Monday, November 7, 2011

A Little Peek

Just a quick look at what I'm working on. The yarn's some vintage superwash from my stash. You might recognize the cables. Any guesses? I'm hoping to have this project finished by mid-week. It's getting cold!

It's also getting harder to catch the sun for photos, one of the many drawbacks of daylight savings. Suddenly it's dark and I haven't even had dinner yet. Yuck. The only upside is the motivation to knit a little faster to stave off the cold, if not the dark. What do you have on the needles to keep toasty?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Farmers' Market

It's been a little slow around here the last few weeks. Most of my time has been spent cleaning and trying to get MFA application stuff together. Actually, that's what I should be doing right now...

Me and Xenia still found some time to hit the farmers' market Monday afternoon, and as always it was a great time. It was also the last outdoor market of the season, so we tried to make the best of the lovely weather.

Photo by Xenia Vakova

Here I am, wondering if I want these beets. Do even I know what to do with beets?

Photo by Xenia Vakova

Of course I do! Pose with them!

Photo by Xenia Vakova

Now I have to go figure out what to make with them, and also the tub of creme fraiche I bought. Anyone for borscht?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall Plans

Everyone seems to be right in the thick of fall sewing/knitting. Toronto's in the midst of a second kick at summer, after a terribly chilly week, so I've been having a bit of trouble getting into the swing of it. Pinterest came to the rescue and helped me sort out a plan. A few garments are longer term projects, like finishing up the grey tweed version of this great sweater designed by Mari Lynn Patrick from Vogue Knitting Winter 2010/2011 which I cast on back in February.

Others are new projects I've been meaning to get to forever, like whipping up a Colette Beignet, either in some recycled floral corduroy or some bird print canvas from Ikea.

What about you? What are you stitching up for the chilly months ahead (or behind, depending on your hemisphere)?

And happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Flying Geese Progress

Slowly but surely all the little geese are finding their flocks. The three blocks on the left are completely sewn and all the others are in rows that need to be joined into blocks. Not all of my seams were as accurate as they could have been and it's making piecing... interesting. By which I mean I may start throwing things. Skills to work on I guess.

I don't really care that it's a bit wonky, this is definitely going to be a quilt that makes me smile.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day at the Market

Fall blew in to Toronto last night. I woke up to a chilly house and a less than 10 degree city. Ouch! Luckily one of my favourite days of the year, the Aberfoyle Antique Market's special Saturday market, was last week. It was a bright sunny day instead of the rain called for, and Emma and her parents made a great road trip of it. It's fun knowing other people who love the market. It's even more fun when they bring you along in their car (thanks guys!).

It's a bit of an epic journey to get to the market, but always worth it. This time I was conservative with my shopping, picking up a great vintage table cloth, some green glass buttons with gold mirroring, and a bit of fabric labled as a feedsack, but I'm not so sure. Does anyone know what to look for to tell? Not that it matters, I just liked the print. Right as we were heading back to the car I spotted a booth with jewellery that had a little gold tone locket pin. I have about 5 of these and wear them constantly. I opened it up and inside were this lovely couple.

Aren't they great? I know some people find pieces like this sad, since they've been abandoned, but I always have a special fondness for them. I like the idea that someone is still holding on to them, even if it's a stranger. Remembrance through objects... Or I just spent too long at art school. Either way.

I also got a couple of Vogue Knittings from the 60s, and with my magic powers of duplicate purchasing, came home with one I already had. Keep your eyes open for a giveaway with it in the next week or so. The little blue buttons were free with the pin and some pieces I picked up for my mom. Can't argue with that.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Flying Geese

With my first quilt still endlessly in progress, I decided it was maybe time to try my hand at machine piecing for a break. As lovely as English Paper Piecing is, those little hexagons take forever.

The Purl Bee's mini quilt for July caught my eye when it first went up, and I even picked out the fabric right away. I found the pile two days ago, and went to work cutting out the pieces. The next day I went out and bought a rotary cutter so I would never have to cut that many little squares by hand with my shears again. I sure do like doing things the hard way.

About halfway through last night my sewing table looked like this.

And this morning I finished up 10 (almost) perfect little stacks of geese. Now I just have to arrange and sew the blocks, sew them to each other, find some batting, learn how to quilt... But for now I'm happy to just pet the little triangles every so often.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Upcoming Show

My friend Cheryl is moving her store across the street from it's current location, and decided to open the space up as a gallery for the first month with a group show called Love Love. How awesome is that? Also, I'm in it! If you're in Toronto in October, you should pop by and check it out.

I'm still on board Self-Stitched-September. I think it was just the documenting photos that stopped me last time. There's so much pressure to put together a different look everyday when you're posting it online. In real life, I do such different things that the chances of someone who isn't the manfriend or the cat seeing me more than one day in a row are pretty slim. I have a totally new appreciation of fashion bloggers now.

Lots of crafting going on here, and lots of vintage hunting. Pretty things coming up soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Plan Part One: Finish My Projects

Yes, the first part of my Self-Stitched-September plan is fairly straight forward -- finish  my half completed projects. I'm off to a good start this week with an evening spent working on my now belated birthday dress. It should be ready for photos by Wednesday. Yay!

 Next on the agenda is a green stretch cotton Ginger skirt I started in Vancouver. All it needs is a zipper, hem and the waistband facing.

After that, this very cherry red rayon will finally make its way into Vogue 1120, minus the belt. It's all cut out, and the pleats basted shut. I started this dress before I really knew anything about fitting, so it's going to be a bit of a surprise once I get it together. Hoping for the best!

Getting all three of these projects done brings me up to four me-made dresses and two me-made skirts that I can actually wear. I have a few other me-made garments that just don't fit at the moment, so they're sitting this challenge out. Stay tuned for next week's plan of attack.

During my countdown to SSS, I also have to get a birthday present together for my younger sister. I chose this white cotton poplin from, printed with cream bones that look like herringbone from a distance. It's just her kind of print. Now if I can just pick a garment that won't eat up all of my selfish sewing time...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Taking the Pledge

I, Madelaine, sign up as a participant of Self-Stitched-Sept '11. I endeavour to wear one piece of handmade clothing each day for the duration of September 2011. Handmade accessories are nice but only count as extras.

You may remember my previous attempt at one of Zoe's challenges, but most likely not. That's because I only had four handmade garments that were wearable, one of which (the blue skirt) was an emergency stitch up. I ended up wearing a lacy knit scarf most days just to give it a good try. As you can see, I was also terrible at documentation photos. Lots of bad mirror shots. I think I lasted a week. 

 I have a few plans to make this time go smoother. One is that instead of daily photos, I'm going to keep a chart of what pieces I wear each day. This will hopefully prove useful in figuring out what I want to make more of in the future, by seeing what I actually like to wear. Keep an eye open for my other idea on Monday.

Anyone else joining in?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Birthday Dress in Progress

I've been planning this dress since April, and finally got to start it on Friday. It would have been a lot further along if I'd taken some recent weight gain into account before cutting my fabric. As is, I had to rip out the side seams and resew at 1/4" instead of 5/8".  It's still a little snug, but much better than it was. it may also be so snug because the dress was cut on the cross-grain, which I think would have less give? I only bought 2 yards of the main fabric, and cutting it sideways was the only way to get both body pieces. The nice thing is that I get to use the selvage as the hem.

I used a contrasting fabric from the same line for the neck bands and for the tie belt. I really like how the purple tones in both prints help to harmonize the patterns. Originally I wanted to make a bottom band out of the same fabric, which would have let me cut on the straight grain, but I really didn't like how that much brown overpowered the floral print.

Here's a close up of the V-neck, which I didn't quite manage to line up perfectly when cutting. I usually wear the V to the back on my other versions of this dress, so it really doesn't bother me too much. It's also much less noticeable in person. I am seriously in love with both these prints.

Fabric: Anna Maria Horner Innocent Crush line Bubble Burst in Rich and Turn of Events in Plum
Photo Location: Backyard

Saturday, July 30, 2011


And apparently I'm a ghost? Just ignore my shockingly white calves...

Even though it's the middle of summer, and Toronto's still recovering from a massive heat wave, I live in an over air-conditioned basement. Woolly socks were in order. These were a super fast knit, and I've been wearing them non-stop around the house.

People (by which I mean Brian and the cat) seem very impressed by the traveling cable on the socks, but it was simple enough to memorize after a couple repeats, and I didn't even need a cable needle. The pattern is well written and the large gauge make these a quick and satisfying knit.

Pattern: Traveller Socks by Diana Gates
Yarn: Berroco Vintage, 1 skein
Photo Location: KarenFoundIt

Friday, July 15, 2011

Picking up the Pieces

This last year has been full of so many things. Good ones, like finally finishing my undergrad, and some pretty terrible ones. In September we found out my dad had cancer.

It was a sneaky cancer, and by the time the doctors found it, it had spread through his entire body, into his lungs and bones. Things deteriorated pretty fast after that, and by November his body couldn't take it anymore. He was 66 years old.

Finishing school was important for both of us, so I did it. My family and friends were there for me, and my professors and everyone at OCAD were so supportive. I don't know how I could have done it without them. Even with so many caring people around, the only way for me to complete what I had to was to push a lot of what I was feeling aside, to focus on my classes, projects, papers. Things with simple answers, things I could control.

And that worked. I got through it and I thought when I finished that the worst of it was over. It wasn't, and over the last few months the weight of what we lost really began to sink in. Coupled with the exhaustion of several months of grief induced insomnia, and as soon as the tension of school lifted, I fell apart.

Now I'm slowly coming back together.

I've let so many things go that I should have stayed on top of, and coming back to them is proving one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Coming out of this kind of sadness to find I've let my life go to seed this whole time is almost enough to send me back to bed.  So for all the lapsed promises and forgotten commitments let me say I'm sorry. It couldn't be helped, but I wish it had.

The farther I come out of the hole I found myself in, the more I realize how important it is to do the things that fuel me, and that I enjoy. I'm trying to say no to projects and commitments I don't need, something I've always had trouble with in the past. And I'm trying to say yes to the things I want but never seem to find the time or drive for.

Keeping this blog, and feeling like I'm part of a community of creative, crafty, wonderful people has been something I really enjoy. So I'm making a commitment to come back to it, and to all of you. Thank you for staying, for reading my ramblings and sharing your own endeavours and projects. It means a lot.

Things should go back to normal around here next week, with crafting progress and some new thrifting finds, and I'm grateful.

It feels like coming home.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Citron in the Works

I cast on yesterday, and am two rows shy of finishing the first section. I love this pattern! It's simple enough to do on the bus, but the sections of plain and ruching keep it interesting enough to make me want to keep knitting. Perfect.

I was a little iffy on the yarn when I bought it (a single ply lace weight), but the Malabrigo Lace is actually wonderful to work with. The loose structure adds a subtle halo to the work that really softens the stitches. I wouldn't use it for anything that's going to get heavy wear, but it's great and snuggly for a shawl/scarf. In fact, it grew on me so much I ended up getting another ball when I wandered into Lettuce Knit yesterday...

I know I promised some sewing to be done around here, but I've decided the sewing machine tune up can't wait any longer. I'm going to download my manual (again), get a can of compressed air and some oil and have a go at it. Being able to maintain my own machine is definitely a skill I want. Though if it goes badly, I'm not going to hesitate to bringing it into the shop.

 The swimsuit plans are progressing however. I was lucky enough to find the Threads book Fit and Fabric from the local thrift store a couple weeks ago. It has articles on both sewing swimsuits and working with Spandex. Now I just need to source some material and see what I can do with it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

That was harder than expected...

But it's over! My grades have started coming in, and so far I'm doing better than I'd hoped. I'm going to miss being constantly among such a great community of artists (and equipment), but it feels really wonderful to have completed what I started. I now have a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Criticism and Curatorial Practice! I also completed all the requirements of a print minor, but they won't give me that unless I do two more credits of random electives (it could be creative writing for all they care) and it all seems expensive and silly. I know I did it, and I'm happy with that.

So what now? I've cast on a frivolous, spring hued project,

and now I'm going to drink some tea. And run to school to clear out my locker before they do it for me. Eek.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Crunch Time Hiatus

Yesterday was a bit of a dud, due to a terrible headache. The couple days before I was finishing an essay. Now I've got two days to finish three prints... Yikes! I'm going to be taking a blog break while I race to finish my printmaking class by Tuesday. After that I should have a bunch of new art and a shirt to show!

Now I better make like that lady up there, except with some gloves, an apron, ink and a roller... And more knives? Seriously, printmaking is awesome.

Friday, April 8, 2011

See & Sew 5157

I know I said I'd show you after I finished the blouse, but I couldn't wait. It's just too awful not to share ;)

I cut out the shirt on Wednesday, and I'm hoping to get a chance to sew it up tomorrow. The pattern's sitting on the fabric I used. It's a light weight cotton with a big watercolour print that sadly was not 100% colour fast. I managed to cut around most of the dye leaks though. Hideous styling aside, I actually do think this is a really cute shirt. Try just focusing on the top portion:

Better, right? I think it would look best with a nipped waist, full skirt. I don't actually have one of those right now, mind you. If the shirt works out, I guess we know what my next project is?

So I handed in my final essay for one class today. I've got two classes finished, two to go. Almost there!

In Which I Bought a Pattern

Grey: Um... Green? I don't think she's writing her essay.
Green: No, Dear. She went shopping at Out of the Ashes Collectibles instead.
Grey: Do you think that was terribly wise?
Green: Well, Sheila IS having a 20% off sale until midnight...
Grey: OOoh! I guess that's alright then. She did buy us after all.
Green: She's planning on making me though.
Grey: There's no accounting for taste.

And now back to my essay. After today I'll have two classes down, two to go. The day count is a little wonky now, since my class got an extension on one thing. I'm aiming for next Thursday though. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Have You Seen This?

Because it is ADORABLE. Tutorial on the Sew Weekly blog for your own pincushion (go see what it is if you haven't already, it's a surprise!). There are pincushions to be won all month too, and you know how I love a giveaway.

Speaking of which, there's just a couple days left to enter to win the two copies of Interweave.

Sadly, I miscounted. Now I have six days left.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Adventures in Vintage Shopping

I may not be able to get much crafting done right now, but that doesn't seem to have stopped me shopping! I recently went on one of my favourite thrifting/vintage runs and picked up some lovely loot.

This fabric is actually an old house dress I'm going to take apart and make into a little spring top. I love that it says "it's spring tra la la"! I might use See & Sew 5157 which I picked up at the same time and I think could have a 50's vibe when tucked into a nipped waist skirt. If you just looked up this pattern, let's not talk about the styling. Or the shorts pattern. Yikes. I'll show you the original after I show you my finished one ;)

Beyond some 70s patterns I picked up at the thrift store I also got an amazing Vogue pattern from 1957 and a couple of late 50s or 60s Advance patterns at 69 Vintage Collective. The Advance ones are sadly tiny, about 10 inches smaller than I need, but I absolutely love them. I actually have a mail order pattern very similar to the Loretta Young's Choice pattern in a 44 bust. Maybe I'll give it a go?

I found these great cups hanging in the bagged housewares section at the local Value Village. Brian's always telling me it pays to check the bags, and I'm trying to make a habit of it. It paid off this time! The red mug is a made in Canada Melmac piece. I'm a casual collector of Melmac right now. The colours are just so wonderful. The two pink cups are Harmony House Town & Country by Simpsons-Sears & Simpson's. They aren't quite as nice, less hefty and the handles are a bit sharp, but still make a striking pair. I like how the three look together and I'll have to think of a neat way to display them, since I won't be using them for tea (I don't like the idea of hot liquid in plastic).

And now back to homework... Just six more days!

Monday, April 4, 2011

My mom is an awesome lady

Beyond being fun, supportive and generally pretty great, she owns a vintage jewellery store and finds me the neatest things in her travels. This was a recent gift from her:

I love the little dog pin! Hes entirely hand stitched out of felt and has the cutest little safety pin sewn onto his back. I like that whoever made it chose black thread on the white felt. I think it gives it such a charming handmade craft look. And his little bow! And eyelashes! Okay, I need to go calm down from the cuteness. Look at this a minute:

The buckle is Bakelite, and just amazing. Its about 3” wide, which is great since I have a few 1” buckles but they just look dwarfed on my frame. It’s even in one of my Spring colours (it's kind of a golden orange in person)!

Thanks, Mom!

In other news, one class down, three to go! I'm almost done my BFA!

In which I am a bit behind, but still hopeful...

And that applies to so many things. I still need to put the finishing touches on a web-based paper about vintage sewing due tonight, which I may post here if it turns out well.

In sewing news, I'm both very behind, and shifting things around a bit. You may remember that I carefully muslined the bodice for my Crepe dress, then it ended up on the back burner. One issue I had was fabric choice. The vintage cotton print I chose was a little too firm, and I'm worried it won't drape very well.

So I'm going to do some fabric searching in the stash for something appropriate. I have 4.5 yards of some nice green/gold/brown rayon that would make it a very cute fall dress. It's only a 43" width though. Maybe something in a lighter print? Crepe just needs so much yardage! Did you make it, and did you find you used as much yardage as called for? I'm a shorter gal who likes a knee-length skirt, so I often find I can get away with a little less...

As for the awesome fabric, I think it might do better as this. The pattern is simplicity 6194 from 1965 in a rare 44" bust. It might be the only vintage pattern I have in my actual size. I'm thinking of giving it a go for Pattern Review's upcoming vintage contest. You're allowed to muslin before the contest starts, so that'll give me a chance to see if this is even feasible. I keep hearing that vintage patterns are too small in the waist, but that doesn't look like it's going to be a problem. I'm more concerned about the bust darts pointing about 3 inches above my actual one. Eek.

I can totally see myself wearing that dress all the time. I can be pretty period specific too, since my fabric is vintage (though I'm not sure from when), I have vintage buttons and zipper, and I'm going to construct it using my 1964 home-ec textbook! The only thing not-vintage will be my trusty Kenmore sewing machine, which desperately needs a cleaning and oiling.

Just one more week, dear readers, and my life is mine again!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Finished Charlie Tote

 I popped into the Workroom yesterday for a break from school and spotted this fantastic fabric from the David Textiles Victoria & Albert Museum line. We're seeing Brian's family tonight to celebrate his mom's birthday, and both his parents are big on wine...

 So I thought I'd whip up a birthday tote bag! I used the free Charlie pattern from BurdaStyle, and made a second bag for the other side out of some vintage poly/cotton blend I picked up at the thrift store. It's a cute blue/green floral print, and I'm sure you'll be seeing it again since I have about 7 yards of it. This bias tape is also thrifted. Hurrah! Here's a peek at both sides:

If you want to make your own reversible Charlie bag, just cut the bag body piece twice each from two different fabrics. Sew up the side and bottom seams, and join the handle tops on both bags. You can either sew the two bags most of the way around with the right sides facing, then turn the bag right side out and stitch up the leftover hole, or you can do what I did. I put one bag inside the other, wrong sides facing, then machine basted the top seams together. I then trimmed the seam allowances away, and sized the edges for double fold bias tape. I stitched the tape together to make three loops, pinned it on, then sewed it. I used almost a whole package of 2.75m for the edges, with about 1.5" to spare. I left out the pocket to fold the bag up into.

I think it's a pretty good basic tote pattern, and I'm definitely going to make some more for gifts out of all the IKEA upholstery fabric I have in my stash. I hope she likes it!

Friday, April 1, 2011


There's only one week left to enter to win both the Winter 2010 and Spring 2011 issues of Interweave.

At the same time, Grosgrain has a great giveaway for Shabby Apple swimsuit. You can check out the Shabby Apple Amalfi Coast Swimsuit Giveaway for details.

Any other giveaways floating around you'd like to share? It's always so much fun :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cutest. Summer. Dress. EVER.

Is version B, if you were wondering. But how cute are all of these? The scalloped hems on the dresses, the romperness of the romper... The pattern also has A, B, C and D cup pieces included, a huge plus for me. Glad I scooped this one up during the quarterly massive sale at Butterick, McCall's and Vogue (it's on until the end of today!). Not that I needed more sewing patterns or plans.

Or fabric to turn into said patterns.

Okay, I am officially cut off until at least six garments are made. Also because I am out of clothes, and full of supplies.

The lovely rayon challis above brings me to another thought. I mentioned to a professional designer/seamstress friend of mine that I love rayon fabrics. A lot. She's not so much into them.

I wash my rayon garments like any other delicate fabric, on gentle in the machine, hang or lay flat to dry. I know this supposedly is terrible for the fibres, but I've never really had any trouble with it except for one dress disintegrating at the armpits after the 100th wear or so. I'm not convinced that had anything to do with washing, and not the 100+ hard wearings (I am tough on clothes).

What do you think, dear readers? Do you wear or sew with rayon? Why or why not?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wait, haven't I read this already?

Apparently I bought the last two issues of Interweave twice? If that's not a sign I should just subscribe, I don't know what is. I'm choosing to blame stress induced selective memory loss. But my strange purchasing habits could be your gain with another giveaway!

Just leave a comment on this post by Friday, April 8th at noon and you're entered to win both magazines.

In other news, I've decided I am going to tackle the bathing suit project starting in early May. I have no idea how I'm going to do this, so I guess it's research time! I like research time far more than is actually healthy. I have some construction details more or less worked out. I'll get a sketch of what I have in mind posted in the next couple of days. What I need to look into are different kinds of sport materials, and getting my serger back in good order.

Under two weeks left of my undergrad, then it's Sewing Bonanza 2011.