The International Anna Party

Hello Everybody! How are you? What do you think of the new digs? (I hope you like them cause it was quite a bit of work to change everything around. LOL)

This is my By Hand London Anna dress that I made for the International Anna dress Party happening today on Instagram.

I actually started this dress quite a while ago, but I never finished it for some reason. It sat on my dress form for forever. Which really isn't like me. It usually bothers me having an unfinished project lurking in the sewing room. Anyway, the #internationalannaparty was just the push I needed to get this bad boy finished.

The bodice of this dress is a straight size 12/16, and then instead of doing the panelled skirt that comes with the pattern, I decided to do a circle skirt. It took me awhile to get my head around the math part of making a circle skirt, but I finally got it. I have never been good at math. The bodice fits me pretty well, although my fitting brain is wondering if I could make it fit even better with a smaller size and an FBA. I seem to be all about the FBAs lately. I think the Anna dress is a really flattering sillohuette, and I think it looks really great on pretty much every shape. Just ask the Google, and you'll see what I mean. Anna was the second dress pattern I ever tried when I first started sewing, and it was so nice to sew so it will always have a special place in my heart.

I got this lovely daisy fabric at Walthamstow Market in London, seems appropriate, no? It's lovely, and drapey, and has a little bit of stretch to it too. I think it might be some sort of crepe, but I'm not 100% sure.

The circle skirt turned out really well, and all I want to do is twirl around it. I'm such a goof! The only bummer about a circle skirt is the hem. Holy crow that's a long hem. I took the easy way out and did a rolled hem with my serger. I'm happy with how it turned out. The black thread just fades into the background, so you can hardly even notice it anyway.

It wouldn't be a party around here without a pug or two, and it appears that they are enjoying have a look up my skirt. Silly pugs!

Did you guys join in on the Anna fun? 

The Southport Dress by True Bias

Hello everyone, and happy Friday! It's bright and sunny here today in #yyc but still quite cool when the wind hits you. The air is fresh, things are turning green and starting to bloom, so it feels like spring. Bring on the light floaty dress weather! As you have probably heard/seen/read, Kelli (of True Bias) has released a new dress pattern! I was lucky enough to be asked to be a pattern tester for this dress, and it was a welcome break for me in between all my jeans sewing. I have been fortunate enough to have pattern tested for Kelli once already, and I really loved the experience. It's pretty cool to get a sneak peek of a pattern before it's released, but it's also cool to see how a pattern is re-adjusted after the designer has gotten a bit of feedback. I really like being a part of the process. Plus I have loved all of Kelli's patterns so far, so I had no doubts that I would love this one too! Anyway, if you are anything like me, you are probably wanting to see what it looks like on as many bodies as possible, so I made sure to get some photos last week so I'd be ready to post shortly after the launch.


It was pretty chilly outside when John took these picture of me, plus the sun was in my face so I'm a bit squinty-eyed. Once again that didn't bother Shanny a bit, and she was happy to get into the photos too.


The fabrics suggested for this pattern are lightweight wovens; my first instinct was to reach for a light-weight cotton, but I decided to up the ante a little and go with a rayon challis. I don't have a lot of experience with sewing slippery fabrics, so I'm trying to challenge myself a bit in that area. Plus rayon makes for a lovely, flowy summer dress. Anyway, this particular fabric came from "the Man Outside Sainsburys" at Walthamstow Market in London. Not only was I a little out of my comfort zone with sewing this fabric, it's also not in my usual colour palette (do I even have a colour palette? Good question.). I don't wear off-white or cream very often because it washes me out, but this fabric with the bright coloured flowers is really growing on me.


I made a straight size ten, which I chose based on my measurements. I didn't make any alterations at all (I didn't even have to shorten it!), and I think the fit is pretty spot on. In looking at these photos, I think it might be just a touch big in the shoulders, but I'm not sure it's really worth messing with as I think it's pretty close. For reference my Sutton blouses are a size 8.


I really love the drawstring waist, and how it gives some shape and blousey-ness to the dress. I also love the little button placket and the pockets. Kelli is always really great at adding in little details that make a simple garment special. One of the coolest details, which you can't really see in the photos, is that there are bartacs above and below the pocket opening for extra security. It's a small thing, but I think it looks really neat and professional. If I make this dress in a solid colour, I would be tempted to match the button colour, buttonholes, and bartacs in a contrasting thread, and if you wanted to get really bold you could do the topstitching in the same colour. I think that would just add a little something extra.


The instructions for this dress are very clear and straight-forward, although I did space out a little when making my drawstring casing. Looking back at it though, I know that was my lack of reading, not the instructions. Kelli had done a really thorough job with the instructions and definitions of techniques, and it's great that she always includes diagrams. This pattern is rated as Intermediate, and I would agree with that suggestion. It's a bit tricky working with slippery fabrics and making buttonholes and what not. That being said, I definitely think an adventurous beginner could tackle this dress (especially with the upcoming sewalong). Besides, I look at ratings as just a guideline, if you break everything down into small steps it becomes much easier, and intermediate patterns become less daunting. Whenever I am a bit nervous about a new pattern, I give it a practice go. Sort of like a muslin because it allows you to see fit issues, but I like to do all the finishing too so that you can try out any new techniques. And with any luck it will turn out to be wearable (but that's not always the case). There are some cheapie/clearance fabrics in my stash solely for this purpose.


I should also mention, that since I made this version, Kelli did some fine tuning with the fit. She lowered the armholes and the bodice a touch and then she lowered the hemline for version A (this version) by about an inch. As you can see the length is perfect on me, but would probably be a touch short for those of you without lollipop guild status.


I see this dress as being an easy summer staple with sandals or clogs, but for now I'm pairing it with boots and my favourite cropped denim jacket (which in my opinion goes with everything - although the hubs does not feel the same). And to be honest, the weather here still calls for tights. I was also thinking that you could layer it over a Nettie for an added layer of warmth in the fall/winter. Just a thought...

So this post has gotten a little fan-girly, but what can I say? I love True Bias patterns! Also side note, and total coincidence: I used to be a dental assistant, and the office I worked at (and still go to for dental work) is called Southport Dental. Anyway, right now Kelli has this pattern on sale for 25% off. I think the sale goes until April 26th, so if you are interested in this pattern head on over to her website for more details and the discount code.

The Crazy Dog Lady Sewing Challenge

Hey everybody! What's up? You've been waiting to see what kind of crazy dog lady garment I would come up with haven't you? (Or maybe you follow me on Instagram and you already know. Either way, fear not, the wait is over.) Get ready for a pug and picture heavy post. If you have heard about the Crazy Dog Lady Sewing Challenge (or spied the little badge in my sidebar), then this post will not come as a surprise. I think it is pretty clear that I am a crazy pug lady and an obsessive garment sewer, so of course I would join a Crazy Dog Lady Sewing challenge!! When I first learned about this fabulous challenge on Instagram, I was thrilled! I've been hoarding some super cute pug fabric since the summer (I found it when I bought my cat fabric). I was leaning towards making anothet Archer shirt, but I did that for the Crazy Cat Lady Sewing challenge, so it seemed repetitive. I decided to go for an Alder Shirtdress. I have wanted to make the ruffle butt version (thanks Meg for the nickname) for quite some time, so I decided why not go for some seasonally inappropriate sewing? It's time for a change right?

IMG_6308This is View B in a size 8 with a 1.25" FBA. I think the fit is pretty close, but it's not perfect. It still pulls a little tiny bit across my chest (and you can see a little tightness in the back because of it) so next time I think I will go with a size 10 for the bodice with a size 8 skirt and adjust from there. I'm finding fitting Alder a little more difficult than Archer.

IMG_6341The fabric is a Michael Miller quilting cotton from It's absolutely adorable with little fawn and black pugs and the rare silver pug . When I saw it, I knew I had to have it. It's called Pugs and Kisses, and I actually bought the other pug print called Pugs on Holiday, but I'll save that for something else. At the time I wasn't sure what I would make out of it, but come on, it has pugs, how can you go wrong? I love sewing with quilting cotton. It cuts and presses so well, and it's just really easy to sew with.

IMG_6346The only drawback to sewing garments with quilting cotton is that it's a bit stiff, but I'm hoping with some more washes and wears it will soften up and drape a little bit better.

IMG_6313I decided to add side seam pockets because who doesn't love pockets? I used the pattern piece from Deer & Doe's Chardon skirt as it was nearby (and I'm too lazy to draft my own). They worked out perfectly, and I think they go well with the style. Although now I see that none of these pictures really show you what they look like. Oh well! My hands are actually in the pockets in the first picture, but it's a little hard to tell because the dress flares a lot in this fabric.

IMG_6338While I was working on this dress, I posted a couple of pictures of it on Instagram and Gillian suggested I find a matching brooch to go with it a la Heather B (who has the coolest brooch collection btw). Then Amber suggested Erstwilder because they make a lot of cute dog brooches. Gotta love the sewing community! I ended up ordering from Aubijou Boutique (an Erstwilder stockist). They have a huge selection of brooches but they also carry earrings, so of course I had to order pug earrings too!

Broach & earringsSo yeah, I've gone full crazy pug lady! And....guess what? I love it!! I know this dress is a bit of a novelty dress, but I love it, and I plan to wear it lots no matter how twee it is. I'm not sure mint is the best colour for me, but it has pugs!! PUGS! And speaking of pugs, it wouldn't be right to finish this post without some pug cameos, would it?

Me-&-the-Pugs-Collage2So from left to right: Quincie (she's 12), Jackie Boy (he's 10) and Shanny (she's 11).

Aren't they cute?  All three of them are rescues that we adopted about 3 years ago. They were all breeding dogs, which has led to some health issues, but we are loving spoiling them rotten and helping them to live out their last years in the lap of luxury. Quincie came to us first, and a couple of months later we got Jackie Boy and Shanny who are a bonded pair. We absolutely adore all 3 of them, and they all the cutest little personalities. Pugs make fabulous, comical, and extremely loyal companions. They seem to get along with everyone, and they live to love (and eat, can you tell?). Aside from their constant shedding, they are an extremely adaptable and low maintenance breed. Pugs are the perfect little package if you ask me, and I am so happy that we decided to adopt these three. Also, did you know that a pack of pugs is called a grumble? The more you know....Lol.

I would have loved a shot with me and all three of them together, but it was pretty difficult to wrangle them all together and get them to stay put, plus they are way too heavy and awkward for me to hold all at the same time. Here's me trying to convince Jackie Boy and Shanny to pose. Pug butts are the cutest!

IMG_6348 And here I am trying to lift them both:

IMG_6350Don't they look thrilled? I love all these shots!

IMG_6354So there you have it. I had a lot of fun sewing up this dress and participating in this challenge. Tanya, Carlee, and Sophie-Lee have put together some amazing prizes and entry is open until March 15th. So if you want to play along, there's still plenty of time. You can also check out (and join) the Flickr group to see some other Crazy Dog Ladies too!

Are you crazy about your pet? Do you or have you ever sewn up and worn a garment in novelty fabric? 

I Get By With A Little (Fitting) Help from My Friends

Yes, yes...the amazing blog post titles continue! So it's seems to be all about Grainline Studio patterns up in here lately, and prepare yourself because I am sure there will be more to come (ahem..Archer..ahem...cough). Here is my latest finished object, Scout (complete with goofy grin):


I've made a few of these before. In fact, a Scout was pretty much the first real garment I ever made. I screwed up the first one while inserting the sleeves (I cut into the bodice with my serger), then I made another one which came out perfectly sewing wise, but it was 2 or 3 sizes to big for me. Finally I made one that fits okay. I still have it, and I wear it occasionally, but it's definitely not my finest work, and the fabric is an iffy polyester from Fabricland (but it has little horses on it, so you win some, you lose some). And now I have this one, and I really like it.


I wanted to use a more flowy fabric, and this floral rayon challis from worked perfectly. I also would have really liked to do leather sleeves, but I'm way too intimidated by sewing leather, so I settled on a plain black cotton. I had some scraps in my stash from something I made (but I can't remember what) so I think that this little baby qualifies for Sewcialist's Scraptember. (Yay!! I finally made something for a Sewcialist theme!) I also added a pocket to this version to tie everything together. I used the pocket piece from Grainline's Tiny Pocket Tank.

IMG_5287So just in case you are a wondering, this is a straight size 10. If I chose the correct size based on my measurements, I would be a 14 maybe graded down to a 12 at the hips. That was the combo size I made my first couple times out and it was way too big. I get that this is supposed to be kind of swingy, but I don't think it's supposed to be huge all over. Is it? This is where the help from my friends comes in (ahhh, yes. now you get the title). Based on where the shoulder hits me on this one, I think I could even go down to an 8. What do you think? I feel like the ones I have seen around the blogosphere are more fitted - at least at the shoulder. Maybe Jen just designs everything oversized (I have a feeling my Archer is going to be on the big size too).

IMG_5284I am still a beginner at fitting (and sewing really), and sometimes I can figure it out, but sometimes I can't. The pugs try to help, but I have a hard time understanding their barks when it comes to fitting - when it comes to food that's a totally different story. Unfortunately, I don't have any sewing buddies near by, so I have to rely on my blog and instagram for your guys' helpful hints and tips. I also consult my myriad of fitting books, but they can't see/listen to me and see what I'm talking about. That's the frustrating part. If only I could find some sort of bewitched Harry Potter sewing book.

IMG_5283I still really  like this one, despite any size issues, and I see myself wearing it quite a bit. You can never have enough tees right? I have plans to make another one in chambray, because I cannot get enough of chambray, and I want to use it as an excuse to practice topstitching and maybe do some cool contrast stitching, but I'd like to get the fit a bit better. Cause isn't that the point of making your own clothes - having them fit well?

Anyway, enough babbling. Hope you all are having lots of fun September adventures,, and that the weather hasn't turned too chilly yet.

Oh almost forgot, here's you gratuitous pug pic. Doesn't she look super impressed? She hadn't had her morning coffee yet.


The Grainline Hemlock and Espresso Leggings

Have you ever had one of those days where you just feel blah? Well that was how I felt all day today. I woke up and my stomach felt yucky and my arms and hands really hurt. I've been having lots of trouble with them lately - too much sewing (and knitting and putting together pdf patterns) I guess. So I laid pretty low and didn't do much of anything. Lucky for me, my only boss is my husband and he's pretty lenient with me. So I spent most of the day surfin' the net, catching up on sewing blogs and watching Netflix (am I the only one who cried watching Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt's wedding? I'm the biggest baby ever). I always end up feeling really guilty when I'm sick or if I spend the day doing nothing (there's always so much to do!), so I decided I should at least do some blogging.


I have wanted to make Grainline Studio's Hemlock tee for quite some time, and I finally got around to it yesterday. I was hoping for a nice boxy oversize tee to wear with leggings, and while that is what I got, I'm not sure it suits my figure. I think I might be a bit too breasty for it. Is that a thing? I can't complain too much as it's a free pattern and only one size. I actually really liked how it looked in the mirror, but I'm not loving it on me in these photos. The pattern is a free pdf, and it all goes together quite nicely. Instructions aren't included but Jen has a great tutorial on her website to go with it.


I decided to go with a colour-blocked version, and I'm happy with how it worked out. The blue fabric is from Girl Charlee. It's a tissue knit and it's super soft. I wasn't overly impressed with it when I first took it out of the box, but it grew on me. The grey is a lightweight knit I got from the guy in front of Sainsbury's at Walthamstow market in London (if you ever go to London, let me know and I'll tell you all about shopping at Walthamstow - it's great!). It is also incredibly soft.


Can you tell I took these photos myself? I balanced the camera on the retaining wall of our garden, so some of them are a bit off kilter. The leggings are of course the Espresso Leggings by Cake - my go to pattern for leggings. I love being able to make custom fit leggings for myself and it's a bonus that I can make them out of funky patterned fabric.  This is another fabric from Girl Charlee (I just can't seem to resist Girl Charlee, damn you adorable prints and great website!). I'm a bit of a sucker for galaxy prints, and while the crosses might be a bit much, they really spoke to my inner 90's grunge-rock teenager (what can I say, I'll always love Wayne's World, Pearl Jam, plaid shirts and doc martens - it's my curse).

Anyway, this fabric is nice and soft with fairly good stretch, but it's a little bit on the sheer side for leggings, and after wearing these guys for a few hours they started to bag out a bit (no recovery). Plus the colours have already started to fade after one washing, and I bet next time I wash them they'll pill. They were great for lounging around today though. I probably would have been better making a t-shirt out of this fabric, but hey, I play by my own rules.


Sweet pose right? I'm trying to show you the underarm seam - I'm a pattern matching genius, no? LOL. And it wouldn't be a legit blog post with out gratuitous pug shots, would it?


Both of these projects were super quick and easy. I used my serger to put them together, and because the leggings were made pre-coverstitch machine, they got the double-needle treatment, but the Hemlock got treated right and I was thrilled to have no tunnelling using a lighter weight knit in my new machine. Knit projects are great for instant gratification.

Oh and just in case you are wondering where my third pug is, she stayed in the house napping. She's not a big fan of the paparazzi.


How do you feel about one-size fits all patterns? Or one size garments for that matter? Have you tried the Hemlock tee?  Also have you planned your Fall sewing yet? Based on the crazy blizzard that's happening back home right now, I think I better get my but in gear and sew some warm stuff.