Category Archives: DIY Sewing

Blackwood Cardigan in Ribbed Sweater Knit

Have you seen the new Blackwood Cardigan from Helen’s Closet? Last month I had the chance to test this pattern, and of course I paired it with a sweater knit from the shop. Here are the results…

First thing’s first: the fabric! It’s the Brushed Ribbed Sweater Knit in Bordeaux. This colour is sold out but the fabric itself is available in three other colours right now: Olive, Rust, and Grey. It’s lightweight and soft, perfect for this cardigan.

The Blackwood offers two length options: hip length, and mid thigh. I’ve had longline cardigans on the brain so I went with the mid thigh length. Helen says that the pattern is designed with layering in mind, with it’s fitted shape, extra long sleeves, and open front design. I hate wearing bulky sweaters under my jackets, so for me this is the perfect spring/transitional cardigan. It works so well layered under my Robson Coat. (P.S. If you click that link get ready for a throwback to 2014 when I was contributing on Sewaholic and … my short hair! Remind me not to cut my hair that short ever again. Ok? Thanks.)

Oh yes! I should mention that after feedback from testers, Helen shortened the sleeves by 1″. They are meant to be long and bunched at the wrist, and even with that change, they still will be. I personally love extra long sleeves. When I layer a jacket or coat on top of a sweater, I like to be able to pull my sleeves out a bit to keep my hands warm. If I can’t, I get annoyed, and I’m less likely to wear that sweater!

In the photos above I’m wearing my Blackwood layered over a basic tee and denim overalls from the Gap. Super comfy and relaxed, exactly how I want to dress every day.

Will you be sewing up this pattern? If you’re interested, you can pick up your copy here. And if you’re looking for sweater knits, we have lots in the shop!

Had to share this cuteness. This is our kitty Fraidy. If I ever leave clothing on the bed, he will want to climb on it. He’s sleeping on a pile of laundry as I type this!

Winslow Culottes in Tencel Twill

Hey there friends! I hope you guys are enjoying the first few official days of summer. It’s been a great month for new patterns, hasn’t it? I am totally smitten with Marigold, Penny, and Sophie. But today, I am here to tell you about Winslow.

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These are the Winslow Culottes by Helen’s Closet. I was lucky enough to test this pattern for Helen, and I honestly could not be more thrilled to come out the other side with these culottes. I absolutely love them.

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Let me give you some background. I started following Helen’s blog early this year. It may have been her parrot culottes that got me hooked. Or, maybe her quilted Linden? Swoon. I was instantly drawn to her cool style and incredibly down to earth voice. Plus, she lives in my city! And we’re the same age! And I want to meet more sewing people in real life! *Queue sweaty palms and nervous laughs*. Meeting internet friends in real life is pretty nerve wracking.

Anyways, Helen and I exchanged some instagram love, and after finally admitting our mutual girl crush via e-mail, we decided we needed to meet up. (Yay!) We spent an afternoon in the park, followed by some sew-in time at Spool of Thread (we taped together PDF patterns and cut out projects). I had such a great time and I knew immediately that we would be “real life” friends. And now we are! Meeting new people and putting yourself out there is scary sometimes, but I hardly ever regret it. If you’ve been friend crushing on someone, I encourage you to make a move.

So that’s the story. Helen is super awesome, and you should check out her blog. 🙂

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So, about the culottes. Culottes are bit polarizing aren’t they? I think people either love them or hate them. Ever since I noticed this trend on the rise, I’ve been super into it from the sidelines. I honestly felt like culottes were not for me because I didn’t think they would look great on my curvy body. Then when Helen started sharing photos of her upcoming pattern, I thought she looked so cool. When I got the opportunity to test the pattern, I just couldn’t say no. I had to give it a shot!

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I immediately knew I wanted to test View C (midi length), in a neutral fabric with great drape. Enter, Tencel Twill. My love affair with this fabric knows no bounds. Ever since I started selling it in the shop, it’s been a huge hit with customers too. It’s soft, drapey, opaque, and breathable. The surface is brushed, so it has a unique yet subtle suede look. You can do so much with it – trousers, skirt, dress, top. It’s a neutral solid, with some interest.

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After completing my culottes, I tried them on, slipped on my clogs, and literally did not want to take them off. There is so much to love. The waistline is flattering. The pleats are elegant and modern. The length is perfect for my style. I love the simplicity of this pattern, and how quickly it comes together.

On my next pair, I may adjust the seat to accommodate my, um, full bum. Aside from that, I wouldn’t change much about the pattern. This version is still 100% wearable. I love the way they fit, feel, and the way they look.

I was worried that culottes would look frumpy, or make me look wider. I honestly think they do the opposite. I feel put together, comfortable and so chic when I wear these. Lesson learned: taking a chance is always a good idea, with sewing and with friendships.

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The Details
Pattern: Winslow Culottes by Helen’s Closet (coming soon)
Fabric: Tencel Twill in Navy (Being restocked soon! It’s currently available in black, grey, plum)

So what do you guys think? Will you give the culottes trend a try?

Watson Bra + Black Lace Kit

I often get asked if our lace bra kits are suitable to use for the ever popular Watson bra. I am here to say – yes, absolutely! The result is actually really lovely.

I decided to give it a try myself with our black lace bra kit. Here are some photos, if you’d like to see…Black Lace Watson 1Black Lace Watson 2

I went with the longline version of the Watson bra using the 3-row hook & eye kit. I followed Amy’s instructions for cutting a scalloped lace cup.

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My favourite part of this bra is the pretty insides! I overlocked the cup seams and side seams which gives it such a clean finish. The kit provides clear elastic to stabilize the scalloped lace edge. To ensure the cradle would lay flat and smooth, I hand basted the lace and sheer lining together. I highly recommend this step (you will remove the basting stitches later). In my experience machine basting or simply pinning just does not work as well, the layers always shift for me unless I hand baste.

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Even though the kit is designed for a bra only, I had plenty of lace leftover. I decided to experiment with incorporating lace into the bikini pattern. I paired the lace with some black knit from my stash, and black lingerie elastics. For the first pair, I used lace for the bum. For the second pair, as an accent at the front side seams.

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I love the way this set turned out! If you want to sew your own lingerie, using a kit makes sourcing the materials easy. We still have some lace, mesh, and milliskin knit kits left in the shop!

Zeena in Watercolour Crepe

This dress is extra special to me, because I made it to wear to my sister’s wedding last month.

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I teetered back and forth between a few patterns for this special dress. It’s so difficult to decide on something to wear when you know the photos are going to be passed around your family forever, no? I considered a full length By Hand London Anna Dress (would have been gorgeous too), or a Victory Patterns Satsuki Dress (love this version from Sophie so much). When the girls at By Hand London released the Zeena Dress, I decided it was the perfect mix of simple and stylish I was looking for. Those ladies know their dresses.

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I think we can all agree that the fabric is the star of this dress. I went to my favourite supplier looking for the perfect fabric, and when I saw this one, I just knew. It’s a soft watercolour style print on a polyester crepe base.

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Back when I was in design school, there was this stigma around polyester. We avoided it like the plague! But after working for a textile wholesaler for many years, I learned that not all poly is created equally. A nice quality polyester will give you a lovely silky drape without the high maintenance. I am partial to polyester crepe because I find it easy to sew and care for. Plus the good stuff looks and feels almost like silk, and often presses much more easily than you think. I still probably wouldn’t want to wear polyester pants – but for a blouse or dress that is not skin tight, it’s a really great textile. The bonus is the low price point.

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I pulled out all the stops on this make. Instead of the invisible zipper that the pattern calls for, I opted for a hand picked zipper. This is my favourite zipper finish thanks to Tasia’s tutorial. I also added a waist stay to keep the zipper from gaping at the waistline – I highly recommend Tasia’s tutorial for that too (not just because she’s my friend!).

I hemmed the skirt and sleeves with a catch stitch, which is virtually invisible from the right side. Here’s my trick to get the edges nice and crisp: fusible web tape! I folded my hem up, and then sandwiched web tape along the edge. This also helped to keep the hem in place before I did my hand sewing.

Watercolour-Zeena-9Watercolour-Zeena-4The Zeena dress can go really casual, but this fabric dressed it up just enough for me. I love the full skirt and the way the fabric falls softly around the pleats. The only thing I would change for my next version is to lengthen the bodice about an inch – it didn’t occur to me until I saw these photos.

If you love this fabric you’re in luck! I have some left, it’s now available in the shop here.

Shelley Bra + Blackbird Lace Bra Kit

I sewed up a Shelley bra with one of our lace kits from the shop, and I thought you might like to see the result! The Pin-up Girls Shelley Bra is my favourite bra pattern du moment. Here’s my bra in all it’s squishy cup glory (I have been pining for a dress form in my size for ages, not just for fitting, but also for photos!).

Shelley + Bra Kit 5Shelley + Bra Kit 6For this pattern, I cut all pieces out of lace, including the back band. The kit comes with 1.5 meters (59″) of 20cm (8″) wide lace, so I had some extra to spare. If the lace were narrower, say 15cm (6″) wide, I would have provided 2 meters in the kit.

I cut a second layer for the back band out of power mesh; this will give the lace extra support. You could simply cut the band out of the mesh, but I like the look of lace.

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I cut out the cradle and lower cup pieces out of sheer cup lining (this is the non-stretch lightweight fabric that comes in the kit). Sometimes cup lining is also called “tricot” – this type of lining usually has tiny a bit of give going one way. I’ve also seen tulle or organza used in the place of a cup lining, since it can be hard to find!

Here’s what it looks like all cut out.

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I like to lay out my bra like this before I start sewing, this way I know I’m not forgetting anything. You’ll notice the upper cup is not lined – this is how the pattern is designed. I did stabilize the scalloped edge of the lace with the clear elastic from the kit. This is very important so that the lace edge doesn’t stretch out.

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These shots in front of the window really give me emoji heart eyes. The lace just looks so delicate and lovely. I really like this colour combination, it’s neutral without being too boring. Since the cup lining is sheer it’s a pretty sassy bra, yet still very supportive.

I think I need to whip one up in black too!

Bamboo Tie Dye Knit Dress

I’ve been seriously drawn to all things blue these days. Denim, indigo, navy – give me all of it! So when I received this bamboo tie dye knit for the shop, I snagged some for myself immediately. Just couldn’t resist.

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I improvised a bit for the pattern. I knew I wanted to make a simple kimono dress with a gathered waist. I had Pattern Runway’s Easy Short Sleeved Kimono Dress in mind, but it needed some tweaking since it’s designed for woven fabrics, and I wanted a more relaxed fit in the skirt. So I used the bodice from this pattern, and drafted a quick a-line skirt to go with.

Bamboo Tie Dye Dress 3The pattern came with facing pieces for the neckline and armholes, but that wasn’t going to work with my knit fabric. I simply turned under and stitched my neckline, armholes, and hem. If I had more time I would have preferred to draft a binding piece for the neckline, but I was rushing a bit to have the dress ready for a quick trip to Montreal.  For some reason I always get the urge to sew the day before I travel. What can I say!

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This fabric is so soft and has a great drape. It really feels wonderful against the skin. I have worn this dress a ton since I sewed it up. It’s perfectly breezy for summer, and really comfortable. I pre-washed my fabric, and washed the dress twice before taking these photos, and the bamboo knit still looks and feels brand new. Inherently, bamboo does tend to pill a bit in areas that undergo some friction, so I am very pleased that this dress is not showing any signs of that. Magical bamboo knit!

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This one’s going to get a lot of love this summer. If you are into the fabric, it’s available in the shop here!