My MMM’14 Challenge Exception

In my first MeMadeMay post I mentioned that I’d allow myself one exception to the ‘sewing with only Indie patterns’ part of my personal challenge because I’d already planned & started it.

This post is about that dress.

Which was inspired by this dress I saw on Modcloth (probably one of my favourite places for idea shopping, I must confess)

Night Brunch Dress in Fern | Mod Retro Vintage Dresses |

I used this (OOP) Vogue pattern as a starting point for the bodice (how perfect, right!?)


And used a sleeve pattern piece from something I had kicking around.

I may reign in that bow somewhat, but overall I’m really pleased with it.


This was just about the only addition this year to my Canadian Spring wardrobe. I finished it early May and was able to wear it a couple of times during the month thanks to our late spring this year.

However, I was wearing this dress the first time I went bare-legged this year! I’d needed tights for the morning, but when out in the afternoon had to stop in at a coffee shop restroom to take them off because it was just. too. hot. with them on.


The main fabric is a wool blend I got from a store on Queen St in Toronto. The charcoal accent is wool that was leftover from a Zinnia skirt that I’d started. I, um, haven’t finished the skirt because, um, it appears that I may have used the piece I cut for the waistband, um, for some part of this dress without, um, realizing it. I think that mistake deserves a chorus of *facepalm*headdesk*D’OH* I have some little bits of the charcoal wool left with which to piece a waistband, I just won’t feel like doing that now until fall.


But, hey, Pockets!


I do love me some pockets.  Anyway, I did a hand-picked zipper on this and not 100% how I feel about it. The dress is actually a little on the loose side and the zipper is still showing at the waistband, boo. It helps that I generally hardly see it.


I lined the bodice with white cotton and left the skirt unlined. It’s worn with a slip when I’m wearing tights under it. I’m really loving this slip idea! I actually just got some bemberg lining to make a couple of “nude” ones to wear under lighter coloured winter-weight pieces such as this one.


MMM’14 Weeks 3 & 4

Super late post, but I did fulfill my pledge for MeMadeMay’14, both in terms of wearing at least one make from an Indie pattern per week and sewing only with Indie patterns for the month. Now, to be fair/honest I sewed several duplicates of a few patterns. I need new summer dresses and making a couple from the same pattern in a weekend was the most efficient/effective way to achieve this with my available time and applicable Indie patterns.

I’ve combined weeks 3 & 4 because a) I’d be even later if I did a post for each and b) there was a lot of repeat items over these 2 weeks.  But, they were all new makes, so it’s still fun!  The weather’s been funny over the past couple of weeks – very up & down, one day sunny and hot, the next cold and rainy, or sunny but with a strong cool wind. So what ended up happening is that I’d wear a new make on a nice day, plan to wear an older Indie pattern make the next, but the weather wouldn’t co-operate, oh well.  New stuff is more fun to show anyway!

So here we go:

On Tuesday and Wednesday of week 3 I wore 2 modified Macarons I’d made the previous weekend, I then wore them again on Tuesday and Friday of week 4.

Here’s #1:



The floral fabric is a vintage bedsheet from Value Village, the buttons are also vintage that I picked up at a vintage sale somewhere, sometime.


I think the sheet was only a twin size, but that was still wide enough that two panels from selvedge to selvedge made for a very full skirt – which I love!


There have been a fair few exposed zippers sewn this month. They’re just so quick and easy, they really helped me get through dresses in a jiff.


There are pockets, of course.


Full-skirted Macaron #2 (and I have plans for a 3rd!):


I love it when one of my cardigans perfectly matches with a print – without trying.


The matching accent fabric was also a real score. I’d bought the solid years ago as a remnant piece along with some other stuff (again – somewhere, sometime, I don’t remember). It’s a really lovely cotton sateen. I got the vintage cotton print at last year’s More than a Yard Sale fundraiser at the Textile Museum of Canada.  It was a total fluke that these two matched so well – must have been meant to be! Oh! And the buttons are more of the same as on the dress above. I had 6 of them and wasn’t too keen on using only 3 for the first dress. But I was delighted to find they would work for this one as well, so no awkward number of buttons were left over.


Hmm, in person the shoes seem to match better than they do in these photos.


The pockets in this one are placed more towards the front because the skirt is actually made of 3 selvedge to selvedge panels of the fabric. Being a vintage cotton it was only about 35″ wide. So there’s a front piece and two side/back pieces. I rather like having the pockets somewhat forward like this.


This is the 2nd Elisalex dress I made. It was done the same weekend as the first one, but it had problems.  See, this cotton print has stretch to it. I didn’t have any lightweight stretch cotton I could use as a lining. But I wanted to both line the bodice and maintain the stretch factor for a little extra comfort.  My solution? cut the bodice lining (from light pink broadcloth) on the bias.


I’m just so very clever, aren’t I? What a great idea-not-so-much. While the bias-cut lining did have give to it, it still wasn’t as stretchy as the fabric and resulted in weird pulling at the back neckline. It took me a while to figure out what was causing it.


Once I did, I left the dress be for a while because I realized it meant re-doing a lot of the bodice lining seams and finishing. I needed some space from the dress before I fixed it, I took a week’s break.  I’m so glad I went back into it, though. It would have bugged me so much if I’d not fixed it and I wouldn’t have wanted to wear the dress. This would have been a shame because – this fabric! I love the print and colours of this fabric! I don’t know if this colouring totally suits my colouring, but I don’t care.


Instead of regular piping to trim the waist and neckline I did sort of a flat piping (I’m sure there’s a term for this, anyone know?) out of a co-ordinating stretch cotton sateen. The colour isn’t a perfect match, but you don’t really notice with the dress fabric being so busy.

Oh, so I wore this on Thursday or Friday of week 3 and Wednesday of week 4


I made this dress the last full weekend of May but wasn’t able to wear until the last day of May because it got chilly that last week.

I call this: The Mod-Maca-Thorn!


Ooh, indeed, Carolyn.

This dress is a hack of the Macaron combined with the skirt pieces from Colette’s Hawthorn pattern to re-create this dress from Modcloth:

Puppies at Play Dress | Mod Retro Vintage Dresses |


Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. And guess what – it’s another vintage bedsheet from Value Village! I’ve had these sheets a few years now and am so happy to finally start using them (they take up a lot of space on the fabric shelves).


I’m also very happy that the half circle/A-line skirt looks ok on me, I wasn’t completely sure it would, I’ve gotten so used to wearing gathered or box-pleated skirts. The skirt is modified from the pattern as well in that I cut the front on the fold at the centre front line.


There are a couple of issues with it, however.  Firstly, the straps are too far out on the shoulders (hello brastraps!). Fixing this means altering the pattern because the straps are cut in one with the upper band rather than being separate pieces. rather like a yoke. I like having made it that way, it just needs a wee adjustment.

The second issue, also with the straps, is that they’re too long and want to fall off my shoulders. Not difficult to alter on the pattern, however, and the dress itself is still wearable. If we get really hot weather this summer I can see this being worn quite a bit as it’s very lightweight.

And I’ve already got fabric lined up for a second one – hopefully my pattern revisions will do the trick!


This one is sort of a bonus piece. I haven’t actually worn it out yet and it wasn’t finished before the end of May. However, it was started before the end of the month and as (my 3rd) Cambie dress, is another Indie pattern make.


This is one of my absolute favourite patterns, I want so many of these!!!


Oh, and fun fact: apparently coral is the most universally flattering colour for clothing. It supposedly works for most if not all skin tones and colourings!  So this is my 2nd coral dress and I have one more piece of coral fabric (a stretch cotton pique) in the stash.  But I think I’ll leave it for another year.


I’ve started a full-skirted Belladone dress, but sewing’s got sluggish lately and I took my machine in for a check-up this past week, so was without it for a few days.

Now what did I learn/realize by participating in MeMadeMay’14?

1. I need to make an effort to use my Indie patterns more often throughout the year, they’re pretty great! I would have like to add to the collection this month, but really wanted to get use out ones I already had. The way I figure it, the more iterations of a pattern I make, the less the pattern cost for each one.

2. I’m seriously crazy about full-skirted dresses, but I’m ok with it. I love the way they look and find them so, so comfortable as you’ve got no restrictions on the legs whatsoever. Much better than pants, in my opinion. Hey – speaking of pants, have I mentioned that I recently realized I haven’t worn a pair of pants (not including shorts here) in over a year? And I don’t miss ‘em!

3. I came to the conscious realization that my favourite thing to wear is dresses. They really are my preferred garment – fun to make, so easy to wear, no mixing & matching separates. So I’ve made the deliberate decision to make the rest of this year the “Year of the Dress”. I’ve decided that I would really like to have a core collection of dresses for each season, so that will be my sewing focus over the next half-year. I apologize in advance (ok, not really) if that means show & tell on the blog gets repetitive-looking. These dresses will follow a basic formula of fitted bodice + full(ish) skirts.  We’ll see how much variety I come up with within those parameters!

MMM’14 (my) Week 2 Round-up

Well, late again.  But at least by not as much this time.  I was hoping to be able to wear 2 Indie Pattern pieces for my 2nd week, but had to make do with one.

Both are Elisalex dresses from By Hand London that I made last weekend, but the other ended up with some funny pulling at the back neckline and it took time to figure out why.  I’m only just actually fixing it this week.  I’ll explain more when I post it – hopefully as part of this week’s round-up.

So here is Elisalex #1, I wore it on Monday (and over this past weekend as it’s so comfortable and great for cool-ish spring weather).  It’s actually made from drapery-weight fabric I found at Value Village within the last couple of years.  I think it’s a great weight of fabric for this style, especially for helping the skirt hold its shape.

I decided to get snazzy and accessorize with a vintage purse for this photo! lol


I altered the cut of the skirt a little from the pattern.  I find I prefer having a very comfortable amount of leg-room in my skirts/dresses so made the hem fuller than the pattern has it.  I basically ended up cutting the side seams straight and letting the large inverted box pleats do all the shaping.  So, it’s not got as exaggerated a tulip shape as intended, but it suits my tastes and preferences better this way.


This is already a new favourite pattern for me – I envision several more Elisalexes in my future!  It’s just so easy to wear and instantly makes you feel well-dressed


Apart from that I just tweaked it for fit (still a work in progress, but I hope one or two more versions will get it just right!).  I added self-fabric piping at both the neckline and waistline to add a little more definition and give a really clean finish.


I’ve been busy at dress sewing again this past weekend, and so anticipate having lots more to show for myself with my next round-up!

MMM’14 (My) Week One Round-Up (yeah, it’s really late)

My post may (heh, May, geddit? yeah, that was bad) be late, but my first week of the challenge went well.  I wore not one, not two, but 3 pieces of made-from-an-Indie-pattern clothing this week!

On Tuesday I wore this ensemble:


Both pieces are made from Colette patterns.  The blouse is a washed dupioni silk Sencha (version 1) and the skirt is the more recent Zinnia (version 2) in a black wool/lycra blend.


I made the blouse a little over a year ago while I was in the UK, where I got the great big shell buttons I put on the back!  I made the skirt a few weeks ago when I realized I lacked the basic of a black skirt.


To be honest, I haven’t been in love with this blouse, but I really like it with this skirt!  I also really like the skirt, so hopefully there will be more options to wear the blouse with in the not-too-distant-future, lol.

The 3rd piece this week for my challenge got worn on Saturday, my Belladone dress from Deer&Doe that I made last summer.  Yep – Tuesday I was still wearing tights (and a little chilly taking photos without a sweater) and by Saturday I was wearing a summer dress and barelegged.  Actually, the bare legs started on Wednesday – I started walking home after a day of exhibition work and had to stop into a coffee shop for something cold to drink (iced tea) and to take off my tights ’cause it was just too warm!  That first day going bare legged was awesome!! It also ended up being my first day to feel up the new grass with bare feet, lol.

So anyway, these photos were taken at the end of the day (tired), no makeup or anything.  I’m going to try and avoid no makeup photos from now on.  As for the rest of the outfit, in case you’re wondering, the cardigan is Dream of the Crop from Modcloth (I have it in black also but do wish they’d have more colours of these, I love them and am actually willing to buy cute little cardis….for now), the shoes are thrifted (I still can’t call 80s stuff “vintage”) and I made the necklace myself with a vintage enamel brooch as the flower.  Too bad the little red polka dots on the flower don’t show up too well, they make it really cute and fun.


I did have a great little experience in this outfit. Earlier in the day I had to get a few groceries and while walking to the store a woman doing yardwork in front of her house called out to me from across the street to tell me how much she liked my outfit!  What a great boost to an already pretty good day!


I got silly with a couple of the photos – can anyone tell me how to make a gif (is that it?) from these last two photos? heehee



The reason I’m late posting these is that I spent the whole weekend sewing.  I managed to get through 2 Elisalex dresses!  And I can confidently say I’ve found a new favourite pattern – but more on that for the next MMM’14 post – which will hopefully be on time.

My First Me-Made-May!

I’m a little late to the start of the party, but hope to join in soon!

I first heard about Me-Made-May last year but not having a blog I didn’t actively participate.  When I saw that it was happening again this year, I was really excited to try and be part of it.  However, I had a teensy problem: this is supposed to be a challenge but 80%-90% of my wardrobe is already me-made.  People I know have basically stopped even asking if I made what I’m wearing assume that I did (and they’re almost always right in doing so).  Me-Made-May isn’t supposed to just be about showing off all one’s makes, but challenging oneself in some way.  I’m also in a situation of having to be really strategic with my sewing right now considering the time constraints I have between currently curating a fashion exhibit and (supposedly) writing my PhD thesis.  Initially I thought to imitate Tilly from Tilly & the Buttons’ pledge (it is the sincerest form of flattery, right?) to be more conscious of one’s clothes and clothing needs but I wasn’t totally sure that was right for me either.  So it’s been stewing away in the back of my mind while carving (and re-carving, ugh) foam discs into mannequins this week for my exhibit and while strolling through other people’s awesome starts to MMM.  I’m really happy to say that just a few minutes ago I figured out my pledge!  It’s actually inspired by my finding out about May also being Indie Pattern Month – and I just found out right now, while looking for a link about it to slip in here that there are not one, but two (at least?) big online events for it via Modern Vintage Cupcakes and Seamster Patterns.

I’m going to do a mash-up of MMM’14 + Indie Pattern Month.

So, here’s my pledge:

‘I, Carolyn of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear a garment made from an Indie pattern at least once per week and sew only from Indie patterns for the duration of May 2014′.

My wardrobe is a real hodge-podge of makes from Big 4 commercial patterns, some Indie ones, and a lot of either franken-patterning or my own designs.  So it will be a bit of a challenge to make sure I wear something made with an Indie pattern at least once/week.  As for new garments, I probably won’t have time to make much, but am really looking forward to focusing on using the Indie patterns I’ve been collecting over the past couple of years.  Here’s hoping I come out of the month having finally made an Elisalex dress!

I am going to give myself one caveat/pass.  I’m currently in the process of making a dress for my Canadian Spring Wardrobe – one of only two additions I’ve been able to make this year.  It’s a rip-off of this modcloth dress:

Night Brunch Dress in Fern | Mod Retro Vintage Dresses |

using this OOP Vogue pattern (the bodice) as a starting base:


I’m using the pale robin’s egg blue wool blend that I intended to use for the Ralph Rucci pattern I showed in my Canadian Spring Wardrobe post.  However, after some helpful comments from Carolyn I decided something like a stretch cotton sateen or poplin would be a better choice for it.  And I really love that modcloth dress design, it’s so typically me, lol.

Since the whole point of making this dress is to wear just about now and I’d already started it, it would be a waste to put it aside and let it become a UFO until at least next year.  So this is my one pass. I  actually finished it today and intended to take picture of it tomorrow but guess what?  The zipper broke on me when I went to try it on after finishing!  Another reason I’ve nearly sworn off invisible zips – which is funny since I raved about them when I first discovered them years and years ago.  I know it’s not that the dress is too tight, but that the bulk at the back waist, with the seams for the contrast band, were too much for it.  So, I shall need to find another zipper and replace it.  Hopefully I can get this done tomorrow so it really won’t end up a UFO purely out of my disappointment and frustration!


For my MMM’14 challenge I’m aiming to post once a week about the Indie makes I wore and share whatever new makes I’ve been able to start/complete.  I’m also going to count this week as my first week of the challenge.  I do hope it starts getting noticeably warmer soon – I think most of my Indie pattern makes are more summer oriented….this could be an interesting month, sartorially speaking.


Dressing for a Canadian Spring

Especially pertinent this year, amiright!?

Anyway, a few years ago I came up with a method to help with the end-of-winter-everything-is-grey/brown-and-gross blahs.  As soon as March arrives I start wanting colours, pretty colours!  Spring fashions start arriving in the stores at that time, but there’s no way you can wear them without contracting hypothermia because it’s likely still below zero temps and there’s still snow on the ground (and at least one more good winter storm on the way during March, even when it’s not a polar vortex year).  The stuff in stores doesn’t matter to me much since I mostly don’t buy clothes anymore – it just makes me laugh to see spring and summer dresses in shop windows when there’s still lots of snow on the ground, lol.

Spring/summer patterns and fabrics start coming out at this time too.  It does make sense since it usually takes more time (and often planning) for spring/summer sewing than buying clothes, but I want something spring-y to wear in March/April!

My solution? Sewing clothes for “Canadian” spring.  Basically, this means making winter-weight clothes in spring colours!  I kind of can’t believe that no clothing line/brand has hit on this idea for Canada and other “climates of extremes”.

I also try to include making pieces that are transitional, such as fully winter colour clothes that are neutral enough to be combined with spring-coloured pieces and clothes that may not be heavy enough for deep winter weather, but work for that period transitioning between cold and mild (ie April – most years, not so much this one).

I don’t have a huge Canadian Spring wardrobe yet as I find the necessary materials tricky to source.  I like best to use woollens, and acquiring them in pretty spring colours doesn’t happen too often for me as I exist in a constant state of “I’m not really supposed to buy fabric” and only pick up pieces as I happen across them and feel I can’t live without them.

So, I’m adding to this segment of my wardrobe bit by bit each year and thought I’d show you the types of pieces I’ve got so far.

It really all started with these two skirts:


This lavender one and the yellow skirt below are both made from wool pieces I picked up at Goodwill or Value Village.  There was just enough of each for an A-line skirt.

The decoration around the pockets came from a combination of two tutorial on the Colette Patterns blogThis technique mashed up with this design idea.

This skirt is lined with a mauve silk jacquard I had in the stash and was never going to use for a garment because I wasn’t keen on the jacquard pattern.



Both of these skirts were made using this cute 70s pattern:

Simplicity 8241 front

The lavender skirt is view 2, minus the front slit, and I think the yellow skirt is view 1, also minus front slit and waist tabs.  I chose a different route for visual interest on this one:


The buttons are these funky vintage dome buttons I found sometime at the Sunday St Lawrence Antique Market in downtown Toronto.  They remind me of beehives!


Below is probably one of the most luxurious pieces of everyday wear I own.  It’s made of wool satin.  I got it for a great deal somewhere online back in 2008.  It was purchased to make this.  I had to take the 3 yd piece, but only needed about 1/2 yd/m for the stays.  So there was lots left over for a pretty dress!

You can tell that I was still into the swirly rouleaux trimming when I made this ;o)  Hmmm….I should try it again sometime, it’s a pretty cool technique, isn’t it?

The pattern is a combination of franken-patterning (bodice and sleeves come from 2 vintage patterns) and my own “drafting” (the skirt is a big rectangle box pleated into the waist).  Actually, the waistband was my own doing as well.  The idea came from a dress I made at least 7 years ago now (and still wear!) from a 1950s pattern. I made the bodice too short for me and in a desperate scramble made a waistband piece from some contrasting fabric.  One of the best sewing mistakes I ever made!  I loved how it turned out and have been making dresses based on the idea ever since (like, at least 6 – and I still make at least one every year!)


The bodice is lined with pink cotton and the skirt is lined with nude-coloured rayon bemberg lining (I couldn’t find either pink or ivory, boo).  This is a technique I’ve started employing the last couple of years and I really like it.  I’m pretty inconsistent with how I line things, it totally depends on what I feel is right for that garment.  In cases where I want to line the whole garment, but know I will be wearing it a lot (or exclusively) with tights, I really like this split materials idea.  I dislike the feeling of bemberg lining on my bare skin, especially around the torso, and much prefer the feeling of cotton (or silk! yum!).  I find the cotton so much cozier and comfier.  However, I need the skirt to be slippery over tights.  Thus, cotton for the bodice, bemberg for the skirt was the ideal solution! It doesn’t always look the tidiest on the inside since the fabrics are often mismatched (for me, anyway, as I try to use stash stuff as much as possible) but it’s the lining, so I don’t care! (most of the time)


The dress below is lined the same way as the pink one above.  I did a little better and more fun on the fabrics, though.  The skirt is lined with solid light green bemberg and the bodice with a cute little green on white cotton print.

This dress is made from a wool blend of some kind.  I found it at Fabricland on one of their ‘designer ends’ tables, so it was invariably labelled “100% unknown fibres”.  There’s definitely wool in there, though.  It’s warm, it presses and steams well, and smells like wool when wet.


Oh shoot, I should’ve photographed it with a belt, I usually wear it with a white one that really sets off the fun button on the collar tab.


This one comes from another cute 70s pattern:

Style 3994

(Incidentally, this is also the pattern I used for my Fall for Cotton dress)

The dress below is for more of the “spring is a real possibility” phase of this transitional time.  It’s made from stretch cotton sateen and I really should have pressed it before photographing it.

Anyway, it’s unlined and until June will be worn with a cardigan and until May (or, who knows, maybe June this year) with tights.  To wear it with tights I wear a half-slip underneath it.  I’m really into the idea of wearing slips rather than lining everything.  I still only have one, but wear it ALL THE TIME through fall/winter/early spring.  Wearing slips instead of lining everything saves both resources/money and time: win-win! Oh, and this also enables me to wear some warmer weather dresses and skirts during cooler times as it adds a little bit of warmth and makes them wearable over tights!

Oh – and this dress is another version of the “waistband fix” idea I mentioned above.


Oh dear, so rumpled-looking.  I swear this is really pretty when worn, I get lots of compliments on it.  And it looks super smart with a black belt and accessories!


I call this my “Chanel” skirt.  Something about the black + cream + stripes makes me think Chanel-ish for some reason. As opposed to the coral dress above, this is a mainly winter skirt that can segue into the transition to spring.

This skirt is made of a wool fabric called “Viyella” (although it was a random thrift-store find, it had a Viyella label affixed to it). I did a little research into the name and believe it was a popular fabric in the early 20th century for warm wool undergarments.  It’s pretty soft to the touch and supposedly washable.  I might have been willing to put that to the test, but the grosgrain ribbons that make up the stripes would shrink like crazy, being cotton/rayon. Trust me to make a washable wool garment unwashable!


You can’t see it, but I lined this skirt with some leftover ivory satin lining.  The lining has some body to it, though it’s not kasha lining (satin face, flannel back) which adds substance to the skirt, and makes it super slippy on the inside! (I don’t know what it’s fibre content is, adding to the unwashability).


These two dresses are last year’s additions.

This one is made from a medium weight cotton something (I found it in a drapery section) trimmed with ivory cotton bias binding. It’s unlined and I often wear it with a little cardigan over top, my full-ish half slip under it and the ubiquitous tights.


There’s a little hook and thread loop to fasten the waist trim over the zipper!


I used Burdastyle magazine pattern 108 from the Oct 2012 issue for it:

108B 1012 B

Below is my first Macaron from (I hardly need say) Colette Patterns.  To be honest, I wasn’t in love with this dress when I first finished it, but it’s steadily growing on me. It’s made from a green/blue windowpane check that I think is one of those raw silk suiting type fabrics.  Maybe mixed with linen?  Maybe not.  I found it *somewhere* years and years ago.  The blue contrast is a remnant piece of wool (gabardine, maybe?) left over from a suit I made in 2009 to wear to my MA thesis defense (I need to find occasion to wear that suit again – it has piped welt pockets!).  I lined the bodice of this with blue cotton (leftover from some experimental dyeing of a thrift store bedsheet). I left the skirt unlined and wear the half slip with it.



I think I need to make some summer Macarons!

And here’s what I’m hoping to add this year:


This is Vogue 1317 by some guy designer named Ralph Rucci. Upon closer inspection of the pattern I discovered that the front is actually vented and there are pockets in the side front seams.  I’m going to eliminate both of those and alter the pattern to have just a normal side front seam.  As much as I love pockets, adding bulk right over that area on a style that’s kind of fitted through the hips is just not going to look good on me.  The design of the pattern also eats up just a little more fabric than I’ve got, so doing this will also mean I have enough fabric for it. (I initially considered doing the tie and back waistband in a contrast colour, which I think could look great, but for this one I just prefer monochrome).

My fabric is this wool blend from a store in Toronto.  Hey, they have a FB page!  Although it’s a blend, it really smells wool-y, so I think there may be only a little of something else.


So that’s the bulk of my “Canadian Spring” wardrobe, which gets interspersed with more wintry clothes until the temp gets above about 10C when it’s interspersed with more spring-y clothes, lol.

How have you adapted your sewing to the needs of your climate – if you need to?

p.s Thank you so much for all the lovely comments and compliments on my Tree gown.  I loved sharing it with people who can appreciate the monstrous amount of work it took, lol.  And I have to say I was a little surprised at just how much love the cape got!  Photos from our “photoshoot” are hopefully coming soon!

Jimminy Crispies! There’s a Charles James Gown in my living room!!

It’s finished! It’s finished!  Okay – so, technically it was finished almost 3 weeks ago.  Since I had another Garrison Ball gown to finish afterwards (for a friend), I’m pretty behind on blogging about this.  Oh well.

Before I get to the final reveal I’m going to take you through the bodice finishing, I’m really happy with how cleanly it turned out.

Oh, and if this is your first time seeing this project, you can go here for a list of the in-progress posts – if you’re interested.

I had one image of the bodice interior to go by, and tried to get it as close as I could (though I do wish I’d had pink silk satin, how pretty would that have been!)

Interior of James Tree

First off was setting in the bodice lining.  I did this by simply pressing under the 1/4″ seam allowance along the top edge and basting it to the bodice foundation with prick stitches.


A close-up of the stitching:


I bound the lower edges with a self-fabric bias strip.


I put in the bodice lining before inserting the zipper as I wanted to get the upper edge allowance of the dress fabric sewn down first – there’s a photo of that done below.

To get the correct zipper placement, I tried the dress on and had a friend pin me up the back and directly mark the line of the pins (thanks again, Sarah!).  I then basted along the marked line with some extra silk thread:


Sewing the zipper into this was a B***H.  Well, the upper end was fine, but towards the bottom, with all that pleated fabric from the upper skirt portion….ugh.  Here I am in the middle of it:


To get the spacing of the stitches even, I marked them out on the right side.  I’m not normally this anal with hand-picked zippers, but I sure as heck was gonna be with this one!


Here’s the zipper all done.  Perhaps not as 100% perfect as I might have liked, but I think it was about the best I was going to get considering all that bulk towards the bottom.  Giving it a press did help a bit.


Here’s the mostly-finished bodice interior.  I folded the back edges of the lining over the zipper tape to enclose it and hand-sewed it with small whip stitches.  I left the edges of the dress fabric raw, as on the original, and found that the catch/hem stitch I used (as elsewhere) did a great job of keeping everything neat and clean.


The final touch was adding a waist stay.  I did cross stitches at the centre front to anchor the stay, then made short chainstitch lengths at the side and side back and attached them to the upper edge of the stay.  This is what’s in the original and I think it’s a great idea – gives the stay greater flexibility and allows it to be really snug.  If you look closely at the hook side of the stay, you’ll see there are 2 sets.  The horseshoe shaped ones are the before-dinner hooks, the bars are the after-dinner hooks! lol


So, without further ado – drumroll, please – here is my finished version of Charles James’ Tree Gown! I kinda can’t believe it, it looks how it’s supposed to!!





And I made a matching/co-ordinating evening cape to go with it!

As soon as I saw this image I was in love and knew I had to re-create it:

Amazing design, vintage Edwardian cashmere cape! - 1912

Here’s my version, funnily enough I think it gives the dress an almost 1930s vibe.


Little bit of a funny story with this evening cape: when I first finished it, had it on the dressform by itself and took a few steps back to have a good look at it, well….after about a minute I had to admit to myself that it looked kinda like a superhero cape. I think it’s this particular silver + pink combination.  I did the “blink. blink.” thing for a moment or two and decided “well, so be it”.  I do feel rather like a sewing superhero for making it all the way through that dress, so I’m ok with a superhero cape to go with it.  Of course, that didn’t stop me being relieved that it looks a lot less like a superhero cape when it’s over the dress, lol.


The only photo I could find of the cape was the one above, so I had to guess how the back looked and how it fastened.  This is what I came up with:


This brings my Tree journey almost to the end.  The Garrison Ball was actually last weekend and a friend in Toronto graciously agreed to do a little photoshoot with myself and the friend who’s dress I also made.  I don’t have those yet, but will post the best of them once I do so you can see the whole look I put together!