Monday, January 30, 2012


I hurt my big toe Saturday night. Not enough to need crutches, but enough that I'm hobbling around trying not to put any weight on it. I feel a bit ridiculous and I'm staying pretty close to home until it heals up some more. So tonight, instead of board games with friends and other fun things, I'm staying home to do work.


I'm carving some small blocks out of pink Speedball Speedy-Carve. This stuff basically makes stamps, and is no good for printing on a press. What I'm finding it is good for is printing onto wooden panels using dye based ink. These big keys are destined to be part of bigger panels like the one below.

This one's called 15 Keys, and is up with Elephant Shoes along with four friends. They're all 6 x 6". I'm hoping to get the bigger 10 x 10" and 12 x 12" ones up this week.

Don't forget to enter the Fly Button Giveaway, there's time until Friday night. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fly Buttons (and a Giveaway!)

As promised, here are some close ups of the buttons from my Tulip Skirt. They are kind of amazing. While they may look like vintage glass, these are actually modern reproductions made out of light weight auto-body fiberglass. They can take a beating, and still look awesome!

They're made in Indonesia in a factory started by one of the owners of Courage my Love in Kensington Market. This was one of my favourite places when I was growing up, full of quirky vintage, colourful imported decorations and a tonne of jewellery and beads. Now I love it the most for its huge button collection, both new and vintage. If you're ever in that part of Toronto, I highly recommend checking out the button wall. There's even a chest of dozens of tiny drawers, each filled with a different kind of vintage button. I could spend hours there. Actually, I did earlier today...

When I went back for two more cards of fly buttons for a giveaway :) Just leave a comment on this post and you're entered. Everyone's welcome, local and international. I'd also love to hear what you'd do with them if you win.

I'll randomly select a winner next Friday. Good luck!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This is Emma

I've known her foreeeeever. Long enough that she actually receives, from time to time, clothing I have sewn. Such as the skirt in this photo:

She likes it, she just makes that face in photos sometimes? This is from about a month or two ago. I have been very slow on the bog upkeep it seems. Here's a close up with the waistband. 

It's just some 2" elastic. Do you want to make one? It's easy-peasy.

Directions (with super-official diagrams)

1. Choose a drapey fabric and pre-wash it. I used rayon challis for this skirt. With parrots on it, which are optional but highly recommended. Emma's skirt used one generous yard of fabric with very skinny hems, and measures 17" long from the top of the waistband. You might want to get extra, if your fabric shrinks a lot, or you like a longer skirt. Myself, I like my skirts about 20" long. A yard and a quarter should cover it. You also need a yard of waistband elastic, 2" works well.

2. Cut two panels the length you want your skirt minus 1 1/2 inches for the waistband, then add hem allowances. You're going to skinny hem the top and bottom of your fabric, so add those measurements in twice. My hem was 1/4" turn up, then 3/8" finished, so I added 1 1/4". The panel width should be a little smaller than your waist measurement each for a good amount of skirt. So about 30" each for a 34" waist. Make the panels wider if you want a fuller skirt, but you might have trouble stretching the elastic enough while sewing later.

This all sounds fairly precise, but I just sort of eyeballed it, then tore instead of cutting. Yep, I am a rebel like that.

3. French seam the sides together, or use your preferred seaming/finishing technique. Now skinny hem both the top and bottom edges, using the measurements you accounted for when cutting your panels. In my case that was 1/4" turn up, then turned up another 3/8" and topstitched in place. You now have a tube of fabric with all the edges finished.

4. Find a comfortable length for the elastic around your waist, add an inch and cut. Sew the elastic ends together using a 1/2" seam and finish the ends. I just zigzagged over the raw edges.

5. Pin the fabric tube evenly around the band, right side of the fabric facing the wrong side of the elastic 1.5" down from the top. I did this by pinning the sides, front and back, then the space in between each of those points, then the space in between each of those points. With less than that many pins it's very hard to keep even when sewing.
6. Using a multistage zig-zag stitch (or regular zig-zag if your machine doesn't have that stitch), sew the fabric to the waistband, stretching the elastic as you go so that it is the same length as the fabric. Use a hand on either side of the needle lengthwise, and be very careful.

Warning: If the fabric shifts while the needle's in there it can break (and possibly fling at you), or go off course and gum up your machine. I've never had a problem doing this, but my machine is old and cheap and I'm not terribly worried about it getting messed up. So yes, be very careful and take your time.

AND YOU'RE DONE! Good job. 

If you make a skirt from this, I'd love to see it. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I've started to destash some of my vintage patterns over at my etsy store. I'm trying to be honest about things not in my size, not to my taste, or that I have multiples of from different companies. A perfect example is this 40's suit. I was originally drawn in by the cute illustration, and I love that first girl's giving the Victory V. Buuuut I already had this pattern in my stash:

They are a little different, but both patterns have that great 40's cut, with a tailored jacket and gored A-line skirt. The first pattern is a 34 bust, which I am decidedly not, and the second is a 40 bust, which after a large fba is my size. I also have a big soft spot for patterns not from the big 4. So I kept the second one and listed the first. Although I may need to alter it so I can add those soutache accented pockets the first pattern has. So cute!

I'm going to be listing a lot of patterns in the next few weeks, especially half sizes, so check in every so often if you're interested.

I'm also really enjoying trading patterns ( thanks, Khristie!). It's been a great way to exchange some of my smaller patterns for larger ones I might actually use, and know the patterns I give up are going to a good home.

How do you gals/gents decide which patterns get to live with you?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Butterick 6204

I know... Nothing for over a month, and then blammo! Two posts in one day!

I just made my first ever page for the vintage pattern wiki, and I'm a little giddy. I found this pattern in a local shop, and when I went to look it up, I couldn't find anything on it. That might just be my research skills, so I was wondering if anyone knows anything about Butterick 6204? It's the girls' version of the famous walkaway dress. The wiki page is here.

FO: Tulip Skirt from Stitch Magazine

My first finished make of 2012 is the Tulip Skirt from the first issue of Stitch Magazine. I used the errata listed here, and also found the draft was a bit off on the XL size, but that could have just been me? I also only did one line of top stitching, using Tasia's triple stitch suggestion. It's purple, and so are the buttonholes (my first!) which I won't be taking photos of (because they're my first, and kind of wonky).

I used a cotton poplin covered in topiary birds from, and some amazing Victorian repro buttons from Courage my Love in Kensington. They have little flies carved into them, and I think they get their own post later. 

All in all, I think this is a great pattern, and I'm going to be making many more. Although maybe not in poplin.