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.

Saturday 1 November 2014

Halloween 2014: Operation Princess Peach Part 4

Happy Halloween everyone! 

I finished my Princess Peach costume just in time for Halloween.  It was right down to the wire, so next year I will have to remember to get an earlier start - especially if I plan on making something as ambitious as a princess dress!  Because I was sewing right up until the last minute, I had to enlist my dad's help to carve our pumpkin.

Once I was all dressed up, I decided that it would be no fun just to sit around waiting for trick or treaters to come to the door, so in order to liven things up a bit, I set up my old television set and Super Nintendo so that I could play Super Mario games while I waited.  It felt very authentic playing Super Mario World in my Princess Peach dress. 

I also had my laptop set up by the front door because I found a ten hour version of the Super Mario theme song on Youtube.  I had the volume up so that the kids who came to the door could hear it.  I felt that it added a little extra something to the Super Mario ambiance I was trying to create for the kids.

Unfortunately it was cold and rainy last night, so in the end not very many trick or treaters came to the door.  I would say there were about 15 kids total who stopped by.  And two of them weren't even wearing costumes, but I gave them candy anyway.


 It was really fun to dress up and since I had a lot of time in between trick or treaters, I got pretty far in Super Mario World - all the way to the Forest of Illusions. 

I already have some great ideas for next year's costume and not only that I was thinking it might be fun to look into when some Anime conventions will be coming to my neighbourhood.

For more from the Operation Princess Peach Series:
Operation Princess Peach Part 1
Operation Princess Peach Part 2
Operation Princess Peach Part 3