McCalls 6887….times two!

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It feels like forever since I have posted about my sewing. I did make a few items over the past few months including a couple of knit shirts (Plantain, Nettie, and Lady Skater peplum) and my first Burda pattern (a so-so skirt). They were all in black and grey and not super exciting.

I have seen McCalls 6887 made by a handful of bloggers who have said this pattern has been fitting just out of the package. Sadly, this was not the case for me. It’s a versatile fully lined pattern with front and back princess seams, one option has a cute cut out in the back and there is a full and straight skirt option. And this pattern comes with separate bust cup sized pieces!! My intention was to make this dress in the sleeveless and full skirted options for a wedding that I am in this summer. Glad I made this dress twice before I made the bridesmaid dress – after 2 muslins and 2 dresses I still do not have the fit perfected.


Based on the finished measurements I started with the six 12 C cup, and it was HUGE everywhere. So I sized down to the size 10 and still had a lot to take out. The back was still billowing out so I took a wedge 1.5 inches wide and 12 inches long (!!) out of the centre back panels. I had originally made a wide waist adjustment that would allow for an extra inch total of ease in the waist (again based on the pattern’s finished measurements) and this was definitely not needed. I took this out in the finished dresses just in case the fabrics needed more room.


The first dress I made is out of a cotton with 3% spandex, self lined the bodice and used bemberg rayon for to line the skirt. I have to be honest I am not very happy with the fit of this dress. There is gaping at the neck, the back of the bodice is too long, the upper back of the skirt has some weird excess fabric lines, and the hips are a bit exaggerated. Also, it’s just too big overall and is not the most flattering dress. It’s in the dryer right now, hopefully shrinking a bit. The dress is just ok, and I will keep it to wear for work.


The second version is better but I didn’t do anything about the extra length in the back bodice. It was really out of laziness – I was so annoyed with all of the adjustments I had to make, and I would have to alter the two back pattern pieces. I regret it now because it’s now bothering me! I did take a wedge out of the neck for this version to take care of the gaping neck. I also took in 2 inches of ease from the side seams in the bodice. After taking the pictures it’s also apparent that the bodice is in general just too long, an inch off the overall length would likely make a difference.

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The bodice is self lined in the front, and bemberg in the back and decided against lining the skirt. The fabric is my new favourite – rayon poplin. Rayon and tencel are so drapey and they sew and serge beautifully. Both dresses have lapped zippers instead of invisible zippers, with hand ticking which looks way better that any zipper I have sewn in. And as I hate the flimsiness of invisible zips this will likely be my go-to method. I learned the hard way it is near impossible to machine stitch the lapped part, but really hand ticking can be done in front of the TV.


I will not be using this pattern for my bridesmaid dress, so I better start testing other patterns!! Although I am not very happy with the fit of both dresses my finishing skills are improving which makes me happy. I am very proud of my new zipper skills. I think I also need to think harder about the patterns that I am purchasing. It’s very tempting to buy patterns from the big 4 since they have so many new ones every season. My body seams to have better lucky with Indie patterns, and I might have to stick with them even though they are more expensive. I do have another McCall’s dress in a knit on the list of sewing to do’s, so fingers crossed the fitting is better.

See Kat Cook!

This dish was a winner at my book club. Do you like the rogue battery in the corner??

This dish was a winner at my book club. Do you like the rogue battery in the corner??

My new work pal Emily recently published her first cook book, Well Fed, Flat Broke  and very kindly gave a copy to me. After making a few recipes and being extremely happy with them I thought I should tell everyone about the yummy recipes I have been making.

Chana Masala

The book is about eating deliciously while on a tight budget. I have to say I was very impressed as soon as I started trying the recipes. I felt Emily’s love of food right away when I started trying her meatless recipes – if a meat eater can make lentil tacos more desirable than beef tacos, she LOVES all food. I am not a vegetarian but those meatless meals were delicious and will all be made again, some already have.

This week I decided to plan my dinners and left over lunches based on a common ingredient. Since I have been so virtuous with lentil tacos, chana masala, roasted aloo ghobi, and lentil sloppy joes, I thought that bacon was a good choice. I started with the leek and bacon barlotto (risotto made with barley) and then pasta shells with bacon, chickpeas and brussels sprouts.

Bacon bacon bacon!

Obviously the dish with bacon starch and wine was a winner, how could it not be? But the pasta was really excellent. The salty bacon with chickpeas and pasta was surprisingly a fantastic combination, layered with a kick from the chillies and the freshness of lemon juice  and zest. The bonus here – I realized I really like brussels sprouts! Cooked with bacon of course……


Lentil tacos – to die for!

Anyway, if you are looking for new recipes that are based on Vancouver fusion cuisine that is easy on your wallet, I recommend Emily’s book, and you can buy it here on Amazon for pre-order for the April release.

Lentil sloppy joes

Again, Coppelia! My merino jersey version

I said I was going to make it in merino wool and here it is! My second Coppelia from Papercut Patterns. As I said in my last post this is an easy pattern! I used my serger for everything but the final bit of attaching the band at the end.


This amazing fabric is merino jersey, bought almost a year ago at the Fabric Store in L.A. It’s grey with turquoise dots, and I love it! Look at it! It’s freaking beautiful! It wasn’t cheap, but who cares? It’s great quality, cozy and gorgeous. I felt so guilty and sad looking at the pile of fabric noodles my serger left behind because I hated the idea of wasting it. I love how “sweatery” this version turned out.


I made slight changes to this pattern from last time because after washing it I only had 1.4 metres of fabric, and the pattern needs 1.6 meters for the unaltered pattern. I don’t know how long it took me and how many different ways of laying out the pattern pieces before I finally figured out how to make it work with that amount of fabric, but I did it! Due to the fabric constraints I could only lengthen the bodice by 2 inches instead of the 3 inches in the previous version, and I had to cut the band into 2 pieces instead of three using the entire width of the fabric. This fortunately gave a couple of extra inches to make up for the band sitting below my waist closer to my hips.


I can tie it around my waist but I prefer how it looks and feels when I wear it tied in the back.


Yikes! Looks like I had a few drinks before topstitching the waistband to the bodice.


Good news: my topstitching with knits is getting better. Bad news: top stitching with the knits is still pretty terrible. I am not sure what foot I should be using for top stitching knits. I used my walking foot for both Coppelia tops, but I am now wondering if I should have been using my edge stitching foot.

I didn’t realize the needle tension on my serger should have been a bit tighter until after I had attached the neck band on. I used light grey serging thread which you can see through the front if you pull at the seams. If for some reason I start pulling my seams like a crazy person then I will go over and machine stitch with a thread in a better matched colour. Live and learn right?

My Coppelia wrap


Look at me, finally making a top to wear!! I even have a new menu item on my blog. Here is my first version of the Coppelia Cardigan from Papercut Patterns. Oh yes, I will be making more.

I have had the Coppelia cardi pattern for a while now and finally made a wearable muslin. I have some precious and gorgeous merino jersey that I bought specifically for this pattern when I was in L.A. last year. I definitely had to make a test version before cutting into that stuff!


For this version I used a yummy bamboo rayon knit. What I mean by yummy is that it is soft, drapey, and  just has the perfect feel to it.  Just dreamy! I went with a charcoal for this one because I need more basics in my handmade wardrobe.


The ease is easier to see in this pic – you can also see how much room there still is under the arm.

This pattern was very easy to make, and 90% of it was sewn on my serger. I made the XS but could have made one size smaller. Based on other bloggers advice who had lengthened this pattern to wear with jeans I lengthened the front and back pieces by 3 inches and trued up the seams. I also lengthened the neck band by 3 inches, but should have measured that more carefully. I had to stretch is out a bit as I sewed to make it meet the ends properly. Unfortunately I forgot about lengthening the tie band. This pattern was made to wrap around the waist, so moving it down to the my hip height means that I should have increased the overall length by at least 10 inches. So, this will one will remain tied in the back which I am fine with.


The other changes I made to this pattern was to take in the side seams starting from the wrist at .5 and inch and increasing to 1 inch at the armpit, then into nothing at the bodice base. I could have taken the seams in more but I wanted a looser fit. It’s hard to tell from these photos that is is not skin tight but there is a lot of ease.

If you are unsure about this pattern, just order it and make it! The pattern came together so smoothly and was a joy to sew.

My top stitching on the tie band is embarrassingly terrible – just have to practice more!


McCalls 6842

Yes, they are back! The mediocre locker room picks. I know, everyone has been waiting for them right? Oh and I included some wrinkles too to make it extra special!


That’s right, there is a toilet stall behind me!

Ok, let’s ignore the photography and look at the skirt that I made, McCalls 6842. I made view C, which has a wide yolk-like top with a semi-circle attached at it’s base. It’s a cute flirty design with lots of movement. As it is a semi circle skirt, you have to be careful in the wind if the fabric is not heavy enough.

So..the fit of the skirt…….Oh the Big 4, your sizing is the pits…. there is no real description where this skirt is supposed to sit. It would be nice if they gave a ballpark, like X many inches under your navel. Nope, just a finished hip measurement that really is not the best measurement for me to go by. Why you ask? Because my largest hip width is deep in the trunk – my sides are not ‘hippy’ if that makes sense. My hip width protrudes from the butt not all the way around, like I said my junk is kept in the trunk!  For sewing I go by the measurement a few inches below my hip bone which is 37, and my jumbo bum measurement at it’s max capacity is 38 but using that as my hip measurement does not work at all. Way too big at the sides usually.


I love the print of the fabric

So I based the sizing on the finished measurement of the size 12, thinking that should do it. It’s not supposed to be skin tight, so that gives about 3.5 inches of ease. Too bad the waistline location is a mystery that I still haven’t solved. When it was time to try on the skirt before attaching the facings it could have falling to the floor if I had sucked my tummy in. I took the waistline in by 2 inches, tapering down to the original seam allowance 5.5 inches from the waistline. It’s still a bit big, and definitely sits too far below my waist for my liking. Maybe if I make it again I will make it with a waistband instead.

As you can see from the photo below it sits lower that I am used to. There is some stretch in the fabric as well that makes it loosen up in the day. Also, you can see the facing through the outside. If there is another one of these skirts in my future I might line the yolk.


My tights are just covering my belly button, and the skirt is sitting at least 2 inches below. Not my ideal skirt height.

This skirt was an easy sew. Fast, simple, no hiccups. The instructions even have detailed zipper instructions (what?!) that actually make sense. This is a great beginner pattern. The easiness of this pattern was a serious bonus for me.

The fabric is a cotton print with about 3% spandex. I love this print, I have been looking for an animal print fabric for a skirt of this style for a while – they are harder to find that one would think. I think the skirt is cute but I am not sure what to wear with it other than sweaters. That’s ok because I have lots of them, some might say too many.  I was thinking that I would make one of these in black wool in the view B option, but I am not so sure. I am on a bit of a skirt kick, and I keep wanting to make another Chardon, but really how many Chardons can a girl have?

Flora for a wedding and my polyester debate


My friend and former coworker Erica got married over the past weekend in Seattle so I of course had to make a dress for this occasion. The BHL Flora dress seemed like a natural selection for the out-of-country event. The wedding was as perfect as they come, I am so happy she invited me to her special day.  Erica is a “former” coworker because she married an American man and sadly (for me!) relocated to the US. Here is a pic of her, she looks stunning! Her dress is gorgeous.


The lovely Erica on her big day. Have you seen a more beautiful bride?! Erica’s hubby is a lucky man.

Ok back to my dress! I love By Hand London patterns, even though I have only made 2 of their patterns so far. Their dresses are so pretty and the patterns are so easy to sew up. They look like a lot of work with little effort.


For this version, I made the faux wrap bodice again with the same FBA adjustment as last time (1/2 inch or 1 full inch) and I kept the lowered bust dart. This time however I re-drew the dart to it’s original length as I had shortened it last time – it’s now a perfect fit. I was going to use an invisible zipper, but I could not get a perfect colour match so I went with the regular one. The closest colour in the invisible zipper selection was a grape colour which I hated. The back looks like I could have shortened the bodice by half an inch. Oh well, people should be checking out the front of this dress!



I also sewed the skirt this time, and l wow it’s a pretty effect. I did the high-low hem option and I love it. I think a straight hem version just as a skirt would be really nice. The pleating details on the front and back are amazing, it’s just not easy finding fabric that is 60 inches wide, most seams to hit the 59 inch mark which is actually too narrow.


I used a deep plum coloured polyester crepe with a touch of spandex which has beautiful drape. The stretch from the spandex is perfect for a party dress – lots of room for eating, drinking and dancing. I have had issues with using polyester in the past as I wanted my handmade wardrobe to be made out of natural fibers only. I have been avoiding synthetics like the plague but now I am thinking otherwise. The drape is beautiful, the price is right, and it was wide enough for the skirt. Plus it was a joy to sew. I am a convert and I am not ashamed to admit it!

I do have to make a non-dress related comment here. The curls in my hair are from a styling wand – I woke up the next day with curls which never happens. They held all night long which is a first for me – my hair is thick and very straight. If you have been on the fence about trying one – DO IT! The one I used was made by Conair and was only about $30.


View of the hem in the back right before I finished the dress. You can see here the beck is gaping a bit.


Flora-Truffle Dress

Kathy from the Nerdy Seamstress and an extra BHL Flora dress pattern online so I jumped on that right away. As so many other sewists say, other sewists are the nicest people ever. Kathy was sweet enough to stuff a surprise of fabric in the envelope, which I of course love. She has has amazing taste in fabric, and if you never seen her beautiful dresses you really should. I actually didn’t realize you could mesh two different patterns together until I read on her blog that she was doing it all the time. So it’s only suitable that with her fabric and pattern that I mesh it up with another pattern.




Actually I had a perfect amount of the cotton blue and navy dot fabric for the bodice and lining. I did make a muslin, and during the process I finally came to the realization and acceptance that I need to start making FBA’s for most patterns. I registered for another Craftsty course ‘Adjust the bust‘ which de-mystified how and why to chop up your patterns. I had no idea how to and I did not understand how make bust adjustments until I did this course. This is such a great website !



So, I lowered the bust darts and made just under 1/2 FBA (1 full inch) and shortened the dart. I am planning on making the full pattern and next time I will redraw the dart to the original length. The darts up close have too room in that area, if that makes sense. Based on what other sewists have said about the gaping in the front I ran 1/8″ elastic in the seam allowance between the shell and the lining. I should have only pulled the elastic by an extra inch, but  I went for 2 inches for no reason and now you can see rippling. Next time – just an inch.


Thanks to Kathy for the super cute fabric!

I wanted a more A-line bottom so I could wear this dress to work and be a bit more conservative. I used the skirt from Colette Patterns Truffle dress in a regular black cotton and lined it with bemberg rayon, of course! The only issue with using the different skirt is that the two patterns have slightly different fits – the Flora is very fitted and the Truffle is meant for a bit more ease. When I joined the bodice to the skirt there was about an extra inch on both sides on the skirt, so I trimmed it as sparingly as possible, but the waste line is SNUG. I am not sure how it will be sitting at my desk for most of the day at work. We will see! Maybe if I only eat a salad at lunch…..


The lining is a medium grey and the binding is a light silvery grey.

I used hem binding for the first time which makes for a more professional finish. Well worth the extra time and money.

The only thing with this dress is that I am self conscious about the tummy area. The skirt is not tight over the tummy but I feel that by removing so much ease in the skirt that the shape may have been altered a bit which draws my attention to that area, and gives a roundness/thickness if that makes sense.  I haven’t worn the dress yet, maybe it will loosen out a bit, however bemberg usually stops cotton from stretching.



This dress feels a bit heavy, which is actually what I was going for. I wanted a transitional piece that can be layered with tights and a cardigan  or wear with neither, and be able to be comfortable with too much air conditioning in the summer. I am really happy with how it turned out, and will definitely make it again – both patterns!


See me blog hop

Have you heard about blog hopping? It’s where you answer 4 questions about yourself and ask 2 other bloggers to do the same and post it on your blog. The lovely Lara from Dreaming of Avonlea asked me to participate, so this response will be on her blog September 8th. For anyone who is not familiar with her blog, you are missing out. She sews gorgeous dresses in fabrics that are to die for, and she can refashion dresses to perfection. I want her wardrobe! She also sells her gorgeous creations.

Ok on to the questions:

Why do I write?

I didn’t really start my blog for the art of writing, it was more for a catalogue of my sewing adventures. I started sewing a couple of years ago and have been teaching myself as I go. I found that googling patterns I was interested in brought me into the world of blogging sewists that are generous enough to share their experiences (the good, the bad, the ill-fitting and the ugly) which was very helpful. By ugly I mean the pattern dysfunctions and issues to look out for when making garments, and lets face it we have all come across those issues. Also, I learned about the existence of indie patterns which has opened up a world of well made patterns beyond the Big 4.


Anyway, back to why I blog. Although I am still learning about sewing, I thought that by posting my projects I could add to this community. Hopefully my projects will help others decide on their projects. I love looking at other sewists’ finished projects. Just seeing how dresses or shirts drape, fit, look in busy prints or blue chambray is so inspiring and really helps the creativity process.

Also it’s pretty addictive. You cyber meet others like you and develop penpal-like friendships (remember those?) over a common interest. It’s amazing the support and advice that you can get from being in the community.

What am I working on?

I am currently working on 2 versions of the Flora dress from By Hand London. Actually one is of course a mishmash with another pattern, which is something I have been a lot of recently. This is due to the lack of fabrics that are 60″ wide that I like. I had a mishap with the first version because of a slippery rayon fabric and an embarrassing cutting job. The full version I hope to have done for a wedding in October, I better get on it !



How does it differ from other’s of its genre?

Mediocre photography could be what sets my blog apart from others! I use my iphone and add lightening filters in order to see the fabric details when needed.

I am not really sure that it does differ in content. It’s a sewing noob’s journey to a substantially handmade wardrobe while learning new techniques on the way. There are lots of similar blogs out there, and I try to follow all of them. The one thing that makes it different is that my blog is the only one starring “moi”!! Lol.


How does my writing process work?

Once I sew something to completion I try to take pictures as soon as possible so that I can get it up on my blog so that I don’t procrastinate on it. Once I have some pics that show the important details of the pattern, then I post them and start writing my experiences with the sewing process. I have started taking notes on my projects even if I have made permanent flat pattern adjustments I find it helpful to keep track of all of the minor alterations as I go. I am also starting to jot down design ideas for future projects with my fabric stash in mind.

I have nominated Inge from her blog to participate in the blog hop. Her sewing is fantastic, plus she is a redhead so naturally I feel a connection. Inge has designed her own dress pattern before and her fabric choices are bold and colourful (love!).

I also nominated Kathy from the Nerdy Seamstress. Kathy has been on a bit of a hiatus from the blog, but hopefully she will see my invite and participate. She sews mostly dress and has an amazing eye for fabrics.

These two sewists are blogs that should be checked out!




Colette Myrtle – getting my sew-jo back

Hello Myrtle.


Soooo…after a couple of sewing fails I finally got my sew-jo back with the Colette Myrtle pattern. I had a disaster with a BHL Flora dress – I used a billowy rayon fabric that was horrible to cut, so much so that none of my pieces were the same and one of the back bodice pieces was 2 inches narrower than it should have been. That experiment will go down in my history as the worst cutting job ever. Seriously it looked like lined up the tequila shots and blind folded myself before cutting. Fortunately I happened to be parousing through Tilly’s Love at First Stitch, and her advice is to drop projects you are not happy with. Great advice!




I also made a McCall’s knit dress pattern that was supposed to be casual and simple, instead it’s frumpy and trampy because of lack of shape and it being oddly incredibly low cut. I also broke my only jersey twin needle as well which topped that experience. Anyway I have been in a bit of a sewing funk because of two sad sewing experiences. Thankfully this dress came together well.




There are some changes I will make the next time I make it, but it was easy peasy breezy to make and I am back on the wagon. Everything came together nicely, this is  a well made pattern. I used my serger for any of the construction that was possible which just looks so much neater. I made the size small based on my measurements but I think the top is too big. Next time I will take out some width in the back neckline as it gapes slightly, this should help also bring the shoulders in as they are a bit wide. The cowell is also very low so the front shoulders will be need to be shortened.

You can see the gaping in the arm circle - the bodice is a bit wide

You can see the gaping in the arm circle – the bodice is a bit wide

The only change that I made was to use a single needle when using my sewing machine my only double knit needle was in needle heaven. And seeing as I was sewing this dress on a Monday of course the only store that stocks these is closed on Mondays (and also closes at 5:30 on weekdays wtf). Seriously someone needs to open a fabric and notion store that has hours for those of us with 9-5 jobs……


This dress is seriously comfy and cute and I think it will work in the fall with tights and a cardy. It reminds me of a ancient Greek-styled dress but with pockets! Every girl needs pockets in her dresses.

Anyway, the next Myrtle I am thinking of making with a silk woven that I purchased on my last trip to Paris. The Coletterie has a series of posts on which changes to make when using a woven for the Myrtle pattern which will be helpful.


Amazing new pattern! No wait, it’s another Anna!


I know what you are all thinking, does this woman own any other patterns?? Yes I do, this is just the perfect summer dress and it fits me like it’s custom made (because it is!). I was recently on a work/pleasure trip to the UK and of course bought fabric on my days off and it only seemed fitting (ha! punny, right?) to use this fabric for a By Hand London dress. It’s a super soft lightweight cotton that is really nice to wear. It’s a summer dress so there was no need to line it. I used French seams everywhere except the bodice side and shoulder seams.


I love the print – it’s mini parasols and reminds me of a birds eye view of a packed beach. You can see here that my facings are off by 1 cm, oh well it’s on the inside so really who cares? I also love the Anna dress pattern. I feel like it’s kind of 40’s/70’s era vibe to it and I love the 1970’s style.


The only change from my last alterations to this pattern that I made this time were opting for the V neck version and a regular zipper instead of the invisible zipper. I find them hard to get out of with higher back necklines and they are flimsy. This fabric is so colourful it was hard to match a zipper to, but it also makes it easier to hide the zipper. Dressew (Vancouver’s notion emporium) sadly and surprisingly did not have a cream coloured regular zipper, so I matched it to the turquoise in the fabric.


Regular zipper – easier to get out of!

This is a TNT pattern, and so easy to make, everything matches up nicely it’s really a dream pattern. I am sure this will not be the last Anna, I am already thinking of making another version with a different skirt….

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Fabrics from Goldhawk Road and Shepard’s Bush Market

These are the fabrics I picked up in Shepard’s Bush Market and along Goldhawk Road in London. So many fabrics to choose from, so little time!  And money – you have to think of the pound as the same as the dollar, otherwise your vacation becomes sad. I didn’t pay too much attention to how much these fabrics were, except the one on the top in this pic – 1.5 meters for under 9 pounds for a wool cotton blend which was not expensive and not easy to find over here in the colonies. The market itself had lots of fabric stalls as well as a large amount of ugly shapeless women’s clothing made from pretty fabrics. The market has an entrance/exit along Goldhawk Road which has fabric shops lined up next door to each other.

photo 2

Shepards Bush Market