Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An ode to my yellow skirt

Of all the clothing I've made, my most-worn item has to be my yellow skirt. I wear it All. The. Time. I wear it on vacation, on nights out on the town, to work (on my more casual days), to parties....I honestly wear it everywhere.

I think this skirt has several characteristics that I'll have to keep in mind when I choose projects in the future.

1) It's multi-seasonal.
This skirt's sunny yellow colour means I tend to gravitate towards it more for daytime summer wear. But, add some tights, boots, and a long-sleeve shirt and it's equally appropriate for a night out to a movie or for a beer in the fall or winter.
Me and my skirt in Italy.

2) It's the perfect mix of casual and dressy.
I love making dresses, but I find that there are limited occasions to wear them out. Plus, they're not as flexible as a skirt (which can look very different depending on whether you add tights/accessories and what shirt you wear with it). I always feel comfortable and cute without feeling overdressed.
On the beach in the Dominican Republic.
3) It's well-made.
This skirt has withstood hundreds of wears and washes. I was really careful in the construction of this skirt, which has allowed it to stand up to lots and lots of use.

My skirt and I wish my husband a happy birthday.

4) It's both trendy and classic.
This skirt has a traditional shape, but the colour sets it apart. I have never, ever seen anything like it in stores, but always get compliments on it.

My buddies and I in Pittsburgh.

Do you wear some of your sewn clothing more than others, readers? What is your most-worn item that you've sewn?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Remember a few months ago when I posted that I was feeling a renewed urge to get back to my sewing machine? Well, finally, here is some of the fruit of that labour.

I was first inspired to make this after seeing this: (and yes, this basically proves that I am a big copycat):

For my version, I used a mash-up of Simplicity 2599 and Colette patterns Macaron. I basically followed the instructions for the Simplicity top, but used the sweetheart neckline from Macaron. It was a pretty easy process that resulted in a very one-of-a-kind shirt. (You know, except for the one I copied. Ahem). 

It's everything you could want in a casual spring top - comfortable, stylish, and easy. I foresee many Saturday afternoons and summer weeknights being spent in this shirt!

PS - Here's a little sneak peak of what I'm working on now...the Collette Patterns' Ginger skirt. Look at those matching stripes! Eh? Eh?

Friday, March 2, 2012

A couple new-to-me pattern companies

What's better than discovering a new, independent sewing pattern company?  Discovering TWO new, independent sewing pattern companies!

In the past couple days, I have come across a couple of new online pattern shops offering some extremely cute designs.  The first is Salme, which sells PDF patterns in their Etsy store. Below you can see a couple of my favourites. 

Salme's patterns are simple, stylish and totally customizable. The top with the gathered waist and centre pleat would be so cute made up in a small-scale floral for spring. And the top with the horizontal pleats could look totally different depending on your fabric choice -- girly in pastel, classic in black, punchy in a bright colour. Look at this adorable neon version from Kelli at True Bias.

The second pattern company I've come across is Victory Patterns, which gets a special shoutout for being from Toronto.  These patterns are really the opposite of Salme - super trendy, intricate, and totally original.

The pattern that particularly caught my eye is the Madeleine skirt. I'm wondering if I could pull it off - it has the potential to be almost too sweet -- bordering on twee. But I think with the right fabric choice, it can be cool and sophisticated. I really like this version: 

So,  hopefully over the next few months, you'll see a few of these patterns pop up as finished projects on the ol' blog. In the meantime, hope you find them as exciting as I do! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Garden scheming

Has anyone else been seized by a sudden desire for spring? I want it to be May, like, NOW.

With warm weather and sunshine on the brain, I've been daydreaming a lot about the gardens at our new house. We actually have some really promising garden space - a decent patch in the front yard and several wide open empty beds in the backyard. For the front, I'd love a garden of mostly perennials (because I want pretty flowers, but I'm also lazy). Right now I'm thinking of some ornamental grasses, peonies, daffodils, lavender, and black-eyed susans.

The backyard is where things get really exciting. I'm thinking of making a raised veggie garden (or, if I'm being totally honest, getting my husband to make it for me). In my excitement over gardening possibilities, I ordered some heirloom/organic seeds from Cubits, a cool Toronto-based company.

I'm very excited about these veggies. Here's what I chose:

Cosmic purple carrots... (and yes, that is the real name of these beauties...)

Florence Fennel...
Little finger eggplant...

Cherokee purple tomatoes...

Old Ivory Egg tomatoes...

and Genovese basil.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little intimidated by these vegetables. (Yes, I just wrote that). I have really limited experience with gardening - I've only done small herbs and hot peppers in pots on my front porch. I've never had a vegetable garden, nor have I ever really planted anything from seed (I always buy small plants from the garden centre). So, this may be a little ambitious for my first attempt. But even so, I'm already picturing myself sitting on my deck on a beautiful summer night chowing down on the veggies I grew in my garden. 

Now, if only spring would hurry up and get here...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy love day

I kind of love Valentine's Day. For me, something about it harkens back to elementary school, when the best part of the day was rocking your favourite red/pink/heart themed sweatsuit and handing out valentine cards to your classmates. Things have changed a bit since then, of course, but I have to admit that I'm still wearing a pink shirt to work today. Old habits die hard!

Tonight, the fella is taking me out to a really delicious Mexican restaurant for dinner. We don't usually do the present thing for Valentine's Day, but I have a sweet card for him that I plan to fill with a mushy love letter.

Wherever you're spending it - and whomever you're spending it with - I hope you're having a great Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gettin' back in the saddle

I can feel it, dear readers. That little tickle...that urge to sit down and sew. I have to admit that it's been awhile since I've felt this way. Between the excitement over the new house, the move, Christmas, and putting all of my creative energy into setting up the new place, I just haven't had the time or the inclination to sew.

But, for whatever reason, that changed today. Perhaps it was because I'm sick of staring at my closet every morning and feeling like I've worn everything I own 7 million times before. (Okay, okay. That MAY be an exaggeration). Perhaps its because I'm having a slow day at work and finally had some time to check in on some of my favourite sewing blogs. Maybe it's the fact that the days are getting slightly longer that's waking me up from my creative hibernation. Whatever it is, I can feel myself getting excited to sew clothes again.

I have a few patterns that I bought a few months ago that have been sitting unopened for far too long -- one of which is a simple A-line skirt from my beloved Colette Patterns. One of the versions of this pattern is cut on the bias, which can create a cool chevron pattern if you use a striped fabric. Kinda like this version from the Colette website:

After Googling around for some fabric, I found this very cool striped cotton twill. I think this will make a great skirt - multi-seasonal, neutral, but still interesting.

Now, all I have to do is wait until it arrives and get cracking!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What I'm reading

I've always been a big reader. When I was a kid, I would spend my summers trekking to my local library and devouring as many Baby Sitters' Club and Lucy Maud Montgomery books as I could. My love of books and reading led me to study English Literature at university. I still keep lists of all the books I read each year -- a habit I started when I was about 10 that gives me a perverse sense of nerdy satisfaction.

So, in the spirit of book-loving and list-making, I thought I'd share what I've been reading lately. First up -- a few that I've just finished and enjoyed.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
 This book was lent to me by a colleague with the promise that I'll love it, but with the caveat that it's hard to get into. She was right on both accounts. This is one of those multi-layered books where the interconnections between the characters and storylines don't become clear until the mind-blowing conclusion. It's set in Spain in the years after WWII, when a young boy named Daniel comes across a rare novel that changes the course of his life. It's a spooky, sad, romantic, and addictive read.

 Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
 I could. Not. Put. This. Down.  As a hardcore Jane Austen lover, I loved getting a peek into the post-marriage life of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I kept forgetting that I wasn't actually reading Jane Austen. My only complaint is how P.D. James interpreted my beloved Lizzie -- in this book, she's more of a dutiful wife who says all the right things rather than the spitfirey single gal who tells it like it is.
 As Always, Julia - The letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto
This book made me fall in love with these two women. Everyone knows Julia Child, of course, and her sassy yet down-to-earth style. But the biggest surprise of this book for me was Avis. She's smart, sharp, plugged in, self-deprecating, witty, and accomplished. She was certainly a tour de force and the reason why "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was published. I was blown away by the sheer volume of the letters these two women exchanged -- hardcore (and hard-copy) correspondence like that just doesn't really happen anymore. This book made me want to write thousand-word letters to my friends, cook things like duck and goose and travel back in time to have dinner with Julia and Avis.

And here's a few books that are on my to-read list.

 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Everyone I know keeps telling me to read this book, which chronicles a morbid kill-or-be-killed ritual in post-apocalyptic America. I gotta get to this one before the movie comes out in March! 
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Ever since I visited Fallingwater in Pittsburgh last fall, I've been a little obsessed with Frank Lloyd Wright. This book is a fictional account of his real-life affair with a married woman. I've heard nothing but good things.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 
The main character of this book is an English major writing her thesis on George Eliot and Jane Austen -- so clearly I couldn't resist. This book is a love triangle that takes the "marriage plots" of Austen and Eliot into the 21st century.

Have you read and good books lately, dear readers? Have you read any of these? Any more recommendations for me?