The Sutton Blouse

Have you guys seen the gorgeous new pattern by True Bias? I actually got to be a pattern tester for it. I have never been a pattern tester before and I was absolutely thrilled when Kelli asked me. I was so flattered that she had confidence in my sewing ability, but also because she was interested in my opinion. Because I love her first pattern the Hudson Pant, so much, I already knew that I would pounce on any subsequent designs she released, so getting it for free in exchange for feedback was such a bonus! I mean I was gonna sew it up and blog about it anyways. IMG_5571

First, let's talk about the pattern itself. This is a 19 page pdf pattern and it went together very easily and really quickly. I had no problems lining up the marks and I used a glue stick to put it together. The pattern is beautifully drafted, and all the markings match up perfectly. The instructions are very detailed and easy to follow, and they contain definitions of techniques and diagrams (I am a visual learner, so I love a good diagram). This pattern is rated intermediate because it calls for more slippery fabrics, but I really think that if you are an experienced beginner and you took your time, you would have no problem. I think sewing with a rayon challis or a voile would make it a touch easier, than starting off with something like chiffon or silk.

I made a straight size 8. Based on my measurements, I should have made a size 10, but as this top was described as loose fitting, I chose to make a size 8. Since the testing process, Kelli has actually removed some of the ease out of the width (an inch to be exact), so keep that in mind when you are looking at my photos and choosing your own size. When I first saw photos of this pattern, I loved how it looked on Kelli, but I wasn't sure if it was going to work on my shape. It's a little bit loose and boxy, and I haven't had a lot of luck with those types of tops. But I am always up for trying new things out and I was pleasantly surprised with how much it actually flatters my shape. I think it skims over all the right places while still maintaining a nice shape.


Full disclosure, this was my first time working with a slippery fabric, and also my first time with french seams. With that in mind, I think it turned out really well.  I think the trickiest part was actually cutting the blouse out. The fabric shifts and moves which can cause problems, but I think it worked out okay for me. The french seams turned out really nicely too and is the perfect way to finish a delicate fabric. I love how the inside looks, so professional.


This fabric is a flowy crepe by Moda. When I saw this print on, I had to have it, and I bought it with this top in mind.


I think my favourite part about this blouse is the neckline. It is exactly the right length, and in my opinion hits at exactly the right spot, plus Kelli has an awesome technique to finish it. I love how it turned out.

IMG_5577I am also totally digging the high low hem and the side slits. This top is a perfect wardrobe staple in my books, as it works really well with skinny jeans, but can also be dressed up with skirts. I think it would also work with leggings as it has enough butt coverage. But I guess that depends on where you stand on the whole leggings as pants debate. I think it would be totally office appropriate with a skirt or trousers, and it makes you feel a bit more put together than just a regular old t-shrit when paired with jeans. I made this top before we went to London and it packed really well. I didn't have to iron it, and it was super easy to through on.

Kelli has such a great style and it really shows in her pattern designs. I really love that she has taken the time to put together really detailed instructions with diagrams, and I happen to know that if you were ever stuck, you could email her and she would happily help you figure out anything that might trip you up.

So all and all, I really have nothing but love for this pattern. In fact, I love it so much that I have already made up two more which I will share with you later this week. What can I say, I love multiples.

Fabric Shopping in London: Raystitch

Okay this is my final post about fabric shopping in London I promise (well at least for this trip anyway). I had heard about Raystich a few times through various blogs (here, here, and here to mention a few), and also when Janet told me in the comments that I needed to go there. I am so glad that I did because it's basically one of the coolest shops I have ever been to. I love everything about it. Even John commented on how cool it was. (Also, they have a fantastic website, and they seem to ship worldwide.) IMG_7710

Raystitch is located in Islington, kind of near the Camden area, I think. We took the tube there (the Northern line to Angel station), and then the bus about three stops. You could probably walk from the tube station, but it was pouring rain so we took the bus.

This shop has pretty much anything and everything you could wish for in a sewing shop. I have this totally unrealistic dream of opening my own fabric store/haberdashery and Raystitch is pretty much exactly how I would want it to be. It is absolutely stunning!






Totally gorgeous right? Then you go downstairs where they have a nice class area, with a little kitchen and really nice bathrooms. There is even have a back garden!! I could totally live in this shop LOL.





This charming little shop is filled to the brim with exquisite fabrics (tons of amazing apparel fabrics), patterns, books, zippers, buttons, knitting needles, crochet hooks, fabric dyes, tons of notions and pretty much anything you could ever need to sew, knit, crochet, or quilt a stunning project. There is fabric everywhere, but everything is super organized and beautifully displayed, so it doesn't seem overwhelming and it's easy to pick things out. I really loved that they had actual garment samples of patterns they sell. There were also lots of quilting notions and some gorgeous quilting fabrics. The staff was extremely sweet and very helpful too. I could have spent pretty much the whole day there. If I lived nearby, you'd probably find me hanging out everyday and taking all the classes they offer. I so, so, so wish there was something like this in Calgary. I can only imagine the community you could build around it.

By the time we got to Raystitch, I had pretty much blown through my fabric budget, but I wanted to pick up some patterns. Specifically a couple of By Hand London patterns, and some Merchant Mills patterns to save on the shipping. I ended up coming out with a bit more than planned, but I am super happy with my picks. John also picked me out two fabrics that I couldn't leave without too.


I'm not entirely convinced that I'm going to actually make the Holly Jumpsuit, but I've seen a number of cute dress hacks and I love the wide leg pant, so it was an impulse buy.



I also may have picked up a couple more unplanned things:


I have been lusting after this coat pattern since seeing in on Sunni's blog (and then she made her Mom and sister coats too!), but I noticed that it is rated Advanced so I'm a little nervous about it now. But how cool does it look?


So, there you go, now have enough fabric and patterns to keep me going for months on end. Who am I kidding, you can never have too much fabric, am I right?

Anyway, if you ever go to London, I would definitely recommend a visit to this shop. I absolutely loved it! Totally worth checking out!

Fabric Shopping in London: Walthamstow Market

Are you sick of hearing about fabric shopping yet? Good, me neither LOL. I have been to Walthamstow Market before and I blogged about it here. It's a really great place to go for bargain shopping. Sometimes that means super cheap deals on cheap fabric, but there are also some good deals to be had on some quality fabrics too. It's a bit of a ride to get there, but both times I've been, it's been worth it. For us, we headed to Shepherd's Bush tube station, and took the Central Line to Bank station, where we changed for the Victoria Line that took us all the way to Walthamstow Central station. I think it probably took us around 40 minutes or so. From there, it's a short walk to the High Street, where the market is. I was under the impression the market was only on Saturdays, but I discovered this visit that the market is open everyday except Monday. You can find pretty much anything you could imagine at this market, but there is a lot of junk too. It's actually Europe's longest outdoor street market, so it's something to see, and great for people watching too. IMG_7676






There are fabric shops along this street and as you walk further and further, you'll find the higher quality shops like Hussain Fabrics and Saeed Fabrics. Unfortunately, by the time we got down there I had my hands full so I didn't take any pictures of those two shops. Hussain Fabrics has some fabrics, but Saeed is the one with the nicest fabrics on this street, but it can be a bit pricey in comparison too. They were having a bit of a sale so I got some good deals on cottons, and a couple of wools.

If you read Karen's blog over at Did You Make That?, you have probably heard mention of the man in front of Sainsburys. He runs probably the best stall at the market in my opinion. Great deals to be had and some really great fabrics. I would got all the way there just to buy from him.


I did discover however, that he is not there everyday and he is not always in front of Sainsburys. He told me (well actually one of his son's told me) that he is only in front of Sainsburys on Saturday, and then on Tuesday and Thursday he is in front of Lloyd's Bank which is about halfway down the street to Sainsburys. Monday the market is closed, and they just aren't there on Wednesday and Friday. (You might be asking yourself, what is this Sainsburys. Well it's a grocery store on the high street - I would say if you start at the train station Sainsburys is about halfway through the entire market.)


IMG_7682It was difficult to get really good photos as there were people everywhere. This was probably the busiest fabric stall.

Anyway, I got a wide range of fabrics: some super nice wools, some cottons, some wool blends, some cotton lace, and some silk, and then I got some viscose and some poly blends. I don't mind buying some cheapies because they are great for muslins and wearable muslins, and some of them are really pretty. Here's a look at what I will be hauling home:


These photos don't really do justice to these fabrics, but I'm sure you'll get to see them again when I sew them up. Anyway, I hope this was helpful to you, and I hope you get to visit this market too!

Fabric Shopping in London: Shaukat Fabrics

Last time we were in London, we passed by a little fabric store while we were on the bus called Shaukat Fabrics. It was near the end of our trip, and I had already completely blown through my fabric budget, so we didn't end up going there. I did however, google it, and read a great review on Katie's blog here. Katie's review is very thorough so I won't bother repeating everything she said, but the gist is that if you are looking for Liberty prints, this is the place to go. Liberty cottons are absolutely incredible; beautiful, super soft and a dream to sew with, so it was the first place we went this trip (well the first place we went for fabric anyway). IMG_7488

This shop is actually very convenient to get to, in fact, there is a bus stop right in front of it. We are staying at the Hilton Olympia again (I think we even got the exact same room we stayed in last spring), which is conveniently located on Kensington High Street. We tend to stay in Hiltons when we can, because: a) they are usually nice and clean, b) they have great buffet breakfasts, c) they are reasonably priced (most of the time), and d) if you stay enough and collect Hilton Honours points, you get things like free Wi-fi and Executive Lounge privileges. Anyway, probably not everyone's cup of tea, but we like it.

Another reason we love this hotel in particular, is that it is a short bus ride to most of our favourite places. In all of our travels to London we have discovered that the bus is a great way to travel. It's much cheaper than taxis, requires less walking than the tube, and you get to see the city when you ride it - plus the bus goes everywhere, and who doesn't what to come to London and ride a red double decker?  We hopped on the C1 bus right outside the hotel and jumped off right in front of Shaukat on Old Brompton Road. It was about a 10 minute trip altogether.


The shop is clean and organized, but doesn't seem overly impressive when you first walk in, but then you go down the stairs to Liberty fabric heaven.


These pictures really don't do it justice, and I didn't really take enough of them. I was a little bit timid taking photos as there were always staff members around. I only ended up taking two, but there is a whole other room filled with suitings, and then another room with pre-cut liberty fabrics. You can do a bit of a virtual tour on the website if you want to see more. It was really huge and to be honest a touch overwhelming. It's mostly Liberty prints, but there are also other fabrics like shirtings, ginghams, quilting cottons and what not.


The staff were very friendly and helpful, and patient as it took me forever to decide what to buy.  The tana lawns where pretty much all priced at about £17 per metre (including tax), which is still quite expensive, but if you were to go directly to Liberty they cost anywhere between £21-£34.50 (plus tax), so it's quite a savings. I don't think they had the newest prints, but they definitely had lots of the same ones still available at Liberty.

They also do tax free shopping, so if you ask, they give you a special receipt that you take to the airport and you can claim your VAT back. They also ship worldwide, so if you go onto their website you can get fabric delivered right to your door. There is also a remnants bin upstairs, where I scored the best deal - 2 metres of this gorgeous gabardine (at least I think that's what it is) for £10.

Here are the spoils:



The top picture has all the tana lawns plus one craft cotton (which I think is like a quilting cotton) and the bottom photo is of the green remnant John picked out for me. It feels beautiful but I'm not sure what it is, maybe a gabardine? It was £10 for 2 metres and it's super wide. Definitely the steal of the trip.

At this point, I think I should mention that I have the best husband ever. He is so patient with me when it comes to fabric shopping (and all things sewing really). He holds my bags, he takes me to pretty much any shop I want to go to, and he even helps to pick fabrics out - which he is very good at, I might add. He really understands that fabric shopping in Calgary pretty much sucks, so he doesn't mind coming with me to check out fabric shops when we travel. I am so lucky to have such a supportive spouse!

So I think I made out like a bandit! These fabrics are gorgeous and I can't wait to make things out of them!

Are there things you like to do when you travel that your spouse/significant other doesn't or vice versa? Do you go fabric shopping when you go away? How does your spouse/significant other feel about it?

Radar Love

A few weeks ago when Miss Crayola Creepy announced her Cat Lady Sewing Challenge, I kind of brushed it off as I am not really a cat person. It's not that I have anything against cats, in fact, if anything, I really don't know much about them. I've never owned a cat and my only real experience with them, are having them either ignore me, bite me or stratch me. And I think it's pretty obvious by now that given the choice I am a die hard dog lover, and in particular a die hard pug lover. So sewing a garment covered in cats seemed almost hypocritical (I know, I know, I'm a bit weird). But then I was browsing as I often do, and I decided, just for fun of course, to search "cats". When I came upon this crazy, halloweenish cat print, I knew I had to have it:


It reminded me almost instantly, that there actually is a cat that I love. A cat that I would happily pay homage to by participating in a Cat Lady Sewing Challenge. An adorable feline that I have had a number of good experiences with, and even a few cuddles: Radar.


About a year ago, Anne (my favourite stepmom) lost her long-time kitty companion Ming. Ming was a beautiful and elegant, shy siamese cat that was a constant companion to Anne for about 16 years (why can't pets live forever??). After Ming passed, my Mom and Anne weren't sure if they would get another cat; they thought they might be okay with living in a one cat household (my Mom also has a feline fur baby named Minou) but after a few weeks, Anne decided that two is always better than one. So it was off to the rescue foundation they went, where they fell in love with this adorable black beauty. He's around 7 years old, but he looks and acts like he is a much younger kitty.


I have only met Radar a handful of times, but every time I see him, he comes right up to me and gives me lots of cuddles and lovins. He is the first cat that has really made me consider the possibility of having one as a pet someday. He is the one black cat that I don't mind crossing my path. He is soft and sweet, he lets me pet him and (GASP!) he even trusts me enough to fall asleep in my lap - I mean, what's not to love about that? I have heard though, that he is constantly up to mischief; he loves to knock things off counter tops, to mess with Minou, to hide in the rafters, and to open screen doors to try to make his escape (classic cat stuff).

Anyway, when I saw this fabric - I immediately thought of Radar. (Anne named him Radar because he has big ears that stand straight up, it's very fitting actually.) Plus, I thought it would make an excellent October/Halloween shirt. So after a series of clicks, it was in my cart and on its way to my house - it costs a fortune for shipping to Canada, but always ships super quickly so it at least feels a bit worth it. Naturally, as I am still in the midst of my mad love affair/finding the perfect fit obsession with Archer, that's what I chose to make...again.  Surprise, surprise! (I promise I will sew something else someday.) Quilting cotton is probably a little heavy for a shirt, but I think it turned out really well and it was super easy to work with.


I actually did a few different things with this one. I went down another size, so this one is actually a size 6. And again I did a full bust adjustment (for reference, I slashed and spread about 1 inch). I am super happy with the fit on this one. I think it is safe to say, that this is definitely the TNT version for me now.


I decided to make the pockets pointy on this one as it seemed to go with the theme. It's a bit tough to see as this fabric is so busy, but the pockets really are there.


I also decided to try a different sleeve placket this time, and I love it!! When I first looked at the tutorial, it looked super complicated, but take it from me, it is actually super easy. I would venture to say easier than the normal sleeve placket. There are more steps but I found the actual sewing part to be easier - no weird rippling or stretching of cut fabric. The tutorial I followed is here. I think I will do all my sleeve plackets like this from now on. I love that it allows one to show off a contrasting fabric, if one wants should desire to do such a thing. It really is all about the little things for me.


There, you can see those pointy pocket in this picture. I used leftover scraps from my second Washi dress, and I think it worked out really well. I also used that same fabric for the inside collar stand and yoke.


I also went with snaps again (they really are my favourite closure), yellow pearl snaps to be specific,  and I love how they turned out. A little pop of colour to a monochrome fabric is perfect in my books. I thought the yellow was quite fitting, as Radar's eyes are a greeny, yellow. I don't seem to have a photo of it, but I finished the hem with purple bias tape (my new favourite hemming technique), and I used my variegated rainbow serger thread to finish my seams, so this shirt looks just as cool on the inside as it does on the outside.

So there you have it, I have officially embraced my inner crazy cat lady. I'd like to tell you that I will probably reserve wearing this shirt for October and close to Halloween, but I love it so much, I'm sure it will get into the regular rotation.

Do you like cats? Enough to sew and/or wear cat themed clothes?

PS: I am now in London - so look as I originally started out as a travel blogger, look forward to some travel posts and fabric shopping! Phew, finally a break from all the Archer madness. LOL

Fabric Shopping in Montreal


So along with doing a lot of sewing, I have also been reading a lot about sewing. There are a ton of great sewing blogs out there, some have tutorials, some have inspiring ideas, and most of them share projects and a love of sewing. It’s great! Anyway, one of the blogs I stumbled upon features a seamstress who lives in Montreal, and she alluded to the fabric district. Of course I had to look it up, and it turns out that there are all kinds of delicious fabric stores along Rue St. Hubert, and John knew exactly how to get there. Even more importantly, he said he would be happy to take me! I have the best husband ever, what can I say.

Anyway we drove down St. Hubert and found a great parking spot in front of this lovely store:


And inside, we found all these lovely rolls and bolts of fabric. I have never seen anything so nice. At home, there is pretty much only Fabricland, and they don’t even come close to having anything as nice as the cheapest thing in this store.



The man (I am thinking he is the owner) inside, was very nice and very accommodating. The service was impeccable, and while we didn’t, I think this gentleman would have loved to haggle. He did end up giving us a discount on everything we picked out. I pretty much spent my whole budget! But I got some beautiful dress fabrics and a couple of gorgeous Alpaca fabric for a winter coat. My only problem now is that I am afraid to cut into any of the beauties. It’s a little more intimidating than sewing with the fabrics I’ve been buying out of the clearance section at Fabricland.

Montreal also has a fabric store chain, called Fabricville, and we spotted one a few blocks away from Matt’s place, so we went in. It is very much like Fabricland, but it seemed a bit nicer and cleaner, and they had a better selection. The staff was also very nice. I’m not sure what it’s like where you live, but the staff of the Fabriclands in Calgary, are notorious for being rude and very unhelpful. I’ve been lucky and mostly been able to bond with one or two of the girls at the location that I frequent. But I have heard over and over just how awful people have been treated there, and if you don’t believe me, just Google “Fabricland Calgary” and have a look at the reviews. It’s actually a bit funny.





Anyway, I managed to pick up some really cute jersey knits, and some denim which were all on sale, for a steal, so I am a happy camper. I can hardly wait to get home and get sewing!

Do you like to sew? Are you even interested in hearing about my sewing adventures? I have been debating starting a separate blog for sewing, but I'm not sure if that is necessary what do you think?