Thursday 30 October 2014

Halloween 2014: Operation Princess Peach Part 3

My Princess Peach dress is all cut out...and is mostly still in pieces!  I have a lot to do and tomorrow is Halloween already.  I think it's going to be an early morning, but I'm still confident that I will be able to get it finished in time for the Trick or Treaters.

I took a break from sewing to visit Michael's (the arts and crafts store) in order to purchase my Princess Peach necklace.


Click here to read more about Operation Princess Peach:
Halloween 2014: Operation Princess Peach Part 1
Halloween 2014: Operation Princess Peach Part 2

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Halloween 2014: Operation Princess Peach Part 2

So far I've made some alterations to my Princess Peach pattern and sewn a muslin.  I've also started to cut out some of the actual fabric pieces and to serge them.

These are the changes I have made to the pattern:
  • Raised the neckline 1" and changed it to a scoop neck as opposed to a v-neck
  • Added 1/2" ease to the sleeve band
  • Added a 4" ruffled band to the bottom hem
  • Removed some ease from the center back for a more fitted look
Unless your pattern is asymmetrical, you may not need to sew each and every piece onto your muslin.  For example, because my pattern is symmetrical, I only needed to attach one sleeve and one side of the bustle in order to make sure I had a good fit.  Fortunately, I decided that neither of these two elements required any further changes once I tried on the sample garment.

For more from this series, check out: Halloween 2014: Operation Princess Peach Part 1

Princess Peach Muslin

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Halloween 2014: Operation Princess Peach Part 1

This Halloween, I decided that I am going to be Princess Peach (also known as Princess Toadstool to those of you who are a little bit old school, like me) from the Super Mario Brother's Franchise.

Looking through my pattern archive, picture of Princess Peach in hand for reference, I discovered that the classic Disney Cinderella dress is almost exactly the same as Peach's dress.  I was lucky enough to have Simplicity 2813 on hand, which I will be using with a few slight alterations.

I have to admit that I am starting my costume rather late in the game and even the lady at Fabricland commented that I may have a few late nights ahead of me when I was there this afternoon purchasing all of the fabric and notions I will be requiring for my Princess Peach outfit. 

But, having full confidence that I will finish on time, I also stopped by Wal-Mart and picked up the candy I will be distributing to the Trick or Treaters that I'm anticipating at my door this Friday evening.

So, with my costume still to make, and my pumpkin still in need of carving, I am off to work!  Tune in tomorrow for an update on my progress.

Candies for Trick or Treaters

Princess Peach

Simplicity 2813

Fabric for Princess Peach Costume

Thursday 23 October 2014

Burda 6853: Burda Dress & Billy Tabbs

Recently I took a risk and decided to sew a Burda pattern.  I'd never sewn one before and I was apprehensive because I kept hearing (from my mom) that Burda patterns do not include seam allowances.  But when I came across a Burda pattern that I really loved, I decided that, seam allowances or not, I had to try it.

After talking with the ladies at my local fabric shop, I discovered that nowadays Burda patterns do include seam allowances and have for quite some time.  So with my confidence bolstered by this information, I purchased Burda 6853 and the fabric to sew view A.

I've always wanted to sew myself something that had a Chanel look to it, so, inspired by the picture on the envelop, I purchased the required amount of wool fabric in two complementary colours and textures.

When the dress was complete, I wore it to a meeting.  I used the meeting date as a deadline to finish the dress.  On my way to the meeting, I spotted a bus shelter that displayed an ad for the release of my friend's upcoming novel so I decided to get my picture taken in front of it.  After all, I was all dressed up in my new Burda dress!

My friend, Michael Michaud, is the author of Billy Tabbs and the Glorious Darrow, which is being released on November 3rd.  I met Michael in a writing class a few years ago and we have since formed a writing group with a few of our other classmates.

I've also been invited to the private launch party for Billy Tabbs and the Glorious Darrow on November 1st.  I will definitely need to sew an outfit for that occasion and I will certainly post pictures of whatever I end up making!

For more information on Michael's novel, visit his webpage:

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Two-Toned Infinity Scarves

Fall is one of my favorite seasons because of all of the amazing fall fashions.  I also love the cooler weather because it represents and opportunity to accessorize with a lot of great scarves.

Lately, I have been really into using up excess fabric by making these two-toned infinity scarves.  I love matching the prints and colours and I've found that these scarves are good for dressing up otherwise casual outfits. 

I've already made a bunch of these scarves that are currently for sale on Etsy, and I have many more on the way!

Click here to visit my Etsy shop: CousteauByCare

Friday 17 October 2014

Simplicity 2315: Faux Snake Skin Skirt

Simplicity 2315 is a great pattern for a quick and easy pencil skirt.  Using a really beautiful, wool, faux snake skin fabric, I made view B.  I decided to leave off the tie at the waist and to go with an unornamented waistband.

The pattern also includes two different view of pants and I would definitely like to try the shorter version of the skirt with the tied bow, as seen in view C.

I was able to cut and sew this skirt in less than three hours, and I wore it to my company's Christmas luncheon last year.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Faux Fur Cropped Jacket

This cropped jacket was my own design.  The faux fur was purchased at one of my favorite fabric stores in Toronto, Downtown Fabrics and the Bemberg Lining I purchased from Fabricland.

I designed this little jacket when I was still in school at Seneca College in the Fashion Arts program.  As I mentioned in my blog post about the Super Metroid Vest, I was obsessed with mandarin collars at the time. 

My friend Marielle and I walked over to an abandoned farm house, not far from where I live, and I got some photographs of her modelling the jacket.

Personally, I've worn this jacket on numerous occasions.  It's the perfect little cover up for that in-between kind of spring or fall weather.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Simplicity 5832: Halloween 2007 Flashback

Another fun Halloween costume I got to sew was a Snow White dress for my friend's little girl, Kayla.  I'd already made Kayla a Belle costume for a prior Halloween, so it was fun to get to work with her again.

For the Snow White dress, I used Simplicity 5832, which also includes an Ariel-inspired dress and the classic Disney Cinderella dress.

I remember that when I made this particular costume, it was the first time I got to work with fusible web, which was required for the red appliqu├ęs on the puff sleeves.  I also had to use heavyweight interfacing to get the collar to be able to stand up.

As always, the best part was being able to see Kayla wear the costume as I accompanied her trick or treating.

More Halloween Flashbacks:
Halloween 2004 Flashback
Halloween 2006 Flashback
Halloween 2011 Flashback


Tuesday 14 October 2014

Fifty Shades of Grey: Part 1

My friend Kelsi commissioned me to make her bridesmaid's dress for her sister's wedding.  As it was a summer wedding, taking place outdoors, she wanted something created from a lightweight fabric.  The only stipulations Kelsi's sister had given, where that the dress needed to be grey and that it had to be knee-length.

We scoured Fabricland until we finally found this perfect charcoal grey cotton.  The fabric was soft and had excellent drape, so we decided to design a dress with cowl neck.

We also came across a beautiful dove grey fabric that had a bit of a shimmer to it.  We agreed to use that fabric for a sash in order to dress things up a little bit.

For more posts about bridesmaid dresses:

Friday 10 October 2014

Super Metroid Vest

In my second year at Seneca College, we were assigned to design, pattern draft and sew a top.  The rules for this particular project were fairly flexible, so I decided to try my hand at vest.  In order to add some more challenging elements, I sewed my vest using faux leather.  It was my first time sewing with faux leather and I learned that you have to tape or paperclip your cut out pattern pieces together.  You aren't supposed to pin them because you will end up leaving unwanted pin wholes in the fabric.

You will notice that my vest has a mandarin collar.  At that time in my life, I was basically obsessed with them.  I do not know why.  Another new technique that I was happy to try out was the snap on the collar.  In order to attach it, I had to use the school's kick press.

This vest was time consuming to make because I also decided to top-stitch each of the many panels on the side front and side back in order to add interest.  I also had to meticulously top-stitch the bird-like creature on the back of the vest, that is reminiscent of the bird-like alien featured on the Super Metroid game cartridge for Super Nintendo. 

Here are some pictures of me in back in college when I had just completed the vest.  It was an unfortunate time for my hair seeing as I had decide to cut my own bangs for some reason.  You can also see that I was channeling my inner Samus as I posed for the pictures.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Halloween 2011 Flashback

In 2011 I was commissioned by a bride named Tonya to create an ensemble of bridesmaid dresses for her wedding (see: The Business of Bridesmaids).  I got to know Tonya over coffee as we discussed the dresses and the overall vision for her wedding.  During that first meeting, she invited me to her Halloween themed Stag & Doe so that I would be able to meet her bridal party and get their input for the creation of the custom bridesmaid dresses as well.

I decided to design and sew an Alice in Wonderland costume, using some black & blue plaid fabric in order to put my own spin on the iconic blue Alice dress.  I also went to the Disney store in order to purchase a companion for the evening.  Initially I thought I would buy the White Rabbit to accompany me, but when I saw the bright pink Cheshire Cat, I knew I had to have him instead.

More Halloween Flashbacks:
Halloween 2004 Flashback
Halloween 2006 Flashback

Me (as Alice) and the Cheshire Cat

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Simplicity 5314: 2 Hour Pajama Pants

Apparently it's not too early to start thinking about Christmas.  My parents were in Costco over the weekend and said that the store is already selling an array of Christmas decorations and products.  And just this morning, I paid a visit to my local fabric store, where I saw a wide variety of Christmas fabrics for sale.  Knowing that the retailers are already promoting Christmas items makes me think that it might not be too early to start planning Christmas gifts, especially for those of us who plan on sewing gifts.  Please, don't be like I've been in past years and wait until the last minute!  When I was a kid, I used to wake up super early to see what Santa had put in my stocking and underneath our Christmas tree.  In recent years, however, I've awoken super early on Christmas mornings because I needed to finish and wrap some sewing project I'd been working on as a gift.

All that being said, the 2 Hour Pajama Pants from Simplicity 5314, 2 Hour Sleepwear, has been one of my go-to patterns for gifts.  My parents love these pajama pants so much and have come to expect a new pair each year.  My father, who we like to call Mr. Christmas, really enjoys Christmas-themed prints and will even continue to wear them year round.

My favorite fabric to use for these pajama pants is flannel.  But seeing as flannel tends to shrink quite a bit over time, I always add at least a 2" cuff to the hem.  In my personal opinion, pajama pants are more comfortable if they are on the longer side anyway.

Here are some of the fabric prints I have used to make pajama pants from over the years:

Monday 6 October 2014

Simplicity 9902: Halloween 2004 Flashback

In 2004 I asked my friend if I could make her daughter, Kayla, a Disney princess costume for Halloween.  After getting my friend's consent, I settled on Belle from Beauty and the Beast since that is my favorite Disney animated feature and Kayla likes it too.  I'm sure I must have watched Beauty and the Beast over a hundred times in my youth and my mom had taken me to see the Broadway production at the Princess of Wales Theater in Toronto when I was in the fourth grade.

I made the costume using Simplicity 9902, which includes Belle's epic gold dress as well as Ariel's bridal gown from The Little Mermaid.

I remember that the skirt required a lot of gathering between the gores, and at that time I had never gathered before, so I ended up asking a lady from church who liked to sew to come over and help me with the gathering and with interpreting other points from the pattern.  To this day, I am very grateful for her help because I don't think I would have figured it out on my own.

I learned a lot making that first Halloween costume and I was really pleased with the final product.  That year I tagged along with Kayla for Trick or Treating and we had a blast.

For more Halloween Flashbacks, click here:
Halloween 2006 Flashback

Kayla as "Belle"

With her rose

The costume

"Belle" & Me

Simplicity 9902

Friday 3 October 2014

Halloween 2006 Flashback

Back in 2006 I was approached by a co-worker, named Yvonne, who heard that I knew how to sew.  She said that she really wanted to be Jem of Jem and the Holograms for Halloween.  She still had a Jem doll from her youth and asked if I could use the doll as a reference in order to make her a replica of Jem's dress as a Halloween costume.  Always one to embrace a sewing challenge, I agreed.

At that time I was still fairly new to sewing and my skills were limited.  I went to Fabricland and poured over the Vogue, Butterick and McCall's and Simplicity catalogues looking for a dress design that was similar to Jem's, with 3/4 sleeves, v-neck and asymmetrical hem.  I finally settled on Simplicity 4074.  It had 3/4 sleeves and a v-neck wrap top, but I ended up having to shape the asymmetrical hem on my own.  I also had to pattern draft the belt on my own using tissue paper. 

Everything seemed to be going well until the first time Yvonne came over to try on the dress...She could not get it on.  As a beginner, what I had failed to take into account was the fact that the pattern called for knit fabrics, and I was working with a woven.  I ended up having to open up a side seam and insert an invisible zipper - a daunting task for a new sewer - yet somehow I managed to get it done.  The next time Yvonne came over, she was able to get the dress over her head and we both thought that she was the spitting image of Jem, save for the pink hair.

Me putting the final touches on Jem's belt (I had just dyed my hair dark brown)

Yvonne and Jem