From Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

Ah… the season of pumpkin spice is descending upon us. After a brief jolt of winter early this September, we are now experiencing the seasonal sweet spot. The days are sunny and warm, while the mornings are crisp and refreshing. We can play with interesting layers and combinations; our closets have never felt more alive. Knits and chiffon, skirts and sweaters, summers kiss in an autumn hug. Seriously, this is the best.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

Near the end of summer, I went through a major sewing boom, pumping out projects like a factory, one of them was a Gabriola Skirt from Sewaholic patterns. I was so stoked to wear it a few weeks ago, but a spell of SNOW put that dream on hold. Now, more inspired than ever to play with the seasonal crossover, I was elated to dance in the shower of falling leaves in this creation.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

I loved sewing this pattern. It was simple, yet the hip yoke detail adds so much OOMPH. I did have a bit of a connundrum on my hands that provided some inertia getting started. I knew from the moment I found it that I wanted to use this blue vintage floral print fabric for this pattern. I had gotten the last of the board with a total of 2.6 meters.

The pattern calls for 4.6 m. Also, being a vintage cotton, it had a width of about 90 cm. It probably wasn’t meant to happen, but I get pretty stubborn sometimes.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

I reduced some of my needed yardage by digging out scraps of  ivory lace for the contrast hip yoke (which looks so great with it anyway) and then went to shaving down a TON of the volume from the original pattern. I basically had to remove half the skirt (without sacrificing length). You should have seen how happy I was when I first got all my pieces to fit. Grainlines were a suggestion when it came to these pieces. Luckily the print is forgiving.

So while not as flowy and voluminous as the pattern originally intended, the heavier/stiffer nature of the fabric played well with the a-line silhouette.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

On a beautiful +26 degree day, I coerced Rory to capture this skirt in full seasonal transition mode. (He’s becoming quite the photographer and he is super serious about it – he even brought his own knee pads so he could get the best shot). The sun was perfect, the leaves just starting to turn a golden hue – the perfect for the summer side of this transition.

Once the temperature drops I am looking forward to wearing it with chunky sweaters, scarves and layers. PLUS, since it is full length, I can wear as many layers of tights and leggings as I want underneath and no one will know. This is genius I tell you.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

Here’s to autumn! Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

On Setting Goals and Learning New Things

Goals & Dreams // Boots & Cats

If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you’ll know that beyond sewing and cats, I am completely enamored by fabrics; their colors and design. Once I got a taste in university, I have been very passionate about the world of textile design, both in digital printing and hand dye methods. As much as I read about, rave and ogle the work of others, I leave my own participation in the craft in the dust, afraid to pursue it. A dark cloud of “I’ll never be good enough” constantly hangs overhead.

Still, in day dreams and brainstorming I feel the fire burn inside. There is so much I feel could do with this, but a voice had something very real to say: “You aren’t even trying to do it.”

Goals & Dreams // Boots & Cats

This isn’t anything shockingly new. Last summer, in an attempt to beef up my drawing skills I started a 365 day drawing challenge. A drawing a day for 365 days.  How many drawings do I have? About 42. It is not that I got bored or lazy, but I began to feel a frustration creep in. Those crotchety slinky voices that say “You suck” “You aren’t improving” “Why keep doing this?” Well. I guess they won out on that one.

A few weeks ago ALT summit teamed up with ethical accessory producers FashionABLE to launch a design contest for woven scarves. I was immediately excited. All I had to do was submit a digital drawing and selected designs would get woven and put up for a vote. I threw the doubts aside and said,  what have I got to lose? It was the first project in a while that really got me motivated, excited and engaged. I sketched, color collected and submitted my design.

Goals & Dreams // Boots & Cats

Yesterday they revealed the finalists.

No, I was not one of them. (Sorry if that is where you thought the story was going!) But it doesn’t matter. The fact that I was so interested in the process confirmed to me that I shouldn’t leave these ideas bumbling around in my brain anymore. I am getting back onto the sketching bandwagon, finishing my SkillShare e-courses and jumping in with both feet to keep fiddling around with this hobby of mine to bring it to a place I am really proud of. (Sorry Mad Men re-runs, I’ll have to catch you later!)

Goals & Dreams // Boots & Cats

Even though I didn’t get selected, there are three absolutely gorgeous scarf designs for you to vote for on FashionABLE’s website. Please vote and support these talented designers. (I voted for Dayle’s design. I am a complete sucker for neon touches).

Let’s all go out there and chase some dreams!

Vintage Refashion // #2 Mod Muumuu Redo

Mod Muumuu Re-do // Boots & Cats

As time goes on and my sewing skills improve, I find myself honing in on my personal style. I devour fabrics and patterns from all eras and let them speak to me in a way that lets me know I am on the right track. Settling deep into my heart is late 1960s fashion (re-watching Mad Men probably doesn’t have anything to do with that) and today’s re-fashion project just makes me love it so much more.

Mod Muumuu Re-do // Boots & Cats

Last summer I was gifted a few vintage dresses from Rory’s family which included this beautiful 60’s floral number. Or should I say numbers, since there are actually two separate dresses here. The blue satin layer beneath is a simple a-line tank dress, while the blue floral is sheer with the sleeves and high neckline. While some vintage styles are classics that fit right into modern wardrobe, others don’t quite age as nicely. Plus it is far too short for my stature and that simply would not do.

Vintage preservationists please avert your eyes. There be scissors here.

Mod Muumuu Re-do // Boots & Cats

Since the rest of the dress fit quite well, all I  needed was a good chop off the hemline. I marked the length I wanted the dress to finally sit, added a bit of seam allowance and chops away!

Mod Muumuu Re-do // Boots & Cats

I wanted the overdress to have some of that sheer fabric peek beyond the under-dress, so I used what I had chopped to mark the original length, and added about 5cm plus seam allowance. Chop chop.

I toyed with the idea of removing the original satin bottom hem and adding it onto my new hem, but it brought the look back to a doudy, night-gowny place, so I left it. I am sure I will have plenty of fun things to do with the scraps from this project.

I then whipped up a simple double folded hem to finish of both dresses and they are ready for a summers’ eve.

Mod Muumuu Re-do // Boots & Cats

I love the bold 60’s pattern of the fabric and it is what initially drew me to the dress in the first place. Now that I’m not drowning in print, it shines that much brighter.

Mod Muumuu Re-do // Boots & Cats

I like having the options of playing with modern jewelry and accessories. I can make a statement and go back in time with large flipped hair and bold cat-eyes, or pair with simple touches for a more approachable dinner with friends.

I left the sleeves and high-neckline as-is because these are true indicators of the decade and offer balance to the short length. Gotta keep things appropriate here.

Mod Muumuu Re-do // Boots & Cats

As scared as I was to take scissors to a vintage piece like this, I comfort myself in knowing that I have given it a new lease on life. Never again would it have been worn if left in it’s original state. I am sure there are some of you who never would dare snip vintage, and to be honest, there are some pieces that shouldn’t be messed with, but at some point you have to evaluate clothing’s ultimate purpose: to be worn.

Edmonton International Cat Festival

Catfestthisway

Edmonton is known as the festival city, with an innumerable amount of attractions, events and gatherings happening at any given time of the year, but especially in the summer.

But among the street performers, theatre and arts events, I never expected to be attending a festival centered around the love of our feline friends!  Armed with my cat-themed ensemble and a sense of curiosity I ventured out to Edmonton’s first international Cat Fest.

fluffyblueeyes

The event was organized as a fundraiser for our local humane society. It was a lively afternoon filled with cat video screenings, academic discussions about WHY cats are so trendy right now, and if it will just pass as just a fad, talks about cat personality types and even a photo-contest beauty pageant.

cattalks

Sprinkled with food trucks and cat-themed market vendors, the event was a really great atmosphere…especially since we got to actually visit some furry friends! Some from the Humane Society, others from local breeders and show societies, it was a perfect opportunity to sneak in some fuzz therapy.

bengal

I am looking forward to next year’s event and am excited to see how the event grows and evolves. Who knows, maybe in a few years it will grow to be that we’re known as the CAT festival city. A girl like me can dream.

Spcakitty1

Cat Crazy Belladone

Catcrazybelladone

I had been hoarding my Belladone pattern from Deer & Doe for some time, not quite sure what fabric I wanted to make it with. It had to be something special. Then into my life fell this cat print cotton twill found in California last month. I may have bought all of it.

AmazingcatprintI made a muslin to test the pattern, as I usually need to extend the bodice to fit at my natural waist, and I discovered that the flared skirt wasn’t quite for me. I took in the skirt for a straighter silhouette. It was very freeing to do with it as I pleased – this is one of the first dresses I’ve deviated from the original design. It has become so inspiring to me to look at everyone’s unique versions of the same pattern online to get ideas and see what is possible. The lightbulb moment was: anything is possible! I can make anything that I want and do it how I want it. Pencil skirts are more my jive, so why not make that part of the dress?

backbelladone

When I first got the pattern, I was a little intimidated by the back detail, worried that I wouldn’t be skilled enough to handle it. The instructions were clear and concise, and that back detail was the easiest part! I can tell you that this won’t be my last Belladone dress.

neckline

I did encounter one construction issue in the finishing process. The cotton twill has a bit of stretch, the curved neckline creates a bias and I forgot to do a stay stitch once I cut it out. Add all that up and you get one stretched out neckline. My bad. I solved this by making two small pleats to take in the excess. They balanced nicely with the bodice darts, so they didn’t look completely out of place. Next time though, I’ll reinforce that bias for a flat finish.

kittystockings

No crazy cat printed dress would be complete without the addition of my totally rad kitten stockings now wouldn’t it? Funny enough, the stockings caught people’s attention off the straightaway and it usually took them a minute to realize that the whole dress was covered in felines. Crazy cat lady hiding in plain sight.

I am so proud of this project, and although minor mistakes are always made, I feel like I am moving forward and EXCITED for the projects I have coming down the line next. I also have about 3m of this cat print left, and have received many a request for something made from it. I’ve caught the sewing bug, friends. This summer is going to be a good one.

Have a great week everyone!

California // Part 2: San Francisco and Santa Cruz

IMG_3284

When you hear the word ‘vacation’ you imagine a relaxing getaway with lazy days and a good book. This trip was anything but relaxing – in the best way possible. We saw, conquered, hiked, created, played and tried more new things in a span of 5 days than I probably had in the past month.

slackline

The day after the Maker Faire we immediately headed into San Francisco for some fun, hipster-inspired adventures. This was our second time into the city, so we knew we wanted to stay in the Mission, close to parks, shopping and friends. We found the cutest little Airbnb apartment. One tip though, look early for bookings. We waited maybe a little too late (3 weeks out) and although there are tons of options, most places were reserved by then.

tacolicious

When people ask about my favorite thing about the city, I have to say the FOOD! It is so amazing to me that most restaurants we saw as we wandered were small, independent and wildly original in some way. We had New York style pizza (ironic, I know. Tapping into the hipster spirit) at Arinell’s, European sausage at Rosamunde and taco samplers at Tacolicious. Most of the time, we just wandered the streets and went someplace that looked good from the window.  The experience of discovery has fueled me to venture and try to do the same here at home.

dandelion

Now, we couldn’t try all that and pass up dessert now could we? My favorite stop on Valencia was Dandelion chocolate. They made all their chocolate in the cafe and we watched and enjoyed the warm aroma of fresh chocolate. Heavenly. Even though it wasn’t terribly hot outside, I settled in on a frozen hot chocolate. Frankly, I am unsure if I will be able to enjoy one from Second Cup again.

imokay

We skipped all the touristy attractions this time ’round. So been there done that. We also lucked out by having a friend nearby to show us all the cool insider attractions that made the days action-packed. We learned how to slackline in Dolores Park (I took three steps by the end!), discovered hidden art galleries in the back of bookshops (and even stumbled upon a clown-show), went rock-climbing at Misson Cliffs, made mozzarella cheese from scratch, painted the night sky with lights (in the most ironic fashion, of course), dominated the course at Urban Putt, and put our roller disco groove on at Church of 8 Wheels. I can’t even say all of that in one breath and yet we did it all in 3 days.

disco

San Francisco had such an electric, unique, open minded energy that just makes you fall in love with it just a little bit.

We couldn’t stop there though, we had a strict schedule to keep! We departed SF after those few days and headed south to Santa Cruz. Another amazing thing about California…transit! We navigated our way around multiple cities without renting a car. Super plus plus.

bobacruz

Santa Cruz is a quintessential beach town with all the local charms and attitudes of taking it easy. It was a nice change of pace, taking time to enjoy custom bagels at Bagelry, bubble tea (“Do you have a Boba-fettish?”) and outstanding vegan milkshakes at Gratitude.

beach

The beach was beautiful (though the wind made things chilly) and we were lucky enough to have spotted groups of dolphins splashing nearby and then even luckier to have seen a whale! Our friends who hosted us said we were good luck charms for that. Later that evening we went to watch the sea lions on the dock and saw some otters floating by.

wishing-tree

Beyond the beach we also managed to get some hiking in the redwoods on the University of California Santa Cruz campus. It was such a unique trail…all the trees are massive. We also spotted a rare species…a wishing tree. Students at UCSC wrote down their wishes, hopes and dreams and added them to the tree in hopes they may come true. Rory had fun reading them.

redwoords

All good things must come to an end, this was an amazing experience to explore, wonder, and meet new people. It was nice to come home to my own bed, though. I slept for days.

California // Part 1: Maker’s Faire

makersfaire

This month Rory and I jet set off to California for a spring getaway – just in time to leave a brown post-winter Edmonton and return to a lush green summer one! Most people expected me to return home with a glowy beach tan, but in the Bay Area, it actually tended to be warmer in Canada. Luckily, I was prepared with a few more sweaters on hand than the first time we visited a few years back.

tapigami

Our adventurings began in San Mateo for the Bay Area Maker’s Faire. This was a gathering of those who make things…anything! We saw 3D printing, robots, scrapbooking, food processes, sculptures, mobile cupcake cars…anything and everything beyond your imagination.

television

Rory had submitted an LED project and had a small demo booth in the glow-in-the-dark hall, which was a really cool place to hang out! We got to sit right next to a rock’n’roll Tesla coil band who played music with the lightning strikes. The group had collaborated with fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht who designed a Faraday dress and stood in the middle of the performance.

electric-fashion

It is very interesting to see fashion through the ‘tech’ lens (which was definitely the trendiest focus of the show). It tends to take one of two categories; high-end sculptural, art-piece fashion (a la Anouk) or campy ‘rave’/ costume-y LED glow clothes. There are exceptions, such as the bicycle jacket with illuminated turn signalling, but for the most part, tech and fashion don’t mix well enough to crave adoption by the masses. This left me wondering…what needs to be done to change that?

We found a vendor in one of the halls who was selling conductive paint that was water-soluble and could be used to ‘dye’ traces into fabrics instead of using metal wiring to integrate electronics. Not sure what I am going to do with it yet, but I am sure there is something exciting on the horizon.

3dprinting

Rory spent much of his time outside his performance completely enamored by the sudden array of 3D printers and scanners, each being slightly different, from plastics to silicone, extruding to laser beams, it is completely incomprehensible what we can be capable of. I’ll just say it simply. 3D printers are cool.

crochet

My favorite part of the weekend, though, was when I visited the textile area. They were teaching everything from needlepoint, yarn spinning, cross-stitching to knitting and crochet. A recent dream of mine has been to learn how to knit and one day be able to create my own cozy winter sweaters. The idea of taking something from a ball of string and turning it into a real, wearable garment blows my mind. In the interest of the rest of our travel, I decided to take my first baby steps with crochet, as the hook seemed easier to take along with me for the trip than a pair of needles. I think I got the hang of everything fairly quickly, and my instructor was spending her time trying to document anyone at the faire wearing cat shirts on Twitter. You could say we were kindred spirits.

In all, attending Maker’s Faire was an amazing experience (if not a bit of a sensory overload), being in the presence of so many creators can’t help but be inspiring.

octopus

Also, giant mechanical, steampunk, flame-throwing octopus. Just because.

Adventures with Plants

adventures with plants // Boots & CatsGuys. I bought plants. You have no idea how excited I am that I have some green things in my vicinity.

Growing up, we always had a garden. Spring meant going to the greenhouse in search of the right bedding plants in the prettiest colors, finding cool and unique flowers, not to mention all the fresh veggies that we’d wait for in the summer. Yum.

As pretty as it all was, I hated going through and weeding the garden and I didn’t like the fact that I could find a worm or spider unexpectedly at any time.

shopping

When I moved into my apartment, plants weren’t really first thing on my mind. I didn’t plan it into my decor, plus, I immediately ruled out a garden since we have a high-rise cement balcony. Not really garden material.

Last summer, we were kindly gifted some potted floral arrangements which were beautiful, but they were quite large so we kept them on the balcony. But because I had written off the cement wasteland, we never really went outside…or watered the flowers. So after about 3 months of solid effort by the flowers to stay alive, they bit the dust. “I don’t think I can have plants” I said to myself.

Cue this year. In February we had our first glimpse of what could be spring (spoiler: it wasn’t), but it made me feel like I really reeally wanted some green things. How would I be able to keep things alive this year.

flowers

Here is my three-fold plan:

  • Keep most of the plants INSIDE. The downfall of last years’ flowers was that they were often out of sight-out of mind.
  • Get lots of succulents and desert plants – they don’t care as much if you forget to water them.
  • The plants that are too large to be inside have to be yummy vegetable producing so I have more of a reason to go check on them. If I want fresh noms I better water my plants. This year I am starting with tomatoes. Because they are the best.

Point three also coincides with my new outlook for the previously known cement-wasteland. I love being outside and it would be nice to create a little atmostphere out there. A place to eat, read and relax. Something dreamy.

I am also attempting to grow a little herb-garden for my kitchen. I am starting from seeds though and, yes third-grade me could successfully grow plants, I still have doubts whether I will be successful. This may or may not be in part to the fact the weather turned grey the moment I planted them and I am incubating them under my overhead stove light because there is no sun right now.

variety

I will be sure to update on the progress of my greenery later this summer. What will live? What will die? Stay tuned…

Also just a quick shout-out to all the amazing people participating in Me Made May ’14! It is so inspiring to see so many seamstresses and the beautiful things they have made. One of my biggest challenges as a seamstress is to actually wear the garments I make more than once, so it is cool to see this challenge. I didn’t make my pledge this year, mostly due to the fact that my selection of me-mades is small and mostly dresses (which doesn’t bode well for this SNOW!), but I am keeping it top of mind and am trying to make an effort to wear more of my handmades as much as I can.

May the fourth be with you ;)

Spring Flower Backdrop

Floral Backdrop for spring // Boots & Cats

This weekend I livened up the living room with a garden of  hanging tissue paper flowers and greenery. This project was amazingly fun to do and was pretty much essential to bring some spring colors into the apartment. This winter has been ruthless and I needed some flowers in here! Fingers crossed that there will be no more snow from here on out.

Floral Backdrop for spring // Boots & Cats

To make this bright springtime wall backdrop you’ll need:

  • Brightly colored tissue paper (I used a rainbow of colors, but any coordinating variety would work really well)
  • Matching washi tape
  • Scissors
  • Needle & thread

Blueprint for a Floral Backdrop // Boots & Cats

To begin, create a plan of how you want the florals to be arranged, so you know how many flowers you’ll need to cut from each color. I wanted to include all 7 colors I had on hand so a blueprint was a must. Measure the size of your wall-space and decide how many hanging strands you want, how many flowers you want to fit on each and if you want some greenery too.

I made sure to create a pattern that had a gradient like flow in the colors while having even amounts of each. This took a little bit of strategic planning at the beginning, but in the long run it really paid off to keep the arrangement balanced.

Once you know your plan, it’s time for tissue. The flowers needed a natural natural looking aesthetic that hung a little ‘floppier’, so I avoided the ‘pom-pom’ method that is quite popular on pinterest. After a few trials I came up with a method that worked quite well, even if it was tedious at times.

Floral backdrop for spring - Step 1 & 2  // Boots & Cats

1. Cut a strip of tissue at the width you’d like your flower to be.  For a fuller flower with more petals, fold the tissue to desired width first.

2. To add a ‘blend’ of colors, add a strip of another color and fold the whole thing over.

Floral backdrop for spring - Step 3 & 4  // Boots & Cats

3. Keep folding until your strip has become a square.

4. Fold one last time to make a triangle or rectangle depending on the type of petals desired.

Floral backdrop for spring - Step 5 & 6  // Boots & Cats

5. From here start cutting in your petals. Make sure to hold on to your layers and keep them together.

6. Open the flower. I reinforced the center on both sides with a matching washi tape dot to keep my flowers from ripping when hung.

Floral backdrop for spring - Step 7 & 8  // Boots & Cats

7. Pin with a sewing pin to keep the layers together.

8. Gently twist to spin the layers apart for your full bloom!

Watch out for pins! // Boots & Cats

I built all my flowers first before assembling the strands, but I could have strung them up as I made them. By leaving all the flowers with the sewing pins in them it became a bit of a hazard at times. Please use caution. Pins are stabby.

To create greenery, accordion fold a long strip of tissue and cut out a leaf shape. This time, let the layers be separated and reinforce each with washi tape at the stems.

Sewing in the details // Boots & Cats

With a green (or any color you’d like) sewing thread, measure out the total height of your backdrop. Double this length, thread your needle and fold the thread in two. Tie a knot at the end.

Floral backdrop for spring  // Boots & Cats

You will be sewing from the bottom of the garland to the top. Keep this in mind when following your blueprint. Tie a knot in the thread where you want your floral or leaves to stop, then use the needle to thread it onto the line. Be sure to use a small hand-sewing needle or it will create a hole larger than the knots you tie and your flowers will slide all the way through. Repeat this process as you move up the garland. I found it easiest to tape the end of the string down and work outwards.

Floral backdrop for spring   // Boots & Cats

Using washi tape, fasten your strands to the wall! I taped them at the top and bottom to avoid tangles when the window is opened.

Floral backdrop for spring // Boots & Cats

Once up, you may want to twist, open and fluff your flowers up a bit.

This project took around 6 hours total to complete. It also had a lot of off-cut tissue paper. I shredded the leftover into rainbow mix of confetti for a future occasion.

projects

I am in love with the results of this project. It suddenly feels like a full change of season in here. (Now just for it to happen outside as well!) I’m sure you’ll see it popping up in the background of all sorts of things this spring.

Happy Monday!

A Kitty Photoshoot

akittyphotoshoot

A few summers ago I happened upon a working Polaroid 100 Land Camera at a garage sale for 20 bucks with all the accessories. When I took it home and began doing research, I stumbled upon this promotional image.

Kittycamera

I immediately bookmarked it to re-create with my cat Cinnamon. Because, why not?

Cinnamon

After some procrastination (and sort of forgetting about it), I finally made it happen last weekend. I had no idea how helpful Cinnamon would be taking part. She is a grumpy old lady who rarely cooperates, so I was crossing my fingers.

After assembling the set for the polaroid image, I carefully placed Cinnamon down and prayed she wouldn’t get mad that I moved her from her spot and run off in a huff. Miraculously she stayed. She started to sniff out her surroundings, and I guess the ball of yarn was a tad dusty…

thesneeze

(Thank goodness my camera was set to action mode)

I took some test shots on my DSLR, then fired up my polaroid to take the final shot. *Click*…..nothing. I swore I had saved my last shot of color film for this VERY reason, but alas. Nothing.

piddlestheruiner

Piddles immediately intercepted the scene and it was all over. At least I had the test shots. Photoshop to the rescue!

I remade the set with the Polaroid camera in the shot, and prayed that Cinny had a few minutes of patience left in her. She didn’t bolt as fast as I assumed she would and we got it. After adding in the superimposed instant camera photo, here it is:

cinnycamera

Cinnamon was quite grumpy with me after, but I admire her patience for even giving me a chance at getting this.