Trailblazer Vest

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We are well and truly into the dreary grey days of November.  Here in the mountains, the clouds hang low in the valley, making the already-short days seem even darker.  So, when it came time to select fabric to make my daughter a vest from Twig + Tale’s new Trailblazer Vest pattern, I was drawn towards something colourful for my sparky, energetic girl.  Because if anyone can pull off bright and happy, it is this amazing girl who is usually performing some sort of interpretive dance while talking a mile a minute.

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For the body of the vest I chose to use Garden Patch from Michael Miller’s In Bloom collection, a print featuring sprays of flowers and foliage on a slatey-blue background.  To make the yoke of the vest stand out, I used Gingham Play in the cherry colourway.  I love the how the slightly irregular, hand-painted look of the gingham gives it a bit of extra character.

And because winter was announcing itself with a blast of north wind and drifting snow on the day of our photoshoot, I decided to sew up a co-ordinating Pixie Hat, made with the Flower Yard print, also from the In Bloom collection.  The best part?  The vest and hat are both lined with incredibly soft and cosy Organic Sherpa, also from Michael Miller.  I particularly like that the sherpa is 100% organic cotton, since I much prefer to sew with natural fibres.

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The Children’s Trailblazer Vest is another well-executed pattern from Twig + Tale.  The shaping is absolutely beautiful, and the style is perfect for very-grown-up 7 year-olds who no longer want to wear “baby” clothes (slow down, little one!).  The back yoke, which has a very subtle curve, is a lovely feature, as are the in-seam pockets, which blend beautifully into the princess seams.

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The Trailblazer has another very notable feature – a full front zip!  I’ve had a somewhat tenuous relationship with zippers in my life (perhaps owing to some memorable late-night zipper-sewing failures), but I have to say that the instructions for putting in the zipper on the Trailblazer are simple, clear, and reassuring.  It was a stress-free experience with a great-looking result.

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While I love the look of the puffer vests that other testers have been making, I decided to omit the batting for this on.  I figured that it would mainly be worn as an indoor layer, and is plenty warm with the quilting cotton exterior and sherpa lining.  The little girl says it is very comfortable, and she is happy to wear it all day at home and at school.

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I find that the Pixie Hat works very well with the vest – it has quite a hood-like feel to it, and the shape is just so sweet.  I have to admit that I tried it on too, and there is something so whimsical  and freeing about wearing a pointy hat.  E asked for pompoms on the ties, and I ended up having to replace my first attempt since they were deemed “not nearly big enough”.  My second attempt passed muster, and I think the giant pompoms have greatly increased the entertainment value of the hat (with apologies to E’s teacher – I can only imagine the fidgeting and pompom bouncing that must go on when she wears it to school).

I’d like to send out a thank-you to the generous people at Michael Miller, who supplied the lovely fabric for the Twig + Tale Trailblazer blog tour.  It was an absolute pleasure to sew with these fabrics, and I am now officially a sherpa convert.  Also, a thank you to Twig + Tale for the opportunity to test another wonderful pattern!

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The Driftwood Blouse (times 4)

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I have to admit that in the past I’ve had relatively little success sewing garments for myself, particularly woven tops.  The armscye was never quite right, and blouse collars often make me feel like a have the neck of a giraffe.  Instead of taking the time to learn how to make pattern adjustments, it was always just easier to make clothes for my daughter instead – instant cuteness with low fabric requirements.  Perhaps I was feeling bold after my slipper success, but I signed on to test the Women’s Driftwood Blouse from Twig + Tale, and I am certainly glad I did.  I have now made three tops and one dress, all of which are getting worn regularly because they fit, are comfortable, and I feel good wearing them!

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My first blouse is a short-sleeved rayon version with ties at the front.  I had never sewn with rayon before, but wanted to try something light and floaty with excellent drape.  Overall, the fabric was not as slippery as I thought it would be – the main challenges were pressing the long bias strips, which had a tendency to shift around, and attaching the neck binding, which forced me to be very patient and do lots of pinning!d

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E couldn’t resist hopping into the photos with me – here I am looking ever so happy, trying to restrain my child from wiping her tree-sap-covered hands all over my bum.  I honestly was very happy to have my little imp join me, since looking natural in photographs is apparently not my forté.

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After my first success, I decided to try something different – a linen-viscose blend a-line dress with long sleeves and a button-and-loop closure at the neckline.  I love, love, love this dress which has been perfect for wearing to the beach and generally feeling rather elegant this summer.  I would probably add a couple of inches of length next time – I don’t think the pattern is intended to be quite this “mini”, but I didn’t account for my giraffe legs (at least they go with my giraffe neck;-)

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By this point, I felt so confident with the pattern that I was willing to cut into my extra-special merino wool/cotton blend knit that I had been saving for I-don’t-know-what.  I modified the pattern by omitting the keyhole and adding a band at the hem (there is a post on the Twig + Tale blog about how to do this) I had been planning on sewing a thin elastic casing for the sleeve hem, but when I tried it on, I quite liked the look of the fluttery sleeves, so just finished them with a rolled edge.

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The fabric is a fairly stable knit that is so light and soft – merino wool really such an amazing fibre.  I’ve been wearing this regularly in our hot summer weather, and it is so comfortable.

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And one more, phew!  Another merino knit, this time with long sleeves in preparation for the cooler fall weather that I’m dreaming of.  Again, I made a few modifications.  As written in the pattern, the Women’s Drifwood is intended to have a faced keyhole at the front, but I thought it would an interesting feature to move the keyhole and ties to the back.  It was a simple modification – I just created a facing piece based on the back body pattern piece and transferred the keyhole cut lines.  Again, I added a band at the hem to give a blousier look, and I added wide cuffs to the sleeves.  Store-bought tops are often a bit too short in the arm for me (or become that way after they have been washed and dried…), so it feels luxurious to have extra-long sleeves.

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If it isn’t obvious at this point, I would highly recommend the Driftwood.  It is a wonderfully-designed, cleanly drafted, simple pattern that provides a great base for customization.  I have many more ideas for different options I’d like to try!

 

 

 

 

 

Bunny slippers

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As an only child, E is used to being the main benefactor of my sewing projects, so she couldn’t help noticing that I had recently made myself two pairs of slippers, but none for her.  Of course, it doesn’t take much arm-twisting to convince me to sew adorable little shoes, so I agreed to make her some surprise slippers.

I had enough scrap left from my embroidered Tie Back Boots that I was able to make her a pair of Wild Things Shoes.  While they aren’t exactly the same, they are complimentary, using mostly the same fabric and embroidery floss colours.  I also added a touch of the embroidered pink star motif that I had used on my slippers.

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I made these with a wool sole, since E enjoys sliding around on the wood floors in our house, and now that she’s older (and we no longer live in a house with a treacherously steep and slippery wood staircase), non-slip soles don’t seem to be such a necessity.

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For the mini pompom tail, I wrapped my yarn around a fork – the size is perfect!  I usually cut out a cardboard template for wrapping yarn for pompoms, but this was much easier.

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E has now put in a request for a pair of narwhal slippers.  While the Wild Things Shoes come with a variety of animal options, narwhals are not included in the pattern.  I’ll have to think about that one and see what I can do…

A Laure dress

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There has been a lot of sewing going on around here lately, but not much blogging.  This is in part due to the fact that E says that she is tired of having her photo taken.  But when I told her about a field I had seen that was absolutely full of buttercups, she agreed to have me take photos while she picked flowers.  Lucky for me, she agreed to wear a dress that I was hoping to photograph too:)

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E recently asked me if I would sew her a “Chinese dress” (she specifically requested a “grown-up” one with a straight skirt), which immediately brought Straight Grain’s Laure dress to mind.  This one is made with the Qipao collar, a-line skirt, and cap sleeve options.  E would love it if I could add frog buttons, but I haven’t been able to find any red ones locally, and to be honest I quite like the look of it as-is with just the red piping.

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I thoroughly enjoyed sewing this dress – between the shape of the collar, the piping, the lining, and the invisible zipper, it was a bit more of a challenge than many of the projects I’ve made recently, but it was satisfying to complete a project that required some thought.  The dress is beautifully-finished inside, and though I don’t have pictures of the back, I’m very happy with the zipper closure.  A funny anecdote – I told E I had to go to the fabric store to pick up an invisible zipper.  When I came home from the store, she was very disappointed to discover that the zipper wasn’t invisible at all!

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We enjoyed our evening walk to the buttercup field and came home with very yellow feet!

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Cosy Toes Blog Tour – Tie Back Boots for Grown-Ups!

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Welcome to my stop on Day 1 of Twig + Tale’s Cosy Toes Blog Tour!  I have to admit that sewing footwear was one of those “final frontiers” of sewing that I somehow always assumed would be too complicated, so until recently I had never tried.  But when I kept seeing irresistibly cute pictures of tiny Wayfarer Shoes, I just had to give them a try.  It turns out there is nothing complicated about them at all – they are quick, fun, and satisfying to make, and use only small scraps of fabric.  In no time at all I was amassing an impressive collection of cute little baby shoes (keeping in mind that my “baby” is now 7 and well past the tiny shoe phase – but I am set for baby shower gifts for years to come).

Then, the opportunity to make Twig + Tale’s new Tie-Back Boots in adult sizes came up, and I couldn’t wait to try them.  I don’t usually sew for myself, so the chance to make something just for me was very exciting!

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The first pair I made were these charcoal-grey wool ones, with embroidery inspired by the sweet floral print of the cotton lining fabric.  The embroidery is composed of very simple stitches – the most challenging part was getting the flowers on both slippers to more-or-less match.  Hand embroidery is so relaxing, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking a couple of quiet hours to work on these, adding flowers randomly until they felt just right.

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I braided wool and alpaca yarn in grey, white, and aqua to make the ties.  I find that there is enough give to the yarn that it is still easy to pull them on and off without having to re-tie them.  What you can’t see in the pictures is that after the slippers were finished, I decided to stitch sheepskin insoles to the boot lining – cosy toes indeed!

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Then, Lisa of Twig + Tale announced that she was also including an option for high boots in the pattern, and late one night my busy insomniac brain came up with an idea for another pair, so I just had to give them a try too.

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These ones are olive-green wool lined with tan-coloured fleece.  I cut leaf shapes out of some of my favourite tiny scraps of linen, silk and wool, and machine stitched them to the outer boot pieces before sewing them up.  The tie-backs on these ones are finished with suede loops and leather ties.

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The tall fleece lining means that these boots are ever so cuddly and warm on the feet and legs, and the colour and design appeal to my inner forest fairy:)  They work well pulled up tall, folded over, or slouched a bit.

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I love the fact that I was able to sew something for myself that is comfortable, fits well, and will get worn on a daily basis.  I can see making many more of these as gifts for friends and family.  It’s a bonus that they come in women’s and men’s sizes, making them a perfect gift for the impossible-to-shop-for men in my life.

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The brand new Tie Back Boots in adult sizes are available on sale until midnight PST on Friday, June 9th, and you can also use the code COSYTOES for an extra 15% off any of Twig + Tale’s footwear!  Thank you for joining me, and be sure to visit the other stops on the Cosy Toes Blog Tour for some beautiful and inspiring Twig + Tale footwear!

Tuesday: FliegfederfreiCreatenicSew SnippetSew Many Adventures

Wednesday: Sew Shelly SewShe Who SewsLife in our busy householdNaeh connection

Thursday: Skirt Fixation Sprouting Jube JubeNeedle and TedJust Add Fabric 

Barefoot Romper

I am so excited to share my version of Twig + Tale’s beautiful new pattern, the Barefoot Romper, which I recently had the pleasure of testing.  I love the aesthetic of Twig + Tale’s patterns, and given my wonderful experience sewing the bunny coat (E’s favourite piece of mama-made clothing ever), I was very pleased to try this pattern out.

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The Barefoot Romper has so many great design options in terms of straps, yoke variations, pockets, and leg lengths.  It has been tested in a variety of fabrics from light cotton lawn to warm woolies (as well as wovens and knits) making it suitable for all seasons.  The spaghetti strap option with the loop anchor caught my eye first – I love the delicate, airy look.  Perhaps not quite right for winter in Canada, but it looks cute with a white t-shirt underneath, and gives us hope that spring will come soon.

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I was hesitant to sew the romper in a quilting cotton, but E chose this floral Cloud 9 fabric from the Morning Song collection.  Fortunately, I find that the organic quilting cottons are quite soft and have decent drape, so I think it works.  I’d love to try a knit version – I’m envisioning a calf-length cotton jersey version with halter ties for the summer.  Generally, it seems that almost any fabric works for the small sizes (check out the tester photos on Twig + Tale – those little babies and toddlers look so adorable!), but fabrics with more drape work better for bigger kids so that it’s not quite so voluminous.

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Another thing that I like about this pattern is that it provides lots of room for customization.  Personally, I find it difficult to leave pockets alone, so I decided to add some free-hand pleating detail to the linen side pockets.  In this case, the pockets are backed because the linen is thin and I didn’t want the floral pattern showing through, and it gives a nice clean finish.  I used the linen for the spaghetti straps too, for a bit of contrast.

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As far as the technical details are concerned, the pattern is layered, making it easy to print up your desired size(s), and the pieces line up perfectly so it is easy to tape together.  The tutorial is clear, beautifully laid out, and easy to follow.  The garment sews up easily, with lovely finishing details.  A series of tutorials for “hacks” (like adding piping, making the romper reversible, changing up the strap fasteners) will be featured on the Twig + Tale blog over the next little while, which will be a great resource for customizing the romper.  Although I was a tester for the Barefoot Romper, the review and opinions are my own, and I can whole-heartedly recommend this pattern!

If you’re ready to start sewing some rompers, join the Twig + Tale Chat facebook group to get a 25% discount code until midnight Monday, February 20th PST.

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Hello again – it’s Playtime!

Well, that was a long time away from sewing and blogging, but I am finally back at my sewing machine.  After an extended, stressful search for a new house (just one piece of the complicated puzzle that was 2016), we are finally settled in our new place.  And… (drumroll)… I now have a sewing room of my very own!  Not the dining room table.  Not a corner of the bedroom.  A real room with a door that can be closed to hide my creative mess so as not to drive my husband crazy!

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Having sent E to school a couple of weeks ago wearing a dress that I realized was much too short (when did she do all that growing?), I decided it was time to set up the sewing room and start making things again.  First up, another O&S Playtime Dress, this time in a size 6 with 7 length.  It’s still deep winter here, so a checked flannel version seemed like a good cozy option.  Little girl chose the mini pom-pom trim to liven things up a bit, and I added red topstitching around the neckline and pockets.  I think the topstitching is still my favourite part of sewing this pattern – the templates are just so satisfying:)

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This pattern is still such a standby.  I’ve sewn it several times before here, here, and here.  I love how innocent and age-appropriate it is.  All of E’s Playtime dresses have gotten a ton of wear because they are so comfortable.  Definitely two thumbs up for this one!

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My favourite room in our new house is a sun porch with windows on three sides of the room.  The light is so beautiful, and I’m looking forward to filling it with plants this spring and summer.  These pictures were taken in the sunroom – what you can’t see is the metre-long icicles hanging outside the window like giant, icy fangs!

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