Handmade Christmas

This is very unCanadian of me, but I'm trying this new thing where I don't apologize as much, especially for ridiculous things like blogging. This is a happy place to share and document my hobbies, and if that happens two months after I made something, so be it. No need to stress, no need to explain. Who knows, with practice maybe it will spill into other parts of my life. I encourage you to do the same. #noapologies

On that note... let me show you all of the super cute things I made for Christmas! Ho ho ho! :)

Saying Grace: 2018 Make Nine

Happy New Year! Since it's been awhile, I thought you guys might like a quick update on what's up with me both in and outside the sewing room and what I have planned for 2018.

The biggest change that came with the new year for me was that I started a new position at my editing job. Starting any new job is stressful in itself, but for this one it also meant a change of hours from part-time to full-time. This is a big shift for a maker. For the past four years I've had two days a week reserved for me, to work on my business and my craft, and it was blissfully sweet. But when I closed my business, I knew it couldn't last forever. Part of me wanted to start a new venture last year just to keep the long weekends flowing, but a bigger part of me really didn't. And that meant my creative hiatus had to come to an end.

But I'm OK with that. Really, I am. I'm excited to see what it feels like to sew for pure pleasure; I'm excited to have more money for travelling... and fabric; and I'm excited to be doing more engaging work for that money. Still, it's a big adjustment that I can't ignore. It's going to require some grace, especially at the beginning of the year. I don't typically pick a "word of the year" per se, but I have found myself coming back to that one a lot these days.

Faux Jumpsuit

I knew it would take an amazing outfit to get me to pose in public and I was right. Enter the jumpsuit of my dreams. Which, it turns out, isn't a jumpsuit at all, but two separate pieces that give the appearance of a jumpsuit. Faux jumpsuit for the win!

For anyone that has worn a jumpsuit, you know that this solves some very real struggles with this style, namely, having to completely undress whenever you use the bathroom. I also find that the torso-crotch region never fits quite right in a one-piece — always too baggy or too tight — with two separate pieces, I can fit and adjust that area easily. And if you're on the fence about whether you're even a jumpsuit-wearing kind of woman, it's a great way to try it out and still have two wearable garments if you don't like it. But I think you will. We're talking pyjamas you can wear to dinner, here. You can't really go wrong with that. Let's all get on the faux jumpsuit train, ladies!

I have to give credit to Sarah, who first blew my mind with this idea a year ago. I've been dying to replicate it ever since. I didn't have either of the patterns that Sarah used, but since I'm getting more confident with pattern drafting, I decided to try tweaking some of the patterns I already own: the kimono bodice from the Sallie Jumpsuit and the Hudson Pants. Both of these are knit patterns, and I was set on making this in rayon, so there were quite a few adjustments to be made.

Get ready to nerd-out on some serious pattern-hacking!

100 Days of Farmer's Wife Quilting

A couple pretty big things happened in the last couple months that I've been slow to share. First, the completion of my 100-day project.

Yes! I did it! Woohoo! High five!

In case you missed it, back in April, I challenged myself to sew Farmer's Wife Quilt blocks every day for 100 days. Initially I thought I would sew a block a day, but quickly realized I had to give myself some grace there. If you've ever flipped through the Farmer's Wife Quilt book, you would know that some of those blocks are super complex and would require several hours of time. There's no way I could keep up that kind of intensity for 100 days. Plus, this was real life: in 3 months, there was sickness and vacations and doors needing painting.

But even if I didn't complete a block, I was always working on it: calculating quilt math, cutting out paper pieces, buying fabric. I even hand-pieced several of the blocks so that I could take it with me on vacation.

There were a handful of days, mostly on vacation, that I did nothing at all, but I tried not to beat myself up over those days (I added them on to the end). I'm not a machine. This project wasn't about cranking out a certain number of blocks. The goal was to surrender to the process, to see where a daily practice could take me.

I'll admit, some days were difficult. Days where I only had half an hour to sit down and take a breath, and I knew that half hour was also my only chance to sew, so I dragged my weary bones up to the sewing room. How was that helping anyone? But the majority of the time, I enjoyed having an excuse to sew every day, without thinking about all the things I "should" be doing isntead. At the end of each day, no matter what else happened or didn't happen, at least I did that one thing and I could be proud of that.

There were many things learned along the way, about both quilting and myself, but ultimately, my biggest lesson came from letting go, pushing perfectionism aside and placing greater value on a daily fresh start. Don't like the block you just made? Oh well. Add it to the stack, you'll make a new one tomorrow. It's only fabric.

Shirtdress Summer

Every summer it's the same thing. I start with a long list of super ambitious sewing plans, and a few months later I'm left wondering how the summer could possibly be coming to an end with hardly a dent in that sewing list. Hmph. I need to work on setting more realistic goals. My only consolation is that of the few things I did sew, two of them were worn pretty much non-stop the entire summer. Those two things were both Alder Shirtdresses.

I love a good collared button-down, I love sleeveless sundresses, and I love a roomy waist.  This pattern checks all the boxes -- I don't know why I didn't sew it sooner! I've had it since it first came out, for goodness sake.

That's a lie. I know exactly why. Until recently, I was majorly intimidated by collars. It was a challenge I set for myself to tackle this year, and now that I've learned how, I can't seem to stop. Haha! They can be tricky, but like anything in sewing, it all comes down to a series of steps and the more you do, the easier it gets.

I've been holding on to this fabric for almost as long as I've had the pattern, I think. It's called "Purrfect Hiding Spot" from the Cat Lady collection for Cotton + Steel. And the selvedge was too adorable not to include in the garment. I thought about putting it along a side seam or the front panel seams, but decided to sandwich it within the yoke instead so that I would see it every time I put on the dress. I think it was a wise choice. It always makes me smile!

The advantage of sewing a lot of patterns from one company, is you typically make the same alterations to them all. For Grainline Studios, I almost always have to pull up the shoulders and do a forward shoulder adjustment (FSA).

Once I took 1/2" from the shoulders, the bust dart and waist gathers were in the right place. I then needed to lower the armhole and the neckline by 1/2" as well.

I wasn't sure how the yoke and collar would react to an FSA, so I decided to wait to see how my muslin fit without it first. I was really happy with everything, except that the collar stands away from my neck. Nitpicky, I know, but I'm nitpicky about fit. The neck did not gape before applying the collar. I thought that maybe an FSA would fix it, so I tried it with my second version. But that just made things worse, so I went back to the original. It's a really small issue and certainly doesn't bother me enough not to wear it. It's more of a curiosity for how to fix it. If anyone knows, please share.

The only other thing that I changed was to add inseam pockets. All my dresses have them now, so I'm too used to having them there. When I'm wearing my muslin, I keep pawing for them. It's such an easy thing to add, it's kind of odd that they weren't included to begin with. It was easy to tack the pockets to the front panel seams too, to keep them from flipping to the back.

I had a tough time with the pivot points on both dresses. I'm almost certain there will be holes there over time. Again, no one seems to mention this, but if anyone has any tips for perfecting that area, please share.

Everything else about this pattern was great and constructed as instructed. Even the hem was perfect, which is unusual, as I'm 5'4". You will probably need to lengthen it, if you are any taller.

The other Alder that I made this summer was my muslin in a plain grey chambray. I took these photos spontaneously on vacation in Halifax, so you get to see it in its most commonly worn state, wrinkly AF. I could blame my suitcase, but let's be real, it looks like this at home too.

While my husband was taking these photos, two ladies asked if we wanted our photo together. What was I going to say? "Umm, no thanks, this is all about me and my pretty dress." LOL! I never take photos in public, so this was a first for me. Turns out they were both from Hamilton too! Blogging is weird.

I'm sure you've gathered that I love both of these dresses. I love how you can throw on one item and instantly feel both stylish and comfortable. It's casual, but not too casual. Haha! And I think they'll transition to Fall quite nicely as well, paired with leggings and an Astoria sweater. I'm not ready to pack them away, that's for sure. Or maybe I'll make another one? I've seen some cute Alder-Archer mashups out there.

What has been your favourite handmade garment this summer?