Colette Laurel: The Dresses

Shift dresses are not my friends. Every shift dress that I have ever tried on in a store has looked and felt like a large sack swallowed me whole. "Swimming in it", as my mother would say. That's why I have always been wary of the Laurel pattern by Colette, despite seeing so many lovely versions pop up online over the years. Good for them, I thought, but there's no way that's going to look good on me.

Flash to four years later. It's the middle of winter and I'm craving something new and cute that will be both comfortable and warm -- a dress with a looser fit, with sleeves, and that can be worn with leggings. The Laurel immediately came to mind. After a few years of practice, it seemed I finally had the confidence to tackle this pattern and the adjustments I would need to make it work for me.

I'm so happy to say that with some patience, and several yards of tracing paper, I ended up with a dress I absolutely love. In fact, I loved it so much I immediately sewed another dress and two tops. Four garments is definitely worth the effort.

I don't know if you can technically even call this a Laurel or even a shift dress anymore, I made so many adjustments. Regardless, I still find it easier to make half-a-dozen tweaks to a pattern than start from scratch. 

My bust and hip measurements both fell at a size 2, and figuring the waist didn't matter too much for a shift dress, I went ahead and cut all my pieces at size 2, with the following modifications:
  • Lowered armhole by 1/2"
  • Took in waist by 3/4"
  • Back darts: lowered apex by 1", lowered bottom point by 1-3/4", and extended width by 1/4" (it should be noted that I have a pretty deep lower-back arch)
  • Left out the zipper and cut the back piece on the fold (removed 3/4" from center back -- 5/8" seam allowance plus an extra 1/8")
  • Shortened by 4" (I wanted a mini for winter, knowing I would always wear it with tights. My second dress is intended for spring/summer and at least 2 inches longer.)
  • Handstitched the bias binding and hems

Here you can see how I cut the armholes (remember, I was cutting a size 2). 

Here you can see how I took in the waistline.

Here you can see my adjustments to the back darts. The inner black line is the original. The outermost red is what I ended up with. Clearly there were a few attempts before I got it right. Haha!

It should also be noted that I took my time to match up the plaid here too, adjusting my patterns to be able to cut in a single layer. There are tutorials from both Colette and Grainline on how to do this. Side note: did anyone see The Great British Sewing Bee season 4 premiere on Monday? I wanted to help them with their stripe matching so badly!

Finally, here is a closeup of the super cool quilted plaid that I used. See how the back is a loose weave? It's constructed like double gauze, but thicker. I have no idea what it's called and would love your input if you have any thoughts. 

Anyway, moving on.

With a muslin and a "good copy" under my belt, it was time to break out the big guns, a.k.a. my precioussss, a.k.a. Nani Iro double gauze.

The only things I did differently from the green plaid were a shorter sleeve, a longer hemline, and French seams. 

The main challenge with this print was lining up all those stripes. In a word, impossible. Unless you have yards and yards of this, in which case you either own a fabric store or are extremely wealthy, (both of which make you very lucky), you have to do your best to match some of the stripes. I chose to match the biggest, boldest ones as best I could, figuring those would be the most obvious. So the sleeves and the bottom set of dark grey. I think it was a good choice.

I left out the zip again, but kind of regret that decision. It fits over my head, sure, but it usually requires a couple strong tugs and I cringe every time. A zipper would be a hell of a lot easier, and gentler, to remove. Imagine those seams ripped open one day? My heart!

The stripes got a little mangled in the back darts too, but that doesn't bother me too much. It's always wrinkled back there anyway. Ha!

Next week... the tops!


Me Made May 2016

Happy Me Made May! That time of year when your crafty friends flood your feed with selfies. Hopefully that pleases and inspires you. If not, you may want to find something else to do for the next 31 days.

If you'll recall, last year I participated for the first time and it was so successful in motivating me to sew more wearable garments that I doubled the size of my handmade wardrobe! I'm excited to join again this year and, although I still don't have enough pieces to wear handmade every day, I have some lofty goals.

I'm always been really intimidated by knits, even though I love to wear them, so I've decided to face that fear head-on and only sew with knits this month. I'm hoping to make a couple t-shirts, leggings and a maxi dress.

I'm also promising to kick-start the blog again and post all the makes I haven't written about since I fell out of the blogosphere last year. Better find that tripod.

Finally, I pledge to wear handmade as often as I can and to supplement with vintage or repurposed the rest of the time. Let's hope that the weather warms up soon, so I can break out my sundresses.

You can follow along with my progress on Instagram and all the other people participating by checking out the hashtag #mmmay16.

Let's do this!


Quit is Such a Dirty Word

I've been struggling to write this post for so long. But now I've started to tell people in person and it's stalling some other projects... so today is the day. Time to take a deep breath and rip off the band-aid.

I'm stepping away from my business.

There. I said it. No take-backs.

I came to this conclusion at some point last year, although I've been thinking about it for much longer. There are a lot of reasons. Six years of reasons. And, as as any business owner will tell you, those reasons are confusing and complicated. Why else do you think it's taken me so long to put into words.

What it all boils down to is this: I'm just not excited about what I'm making anymore.

You know what happens when you're not proud of what you're doing and you keep soldiering on? Bitterness and negativity with a side of guilt and shame. Don't talk to that lady at the craft show. Ha!

I wouldn't say I'm quitting. Quit is such a dirty word. I've always thought that a creative hiatus sounded like a dreamy concept. So let's call it that.

Basically, I'm taking a break to explore some projects and processes I've been wanting to pursue since I started down this crazy entrepreneurial path. And to give them the time and patience they deserve. I deserve. I feel the need to step up creatively -- study textile design, printmaking and pattern drafting and build my sewing skills. If something in there sparks another business, great. But if not, that's cool too. It's time I take the pressure off myself for a little while and just make things.

What does this all mean for Dear Edna as you know it?

My Etsy shop will remain open, at least for the time being, while I still have product on my shelves to sell. In fact, I just updated the shop with a bunch of new items! What I won't be doing is re-creating. So if there is something in my shop right now that you have had your eye on, don't hesitate to snap it up, because it is very likely that I will never make it again.

This blog is also staying put. As much as it can feel like pulling teeth at times (like today), I enjoy writing and want to continue to stretch that creative muscle. I've had some serious writer's block lately, but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of weekly posts again very soon. We have so much to catch up on!

So that's the plan, Stan. I'm sure it will be a journey full of ups and downs, as with anything, but it should be interesting, at least. I hope you'll join me for the ride!


Tis the Season: Holiday FAQs

Guess what today is? Five weeks until Christmas!

Don't worry. It took me by surprise too. Good news is, the holiday section of my Etsy shop is back and full of all my favourite festive aprons, tea cosies and wine bags. Perfect hostess gifts... just sayin'.

Now, if you are thinking of gifting something from Dear Edna this year (and I hope you are), there are some things to keep in mind, like shipping deadlines — they're fast approaching. I've put together a handy list of FAQs below to help you out.

Will my order arrive in time for Christmas?
Place your online order by the following dates and it should arrive by December 25th. But nothing is guaranteed when it comes to Canada Post.

To Canada... Dec. 10
To USA... Dec. 8
To International... Nov. 30th

For custom or made-to-order pieces, add another 5 business days.

Shoot! I've missed the deadline. What now?
Don't panic. Express shipping is available. Please contact me for a quote.

If you noticed the deadline had passed after you placed your order, you have 3 options: upgrade to express shipping, cross your fingers and hope the Canada Post elves are working overtime, or cancel your order. For options 1 and 3, let me know as soon as possible (within 24 hours) — if I've already shipped your order, you're out of luck.

I live in Hamilton. Can I pick up my order? 
Local customers are welcome to pick up their orders right up until Dec. 23rd and I will refund the shipping cost. Please contact me for details.

Can I get this larger/smaller/embroidered?
Custom requests are always welcome, but keep in mind that Christmas is my busiest time of year, so it may not be possible. And note that you must add 5 business days to the shipping deadlines above.

Do you provide gift wrapping?
Every order is wrapped in snowflake tissue paper and secured with decorative washi tape. If your order is being shipped directly to the recipient, I'd be happy to include a hand-written note on a paper doily.

Will you be selling at any local craft shows this year?
Yes! I will be participating in two craft shows in Hamilton this holiday season, The Beehive Craft Collective's Winter Craft Fair on November 28th and 29th at Mills Hardware and Handmade Hamilton on December 12th at the Staircase Theatre. I hope to meet you there!

Can I place an order and pick it up at the show?
Of course!

Anything else on your mind? Just ask!

Now go grab a cup of peppermint cocoa and shop your little festive heart out!


Etsy: Made In Canada

This Saturday, 33 cities across Canada will be hosting Etsy: Made in Canada pop-up shows. This little business of mine never would have happened without Etsy, so I'm super excited to be a part of this event, celebrating Etsy and all the amazing local artists you can find there. I'll be at the Burlington location, which you can find out more about here.  I hope to see you there!


Summer Sum-Up

Everyone talks about how much moving sucks. And it does. It really, really does. Especially when you have to do it in torrential rain. But what no one talks about is what it's like to move into a 100-year-old house for the first time. Well, that's exactly what I did this summer. And it was an adjustment, to say the least. There's a lot of getting to know each other happening in those first few months, and we seem to like to learn the hard way (ahem). But we're getting there, slowly but surely. Patience is the name of the homeowner game, I'm learning. Check back in another three months, OK?

Now before you start to think I'm a condo-spoiled, whinging brat, let me tell you that in between the unpacking, fixing, shopping, and bat chasing (eek), we managed to carve out some time to enjoy the summer as much as we could. There was the Panam Games, outdoor concerts, lots of entertaining, and plenty of reading in our lush backyard.

But it still felt like the new old house was hijacking our summer, so we decided to leave it behind and take off on a week-long roadtrip to Cleveland and Pittsburgh! It's a goal of ours to visit all the rust belt cities, so this gave us the opportunity to knock a couple more off our list. 

We've discovered through our travels that the accommodations can really make or break a trip and our airbnb in Cleveland was a perfect example of the former. It was in an old firehouse, complete with fire poles and a huge garage door, and was decorated floor to 15-foot ceiling with unique vintage pieces and art.

It was also in a perfect location: in the same building as a great coffee shop, across the street from a tea shop and cool bar, and a brunch-themed flea market filled the street on the Sunday that we were there! Browsing vintage and handmade while sipping on mimosas and snacking on oysters... could you ask for anything more on vacation?

On to Pittsburgh. What a stunning city. I mean, look at that waterfront. Mike had already been once before, so we spent most of our time away from the downtown, walking the Shadyside and Lawrenceville neighbourhoods. Butler St. was the highlight for me, full of boutiques, restaurants and bars, but it's loooong. We tackled it in three exhausting trips, so make sure you wear your walking shoes or be prepared to get friendly with Uber.

Happy hour was alive and well in  Cleveland, so aside from one amazing Thai meal, our diet consisted mainly of samples, saving our culinary splurges for Pittsburgh. 

If you're planning a visit, I highly recommend CureButcher and the Rye and Teppanyaki Kyoto for dinner; Coca Cafe for breakfast; and Tender and the Wigle distillery for the hard stuff.


Back on the home front, sewing has been a challenge this summer. Our new house has a fantastic attic space that was super excited to work in, but I soon discovered that, in the dead of summer, was a sauna. With half my stuff in the attic and half in the spare bedroom, I managed to crank out two big wedding quilts in August (more detailed posts on those to come).

I also started working on the Carolyn Friedlander Collection Quilt as part of Needlework's quilt along this summer. It's a more modern design than I usually go for, but I think it'll make a beautiful wall-hanging and I'm excited to experiment with colour and learn some new applique techniques. I'm on block 3 of 9 and loving it so far!

So that's pretty much my summer in a nutshell. Moving, road-tripping and quilting. Not too shabby. What did you get up to this summer?


Summer Pop Up

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. It's sure been a beautiful one here in Hamilton and the city has been buzzing with fun events. I've been super busy getting our new house in order ever since we moved, and my workroom is still in boxes, but when the cute boutique at the end of my street asked me to be part of their Summer Pop Up this Saturday, I couldn't say no. They're going to have vendors set up on both the street and in the shop, plus an espresso bar serving hot and cold drink, and live music. I hope you'll stop by and say hello!

Studio 205
205 King St. W.


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