Monday, 22 December 2014

Fabric From St. Lucia

Recently, a family friend of ours travelled to St. Lucia for vacation.  As a surprise, she brought back a couple of yards of fabric for me as a souvenir.  Our friend knows that I really love plaids and checkers and bright colours, so this is what she picked out (see picture below).

I haven't decided what I'm going to make with the fabric yet, but I love that whatever I do decide to make already has an interesting story behind it - that it was made from fabric from the Caribbean.

I don't currently have any vacations planned, but I decided that from now on, I will make it my mission to buy a few yards of fabric whenever I travel.  It doesn't even have to be anywhere far - it could even be to a nearby city I've never visited before.  I just love the idea of having a closet filled with clothes made from fabric different cities and countries from all around the world. 

If you can't afford to travel, you may even want to just check out fabric shops in your own city that you've never been to before.  If you're like me, sometimes you get into a routine of just visiting the same trusted favorites over and over again.  Or you can do what a friend of mine who sews did - she  asked a fellow co-worker to bring her back some fabric from a visit home to India.  It was fun to see what the co-worker ended up picking out - a beautiful royal blue silk fabric with embroidered flowers.

If I figure out what I would like to make with my St. Lucia fabric, I will definitely let you know.  Meanwhile, happy sewing and happy travels!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas 2014 Barbie

This past summer I found a Beach Barbie on sale for $12 at Wal-Mart.  I bought it with the idea of trying to make some doll clothes.  I've always loved the idea of Holiday Barbie, so I saved my Beach Barbie for the Christmas season.

I designed this little green and black, shimmery, strapless gown for my Christmas Barbie.  I used a fancy trim that I had in my stash for the belt and the hem and also for the little bow in her hair.  I styled her hair in a cute, side braid. 

When I was finished sewing, I set up a little display using various Christmas tree decorations that we have here around the house.  I like how my doll dress turned out, so I am hoping to make designing a Christmas Barbie gown a holiday tradition.  I'm also going to use the photos of my Barbie for Christmas cards.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Inspired by the 80's

When I was in school, we had a project to design something made from a stretch fabric.  I was born in the 1980's, so I often love to go back and reference pop culture from that era, and for this particular project I was inspired by two infamous 80's bands - Twisted Sister and Kiss. 

As I was sketching out my design, I was thinking about the way in which Twisted Sister wore a lot of deconstructed, torn and fraying clothes, and the way Kiss always incorporated metal studs and hardware into their looks.  The shirt-dress mini you see in the picture below is the result of merging these two ideas together.

My favorite Twisted Sister song is, of course, We're Not Gonna Take It, and my favorite Kiss song is God Gave Rock N Roll to You, which I first heard as a part of the soundtrack for Bill and Ted's Bogus journey, the sequel to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures, which one of my all-time favorite movies.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Sewing Machine Window Display

I was at Yorkdale Mall yesterday with my friend Dominique to do some Christmas shopping, when we came across a storefront that displayed dozens of antique sewing machines, each in its own separate little window.  It was such an amazing sight, I had to stop and take a picture. 

Seeing all of these antique machines on display definitely inspired me to get home to my sewing machine and to do some sewing!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Sample Before Sewing

Sometimes, if you are working with a fabric that you are unfamiliar with, or if you are trying a new technique, it helps to create a sample before working on the actual garment.

When I was working on my collection for school, I wanted some of my fabrics to have a quilted look, so I tested out a couple of different quilting techniques on small 7" x 7" scrap pieces.

For one look, I simply marked out the lines I wanted with chalk, and then went over all of the lines with a long machine stitch.  I did the same thing for another piece and then hand stitched chains on top of the fabric, using my machine stitches as a guideline.

Whenever I have sampled sewing techniques before applying those techniques directly to my project, I have always been really happy with the final result.  Sampling is a good way to work out any issues that might arise.  Sampling is good for practicing and it may save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
Sample #1

Sample #2

Back of Sample

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Karl Lagerfish

Sewing can be lonely.  That's why I have a new friend to keep me company in my sewing room.  His name is Karl Lagerfish.

I first had the idea of getting a fish to keep me company when I was in university.  I was often up late, sitting alone at my desk, writing essays.  Just like sewing and fashion design, reading and writing are solitary activities.  Once, after staying up all night by myself in order to complete an essay for my first year British Literature course, I had the brilliant idea of getting my first fish.  I named him Wordsworth, and he was a beta, just like Karl Lagerfish.  Wordsworth saw me through many assignments, including essays on Shelley, Keats and Shakespeare.

Years later, when I went to school for fashion design, I had many late nights sewing and pattern drafting.  Long after my family had gone to sleep, I would be up late working on some garment or other.  Wordsworth had long since passed away, so I decided I was ready for a new fish.  I have an affinity for Japanese fighting fish, so my college fish was a little red beta.  I named him Valentino because he reminded me of Valentino's RED collection. 

It's been a few years since I've had a fish, but I am a Pisces, so I am drawn to all things aquatic. I'm really excited to get a lot of sewing and pattern making done with Karl Lagerfish beside me.  He's like my little fishy mascot.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

5 Figures a Day

When I first started in fashion design at college, our design professor required that we sketch 5 figures per day in our sketch books.  Practicing every day is the best way to improve your drawing skills.  Even if you can't manage 5 figures, I would recommend sketching 2, or even 1 if that is all you have time for.  I wish I had of kept up this habit over the years!

Here are some random selections from my school sketch books.  Some of them are pretty rough, and others have been polished and used for various projects.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

My First Gown Design

In third year at Seneca College, we were finally assigned to make an evening gown.  This was probably one of the most exciting projects because when you're designing a fancy gown you can let your imagination run wild.

I wanted my gown to have an underdress made of a solid fabric with a print and then I wanted to drape a sheer fabric overtop so that the printed pattern from the underdress fabric would show through.  So I designed form-fitting strapless top with a fit and flare skirt for the underdress and I draped a cowl top in the front with an even deeper cowl at the back.  I added tons of fullness into the overskirt.  I wanted to challenge myself both with the pattern drafting of this dress and with the sewing.

After the project was finished and marked at school, I designed and ordered a little glass inukshuk that I was calling the "Inukshuk of Style" and I had it engraved with my friend Hannah's name.  I presented it to her for being one of the most stylish people I know.  Then, I invited Hannah to wear my gown on a photo shoot in order for her to get some photographs with the coveted "Inukshuk of Style" award.

The day of the photo shoot was damp and foggy and as a result our photos turned out to be dark and mysterious and the setting really added to the drama of the gown.  It really seemed as if we were in Middle Earth or Narnia that day.


Monday, 17 November 2014

Simplicity 2537 View B: Gingerbread Man Costume

Since we've already been seeing Christmas decorations in the stores for a few weeks now, I thought I would report about something festive today.

A couple of years ago, I made a Gingerbread Man costume using Simplicity 2537 and I asked my friend if her son, Aiden, would wear the outfit for some pictures.

My friend, Melissa, surprised me by baking a big batch of Gingerbread Man cookies, which we used during the mini photo shoot.  The picture of Aiden in his costume eating the cookies from the tray turned out to be my favorite photo.

I made the body of the costume using brown fleece, and I had fun selecting a festive cotton print for the bowtie and the inside of the hood.  I coordinated large purple buttons with silver rick-rack for trim.

My purpose for trying out this pattern was to have fun and to try something new.  The fact that I got some super cute pictures was an added bonus.

Simplicity 2537

Friday, 7 November 2014

Sewing Tip in December/January Issue of Threads Magazine

I'm excited to announce that I've had yet another sewing tip published in the current issue of Threads Magazine.  If you would like to read my tip, be sure to pick up a copy of the December/January issue, which is on sale now.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Try Making Clothes for Kids

When it comes to sewing, I like to try everything.  I think that it's the best way to learn.  That's why, even though I don't have any children myself, I still wanted to see what it would be like to sew something for a child.

Since, personally, I find that dresses are the most exciting thing to sew, I wanted to sew a fancy dress for a little girl.  There is a girl at my church who is super cute, so I designed the dress with her in mind.

Before making this dress, I'd never worked with lace before, so I wanted to give it a try also.  The lilac colour lace that I'd purchased came with a scalloped edge, so I did my best to preserve the scallop at the hemline and on the cuffs of the sleeves.

Since the lace is sheer, I used a cotton fabric, overlaid in silver, for the inner layer of the bodice and the skirt.  I like the effect that was created by having some pieces of the lace lined with this silver fabric and leaving other pieces with no lining for more of a sheer look.

I found that sewing a dress for a little girl was not much different that sewing a regular dress.  The best part though, was seeing her try on the dress for the first time.  We went to a nearby park to have a little impromptu photo shoot and it seemed as if all of the sudden I had a professional little model on my hands! 


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Pattern Drafting Resource for Beginners

I've always admired people in the fashion industry who are self-taught.  I feel so fortunate that I was able to receive the instruction that I did from knowledgeable professors in an academic setting.  When it comes to certain skills, such as pattern drafting and sewing, my feeling is that is it always much easier to learn when you have someone to guide in person, someone who can show you the right way of doing things and who can warn you against potential pitfalls.

That being said, if you are thinking that you would like to take on the challenge of learning to pattern draft on your own, I wanted to share this particular resource with you - a book called Pattern Cutting Made Easy by Gillian Holman.

What I like about this book, is that Holman lays out step by step instructions on how to draft the basic foundations you will need in order to create a skirts, a bodices, a sleeves and even a basic trouser, all using your own measurements.  Several of the designs even include pockets and collars.

If you were to make all of patterns and garments in Holman's book, you would have a great start to a personalized wardrobe.

I checked Pattern Cutting Made Easy out from my local library, but if you are interested in owning a copy, I have also sourced it for sale on Amazon: Pattern Cutting Made Easy by Gillian Holman

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Simplicity 2512: Cynthia Rowley Skirt, View B

Today, I thought I would write a quick review of Simplicity 2512, which is a skirt with four different views.  I chose to do view B, but I modified the design by excluding the tie at the front.

This skirt pattern is part of the Cynthia Rowley collection for Simplicity.  I think that she's put out some great, young and fresh looking designs for Simplicity.  Her designs always catch my eye when I'm on the company's website.

I really love that this skirt has pockets, and I am a big fan of the fullness of the gathers at the waistline.  I think that the style would be flattering for a variety of body types.

If I could give a tip to anyone attempting to sew this pattern, it would be to baste the seam binding in place before attempting to sew it on the machine.  At first I went directly to the machine, but found that it was very hard to control the fabric so I ended up with quite a sloppy looking mess.  After ripping out those stitches and basting the binding first, I was much more pleased with the outcome. It was much neater and more professional looking.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Transforming Tank: Part Four

If you are just tuning into this series, called The Transforming Tank, I started out with a basic tank top that I made with muslin and from there I have been re-making it over and over again by changing only one or two design elements at a time.

Since last time when I added a flounce to the bottom hem, I reverted back to the original tank and added quite a bit of flare in order to create a baby-doll look.

I'm still working with the basic button and fabric loop closure that the original tank had, so I am thinking it is time to mix things up in that area.

Fabric loop & button closure
I particularly like the fabric that I chose to make this version of the top because the coral colour reminds me vaguely of a dress I saw in the Valentino book I received for Christmas from my parents a few years ago. 

Of course the Valentino design is way more sophisticated and couture than my tank, having a hand-painted coral pattern on silk...

Valentino Dress
My fabric

Anyway, I am having fun with this project and I hope that you are enjoying the evolution of my little tank as much as I am!

Transforming Tank 1

Transforming Tank 2

Transforming Tank 3

Transforming Tank 4

To read more from The Transforming Tank series, click here:
The Transforming Tank: Part One
The Transforming Tank: Part Two
The Transforming Tank: Part Three