Saturday, July 31, 2010


When I posted photos of this dress, my cousin wrote this message:

as my son says dont fish for compliments..its beautiful - Im so stealing when u come to our get together please bring this one and the black with dots for moi...Princess :)

I know a command from the princess when I hear it, and brought the two dresses (as the princess decreed) to DC, where we are in the midst of a family weekend.

And look, she looks fantastic, how annoying!!!! I hate when my clothes look better on other people.

Needless to say, these dresses have been stolen. But never mind, I unexpectedly stumbled upon a G-Street Fabric location, and enough fabric has been bought. Hmm. I should give her the bill.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mangoes with glutinous rice

Read more here about the Madhur Jaffrey project - one of my 2010 goals. For an index of recipes, click here.

I try to preserve my Monday nights and stay at home. It typically gives me a chance to cook some, clean some, and sew some.

Yesterday however, we had a mini-party to celebrate a friend's birthday. It was a wine & dessert party. (John's vegan, and therefore, cheese is out.) Originally, I thought I'd make coconut flan, until I realized - duh - that flan has eggs. Instead, I made mangoes with glutinous rice. It was really easy to make (just mix the cooked rice with coconut cream and sugar), and very tasty.

This new, slower pace of the Madhur Jaffrey project is working well for me. It's summer - I really don't want to be in the kitchen. (Or in the sewing room, for that matter.) I want to explore the city, to soak in the sun, and to chill on patios. I'll get back to lots of cooking in winter, when there's nothing else to do.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In which I drool over photos of clothes

I found a Naracamicie catalog on my trip to New York earlier this year. My cousin and me were eating in Little Italy, and the store was right next to a bakery we stopped at for dessert.

There was a lot of clothes I was drooling over, so I thought (rather belatedly) that it might be worth posting pictures of the catalog. Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Quick & Dirty Sewing - Simplicity 2883

I had time to sew over the weekend, yay!

Last night, at 5.00pm, I pulled Simplicity 2883 (now OOP) out. I needed a few easy knit dresses - dresses have a way of looking pulled together, without worrying about coordinating anything, and the knit dress I made a couple of months ago has got a ton of use so far.

This is an amazingly easy dress. I started at 5.00pm, I was done at 8.30pm. That's incredibly fast sewing for me, and it even included some ripping (I don't actually recall a sewing project that didn't include ripping, that's just how I roll.)

The dress has 4 pattern pieces - bodice front & back, skirt front & back. I skimmed the instructions, and then just did what I wanted anyway.

The bit I did notice was that they have you fold the neckline and armhole seams back, and stitch down. Now, this is an invitation for major stretching out of shape - and I'd also been wanting to try the amazing Jalie technique to finish necklines and armholes. Kay describes it much better than me here. Now that I read her description, I find I did mine wrong(!), but it worked pretty well anyway. I love how easy this technique is, and I'll be using it forever!

Silly stuff I did - I was doing the Jalie technique fast, and didn't measure/pin stuff right. As a result, my neckline's too tight, and my back gapes a tiny bit. (Entirely because I am an idiot. This technique is flawless and perfection. I'm in love with this finishing method.)

I still haven't hemmed the dress, a step I might end up skipping. (As soon as Cidell said on her blog that she didn't finish her knit hems, I decided that was validation enough, and promptly stopped hemming my knit dresses.)

End result? Hmm. I'm torn here - mostly because as I look at these photos, I realize I look ridiculously pudgy and chunky. Now, I've been eating poorly, and being even lazier than normal, and have therefore put on a few pounds, (and on my 5ft frame, you can see every f***ing pound). But still - I look square in this picture, and square is not a good look.

Skipping the belt, I just look pregnant. So, sigh. I'll wear the dress to do errands and such-like, and maybe I'll wear it in real life if I just drag myself to the gym and lose a few pounds (alternatively, I should just drink copious amounts of coffee and start smoking, right?*)

Ok, other details. The fabric was a remnant from Fabricland, who I'm really pissed off with, since look at the tear in this fabric! I was seriously annoyed, but too lazy to take it back to the store. Still, I did have enough fabric to make the dress I wanted.

I made a size 10 all the way through, I think, and ended up taking 5 inches off the length of the skirt.

*I'm joking, people.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sewing pattern review - McCall 6035

I saw the Selfish Seamstress' post on her McCall blouse yesterday, and that reminded me that I'd never shown (or reviewed) my version of this blouse. So, at lunch today, I pulled out the iron, ironed the crap out of this blouse, and took some afternoon balcony shots (thereby undoubtedly providing much entertainment to the office building directly opposite.)

Here goes!

Fabric: Silk cotton from India. I had 1.25 meters of this - aargh. I had to skip the collar, since I didn't have enough fabric. I paid $2 a meter for this. On the bolt, this fabric is stiff-ish, with a bit of sheen on it. However, water stains this sheen, and I had to soak the entire thing in water to remove the effects of a couple of water drops. Ah well. Shirts do need to be washed.

Pattern: McCall 6035, with the sleeves from View C and no collar.

Pattern adjustments: I cut a size 10, graduating to a 12 at the waist and hip. I sewed the A/B cup bodice, and had no issues with the princess seams. (Using a tip by Tany, I stay-stitched the princess seams, and then clipped them after sewing to get them to lie flat.)

Two issues I did have - first, a bit of gaping at the bodice. I need to learn how to position my buttons to avoid that.
Second - as you can tell from this photo of my back, I need to learn how to do a swayback. Aargh. I was hoping to avoid learning stuff like that.

Time taken: I think I sewed this over 3-4 evenings.

In conclusion: I'm a little torn on this shirt. I've only worn it once, and I'm not sure why. (Gaping at the bodice is one reason, of course. Also, I don't actually tend to wear shirts very often, I reach for t-shirts and blouses much more often.) I do however like this pattern, and want to try some of the other sleeve variations, and of course, I'd like to sew the collar next time (I hate not having enough fabric, so annoying!!!!)

Sewing update...

I opted to stay in last night, and do a bit of sewing. I was working the navy blue pencil skirt (McCalls 5817) that's part of my May-Mini-Wardrobe.

This skirt has been stalled for a couple of reasons. First - I made the pattern up in a straight size 12 (shown here on day 14), but I've been a bit unhappy with the fit. The back is distinctly too loose and it makes my butt look large and shapeless. So, I knew that in this version, I'd have to play around with fit to get it to fit properly.

Second, and typically, I didn't cut my lining out right away. When I don't do this, I almost always procrastinate on a project. Adding to the heel-dragging, my lining was Bemberg rayon, and I've heard rayon shrinks, and I didn't want to create a dry-clean only skirt, therefore the lining needed to be pre-washed. Ok, laundry + cutting? This pretty much guarantees a project will never get finished.

Anyway, I actually steeled myself to do a load of laundry, and I even cut the lining out earlier this week. Monday night, I basted the skirt to tweak the fit, and I think I'm happy with where it stands right now.

Last night, I constructed the skirt. Tonight, I've a small block of spare time again(yay!!!!), and I'll finish it. I'd have kept going last night, but I had a morning meeting at work that I needed to be awake for, so I forced myself to get to bed before midnight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finished Skirt - Simplicity 4236 - view C

The last skirt I made with Simplicity 4236 came together so easily that I had to make it again.

I bought this pretty fabric in India in February. It was $1 a meter (umm sorry, I know how annoying I must sound!) and I bought it explicitly to make a flared skirt of some kind.

As I've noted before, this is a simple skirt to make, with just one pattern piece, and the waistband finished with twill tape. I complicated it somewhat, as all my seams are Hong-kong finished. (I'll take a photo later to show you the inside.) The skirt is also lined - I used the same pattern piece, but took some fullness out of the lining. The lining is all French seams, for extra-niceness. For the lining, I used some thin cotton voile that I also bought in India. It is very sheer, but the cotton feels much nicer than a synthetic would.

Final comment - I do really like taking pictures on my balcony, but since I face a ton of buildings, they must think I'm the weirdest person in the world as I run back and forth from my tripod, messing with the settings, and taking 20-odd pictures.

Monday, July 12, 2010

On my bed today...

My aunt, uncle and cousins were in town this week, and my aunt and uncle brought back this quilt, all quilted up. They also brought me this Jewel Box Quilt.

Back in February, my aunt showed me a newly completed Jewel Box quilt top that she'd made, and I thought it was simply lovely. I asked her what she was planning on doing with it, and I said that if she intended to put it on eBay, that I wanted it instead.

Actually, my exact words were - If you are planning on putting it on eBay and making *@#*& $25, I want it instead.

(My aunt is more interested in the process of quilting, rather than the quilt itself. While I'm a lazy quilter, and want quick and easy results, she takes on technically challenging projects and really enjoys the journey. So, when she's done with the quilt top, she isn't as interested in hanging on to it, and so it goes on eBay. And in this recessionary market, quilt tops unfortunately don't always sell for very much money.)

So, my aunt got the top quilted, and brought it for me. It entered my house last night, and was promptly laid out on the bed. I love presents! And look how pretty!

And a certain somebody approves...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

How to use a flat-felling foot

After I flipped through David Coffin's Shirtmaking book, I ordered myself a flat-felling foot from my local sewing store. It came in, I went to pick it up, and I asked the relevant question - How do you use it?

We couldn't figure it out, and so the guy turned to an old Singer reference book - dated 1946. (I didn't take a picture of the cover, sorry!)

So, here's how, in Singer's words:

Enjoy! As for me, now that I know, I'll be practising.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I'm in appliance hell, and other mini-notes

My iron died. Argh. I had an entire evening free last night, and the damn thing dies. Do you know you can't actually sew at all without an iron? (Of course you do.)

In other news, I'm thinking of being crazy impulsive and buying a serger. Trying to finish interior seams using hong-kong seam finish is very labour-intensive.

In progress right now is a simple circle skirt - almost done. The zipper is in, but I need to finish the seams on one side, the lining is in, and everything needs to be hemmed. There are some weird folds around the zipper that have to do with the way I cut the lining out, I think, but I'm hoping that a good ironing will sort these out.

In the meanwhile, I also started a quilt top last weekend. I've a friend whose birthday present is seriously late. I'm not sure how I'll get it quilted, but I'm hoping to finish the top at-least by the end of next week.

I guess I like having multiple projects at the go, because I cut out a purple pencil skirt last night as well. Either that, or I'm creating mulitple UFOs.

And no, I haven't forgotten about the May Mini-Wardrobe. The blue skirt and jacket were bundled away when I had people coming over and needed to clear the dining table in a hurry. (The sewing table doubles as a dining table.) They remain bundled away, and it is time to pull them out and finish them. As always, I get stuck at the lining stage, I don't cut out my lining at the same time, and then it is a massive struggle to will myself to cut out the lining, and finish the damn things.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Canada Day!

It was Canada Day yesterday, and I spent a blissful day just lazing around. Not even a little sewing! It was amazing.

In the evening, I did head to the Harborfront to see tall ships and fireworks. It was beautiful by the water...

...and when it got dark, the tallships looked spectacular (and a tiny bit spooky)

The fireworks were fun...

...and the CN Tower was all lit up.

It was a good day.

Happy Canada Day, everyone!