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?

East Coast Road Trip


I was lucky to spend a couple weeks in the East Coast this summer and it was fantastic. With so much world to see, it's easy to forget about all the beauty we have right here in our backyard. We're so lucky to call this country home and I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday than a road trip around some of its most scenic vistas.

We flew into and out of Halifax (from Hamilton - bonus!) and rented a car to road trip around from there. We explored Halifax, Peggy's Cove, Lunenberg, and Cape Breton in Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island; and finally Shediac, New Brunswick.

Me Made May 2017


Another Me Made May has come and gone. If you remember from previous years, this is an annual event in the online sewing community where we make a pledge to wear more of our handmade clothing. You can set whatever parameters you like for the challenge, but most people, myself included, try to wear something we've made every day of the month. The idea is to get more wear out of the clothing we make, but I get so much more out of it than that. When you wear only handmade clothing for a month, a lot of stuff comes up.

It forces you to to stock of your wardrobe and really think about the clothing you wear, don't wear and want to wear. May is the perfect month for examining your closet, at least where I'm from, because you're transitioning from cold to warm weather. I took note of both what I was bored to death of wearing all winter and what I was excited (or not) about pulling out from my summer things. I realized I rely a little too heavily on t-shirts and cardigans when it's cold, which is at least 6 months of the year in Canada. How boring! I also noticed that I have a lot of tops, but hardly any bottoms. And a few of my sundresses are looking worn and just not fitting well anymore.

Based on that information, I can focus my sewing for the year. Clearly I need to up my warm and cozy game next fall with some dressier pieces and by sourcing some better sweater knits. I also need to get sewing more skirts and pants stat. I always make a couple of new dresses every summer, so I'm not too worried on that end.

Once you figure out what you need to sew, there's no better time or place to look for patterns to fit those needs. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sewists around the world sharing their creations every day and I love scrolling through it all. Thank goodness for Instagram's new bookmark feature. I saved so many outfits!

All that inspiration is incredibly motivating. It fires up my productivity like nothing else. Even though the 100 Day Project stole a lot of my sewing energy this year, I still managed to sew eight new garments! Three tank tops, sweat pants for both me and my husband, a button-up blouse, a sweater and a t-shirt. Woo! Blog posts coming soon!

Every year the challenge gets a little easier as my handmade wardrobe grows. Daily selfies, on the other hand, do not. Haha! (I only documented 28 outfits, after all.) I think we all suffer through that part. Knowing we're in it together, through the pattern taping, the stitch-ripping, the baby hems, the double needles, and that bloody camera self-timer, is probably the best part of the whole thing.

For a closer look at all of my Me Made May outfits, hop on over to my Instagram. :)

The 100 Day Project



I first heard about The 100 Day Project from Elisa Joy and was immediately into it. Doing something creative every day for 100 days sounds like a really fun 100 days to me! I've been thinking a lot lately about the practice of sewing, like a yoga practice, and this was a great opportunity to explore that concept. It didn't take me too long to think of a task to commit to either — the 111 blocks in my neglected Farmer's Wife Quilt seemed like a perfect fit. I don't know if I would ever complete that quilt without some sort of challenge like this. And so it began. On April 4th, I sewed up my first block and posted it on Instagram with the hashtag #100daysof FWQ. 

I told my husband over dinner that night and suddenly I was filled with doubt. What the heck was I thinking? A quilt block every single day for over three months? Am I crazy? What makes me think I could actually stick to that? 

That's why I've been hesitant to talk about it on the blog — I honestly didn't know if I would be able to follow through. Until now. I'm happy to say that today is day 53, over halfway through the challenge, and I've worked on my Farmer's Wife Quilt every single day. It's safe to say I'm in it for the long haul. 

I have given myself some grace on the block-a-day. I've made 42 blocks so far. Because I have a million other things I want to make, I try not to devote more than an hour a day to this project and some of the blocks are just too complex for that. There were a few that I cut one day and sewed the next. There were some that I completed one day and re-did the next day (or two) because they weren't right. I was also sick for a few days in there, so I did some construction planning in bed instead. I took a day to cut out all the paper pieced blocks. Things like that.

I don't want to talk too much about my feelings or lessons learned just yet. I'll save them for the end. But I will say that although some days are a real struggle, I am enjoying the process. Not only can I see improvements in my sewing and decision-making skills, but ultimately I'm giving greater value to the idea of everyday being a fresh start. Didn't like the block you just made? Oh well. Add it to the stack, you'll make a new one tomorrow.

I'm posting every day on Instagram, if you want to follow along and cheer me on for the next 48. 

Fashion Revolution Week




It's Fashion Revolution week. A week where millions of people around the world will ask Who made my clothes? A week that asks everyone to be curious, find out, and do something. A week to demand greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. 

This is a cause that I am pretty passionate about but rarely talk about. I think it's because I don't feel well enough informed. So, I've been using this week to learn and to speak up about what ethical fashion means to me. I've been doing this every day this week on Instagram, but I know not everyone is on there, so I wanted to share some of my story here with you as well.