Saturday, December 29, 2012

Grandmothers and domestic arts

I was visiting my family in Ottawa this week and I got my grandmother talking about knitting. I love how grandmothers can be counted on for sharing our enthusiasm for the domestic arts!
Mimi showcasing her work of art -- in her words, this is "the easiest thing to make." Right...
Mimi also showed my sister and I her vintage knitting books -- ladies seemed to wear a lot of makeup for cross-country skiing in those days!

So many sewists have wonderful stories of of growing up in a sewing environment, and of being taught to sew by their grandmothers -- myself included. I came across a really good one in Debbie Stoller’s Stitch 'N Bitch (2003):

The handwork of my grand-mother and great-aunts seemed to provide comfort and serenity. Seated at these family gatherings, their purposeful motions gave them a focused air of self-containment, an earthly solidity. They were, after all, women who had learned their craft as children, and who had practiced these skills throughout their lives – before and after the birth of children, the loss of husbands, and through two world wars. (p. 3)

"Those girls are handy with a needle and thread," my mother would often say, proudly about her daughters. The sight of my mother’s heavy gray sewing machine set up at the end of the dining table was so familiar to me that it almost seemed like another sibling, and when she wasn't sewing, she was knitting, or embroidering. (p. 5)

After talking to my grandmother about knitting, but also after seeing my aunt's mind-blowing embroidery work (I MUST do a feature on her at some point), I'm really itching to broaden the scope and go beyond sewing this year. In that sense, the book my mother gave me for Christmas was most appropriate -- thanks mom! It will be a good starting point, but I'm sure I will still need your expert guidance for those difficult parts.

How quickly did you learn to knit? Did your mother or grandmother teach you?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays to all!

Thank you so much for your continued support this year and all the best for 2013!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fabric Shopping at Mood

So I went to Mood! Straight from the airport, to be precise!

Trumbelina advised to go there with a game plan, explaining that she had a better experience when she went with "anal-retentive reference card with swatches and yardages for specific projects." Well, I wish I had taken her advice! I found the size of this place and the choice of fabric just... overwhelming! I walked up and down, between the wool and silk, the linen and the jersey... back to the wool again. I finally decided on some black bouclé with lurex highlights for a Chanel-style, three-quarter-sleeves jacket, as well as a ponté in a flattering colour for my skin tone (although the picture bellow doesn't do justice to its true redish gray colour). 
Other than that, I was calmly minding my own business when all of the sudden I see a big yellow afro... wait a second, that's... Kooan Kosuke from Project Runway season 10! Apparently, he works at Mood.

And a few minutes later, another celebrity!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Beyoncé Dress

...because Beyoncé would approve of this dress.
Fabric: double knit (acrylic and lycra)
Pattern: Vogue 1314
Not having worked from a pattern in a while, I felt like trying a new method: I retraced the entire pattern by overlapping the Vogue with my bodice and skirt blocks, like so. I was able to correct the most problematic areas of the pattern right away. I got the angle of the shoulders and armhole area just right, which are usually super tricky since my body calls for for shapes that have absolutely nothing to do with the original patterns. This method also enabled me to get the torso-to-hip curve bang on from the first try. You would never tell that this dress is actually a muslin -- a very wearable muslin!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Katheryne's Peplum Skirt -- Revealed!

Meet my sister Katheryne: After completing her chef training, she decided to pursue her passion for food with a B.Sc. in Nutrition. Now, she is preparing for her dietetics internship interviews, for which she will need to look very smart... and wear this skirt!

I've already talked about the muslim and drafting -- after several rounds of alteration to the pattern, we finally got it just right.

The goal was to make a clean skirt that could easily be integrated within her wardrobe. She had asked for a peplum skirt, partly because she never managed to find one off the rack that espoused the contours of her figure. Good thing she has a sister who sews!

What did I learn?
Do not attempt to make peplums with a unstable fabric.
I repeat: Unless you really know what you are doing, do not attempt to make peplums with unstable fabric.

You will quickly discover that part of the fabric will always be on bias, because peplums are cut in a circular shape. In a fluid fabric, the bias-cut part stretches with gravity, resulting in asymmetry. For my first try, although the pieces were cut with mathematical precision, one peplum was markedly longer in the front, while the other was dramatically longer in the back. I've had to unstitch and recut the peplums twice before I understood what was going on. The solution was to let the peplums stretch with gravity, snipping them so that they looked symmetrical again before very carefully attaching to the garment. I also ended up lining them with cotton to given them more structure and stabilize them, but was in no way a miracle solution.
Hand-stitched zipper: virtually invisible on the outside

Would I make this skirt in this fabric again? Not in a million years!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sneek Peak

Inspiration: Bootie-licious, double-knit dress by hot-babe Dibs from Dibs and the Machine.
Lord know the original pattern picture wasn't going to convince anyone. I vote Dibs should serve as the new pattern cover model!

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