Party Time. Excellent. *air guitar motions*

December is Party time at the CSC! It’s a fun themed month all about celebrating. And the theme is pretty open so you don’t just need to sew up a fancy party dress or suit. You could sew a bathing suit for a pool party or pjs for a pj party.

I thought I would share my plans for the theme.

I plan on making fancy pjs!

Back in the early summer I got flannel back satin in a mint colour.

My plan since has been to make a fancy robe using a Burda kimono pattern:

My plan is to also trim it with this pink satin that I got:

The pink satin has stretch and is going to be used as the main fabric for a Burda nightgown:

The lace trim is going to be this mint stretch trim to match with the robe:

The whole project will be shared on the CSC when it is done. Luckily, I have a swanky new photography set to keep me inside for pictures. 🙂

What are you planning for #CSCPartyTime?

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Burda Cowl Neck Top

The Burda cowl neck top (10/2011#135) was part of my 2017 Make Nine so I wanted to share it for that reason. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. I really think the issues are due to the fabric. The top really requires a fabric with enough drape to make the cowl really look gorgeous. On the bolt, the fabric appeared to be nice and drapey, but it wasn’t really. It washed up a bit crisper as well. A knit with rayon would work beautifully in this top.

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The top has raglan sleeves and an inset for the front and back for the neckline/cowl. The sleeves are also in the original pattern ruched at the side from forearm to hem. I chose to make sleeve bands instead since I doubted I would like the ruching. In terms of fit problems, the sleeves fit like wings and the bust is pretty good. The cowl neck could be more cowl-like. More room in the hips would be good.

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In terms of sewing, it’s not my best work. The cowl was difficult to get in and there is something weird with the side seams.

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And yet the times I have worn it, I really loved wearing it. Just goes to show that a garment doesn’t need to be perfect for you to enjoy wearing it. It’s a super comfy top and I just love the colour of it. The length is perfect for wearing with jeans. Overall I feel pretty great in it even though I know there are fit problems and sewing problems.

Go figure.

Burda has the usual sparse instructions so this top isn’t for the faint of heart. You just sort of have to “interpret” their instructions or go your own way like I do 90% of the time.

Speaking of 2017 Make Nine, I’m on track to get five out of the nine done. Way better than my 2016 Make Nine where I made exactly zero of the things I planned.

Here is my #2017makenine Except for the middle column, these are @burda_style patterns. I made a goal to make more Burda patterns since I love the designs and think the block fits me pretty well. Plan is to make at least these 6 this year starting with the grey sweatshirt using some cat print terry I have. In the middle column, I want to make a maxi length @cashmerette #appletondress with some lovely tropical fabric I recently acquired in a swap. I love #M7537 from the @mccallpatterncompany early spring release. I can see it becoming a quick favourite. Finally, I have a bunch of flannel in my stash that is due to become pjs using the free pattern from @5outof4patterns If I bust that stash, I clear out an entire shelf of my stash! And I get many cozy pjs to wear about the house in various lengths for the year. Last year I didn't get any of my list done. This year feels pretty reasonable and should be doable. 😁 #sewing #sewcialists

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I think the summer dresses just aren’t going to happen, but the pj pants and the kimono robe will for sure. I finished my Appleton dress, Burda sweatshirt and now my Burda cowl top. I would love to get the top left corner Burda dress done sometime this winter. I have fabric for the other Burda dresses, but it doesn’t seem to make sense to make summer dresses when there are leaves on the ground so those will likely be pushed over to my 2018 Make Nine list. The McCall’s dress fell off my to make list. I ended up buying fabric for M7624 instead. Hahha oops. I hope to make view  C or D depending on how much I can squeeze out of the fabric at some point during the winter.

I’m just not sure that both of those dresses will happen in 2017. They may be muslined in 2017, but not finished up.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Burda cowl neck top (10/2011#135)
  • Pros: Even though it was tough to put in, the separate pieces for the back neckline and the cowl make for a nice shape and lovely finish. I really like the relaxed fit and with some tweaks it would be perfect.
  • Cons: The usual sparse instructions issues for Burda patterns.
  • Make again?: With some nice drapey rayon knit and a few fit/style mods. I would increase the cowl width and try to figure out how to adjust to get rid of the flaps of fabric in the sleeves above the bust.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md4/5 stars

 

Cashmerette Rivermont Pattern

I tested the Cashmerette Rivermont pattern and really fell in love with it.  The pattern includes a sheath dress and a peplum top with a high scoop neck. The neckline has shoulder to shoulder facings. And there are big pockets in the sheath dress. The pattern called for medium weight ponte knit or lightweight neoprene/scuba.

When Jenny sent me the pattern preview, I jumped on it. We actually tested back in July/August. I bought some lovely ponti de roma in a deep purple from Fabricland to make my first version.

 

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I sent off the results of testing and hadn’t hemmed the dress yet. I usually take off 3-4 inches from the hem of Cashmerette patterns unless I feel like leaving them long (the Webster dress I left longer). I’m considering going back  and hemming it about 4 inches shorter. Also, because the hem got all wavy in sewing and even after pressing it wouldn’t go flat.

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I realized as I was taking these pictures that most are with my hands in the pockets. They are such deep cozy pockets that I just kept putting my hands in there. Ha! I styled it with a belt from Addition-Elle. That belt is one of my favourite wardrobe accessories.

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I adore purple on me. Weirdly I don’t have a lot of it in my wardrobe. This piece was the start of getting it back into my wardrobe. 🙂

My second Rivermont dress was also using the tester pattern. I had a wedding to go to in Killarney at the end of September and really needed something nice to wear. I got some peach scuba in a Bunz trade at the end of August. Over 86 yards of awesome fabric for a $40 gift card to Staples! Bunz is crazy good. What I noticed was the light peach colour was a great match for my skin and then my brain just needed some lace overlay for it. I got some royal blue stretch lace from Fabricville (sadly not available anymore) and got started the week of the wedding. Yes, I was finishing the dress up the night before we left.

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You can see how the scuba with its lower stretch percentage and stiffness makes it fit a little bit differently. But it still looks awesome imho.

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After seeing all the pictures with my hands in my pockets, I basically was self conscious and kept them out for these pictures. LOL. I styled this dress with a thin gold belt from Winners.

The neckline was fixed for the final version. It doesn’t really bother me in either of these dresses. It’s much better in the ponti version since the fabric has better recovery. The scuba version definitely has a more pronounced neckline issue as well as an issue with gaping pockets. I used a lighter jersey to line the pockets due to a few reasons. I didn’t want to have too much bulk from sewing through three layers of fabric at the waist and I didn’t have enough fabric. The dress also had to be cut 4 inches shorter, but that turned out to be a great thing since I love the length.

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I really wanted to take these pictures and get the post ready for the launch of the pattern, because I love it so much. I had a rough September and October due to having gluten back in my diet in order to get tested for celiac disease and spent a lot of the time sick. I’m back on my gluten free diet now and automatically feel better. I mean I still have a chronic illness, but a chronic illness plus an extra amount of horrible migraines, allergy attacks, GI issues, and not being able to eat for fear of throwing up is the worst. I often have all of these issues, but not to that degree. And of course, it is fall here, so if it isn’t me being sick, it’s raining. I actually managed to take these after it had rained off and on all day.

There will be many more Rivermont iterations in the future. I plan on making a stretch velvet peplum next. 😀

Pattern Hacking Smorgasbord

First off, thank you for the wonderful comments and messages on all my social media formats on my last post. Your support means so much to me and helps life me up on bad days. I cannot thank you enough for both reading my posts on chronic illness and responding to them. Even a “like” makes me feel better. Chronic illness can be so isolating and lonely, but I love having an online community to make that feel less and less true. I may be at home in bed, but I am able to feel the love. ❤

I can’t use the word Smorgasbord without thinking of Charlotte’s Web.

Man, that rat knows how to live. It is living its most authentic life. Hahah.

August was pattern hacking month at the CSC and I got quite a bit of inspiration from the posts that fueled some recent sewing.

First up on my recent pattern hacks, is a Cashmerette Concord T-shirt. Anyone who follows me knows this is my TNT t-shirt pattern. I just adore it. It fits me perfectly. So why even try another t-shirt pattern to achieve what can easily be done with an existing pattern?

I didn’t even make a paper pattern for this. I was feel super lazy and having a low energy and medium pain day. I grabbed my tailor’s chalk and just made the adjustments with that on the actual fabric. I had minimal fabric leftover from my friend’s dress, but it was determined to become a 1980s inspired top.

The shirt is a bit of a flashback to an early 80s top that I vaguely remember and can’t find a single picture of. The 80s top had a tie neckline with a keyhole too and puffed sleeves with cuffs and a banded hem. Because of the small amount of fabric there was no way I could stripe match and I had to cut it shorter than I would prefer. I cut the back going in the opposite direction from the front and failed to remember to take a picture of that.

It was an easy top to hack. I extended the width of the sleeve across the entire sleeve from the centre. This gives enough width for the gathers at the sleeve head and the gathers around the sleeve band. I cut the sleeve band against the grain. This does effect the stretch of the fabric so I had to extend the length. I am probably about an inch and half too short for that so I do find the sleeve band doesn’t quite hit in the right place. But I was working with very little fabric and didn’t have enough for a longer band. I used my chalk to draw the shape of the keyhole and then cut a very long neckband. I also cut a small piece of fabric to finish the keyhole. The easiest part was likely the bottom band. You cut it slightly shorter than your hem. I didn’t even need to really cut it. It was the bottom edge of the fabric after cutting off the sleeves on the fold. I think I may have cut it a bit shorter and that is it.

Well I like this so far! #concordtshirt #sewing #sewcialists

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Cashmerette Concord T

I just love the top and really want to make more that look the same. Since I didn’t make a pattern paper for this, I will have to do backtracking and make it. I can’t kick past Andie for not doing it. It was an accomplishment for me to cut out the top that day. No way I was putting my spoons toward making a pattern.

Next up on the pattern hacking smorgasbord is a *finally* finished pleated Cake Pavlova skirt. Another TNT pattern for me. Speaking of TNTs, which is all that I used in this post, have you heard of the upcoming Sewcialist TNT month? I’m pretty excited for it! Clearly TNTs have also been on my mind.

Cake Patterns Pavlova Skirt

The skirt is black so unfortunately you might not see the pleats I added. There are two pleats halfway between the centre and the side seam on each side and on both the front and back.

A note on the socks. They are the Wolf and the Tree Going Rogue socks. I never got around to posting on them and these are the only pair I made. I will say they run bigger than I thought they would and I had to size down significantly. I really love them though and will eventually get around to making more since I am on board with matching my socks and cardi (cardi is my Gryffindor Sophi Cardi).

Cake Patterns Pavlova Skirt

There is a side seam pocket on the left side of the skirt and the zipper is on the left side of the skirt.

Cake Patterns Pavlova Skirt

The above picture highlights the pleats a bit better. The fabric is from the thrift store and is a lovely and extremely soft cotton stretch suiting. I had no idea fabric like that existed, but it is lovely. The waistband is unfortunately a bit tight. It’s due to the interfacing on the waistband. I am hoping it relaxes with washing. I should have used knit interfacing to make for pie room in the waistband. I started making the skirt earlier this year and left it aside to take out the waistband. I’m kick myself for not removing the interfacing at the same time. 😦

As long as I am not swollen or having GI issues, I can wear the skirt without issue. It’s just not going to be one I reach for on bad days.

Finally, my last pattern hack is using the Cashmerette Springfield top.

While at work one day, I got it in my head and HAD to draw it out.

I have been wanting a tie-neck top for a while and had never gotten around to it. I saw Elizabeth make a top with ruffle cap sleeves and just had to make one. Then my brain suddenly put the two together at work and I freaked out because it became my dream top. Add to that a lovely tunic length and a high-low split hem! OMG. A veritable smorgasbord!

Cashmerette Springfield Top

Cashmerette Springfield Top

Edit: No shame posting the back with a big sweat stain from having worn it all day. Hahah. 😛 Shirt is poly crepe so no breathing! Also as an aside… I’m noticing how wonky my ankles are looking here. Yeay, EDS? lol

For this pattern hack, I had changed the neckline to a v-neck. I just drew the line on my pattern and folded it under. I extended the front by 2 inches and the back for 3.5 inches for the high-low hem. The top already has a split hem. I used the pattern view with the princess seams on the back. I do see from pull lines that I might benefit from going up a size in the butt area due to the extra length and needing to skim over my widest asset (har har). But otherwise, the fit is good. I added some handstitched gathers to the shoulder area of the neckband to help it sit well. The ruffle cap sleeves are just long rectangles gathered. The sleeve and neckline are finished with bias binding.

Cashmerette Springfield Top

Cashmerette Springfield Top

Cashmerette Springfield Top

Really feeling myself in that picture. Ha!

Cashmerette Springfield Top

A bonus to this post is my alteration of my Auberley dress. The sleeves never quite felt right. They were big enough, but with EDS sometimes woven sleeves can be too constricting and can cause issues. I split them down the centre and then added some cute cuffs with snap closures and gathered the sleeve hem into them. What I achieved is a sleeveless feel for my wonky joints but a sleeved look that is “on trend.”

And now after all that, I want some fair food. Bring on the cotton candy and popcorn!

How the Medical System Fails People with Chronic Illness

Trigger Warning: Suicide awareness

 

I have many doctors appointments and medical tests on a regular basis, but I still manage to not get effective care from many of my healthcare providers. My chronic cough remains undiagnosed and not effectively treated. My allergy attacks are getting more frequent and leaving me breathless and drugged on allergy meds and asthma meds. I have multiple joint issues that are left untreated and am told they will get worse, but there is no solution for stopping the degeneration. Doctors tend to eventually turn me out their doors with no available solution.

Why?

Because I am “not bad enough yet” and there is very little focus on preventative medicine. When you are “bad enough,” they treat you with the next step of care, but until then you are not given effective care.

When you get diagnosed with a chronic illness or you suffer from chronic pain, you are constantly asked about your mental health. How are you coping? Are you able to get out of bed on a regular basis? Does it interrupt your daily life? etc. etc.

Every new doctor I see asks me these exact questions. If you aren’t coping, they go to the next step in their method of care and that step usually includes a drug program or risky injections or steroids to help get you out of bed and cope. If you are “coping,” you are considered “not bad enough yet” and continually told to self-manage your symptoms and try physio-guided exercise, diet changes, supplements, etc. All of these alternatives help in a small degree, but they fall short.

But how do you actually measure “not bad enough yet” for someone with chronic illness or pain, especially when they have lived with it their entire life like me?

I also have the experience of having cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) tools to help me cope with pain on a daily basis and “push through” my bad days so I can do things like have a shower, make food, go to the bathroom.

Doctors for the most part lack the ability to understand chronic illness and pain. The pain scale is different for us. The ability to cope is different for us, especially if there is a background of CBT or other coping mechanisms. They often don’t understand that the fact that I am seeking help from and seeing every specialist means I am bad enough. I’ve lived with chronic illness long enough to cope with bad days and live with high pain even on “good days.” And if I try to help them understand, they often say something along the lines of “I don’t want to start you on narcotics yet” and they don’t offer an alternative.

I don’t have a perfect solution. I’m not an expert. I will say that not being accused of being a drug seeker would be a great start and listening to what is happening to the patient as well as understanding that I may be “coping” but I am not doing well. The more bad days I have, the less and less I will be able to cope. My “good days” are days most would consider terrible.

I’ve overcome depression and suicide attempts to really value my life and value my abilities. To let pain stop that enjoyment for me is too late in my opinion and if that is “bad enough” for the medical professionals, I shudder to think what other patients are falling through the cracks – patients without my coping mechanisms – because the medical system is failing.

There is no mystery that the rate of suicide in the chronic illness community is higher. I have lost a family member with chronic illness to suicide.

I am not at risk myself. I have a fantastic family and friend network that is there for me plus the coping mechanisms to help me through the dark days, but I am at risk of losing my ability to cope. I am losing my ability to work and earn income. I am losing my ability to do basic tasks. I am losing and doctors are not helping.

We need an overhaul of how chronic illness is assessed and diagnosed. We need a new scale of understanding how a patient is coping. We also need a better system in place that considers a comprehensive view of patient care and has all of our health care providers talking to one another. With that conversation, maybe a real healthcare plan could be drawn up and the patient could feel hope. We need more patient advocates in health care policy and administration. We need to not wait until a patient is “bad enough” and make sure they don’t get there.

I see the start of this change, but it can’t come quick enough. We’ve already lost so many chronic illness warriors. Let there be not one more.

 

Decades Everyday Chore Skirt

I’m extremely pleased to announce that Decades of Style has expanded their size range for their Decades Everyday patterns! The Chore Skirt just released today and goes up to a size 26 or a 46″ waist. This means no more grading up for me! When Janet asked me to test the skirt, I jumped on the chance. I’ve been a big DOS fan for a while. The instructions and drafting are great. The vintage style is right up my alley.

The Chore Skirt is not your regular pleated skirt. It has a narrow waistband, side seam pockets with a side seam zipper, and beautifully placed pleats in the front and the back. In the front, there are less pleats than the back for a clean look. The back pleats really give the skirt a lovely look. There are also side pleats that make the pockets and zipper disappear. There is a bottom panel in the skirt that is perfect for contrasting fabric or for using bias tape or lace. The hem is weighted so that the skirt always draped beautifully. The skirt works beautifully in mid to lightweight fabrics that can handle the multiple pleats at the back.

I made my skirt in a hot pink cotton poplin with bias trim above the bottom panel. The skirt went together really quickly except that I originally forgot the side pleats and frantically messaged Janet saying the waistband didn’t fit. She was very wonderful about it, but my cheeks sure were red! With the side pleats, it of course fit perfectly into the waistband. D’oh.

I will need to wear this version with a belt, but that is okay. My gold belt looks fabulous with it. 😉 I made a size 24, but likely should have made a size 22 instead. I was trying to be extra cautious because my waist can fluctuate due to inflammation. Next time, I will choose a size 22. I have visions of making this in chambray fabric or some lovely linen. Or copying this vintage version posted on the Decades of Style IG page:

Isn’t it beautiful? ❤

Here is my gorgeous version! Don’t I match my blog theme perfectly? ❤

Just a note, the belt is styled under the waistband here since I haven’t added carriers yet for the belt.

Decades Everyday Chore Skirt

Decades Everyday Chore Skirt

Decades Everyday Chore Skirt

Decades Everyday Chore Skirt

Decades Everyday Chore Skirt

Decades Everyday Chore Skirt

Look at that swish!

Needless to say I am totally biased because I was already a fan girl of DOS and I got the pattern for free. But in spite of that bias, I really love this skirt and I think it’s a great pattern.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Decades Everyday Chore Skirt
  • Pros: Well-drafted pattern and a great size range! The strategically placed pleats are really going to look awesome on a lot of people.
  • Cons: I’m not sure I have any cons!
  • Make again?: Already dreaming of the next one!
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday is here, but with a twist. 😉

Recently, a friend contacted me asking me to help her with a very special project. She sent me a picture and asked if I could recreate the dress so she could pose as her younger self. The original picture was taken in Hungary at Aquincum ruins of Budapest and she was about to return there with her parents for a family trip.

Recreating childhood pictures is a really great trend that emerged recently. I really love the idea and was fully behind it!

My friend, Susan Debreceni, is heavily into nostalgia. I know her through the Toronto Improv Community. She even runs a nostalgic show called Blast from the Past: “Comedians take the stage and bring their cherished childhood items to life through improv and otherwise. Nostalgia at its comedic best.” It’s a great way to bring out the fun in nostalgia. I also have seen some adorable baby pictures of improvisors!

When Susan sent me the picture, I knew immediately what to do: Colette Moneta bodice and a gathered skirt. I didn’t use the Moneta skirt, because the sides are curved and I wanted to make sure the dress had matching side seams for the stripes.

Finding the fabric was surprisingly not difficult! We were sure that would be the most difficult part. I quickly searched in my usual places and found a striped cotton lycra and a solid yellow cotton lycra (unfortunately no longer available) at L’Oiseau Fabrics. The fabrics were definitely brighter than the original dress, but brighter didn’t matter. It was an almost perfect match! When they arrived, I was really impressed with the quality. Definitely worth the price.

They sewed up beautifully on my serger. I added sleeve bands in yellow to the sleeves and omitted the pockets since they were not sitting correctly. I serged the hem, since that is my preference. I asked first if that was cool with Susan and she was on board. For the butterfly, Susan sent me a picture, which I printed out and used as a template. I used misty fuse to stabilize the cut out and then used a satin stitch on my sewing machine. It worked really well and then needed to be ironed like crazy to sit flat perfectly. It looked awesome.

 

Here is the final garment! Hopefully it fits my friend well. 😊😊 #sewing #sewcialists

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I’m super happy to have helped make Susan’s nostalgic dreams come true!

Want to check this dress out in person? It might appear at Blast from the Past!

Check them out on facebook or twitter.