarding the history of Butterick, Macy's department store, and the Titantic but as moved as I thought I would be by the details I was left feeling like these details were after thoughts or page fillers.

Sure, Annie and her friends are likeable characters, I just found the story line to be predictable and kind of preachy. Don't get my wrong, I wasn't offended by the religious aspect of the novel, I actually enjoyed the find-your-calling quest story line but there really wasn't any surprise or building action that kept me on the edge of my seat or wanting to turn the page to find out what will happen to Annie or the story's villain Grasston. I just felt that too much was revealed before you had a chance to enjoy figuring things out on your own.

It wasn't until Chapter seventeen that I felt some satisfaction from the words on the page. The characters and descriptive language felt as flat as a pre-folded pattern. Perhaps my expectations were too high for this read.

It is a cute story and yes, I did reach for a tissue by the end of the book. I didn't hate it, I guess I just hoped for more. Or maybe I should say I wish for a bit less, I wished for more to be left to the imagination. It almost felt like I was reading a young adult piece of fiction when I expected to be reading an adult piece of fiction.  

Well, now that I can cross this off my reading list, I can get back to sewing. And get into my next read, Fake Silk by Paul David Blanc. What's on your book list?  

Sunday, 10 December 2017

In Sewing News Today...

Today marks the end of Make Something Week hosted by Greenpeace and Fashion Revolution. I love that it was held in December, when consumerism is at it's peak, as a reminder that we can make things with the stuff that we already own.

The best lessons I learned this week are that if it's make out of quality fabric it's worth saving or making something new with it and recycled light bulbs really do make fixing holes in socks and tights an easier process. If I had more time, I would have loved to do more recycling projects but well, it's that busy time of the year.  I've been busy sewing up Christmas stocking stuffers for someone special when free time allows.

Talking about busy... I had tickets to the theatre this afternoon and I'm part of the group that likes to dress up when going to such a function. It's not everyday that one takes in the theatre, it just seems right to mark the occasion in this way. So, I had big sewing plans as I was really looking forward to this outing.

Paco Peralta's skirt, Vogue 1567, in a plaid silk just seemed festive enough for a Christmas themed theatre event. Sadly, it is still in the the above state of being. Life just got busy and the big plans for a holiday themed outfit fell to the side. And I didn't even go to the theatre as Mama R cancelled because she wasn't feeling well. I really hoped that it would have been a fun afternoon out for Mom but I guess, like the skirt, it wasn't meant to be.

I still want to make this skirt. Although, it looks like it will become a 2018 sewing project and maybe in another fabric choice. There isn't any rush to make it now.

In other sewing news, I've gone and done something that I thought I would never do. I went shopping for fabric online. I know, I almost fainted just typing those words. Earlier this year one of the local fabric stores closed down. The trend is not a recent one and over the last twenty-five years, I've watched and shopped at many closing sales in this city. But this most recent one, that hurt the most. It was a large fabric store with unmatched customer service (except for this time) where they would gladly help with a special order and it was centrally located. Since it closed down, prices at one of the remaining fabric stores have increased drastically. At first, I thought it was laughable when man-made fabrics were showing up with $70.00/metre price tags. No one will buy it even if it went on sale at 70% off, I thought. But then it wasn't funny anymore. I wasn't laughing, I move onto disappointment and then disgust that they were trying to take advantage of the shrinking competitive market.   

This weekend on CBC's Marketplace, they did an episode on Baby supplies comparing Canadian / U.S. retailers.  There was quite the difference, most of which were shocking. It echoed the increases seen at the fabric stores.  The program interviewed an associated business professor from the University of Toronto who points out that from the point of the consumer, it is likely that the price increase is not viewed as justified, rather they would likely be viewed as outrageous. Added was that  from the point of the retailer, when they don't find much competition, they're going to charge as much as they can get away with. And that is what appears to be happening here. If you go to the website of this national fabric store and continue to the online store do you know what you find, cheaper prices than what you will find at the local store. Even if you put in shipping! It is outrageous!

But thankfully, there is a whole other world of sewing products out there. In light of the changes that are happening in the local retail scene it just makes sense to look elsewhere. I've been picking sewing patterns online since Simplicity was no longer offered and the membership discount was reduced on the remaining brands. It only made sense to order them directly from the pattern companies. Why not fabric?  

L to R:  Hemp / organic cotton jersey, wool melange sweater knit,
and cotton cashmere featherweight knit.  

I have to say that I'm really impressed with Emma One Sock Designer Fashion Fabrics. I've read so many good reviews of their fabric and they're mentioned in many sewing articles. And you can request samples before making a final decision. It is not just the competitive prices that I'm impressed with, it's the quality that I wouldn't be able to find here. That wool melange sweater knit is sublime. It would be perfect for another Simplicity 8529. The hemp / cotton blend is quite lovely too. They are going on my Christmas wish list for now since sewing time is quite scarce at the moment.

Well, that is all in sewing news today.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Make Something Week: Wool Scarves

I am a maker.
A maker is someone who transforms things s/he already owns into something new by sharing, up-cycling swapping, repairing, and creating.  Make something celebrates creative, resourceful and social people that enjoy the experience of making something new out of their old things for the people we love.  

Today's project is a recycled project.

Prior to the transformation:

I found this 100% wool knit skirt at a second hand store. It's in perfect condition and it even fits. 

But it is not my style. The lacy knit fabric at the lower portion of the skirt is see-through, it could benefit from a lining or a slip. Or if someone had the figure to pull it off, a pair of leggings underneath.  But that is not me.

I picked it up for the fabric and because it was large enough to transform it into something else. 

It is a 100% virgin wool fabric with no piling and no damage and best part

is that I picked it up for a song.  

I would have refashioned it into a sweater but I went the easy route instead. This project is dictated by need. Since, I'm on a natural fibre vs man-made fibre experiment at the moment I'm in need of a wool scarf. You know, something to keep the winter chill at bay.  

This one is a single layered scarf with serged lengthwise edges. 

And a second scarf has the lengthwise seam stitched and then turned over to create a tube scarf. I can easily turn this into an infinity scarf but I quite like it this way.  

There is still more fabric to consider.  This is a quarter of the yoke of the skirt. It's not like the lace portion, rather it is a beefy knit wool that would be perfect for a couple of matching mittens. I just have to find a pattern.  Or maybe hand warmers.

Happy Sewing!  

Friday, 8 December 2017

Make Something Week: Repairing Is Caring!

As Make Something Week continues yesterday morning's prompt was to repair items that we already own and to share it on Instagram. Goodness knows, I'm not a fan of mending or alterations. If I knew I would be challenged to mend during this week I don't know that I would have been so quick to sign up for this challenge. Kidding. Somewhat. I might not be overly excited about mending but it does feel good when the task is done.  

I repaired these tights that I wore once a couple of months ago. I wasn't about to throw them out after one wear. A little Fray Check™, some silk thread and a recycled light bulb did the trick. But wait, it didn't stop there!  

This shirt has been sitting in my closet for awhile. It would often make it out and onto my body only to be thrown on the bed as I tried to find something else to wear because it was a bit snug around the mid-section.  

I removed the front tucks and it's nice to be able to move in this shirt. I know I'll be wearing this shirt again and I think I might have to revisit out-of-print McCall's 8943 now that it fits well without the tucks.  

Happy Sewing!  

Monday, 4 December 2017

Make Something Week: Up-Cycled Top

I am a maker who is participating in Make Something Week (December 2 to 10th) hosted by Greenpeace and Fashion Revolution. 
A maker is someone who transforms things she already owns into something new by sharing, up-cycling swapping, repairing, and creating.  Make something celebrates creative, resourceful and social people that enjoy the experience of making something new out of their old things for the people we love.  
My second entry for this week is a top that I saved from being donated. Or worse ending up in the trash.

Prior to the transformation:

Back-in-the day when I bought RTW clothes (and was a lot slimmer), this tee-shirt make it into my wardrobe. Actually, two of them came home with me. They're from the Kate Spade Saturday line and they were a deal. But that wasn't the reason why I picked up two, it was the quality of cotton fabric, it's beautiful and beefy, unlike the fabric used in t-shirt found in the stores today. I shortened one of them and kept the other as a back-up. But sadly, this one shrank and the other was snug, unlike back-in-the-day when I first purchased these.  

It came to the point that I had to decide if I were going to donate both of them or try to save one. I decided on trying to save one. 

So, I opened the sides all the way up to the sleeves and then cut a gusset from the other tee-shirt.  

And believe it or not, I can now breathe when I wear it. Being a maker is a good thing.   


I know not everyone will have two of something but this fix can be done with a contrasting fabric as well to add a fun colour blocked feature.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Make Something Week: Up-cycled Bags!

I am a maker.
A maker is someone who transforms things she already owns into something new by sharing, up-cycling swapping, repairing, and creating.  Make something celebrates creative, resourceful and social people that enjoy the experience of making something new out of their old things for the people we love.  
And I'm participating in Make Something Week (December 2 to 10th) hosted by Greenpeace and Fashion Revolution. So here goes my first entry, up-cycled bags.

Prior to the transformation:

My parents saved these flour bags from way back-in-the-day when groceries were packed in boxes or paper bags and people recycled glass pop bottles for a refund. You know, back before there was an environment levy applied to beverage purchases. We used to get money back when we brought our empty bottles back to the store to be recycled. But I digress... 

Back in the good old days they made things to last, including flour bags. I've made these vintage flour bags into grocery / farmer market bags to replace some of those "reusable" shamelessly self-promoting grocery store named bags which didn't last very long.

However, I was able to recycle the handles from the ripped store-bought bag and use it on the new one.  

The fabric is a canvas weight cotton and these will be fabulous because they're washable.

The blue straps were picked out of my notion drawer left over from some back-pack sewing projects.

I'm ready to go shopping! Now, what to pick up for dinner?

Happy Sewing!  

Update:  These are a hit with my friends and the Trinidad one has already found a new home. Who knew these could make good Christmas gifts as well.  

Friday, 1 December 2017

Jumpsuit: Vintage McCall's 6437

Sometimes it's nostalgia that dictates the next sewing project. That's what happened when jumpsuits starting re-appearing the pattern books. I longed to make one but there wasn't a pattern that made me forget about a jumpsuit I made back-in-the-day.

That is when the search for out-of-print (OOP) McCall's 6437 began. It took awhile to find this pattern in my size range and when I finally found a copy, I couldn't wait to get to work on it.  

I went with view B but changed the sleeves to those on view A, considering how my arms are not as slender as they were back in 1993. What I forgot is how low cut the front is and that maybe I should have adjusted the shape of the neckline. I think there will be an infinity scarf project coming soon.   

I really like the high waistline and the lined bodice. The only thing missing, besides a more modest neckline, are pockets. The plan was to make this one to test the fit before cutting it out in a British wool. Now, I'm changing my mind. I like the jumpsuit but if I'm going to make another one it will be view C for the summertime, something I can wear with a tee-shirt. I think I'll save the wool fabric for another project. 
The fabric is a cotton sateen stretch. It was pretreated with a tumble through the washing machine, dryer and then a good pressing before cutting it out.  

There weren't too many changes made to the pattern. Of course, the length had to be shortened and then more length came off when I tried them on. I cut the pattern in the largest size at the side seams but then had to cut it back down to a size 14. I kept the neckline, shoulder and armhole as a size 14 from the start. I also changed the regular zipper to an invisible zipper which required changing the order of the pattern instructions.   

It's a fun addition to the wardrobe, if not all that practical for the season. I will likely wear it when kicking around the house or to run errands when the weather warms up. 

The Stats:

Fabric:  3 metres cotton sateen

Interfacing:  0.40 fusible

Needle:  1 serger needle

Zipper:  18" invisible zipper

Basting tape:  1.15 metres double-sided basting tape

Pattern:  OOP McCall's 6437

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Cutting table, pins, scissors, measuring tape, thread clippers, sewing machine, zipper foot, invisible zipper foot, blind hem foot, serger, tweezers, iron, ironing board, tailor's ham, pressing mitt, and a sleeve ham.  

Happy Sewing!

Book Review

The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser ISBN:  9781634097925 Published by Shiloh Run Press, An Imprint of Barbour Publishing Inc. Canadian...