Posted in Crafty Stuff

and one project’s done …

IMG_2283This … is actually not bad at all. I wish I'd done nicer job on the binding on the hem, and I used a completely different tutorial (this one) for the neck binding instead of the official Riley's Nightgown instructions, but Madeline really likes it.

Posted in Crafty Stuff

i’m sewing again! twice in one year!

One item that I added to my pre-move lists today was sending my sewing machine in for a tune-up. I am not sure that it's had one since I inherited it from my mom! It's more a preventative thing; my very basic 1977 Bernina 707 Minimatic is running fine (except that the on/off switch no longer works; thankfully it defaults to "on"). 

My sewing project is an experimental nightgown for Madeline. We used to be able to find very soft all-cotton ones in Bangkok at Lottie & Max, but we haven't lived there since 2010! Here in Canada, my kids have a choice of often-scratchy synthetic pajamas, no matter where we shop. So, I found this really cute raglan-sleeve pattern online and am using it with some of the cotton knit that I bought at the Than Dinh (if I remember the name correctly) market in Saigon.

So, I've mentioned above that my sewing machine is getting vintage, and that I'm actually in the midst of a sewing project. What else should I find when I check out my feed reader this morning and see a post titled "Is it worth it to buy an expensive sewing machine?" over at one my favourite sewing blogs? It was like the universe was telling me that I need to upgrade and make many more raglan-sleeve nightgowns filled with machine appliques and automatic buttonholes!

The post did make me doubt my loyalty to the little Bernina that has been in my life forever for a moment, but even if I do buy a new machine someday, I'll probably hang on to the Bernina. It's the machine that most of my clothes were made on until I was probably eight years old. It's the machine that made all of the outfits for my Cabbage Patch dolls. And it's small and portable, so I can plunk it down on a table to get to work right away, no matter where in the world I am!

Posted in Crafty Stuff

things i have to say about knitting

1. My kids are interested in knitting themselves, but more so on whatever project that I'm working on rather than a project of their own. I've lost more than a few stitches due to passing my WIP to Madeline, so I'm not keen on having her work on whatever lacey pattern I currently have on my needles. She knit a fair amount of the crazy-long garter-stitch scarf that I made for Chris, and she's made a cute little cozy for her eReader, and that was a good project for introducing her to some increase and decrease stitches. Now that the scarf is finished, she's working on a mobius capelet with some very soft bulky-weight yarn.  My six year-old is just not allowed to touch my knitting stuff, period – I just don't have a plan for teaching her yet. When Sadie talks about what she wants to knit, it's always stuff like three-dimensional stuffed animals and I am so not there myself! I'm not sure that she's going to be hooked on knitting by knitting swatches, you know? 

2. Ravelry has been around for awhile now, and I am still not sure whether it's a blessing or a curse. I am definitely the type of person who will use whatever tools that I have access to research anything that I'm interested in to death. This means that when I decided that it was time to knit myself a new winter hat, I looked at over a hundred pages of patterns before finally giving up and just picking one. Too much choice is a bad thing – at least, for me. On the other hand, it's great to be able to look up a yarn that I'm clueless how to best use, and see what other knitters have successfully used it for. And to see what a scarf that I am smitten with is usually knit out of. 

3. I've spent far too many hours since last Saturday comparing photos of finished scarfs in three different shades of grey yarn. The worst part is that one of these yarns is totally discontinued, which makes my crush on it even more ridiculous. None of them are stocked at my local LYS, and are out-of-stock at the Canadian online retailers that I've been able to find. My fingers are crossed that I'll find something else in a similarly lovely shade of silver-grey so that I'm not tempted to order from the USA  … 

Posted in Crafty Stuff

another status update

And the costume is very nearly done.

UnnamedThe tulle skirt was finished up first – I followed the instructions from this tutorial and this tutorial and the biggest ordeal of the project was actually working with the tulle. Sadie's skirt has six layers, and I cut them out separately so that the sizing would be truer. This was fine, but then lining up all the layers of tulle to baste them together was a tricky matter because the fabric was both a little bit slippery and a little bit static-y. But they sewed together fine (plus a cotton layer for lining) and attaching the wide elastic went exactly to plan. I copied the circle skirt tutorial and downloaded the circle skirt pattern template from the Scientific Seamstress and it was extremely helpful. I needed to the entire pattern to make a tea-length skirt for my average-height five year-old.


The next part I worked on was the sparkly bodice overlay. I'd changed my plan for this part at least four times. I've actually sewn two. The first one was a simple tube that I'd drafted using one of Sadie's tees; it looked really good but when I thought about it, it was kind of a pain for her to shimmy into. I thought about sewing a panel of the bodice fabric directly onto the leotard, but the obvious problem with that scenario was that my fabric wasn't stretchy and the leotard obviously was. I googled and Pinterested and found a new tutorial that had a good solution. It's basically sewing a rectangle and thus, really easy. I have never seen this Wonder Under product, so I used Steam-a-Seam 2 for fusing the cotton lining.  I added a  bit of length to Sadie's in order to ensure the elastic on the tulle skirt was fully covered, and only put elastic part-way down the back to accomodate her bottom. 


In the meantime, her leotard arrived in the mail, and I was happy that I'd gone with the Capezio version because the colour is a lighter blue than the ones I'd seen in real life at the dance supply store. I've started to sew some beads and sequins around the scoop neck. 

The glitter organza was delivered yesterday, and when I pulled the fabric out of the plastic sleeve, it looked like a bag of pixie dust had exploded in the kitchen! It looks like a lot of the glitter came out in the wash! Anyway, I'm happy with the sparkle as a stand-in for ice crystals. Also, ordering from Joann's across the border was completely painless. Shipping cost and time was reasonable, and my order was a small enough value that I wasn't charged any duty. Now I just have to sew the thing ….


Posted in Crafty Stuff

status update: the elsa dress

Status as of Today:

  • sewing machine unpacked and ready – not at all!
  • serger unpacked and ready – yes!
  • skirt pattern ready
  • bodice pattern – to do later
  • tulle for the skirt purchased (and hurrah – it's 60" wide), will be cut later today
  • skirt lining fabric purchased, cut, and seamed together 
  • bodice fabric – purchased, awaiting pattern
  • cape fabric – ordered today
  • leotard – currently in transit
  • elastic for skirt is purchased
  • snowflake embellishments have been ordered

I'm somewhat disturbed by my experience shopping for some of the items that I need for this project.

The online store for Discount Dance Supply came highly recommended by a couple of my friends who have kids in tap and ballet, and they did have good pricing on long-sleeved light blue leotards. Except their shipping fees to Canada start around $30. Ugh. I found an online store in Canada that had fairly competitive pricing on leotards and I'd picked out one to order, but then I discovered that there's an actual dance supply shop about ten minutes away (who knew!), so I took Sadie over there in the hopes of seeing the colours in real life and getting a better fit. Only, the guy working the floor at The Masque kind of laughed at me when I asked for assistance with a light blue long-sleeved leotard. They only had short sleeved versions. The colour was a little darker than I was hoping for, as well. The only upside to the visit to the dance shop was that they had a very nearly perfect fabric for the bodice of the dress, so I bought a metre to work with in lieu of knitting the bodice (though I still think that mixing textures like that would have been really cool). Fourteen dollars a metre. Done. I ended up ordering a light blue long-sleeved Capezio leotard from, of all places. It was much less than the Canadian online shop – about fifteen dollars for the leotard and eight dollars for shipping.

I ended up ordering a glittery organza for the cape from the US, too. Joann Fabrics just had so many more options than I found at the local fabric stores and the online Canadian retailers, too. Maybe they were just out-of-stock, but the whole trying to shop domestically just left me discouraged again! 


Posted in Crafty Stuff

project: the elsa dress

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes wondering if I was living in an alternative reality because I was watching the national news on CBC and they ran a feature on the lack of Frozen-related merchandise at Disney Stores. I didn't realize that this was a crisis of national importance on par with Senate reform and the temporary foreign worker program, but now that I think of it, this story was one that I can relate to a little. 

I have a five year old. She very much asserts that her dress-up costume collection is lacking something from the "Ice Movie" and when I start talking about the beautiful colours and embroidery on Princess Anna's outfit, she gets online and show me exactly what slinky and glittery gown she's talking about.

Additionally, this five year-old's dad is a supporter of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and they're hosting a father/daughter princess ball fundraising event in about a month. The five year-old needs something to wear. 

So, I'm going to try to make something. People do this everyday. Google "Elsa cosplay" or search on Pinterest. I haven't checked textile availability at Fabricland yet, but my basic plan is to make Sadie a tulle skirt (probably from this tutorial – it includes a lining), knit a bodice (because I like knitting more than sewing), and procure a long-sleeved bodysuit to attach it to. I'll let everyone know how it goes 🙂

Posted in Crafty Stuff, ex-pat confidential


So, remember how I wrote about ordering hand-sewn quilts for my kids back in October? They were finished in time to be tucked under the tree for Christmas. This one is Madeline's (please excuse the quality of the actual photo – the lighting was lousy):


I love it. She loves it, which is probably more important. The dark turquoise of the applique looks fantastic with the white background, and I can't find any faults in the workmanship. 

I'm less pleased with Sadie's:


The pink fabric was supposed to be pink tie-dye, but sometimes those things are tricky to communicate, so I can mostly forgive that. The thing that really bothers me about Sadie's quilt is the proportions. It's really long, and the center applique is small and leaves lot of "blank" (or yellow) space. I don't really like the large section of plain fabric between the top of the center applique and the top of the quilt, and I don't like how the applique isn't centered in the middle of the bed (see: problem with the length). I think that this was actually my fault though – aren't twin beds normally longer in Asia than they are in Canada?  I'm kind of tempted to relegate this quilt to guest-bedroom duty and start over for Sadie.