Until October

My bag is packed and I'm ready to go. In a few hours I'll be jetting off on another epic European adventure with Mikey J! We're heading to the land of schnizel and beer this time — Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Croatia — and we're taking a whole month to do it. I told you it was epic!

I've decided to make a somewhat risky move and keep my Etsy shop open. I just don't like the idea of being off the radar for that long. Any orders placed while I'm away will not ship until October 1st. I've plastered this info all over my shop, so hopefully the message gets across. You've been warned.

Thanks to modern technology, I'll try to keep you posted on what we're up to via twitter, facebook and instagram. But if not, just assume I'm enjoying being unplugged, ok? I look forward to meeting back here in October with loads of pictures, stories and pounds to share.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Image via JumpOffThePage

Club Wiksten

The Wiksten tank has been one of the most popular sewing patterns I've ever seen. Do a google search and you will find literally hundreds of bloggers praising the amazingness that is this simple pattern. Some ladies have quite extensive collections. Well, thanks to my summertime goal to sew more for pure enjoyment, I finally joined the club!

I'm not so sure how enjoyable it was, though. I had to walk away from this project many times to prevent full-on melt downs of frustration. It's probably a combination of stiff fabric and a curvier body type, but this simple shape looked like a tent on me. I had ideas of what needed to be altered to make it more fitted, but executing that was another story. Darts were put it, torn out and repositioned too many times to count. But with sheer determination, and slightly obsessive compulsive behaviour, I ended up with something wearable. I was thinking that maybe it would be an around-the-house top, but I gave it a test drive in public last night and decided that I actually quite like it. It might even get packed for the trip. So there ya go.

My modifications included bust darts as well as two back darts. I don't know how to put in darts properly, so this process was long and tedious. I don't think the back darts are perfectly even, but at some point you just have to give up. The thing you need to remember with darts is that they actually add volume, so once those were in, I found I also needed to size down the entire garment, from small to extra-small.

These alterations involved detaching all of the binding and ripping out all of the seams. Are you starting to understand why I was considering self mutilation via straight pin? Which brings me to another valuable lesson I learned through this whole saga: test the fit many times throughout the process, but especially before finishing seams or adding any facing. That simple practice would have saved me many hours of seam ripping. A muslin would have helped heaps as well. I guess I'm just too lazy. Or too excited. However you want to look at it, it only ends in tears.

When all is said and done and hard work considered, I've come to accept the fact that I won't be sewing a collection of these like the ladies before me. I would like to give it at least one more shot with more of a drapey fabric, though. I have a feeling that my choice of quilting-weight cotton caused a lot of the fit issues. It also comes with a dress option, and we all know a belt can hide gaping like nobody's business. We shall see.

By the way, this beautiful fabric is called Rhythm Stripe by Felicity Miller and I bought both it and the pattern from Needlework. I have some scraps leftover — what should I make?

Save the Date

How many of you were wondering if Mike and I secretly eloped without telling you? Yes, it's been over a year since our engagement, but we're busy folks and we don't like to be rushed, OK? One thing after another just seemed to make it the wrong time to be planning a wedding. First there was the kitchen renovation and then I was gearing up my biz for Christmas and the One of a Kind Show. We also decided pretty early on that we were keen for a spring wedding, which would involve a planning period of just a few months and I wasn't too keen on that. 2014 it is. With the year suddenly free, that's the moment we decided to go to Europe. Haha! We also made a pact to set our date and secure all of the major vendors before we leave. Turns out we work well on deadline. The guest list is still giving me anxiety hives, but we've managed to book the venue, caterer, photographer, and DJ and set the date — June 21st, 2014 — the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. Everything fell into place so perfectly; it's shaping up to be as intimate, romantic, fun, and uniquely "us" as we had envisioned; and we're pretty darn excited about it! I don't want to reveal too much and spoil the fun surprises for our guests, but here are a few of the photos that have been inspiring me as we plan.

Finally, if you want to see an absolutely stunning wedding, take a look at the photos from this wedding in New Zealand. Absolutely breathtaking. Is it too late to reconsider the destination wedding idea?

I've been collecting all of my wedding inspiration over on Pinterest, so if you like what you see, head on over and follow me there.

Images via: Lisa Hedge, Irrelephant Blog, Eva JulietEtsy Blog, Style Me Pretty, LeanimalABJglassworksBooking BooksWedding Chicks,  Etsy BlogKitka, Green Wedding ShoesGreen Wedding Shoes

Candid Camera

Like I mentioned last week, we bought a fancy dancy new camera. A Fuji X10 to be exact. We've been playing around with it a lot to make darn sure that we're happy with it before the clock on refunds runs out. Mike took a bunch of cool photos while I was sewing one day, which doesn't happen too often, so I thought you might like to see them and me as I look most days in my natural habitat. Try not to judge my disheveled appearance -- I had been sewing and resewing darts for several hours on a hot summer day and was two seam rips away from losing my sh*t.

By the way, I have to mention that I took that photo above of the camera with my phone! Pretty slick, no? Back to the expensive camera shots...

Hmm. I wonder why my back always hurts?

Week in Review

The past two weeks have kind of been a blur. We leave on our big 4-week Europe trip in exactly one week, so we've been busy making lists, flushing out our itinerary and dealing with last-minute curve balls. I can't seem to keep my hands off of fabric for more than 24 hours, though, so I fit in some sewing here and there around the trip planning. And since I wasn't able to post my week in review last week, today you get a double dose! Woo!

First things first: I started my next quilt. The design for this one will be a little more complicated, with three strips forming a block and then joining the blocks in a zig zag pattern. I got the idea from this pattern by beffie48 that I saw on Etsy.

There wasn't nearly enough pink in my fabric stash for a girly quilt. At least that's what I told myself. So I picked up a few more yards from Fabricland. Sewing with pink is a rare treat.

Needlework was also having a sale this weekend, so I picked up some yardage there too. Because I don't have enough fabric (ahem).

Here is the quilt all laid out. I ended up adding another row of blocks before sewing it together and it is now perched on the end of my couch, waiting to be hand quilted. Even though I love hand sewing, I'm nervous to start. Do you have any tips for me? Just do it? Ok.

Holiday craft show application time. If I am accepted, I will be exhibiting for three weeks in a row right before Christmas. Fingers crossed.

 Last Friday our little Canon S100 decided to up and quit on us.  It caught the dreaded "lens error" that plagues many a point-and-shoot.  Since we're going on vacation in a week, we don't exactly have the kind of time to send it back to Canon to fix. So on Thursday night we headed out camera shopping. And we bought one! We have been talking about stepping up our camera for awhile and, after suffering extreme sticker shock over the price of lenses, we decided to compromise with something in between, the Fuji X10. We've been playing with it for the past few days and are pretty impressed so far. We'll give it the Dear Edna product shoot test this weekend before we give it our final verdict. But I will tell you this, I've never been so excited about a camera before. My gut tells me we're going to be friends.

The majority of sewing this week was taken up with my Wiksten tank. The original pattern only took a few hours to sew, so while I sewed, I was imagining a closet full of Wikstens. Then I tried it on. Ugh. It was not flattering on me at all! Think boxy tent. I could live with the roominess, but the 45 degree angle out from my boobs, I could not. After a lot of fiddling, and reading sewing blogs, I figured out that it needed darts to get the front to lay flat. But for the life of me I couldn't get them to look right. I basically have the entire thing ripped apart now and I am going to sew it a size smaller. Wish me luck. If you don't hear from my next week, I may have scratched my eyes out with straight pins.

Don't forget about LBU. The course I'm taking is in it's second-last week and the lessons aren't getting any less extensive. The unit video this week was 2.5 hours! Here I am ripping out the seams on my tank, nursing a glass of red wine, watching the video and taking notes. Multitask or die.

Done and Donner: Toronto 20k Jazz Run

Remember back in May when I announced that I had made the semi-insane decision to run a 20k race? Well, four months and 207 kilometres of training later, I did it! Here is the before shot of Carla and I, all nerves and butterflies in the beautiful morning light of the Toronto Beaches. No turning back now. Let's do this thing! 

And we're off! 

I really enjoyed this race. The course was beautiful, a mix of boardwalk, road and trail, with plenty of shade and nice scenery along the way. There were three turnaround points, which I found to be a nice goal to keep in your head and it was nice to see Carla each of those times as we passed. They released us in four groups too, so it wasn't too crowded. We were also blessed with perfect weather, which was a serious worry weighing on us considering the weekend before had stifling temperatures above 40 degrees!

Here I am at the halfway point, still smiling and feeling good. We were incredibly lucky to have such a large cheering section for this race: my parents, Carla's parents, Carla's brother, and both of our boyfriends. Say what you want about running being a solitary sport, it means more than you know to have people there to smile, wave and tell you you're doing great. Thanks, guys!

Good thing there wasn't a camera around shortly after this moment, however, because as soon as I turned onto the "Leslie St. Spit", I quickly lost steam. There's something about that "spit". It could be the concrete or the lack of shade or just that point in the race, but that 5k was not fun. It also reminded me of running the marathon and feeling like death. Haha! So that can't be good for morale either. Also, this is when my right hip started bothering me like crazy. Where that injury came from, I have no idea. During training I had calf, foot and knee issues, but of course on the race I had none of that... just teeth-grinding hip pain instead. I had to stop every kilometre or so and stretch it. This is when the "you can do it" mantras began.  

And here I am focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and giving it all I've got to cross that finish line. I remember thinking that I should wave and smile for my fans, but to be honest, I felt like if I took my eyes off the road, I could very well pass out. Plus, I was fighting to hold back tears, hyperventilating tears, which obviously came spilling out in a wave of relief and pride when I actually crossed the finish. Of course Carla, the best running buddy and friend I could ask for, was already finished and waiting to give me a huge hug! Frick, I'm getting teary again just thinking about it. 

This is why I run. What an amazing feeling. What an amazing day!

Darling Ranges Dress

Ta da! My finished Darling Ranges dress! This is the first dress I've sewn in at least 10 years, maybe longer, and I am so pleased with how it turned out. I was dying to wear it out on Friday for art crawl, so despite the fact that I was three buttons short, I quickly sewed on some mismatched, plain black ones and away I went. Mike was kind enough to put down his beer and snap some pics.

It is more comfortable than most of the dresses I wear, which shouldn't surprise me at all since it was fitted perfectly to me, but it still does. I guess I figured I would have to make concessions along the way and just put up with things I couldn't figure out how to alter, but I'm happy that wasn't the case at all. It did take some tailoring, but once I figured out what needed to be done, it was pretty easy to accomplish.

So what were those adjustments, you ask? Well, obviously I made it sleeveless. I also shortened both the front and back shoulders by an inch and shortened the length by two inches. If you do the math there, that's a total of 4 inches. Yep, I'm short. Finally, I adjusted the darts by about a half-inch. I tried researching the proper way to tailor darts for ages, but all I could find were tutorials on altering the darts on a paper pattern. What the heck? Surely this can't be an uncommon problem. Someone get on that. I ended up just turning my dress inside out, putting it on my dress form, and pinning any excess fabric. It worked like a charm. This was the first time I had used my dress form for her prescribed purpose, so that was fun for me. Thanks, Judy!

The back has two little ties, which I noticed other sewers have opted to leave out, but in my case they were absolutely needed if I wanted the option to not wear it belted. I wear a lot of dresses with belts, so I did want that option here. Did you notice that this dress has pockets, too? I love when dresses have pockets!

Such cute sparkly buttons. I bought them from Fabricland, which is also where I bought this pretty cotton print. I attached a hook and eye at the waist, which wasn't in the instructions, but I felt it was needed to keep the placket nice and flat.

Finally, I can't go before I mention that one of the things I loved most about this pattern was the instruction booklet. If you've never used a commercial sewing pattern before, the instructions are usually written on humongous pieces of paper that fold out to almost the size of a newspaper. It's awkward to say the least, so I really appreciated this compact size. The instructions were really clear and easy to follow too. There were even a few pages at the back for notes, which is pretty genius in my opinion.

All in all, it was a great project to jump back into garment sewing with and I can't wait to start my next piece! Any recommendations?

Week in Review

This week was "Implementation Week" in the course I'm taking, which is basically a half-way-through catch-up week. Since this course has taken away from a lot of my sewing time, and I'm not too far behind in the coursework, I spent the majority of this week with two of my best friends, a needle and thread.

Monday was a holiday here in Canada, and it also happened to be my parents' 40th wedding anniversary! My parents had their share of ups and downs and stuck together no matter what and I'm so lucky to have that to look up to as I prepare to get married next year. My parents had their wedding album, guest book and gift list out to reminisce over... wow, times have changed! How did we get from $5 wedding gifts to a national scandal over a picnic basket?

 Tuesday is half-price day at the Hamilton CarShare, so we took advantage and went shopping all evening. Naturally, I managed to sneak into Fabricland and picked up a few notions to help me finish up some works in progress this week.

Sewing up my very last apron in this popular colourful print. Who wants it?

 I finished up the yellow robe, the final print in the dressing gown collection. Here they all are hanging together on my closet door, waiting to be photographed. Don't they look pretty all in a row?

I also finished my Darling Ranges dress! It didn't take very long to sew up, but then it took pretty much an entire day to alter it to fit. I'll take some shots of me in the dress this weekend and give you the whole story then. Spoiler alert: I love it!