Monday, March 31, 2014

Sewaholic Cordova Jacket

I needed a jacket for spring, so I made myself a Sewaholic Cordova.

  • Stretch Plaid Suiting (polyester/rayon/spandex)
  • "Silk" Lining (polyester)
  • Interfacing
  • Buttons
  • Zipper
  • "I (heart) Handmade" Ribbon

I did my best to match the plaid all the way across the jacket. It was hard, especially since the fabric is stretchy, but I think I got it close enough.


Sewaholic Cordova

This is a nice stylish jacket with puffed sleeves. I made View B, with the single peplum. 


I made quite a few alterations. I raised the armohole seams about 1/4" for each shoulder. But, this still seems like not quite enough. The armhole line looks too far out. Most of the other Cordovas I have seen also appear to have this problem. It might be a bit of a style choice that works best for pear shaped ladies. On me, it just makes my shoulders look slightly droopy.

I did a small swayback adjustment. I made a muslin first, so I knew how much to take off.

I made a size 6 jacket (I'm somewhere near a size 8 according to the label, but I always find I'm closer to a six in Sewaholic patterns). However, I wanted to have this jacket have enough ease to fit over a cardigan. So, I increased around the waist by 1/2" on each side. I increased top of the peplum by 1/2" and decreased the bottom by 1"4. I also increased the sleeve width by 1/2" (for my bulging biceps, of course). Now, I think it looks a bit big on me without another layer under. What do you think?

I hate jackets with no pockets, so I added welt pockets with a button loop on each side. The pockets are curved to match the curve of the peplum. This was not easy, and I plan to make a follow up post with how I did it. Also, you might notice that I cut the peplums on the bias so that the plaid goes at an interesting angle.

I also added a ribbon as a jacket hanging loop. I was afraid a fabric loop would be too bulky and try to pop out of this collarless jacket. I really like how the ribbon turned out (thanks for the ribbon, sis!).

The lining is delicious! It's a polyester 'silk' lining in a pale green. I bagged the lining when I was assembling the jacket (good instructions on how to do that are on Grainline Studio's blog). Don't you think it looks good with my Alma blouse?

That's it. What do you think out there? Is it a hit or miss? So I go back and try to fix my sleeve poofs (I think they might be a bit flat)?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bicycle Fashion

My hubby found me a cute 1970's Raleigh bicycle. It's a bit rusty and needs TLC, but it should be a great bike for getting to work. 

He also emailed me some pictures with the subject "Bicycle Fashion Advice for You". They are vintage posters for Raleigh bicycles.

I think I'll have to use some of these for wardrobe inspiration!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 9

This week, the Wardrobe Architect series is about building capsule wardrobes for Spring/Summer. Thanks to all the work in the previous weeks, this exercise ended up being much easier than I thought it would be. Here are my work silhouettes:

This silhouette is for the cooler spring weather. Lots of layers and fitted blouses.

 When the weather gets a little warmer, I switch to capris and comfortable knit tops.

And when it's hot, I like wearing shorts. But, I still need the cardigan thanks to all the air conditioning in the office.
When it's really hot, I don't mind wearing dresses and skirts. But, they are for days when I know I won't be working out of the office and/or riding a motorycle to work. I actually own the dress above, but it definitely needs some nice sandals to go with it. I also own the outfit below, minus the red shoes. It's one of my favourite since it includes my lovely, sheer robot top and a comfortable knit skirt.

This exercise has been great to figure out what kind of oufits I want to wear. It has also helped me figure out what kind of footwear I need to finish these outfits off.

If I have time, I hope to do this for my Fall/Winter work silhouettes and my home/casual silhouettes.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 8

I'm finally at Week 8 of the Coletterie Wardrobe Architect series. This week, the topic is hair and makeup. To help us this about what works for us, there are a bunch of questions to think about. Here is what I answered.

My hair was a lot shorter a year ago...
  1. What hair style has been most flattering and comfortable for you? How did it make you feel about yourself? Did it invoke any of the words you came up with in our core style exercise?

    A: I like my hair at many lengths. Typically, I let it grow until it's really long and then cut it all off really short. I like it short and out of the way or long and in a pony tail. Both these styles fit with my words, which were "comfortable, action, appropriate, and androgynous".
  2. How much makeup are you comfortable with? It could be no makeup, or a full face with contouring (and all that jazz I could never figure out). Or it could vary day to day.

    A: I like a very natural look. I occasionally wear eyeliner to bring out my eye lashes, but that is usually it. I wear more make up on specially occasions, but never full face make up "and all that jazz".
  3. How does your makeup and hair reflect your personal style? What do you feel they say about you and your aesthetics?

    A: I like things that are simple and natural. I also don't like being too feminine.
  4. How much product do you want to own? Do you like collecting products, or would you rather just have a few essentials? How much bathroom clutter are you ok with?

    A: As little as possible. I believe we do damage to our bodies and environment with the amount of stuff we consume.
  5. What requirements do you have for the products you buy? Do you stick with all natural products? Are there ingredients you avoid?

    A: I tried to avoid harmful ingredients. I even carry around in my wallet a helpful list on the Top Ten Toxic chemicals that are in personal care products.
  6. What colors feel best near your face? How do they relate to the color palette you created?

    A: All of the colours I chose for my palette work well near my face, especially the statement colours.
  7. What colors never look right near your face? What colors have you tried and given up on before?

    A: As mentioned before, white really doesn't work for me. It makes my skin look a bit sickly.
  8. How much time do you realistically want to spend getting ready in the morning?

    A: Only 5 to 10 minutes - and that includes brushing teeth and putting on any jewelry.
  9. What types of scents do you gravitate towards? Do you wear perfume? Other scented products? What do you feel the scents you like communicate about your personality?

    A: Like with other products, I want to avoid scents as much as possible. I wear a little deordorant, which I checked for toxic ingredients when I bought it. Scents are also frowned upon in most public places.
So, I like to avoid products. They complicate life and are bad for the environment. I like to avoid consuming all of these beauty products for the same reason that I got into making my own clothes. I should make more of an effort to make my own products as well. I have made lotion in the past and with a lot of sucess.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Liberty Alma

I finally got to do some sewing for myself. I used some of the delicious Liberty Lawn that I purchased on my trip to London last year and created a simple, yet beautiful top.


I love the Liberty Lawn. The fabric feels so great and it was so easy to sew with.


Sewaholic Alma 1204

This pattern is perfectly suited for the Liberty print. The print is so busy and colourful, it needs a simple top pattern. The Alma creates a great silhouette that lets the fabric speak. A complex top pattern would just be too loud and take away from the Liberty print.


I only made a couple of alterations. I measured the sleeve pattern pieces and realized that they were close to my arm measurements, which means almost no ease. After measuring a couple of other shirts I owned, I decided to increase the sleeve width by 1/2".

I sewed 1/2" seams on the sides (instead of 5/8"), since I found my first Alma a little tight (it fits, but I wanted a little more ease). This little change made the shirt fit almost perfectly.

I have a small amount of fabric pooling at my lower back. This means I probably could have done a swayback adjustment. However, I don't think this is noticeable to most people in this busy fabric.

Update: I forgot to mention that I went with reverse felled seams for most of the shirt. For the armhole seams, I used a zig-zag stitch and trimmed the seam allowances.

I love my new shirt and will probably wear it at least once a week for as long as it lasts.

This top is also my project for the Simple Top Challenge for the group Stitch Once Rip Twice.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Quincy Hat

I made myself a lovely, new hat to go with my jacket.


The pattern is Quincy from Made in Brooklyn.

My gauge was ok when making my test square with the US size 10 and 10.5 needles. But, they seemed too big, when I was actually knitting the hat. My hat would have been too tall. So, I restarted with US size 8 and 9 needles and it worked great.

The pattern is simple, but has ample style. The half band is created by making a rectangle of stitches. Then, the ends are stitched together, while twisting the rectangle. Basically, you end up with a Mobius strip.

  • Berroco Lodge (47% Nylon, 47% Wool, 6% Rayon)
The wool is so soft and lovely! It has multi-coloured flecks in it and the purple flecks match my jacket.

My hat is very nice. The only thing I might change is possibly lining it. The big stitches don't hold much wind out on a cold and windy day.


I'm excited! There's a new sewing contest celebrating Sewaholic as an independent pattern company over on I'm definitely going to enter, since I'm already working on another Sewaholic Alma.

Another exciting part of the contest, is that my Cambie is used as an example. Apparently, it's one of the Member's favourites. Yay!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fixing my Sewing Machine

I was able to fix my broken Singer 533. If you recall, my feed dogs suddenly stopped working. When I opened up my machine, I discovered that I had a broken feed dog gear. I also found out that a good indication of the condition of the gears is by taking a look at the bottom cover.

This cover is right underneath the bobbin area. You will see lots of black plastic filings on the right of the case. This is right under the feed dog gears. There is also a bit of black plastic showing up on the left, which is under the bobbin hook drive gears. It is likely that my hook drive gears will soon break, too.

I found many places online that sold parts and ordered a set of hook drive gears and a set of feed dog gears. They still haven't arrived, but I was super lucky. My husband was shopping in a second hand store and found this Singer 522 (for $5.00!). It was missing the foot pedal, but was otherwise in okay shape.

I feel doubly lucky that I was able to get this machine and to have such a great husband, who is actively interested in what I do.

The only difference I could find between this Singer 522 and my Singer 533 is that my Singer 533 has the Flexi stitch option and the 522 does not.

Singer 533 (above) and Singer 522 (below)
I checked the parts manuals for both (available on the Singer website) and sure enough, most of the parts are the same.

So, I took apart the Singer 522 sewing machine. I checked the bottom cover to see if there were any signs of wear with the gears.

The previous owner did not take good care of their machine. The cover is full of lint and dirt. Luckily, there were no signs of plastic filings. The gears also looked in good shape. There were no broken or worn teeth.

I took the gears out of the Singer 522 using the directions from this video made by Sewing Parts Online. The video is very good, so I won't go through all the steps they show. But, there are some important things to note:

  • Always replace both gears in a set, not just the broken one. Gears wear out and the teeth get misshapen with age. Your gears will wear out faster if you pair an old one with a new one (if they even work together at all). 
  • I think there is a mistake in the above video. He makes the mistake of putting the hook drive gear with two set screws on the top shaft. I believe the hook drive gear with the two set screws goes on the bottom and not the top. At the very beginning of the video and near the end of the video when he is setting timing, it looks like the gears are in the proper positions with the gear with the two set screws on the bottom.
  • It's a good idea to take pictures or even video of where your needle is in relation to the hook before you take everything apart (if your timing is right to begin with). It will make it easier to put it back in the right place and time your machine.

My hook is just starting to go under the left
feed dog as my needle comes up. The needle eye is lined up
with the hook inside edge.

  • As suggested in the video, use a good helping of grease on the gears when you are done. This will keep the plastic from drying out and cracking. It also makes everything sound nice and smooth. Just make sure that the grease is safe on nylon (which is what the gears are usually made of).
Greased up hook drive gears (left)
and feed dog gears (right).
That's it. The Singer 522 will be my parts machine. And when I finally get my other gears in the mail, they will be ready to go if and when these gears die.

My machine works again and sounds very lovely. Now, I can get back to sewing. Hurrah!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 7

For week 7 of the Wardrobe Architect, we are supposed to explore what prints and solids we like.

Looking through my wardrobe, I notice that most of my tops are prints, while I like solids for my bottoms. Although, occasionally I wear skirts with prints and solid on top. I like pairing a print with a cardigan or jacket that goes with one of the colours in the print.

Here are some of the tops I love:

Lots of big floral patterns with bold colours and some more subtle, novelty-type prints. I love the robots - I wear that top year round.

And here are some of the fabrics in my stash that I love:

Some Liberty of London lawns and some other large florals. I'm think of making most of these into tops. But, I might also make a dress or a skirt.

So, when it comes to patterns, it seems that I don't like stripes, dots, or animal prints. Instead I like floral, geometric, and novelty prints. 

I do have some nice solids in my stash, too:

I have a lovely, brownish-grey wool suiting fabric and a nice pale blue cotton stretch sateen. I want to make pants out of both.

So, no surprise, I like colourful prints and I like to make sure they are paired well with solids. I did find out that I think I need more robots and subtle, geeky prints. Even though the actual robot shirt is a bit uncomfortable, I love wearing it because of the robots.