Me-Made-May // Week 3

Me Made May Week 3 // Boots & Cats

Another week, another handful of me-mades. This week has definitely been more of a struggle than the rest. I made the discovery that most of my makes are for mild weather, and this week’s heat wave made things a little challenging (not that I am complaining about it! ). I dipped into some repeats but tried to keep creative in how I styled and documented them so I didn’t feel like I was being lazy about it.

Here’s a glimpse into my week:

Day 15: 70s peasant dress

Me Made May Day 15 // Boots & Cats

This week’s Friday challenge was ‘something old’, so I dug out one of the first garments I ever made. My grandma was teaching me to sew the summer before the 7th grade and I picked out this 70s pattern from her stash to make. I love the styling and illustrations on the envelope and I imagined I would be as trendy as them. I told myself I would wear this for the first day of junior high. Well…sizing proportions and fabric choice made this dress far less appealing than on the envelope and this dress was relegated to the ‘costume’ drawer for years. Well I decided to give it a go and guess what? It fits now! Ha.

Day 16: Hand-stitched hair bow

Me Made May Day 16 // Boots & Cats

Today was apartment cleaning day, so instead of running the risk of ruining any me-mades in the throes of it all, this little hair bow was just the ticket.

Day 17: Comfy and casual Plantain tee

Me Made May Day 17 // Boots & Cats

A day at the park with warm sunshine and a cool breeze was perfect for my stripey tee.

Day 18: Self-drafted ‘paper bag’ skirt

Me Made May Day 18 // Boots & Cats

Another A Beautiful Mess DIY dress-up project, I made this a few summers ago, and ran with the paper bag concept by using this burgundy burlap type fabric. It’s surprisingly comfortable and was so easy to make. I walked to the market on this holiday Monday to get some bedding plants to set my garden.

Day 19: Tilly and the Buttons Coco top

Me Made May Day 19 // Boots & Cats

My first repeat (I made it 19 days!), I paired this top with these crazy pants I had custom made for me last summer by Todoruk Designs. I love these pants so much. Retro meets modern. I made the coco with these pants in mind, actually. A 60s loungewear dream.

Day 20: Vintage fabric Belcarra blouse

Me Made May Day 20 // Boots & Cats

It was getting far to warm for any of my other makes, and this lightweight Belcarra is a summer fave, so another repeat but styled with jeans instead of a skirt. This pattern is so versatile, and I am almost finished making my third!

Day 21: Belcarra version two!

Me Made May Day 21 // Boots & Cats

It was a swingy skirt day for sure, and my grey Belcarra blouse paired perfectly with this bicycle Heart of Haute skirt. Blissful.


Me-Made-May // Week 2

Me-Made-May Week 2 // Boots & Cats

Hard to believe the month is already halfway gone. Even more had to believe, I haven’t repeat a single me-made yet! I was anticipating to wear some items over and over again (looking at you, Julia Cardigan) but so far everything (weather included) has cooperated and I’ve managed to get a good variety of styles going without sacrificing comfort or practicality.

What has surprised me the most this week was the compliments I’d gotten on some of my bolder makes (the yellow skirt especially), even from strangers. It’s a nice confidence boost and reminder to wear some of these me-mades more often.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t had some longings for my jeans and t-shirts on the lazy days, though. I do feel that pull some mornings to just give in and give up. Beyond dressing outside my comfort zone, I have to keep up the creative energy for styling and documenting everything and it can feel like a drag. BUT, I am very happy with my outcomes so far , so I shall persevere. Only 15 days left after all.

Here’s a quick recap of the last seven days:

Day 8: Self-Drafted Lace Tunic

Me-Made-May Day 8 // Boots & Cats

Today was the first Friday Challenge, which was ‘Your Sewing Space’, so I dutifully posed in front of my sewing ‘wall’ in our living room. The tunic is a self-draft, guided by a project in the long-retired A Beautiful Mess e-course: DIY Dress Up. I say self-drafted, but in reality it was more ‘self-traced’. I laid a tunic dress I already knew fit me on my paper and copied it’s shape. It turned out pretty good in this stretch cotton lace. I also made it reversible so I could wear it with a high or low neckline on the front.

Day 9: Cat Crazy Belladone Dress

Me-Made-May Day 9 // Boots & Cats

A 3 day turnaround from the snowstorm and the sun was shining blissfully. I took a walk down to the market in my kitty dress I made last summer. Got lots of compliments on this one. Everyone loves cats!

Day 10: Made-FOR-me Linden Sweatshirt

Me-Made-May Day 10 // Boots & Cats

Bent the rules a little this day. We went to the park and the sun was hot and the breeze was cool so I needed an in-between piece. Turns out the amazing cropped Linden that Stitch and Cappuccino made for me in the Linden swap was just the ticket.  Looking forward to wearing this through the summer.

Day 11: New Belcarra Blouse

Me-Made-May Day 11 // Boots & Cats

Remember that sewing day I mentioned on Day 2 last week? Well this is the Belcarra I made that day! The fabric is the leftovers from the V1236 I wore last week, and I love that the neutral colour makes it easy to mix and match. Though the fabric is a little stiff and needs to be worn a few more times I think. I have one more Belcarra cut and ready to sew. I love this pattern a lot.

Day 12: Vintage Floral Gabriola Skirt

Me-Made-May Day 12 // Boots & Cats

I have been waiting MONTHS to take this skirt out again! The length basically means it is a no-go for the wet, mucky winter and spring, so I will be sure I get lots of wear out of it this summer. Made from every last scrap of vintage fabric, I love the tapered a-line shape I got by altering the pattern. I may have to find a large quantity of a light flowy fabric to make a full version this year…

Day 13: Striped Senna Dress

Me-Made-May Day 13 // Boots & Cats

The first pattern I had the honor of testing, this stretchy number is dressed up enough for work and comfortable enough for putting your feet up and watching Netflix! I think i’d love to make the top as a separate for a cool weekend piece. Hmm…my ‘to-sew’ list appears to be getting kind of long…

Day 14: Yellow Lace Skirt

Me-Made-May Day 14 // Boots & Cats

One of my first clothing makes posted here on the blog, this skirt is always a crowd favourite. With pleats, pockets and a highlighter yellow hue it cannot be missed. I don’t wear it as much as I should because I find it hard to put outfits together with it. I have an imaginary top in my brain that would go so well, but I am unsure how to make it a reality.

Me-Made-May // Week 1

Me-Made-May Week 1 // Boots & Cats

I don’t know if this week feels like it’s been longer or shorter than usual, but mindfully documenting yourself daily definitely keeps you far more aware of the passage of time.

So far Me Made May has been wonderful, I am finding excitement each morning deciding what items to wear. It’s also dutifully fulfilling it’s purpose for finding holes in my wardrobe. It seems I am quite fond of making nice, lovely, more ‘dressed up’ things. I need to make more comfortable, lazy, ‘I don’t really feel like getting dressed’ clothes. The Hudson pants from the Perfect Pattern Parcel just jumped up a few places in the queue.

Besides running out of options, one of my biggest fears for this challenge was the aspect of taking photos everyday. I’ve never really been happy with the selfies I take and it’s so hard for me to get interesting shots by myself. So, beyond being merely a clothing challenge, I have taken it upon myself to have this be a solo photography challenge too! I figure if I have to do this every single day this month I’ll have to resort to creativity and break out of my shell (ie, the only 3 poses that I like) if I want to keep things somewhat interesting for myself and for others.

In case you aren’t following along on Instagram (#MMMay15), here are this week’s me-made highlights:

Day 1: Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top

Me-Made-May Day 1 // Boots & Cats

The perfect casual Friday sweater. I LOVE this pattern, and it’s really only my lack of access to quality knits that keeps me from making more. I purposely made this one to look like the one on the cover. It was too perfect in so many ways. I have some crazy printed retro capri pants that matches this perfectly too. That outfit will definitely make an appearance later this month.

Day 2: Sewaholic Belcarra Blouse

Me-Made-May Day 2 // Boots & Cats

I squeeeezed this top from an off-cut of vintage fabric and it is one of my favourite makes to date. This was the garment that set off the lightbulb in my head that I could make clothing that was really wearable for everyday. It also happened that I was teaching some friends how to make that pattern that day! I also taught the Hollyburn skirt and it was 12 hours of sewing madness. I will definitely post about THAT adventure soon.

Day 3: Hand-dyed silk scarf

Me-Made-May Day 3 // Boots & Cats

After the madness of the day before, it was an all-day pajama day, but I added a little flair with my scarf. I dyed this in a silk painting workshop nearly two years ago and I love wearing it up like this, or with the tie in the back for a more vintage feel.

Day 4: V1236 “Sack” Dress

Me-Made-May Day 4 // Boots & Cats

This make is a few years old but is a lovely staple I really should wear more often. I had forgotten the pattern at first, but I dug it out and it’s Vouge 1236 (DKNY). I call it the sack dress because there are no closures and you just slide it on and cinch the waist. The fabric is a little stiff and wrinkly, but I think the shape is really flattering and it’s great for work. And it has pockets. What more do you need?

Day 5: Mouse House Julia Cardigan

Me-Made-May Day 5 // Boots & Cats

I am very proud of myself for getting all the way to day 5 before busting this one out. I love love love my Julia and it’s the best spring transition sweater I currently have made with a super soft bamboo knit.

Day 6: Grainline Linden

Me-Made-May Day 6 // Boots & Cats

That is, if it is still spring after all…yes it snowed on Wednesday, an all day blizzard too. I’m lukcy to have Linden in my aresenal for when things are less than ideal outside. Also, polka dots!

Day 7: We Are Knitters High Line Loop

Me-Made-May Day 7 // Boots & Cats

Though I was just getting accustomed to warmer weather, the chill in the air made it an appropriate opportunity to toss my new knit scarf into the Me Made mix for running errands in the evening. Silver linings?

My Me-Made-May 2015 Pledge!

me made may 15 // Boots & Cats

I first discovered the brilliant sewing event Me Made May last spring a few days before it begun. I opted to sit on the sidelines and watch seamstresses from around the world enthusiastically share their me-made outfits on the daily. It was then I noticed the serious gaps of basics, neutrals and solids in my sewing wardrobe. I kept MMMay in mind as I progressed my sewing throughout the year.

Now the calendar has rolled around and this time I am ready to jump right on in!

“I, Katryna (of Boots & Cats), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavor to wear at least ONE me-made item each day for the duration of May 2015″

I hope to keep up each day on instagram with the tag #mmmay15 and will some recaps here on the blog. I definitely don’t have enough layers to go me-made from head to toe, but I am excited about consciously wearing at least one item and integrating my projects into my daily outfits. I have a feeling my Julia cardigan will be getting a LOT of run time this month.

Take the Me Made May pledge on Zoe’s blog HERE and set your personal handmade challenge for the month. I can’t wait!

Learning to Knit // We Are Knitters

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

Though this week’s nearly +20 degree temperatures have me thinking of everything but chunky woolen knits, I have been meaning to share my latest progress on my knitting journey. As I mentioned a few months back after completing my first arm-knit scarf, knitting is on my challenge list for this year. That first project was a great foray into the concept of knitting but as I wanted to progress forward (using needles) I still felt like I needed a helping hand.

I felt intimidated wandering into the world of patterns, yarn weights and needle sizes and honestly didn’t really feel like I knew where to start. Somehow, I eventually stumbled upon We Are Knitters, a knitting company out of Spain. They had everything I wanted bundled up in a kit, ready to go. They even had patterns sorted by skill level. Bliss.

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

I waded through each pattern marked ‘Beginner’ or ‘Easy’ and a chance weekend sale made me go for it. Surprisingly, it took only a week for my knitting kits to arrive (as you know, the crafty types aren’t much for patience when a new project is on the horizon). I couldn’t wait to begin.

I chose a Beginner chunky pattern, the High-Line Loop scarf, and the slightly more advanced (read: Easy) Classic Sweater. I felt like these two would be a great start to the medium and by the end of two projects I would fully know whether or not knitting was something I would like to pursue.

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

I had a little trouble when I started the Loop, as it was a double-moss stitch and I couldn’t for the life of me understand how to move my working yarn from front to back as I alternated knits and purls. I kept getting massive tangles and stitches that did NOT look like they were supposed to. Luckily, Rory’s mom came to the rescue with some practice yarns and set me on the right path.

Once in the groove, the scarf took about 3 weeks and 2 seasons of Gilmore Girls to complete. I found it relaxing and a fun way to keep my hands busy while doing something relatively pointless. I actually felt good about those Netflix hours: I was being productive! It was also quite satisfying to watch the scarf begin to form and get longer every time I worked on the project.

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

I wore this scarf a lot over the remaining months of winter and it looked really cute with the polka dot Linden I made myself. Feeling confident and able, I was ready to take on the sweater, gauging it should take me about 3x as long as the scarf. In 9 weeks, I said, I will have a nice sweater in a beautiful pastel colour just as spring begins!

That was about….10 weeks ago?

Current progress on the sweater stands at around 15% done. Turns out, I wasn’t anticipating that the combination of thinner yarn, smaller needles and 4 ‘pattern’ pieces meant a heck of a lot more knitting would be involved.

We Are Knitters // Boots & Cats

I’ve also found that as I continue to knit, the less fascinating it is becoming to me. The ‘garment-appearing-before-my-eyes-on-the-needle’ amazement faded quickly and I am starting to feel like this task is long, tedious and repetitive. I am knitting a few rows at a time, the project situated purposefully near the TV, ready to ‘grab-and-go’, but the process is a slow one.

I am definitely not giving up on the project, but it is fair to say I think I’ve lost the mojo. The warming weather doesn’t seem to be helping much either. I am hoping that if I slowly chip away through the coming months, I’ll have a nice cozy sweater for the fall.

Then at that time I will be able to make the call: Is knitting for me?

Easy Washi Tape Easter Egg and Bunny Art

Easy Easter Washi Tape Art // Boots & Cats

The unpleasant snowfall that kicked off this month could be written off as an April Fools joke, but seriously, this weather can just stop and let the sun shine through. I am ready for spring- mentally, fashionably and creatively. This means that the winter decor in my apartment needs to get changed up from the current deep tones and metallics right into the rainbow of bright and pastel hues that let you KNOW warmer weather is imminent.

While thinking about this, I was a little caught off guard by how soon Easter was coming up. Like… this weekend! I lamented my utter lack of decor for the holiday that would push everything in the ‘spring’ direction. (As you should all be familiar with by now, I LOVE holidays, seasons and any reason to celebrate and decorate). Luckily a friend and I had a craft night on the calendar and Pinterest had loads of easy and adorable ideas for Easter crafts and pretty things for spring in general.

Easy Easter Washi Tape Art // Boots & Cats

With not much time for prep or supplies on hand, I decided to do a take on this simple silhouette artwork from Minted. I wanted to incorporate some cute bunnies by creating my own cut-outs and I also decided to use washi tape instead of scrapbook paper since glue and I don’t always get along (self-adhesion for the win!).

I made both pieces in about an hour and a half and I already had everything I needed in my craft drawer.

Easy Easter Washi Tape Art // Boots & Cats

To make your own artwork you’ll need:

  • Cardstock (2 sheets per piece)
  • Washi tape (various colours and patterns)
  • A pencil
  • Scissors (or xacto knife)
  • Double-sided tape or glue

Start by drawing your image in pencil on the cardstock. Once you are happy with your design, cut it out using the scissors. To keep it symmetrical, I cut out one bunny first, then used the piece I just cut as a guide to trace his friend. Now choose your washi tapes (coordinating colours work best) and layer stripes on the un-cut piece of cardstock. This will be placed behind the cut piece so you have the show-through effect. Once all the space has been filled with washi stripes, place double sided tape along all the sides and stick the two layers together.

Easy Easter Washi Tape Art // Boots & Cats

I used more washi to ‘frame’ them on the wall, but they’d also look quite elegant in real frames as well.

That is actually it. So simple. I love the bright colours and bunnies for springtime and it adds just the right amount of ‘festive’ to our space, just in time for the long weekend. With different colours you could totally apply this concept to other holidays or motifs. But for now, SUNSHINE.

I hope you all have a wonderful long weekend filled with some rest, some chocolate and some beautiful days. Cheers!

Butterick 3435 // The Peggy Dress

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

Have you managed to figure out my signature style yet? Good, cause I haven’t either. After a brief stint of sewing solid, wearable basics I had to veer out of left field with this bright, slightly insane number.

Over the last few months I have started to work through the Wardrobe Architect, with the goal of determining the core of my aesthetic and keeping that in the back of my mind as I sew. Hopefully this will leave me with a well-rounded, personally ME wardrobe that makes getting ready in the morning a cinch while always feeling good.

My style has been on a bit of a pendulum. Visually, I am attracted to bright, vintage inspired pieces with a touch of the adorable. Poufy crinoline dresses, bow hair clips, graphic patterns and novelty prints. Personality wise though, I don’t particularly enjoy the attention that comes with such a style, and so I tend not to commit to a look 100%, or try to hide these elements in more subdued pieces. This then looks disjointed and I feel less than confident in this a half-baked attempt and ultimately the pieces I am drawn to sit in my closet, barely worn.

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

In reaction I have found the softer, more modern equivalents of this feminine style and found myself feeling refreshed and confident. Loose, draped dresses, comfortable knits, and solid fabrics. Focusing on neutral colours and pieces that can be worn in a number of ways, I am attempting to drive my wardrobe in this direction.

But sometimes you find this amazing psychadelic knit fabric on sale and all that goes out the window.

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

Last summer I re-watched the entire series of Mad Men and bookmarked the styles and dresses I really admired. One of them was this olive green dress Peggy wore in season 5. Putting it in my mental filing cabinet (and Pinterest board), I hoped one day to replicate it. It was later I found Butterick 3435 in my vintage pattern bin. The dress was meant to happen.

When I took this fabric home, I knew that I could use this pattern and make a sweet sixties shift – though it is much bolder than Peggy would have ever worn. I was excited to use this modern fabric on this vintage pattern and make it something eye-catching.

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

The pattern was designed for woven fabrics, so I had to alter it for the knit by removing the darts (by semi-neatly folding it in on the pattern piece before cutting) and removing the seam allowances (both for tighter fit and accounting for the little seam allowance with the overlocker.

One of the biggest challenges I had was really understanding how the fabric would behave in the context of this dress. I ended up taking in even more fabric as I did fittings but noticed the bodice was twisted a little, and since I removed the zipper from the equation, I stretched out the neckline when I first put it on (thank goodness for the collar ultimately hiding that bit). It also didn’t respond well to pressing and shaping the collar (also a knit) was an exercise in frustration.

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

I did learn some new techniques I am quite proud of, which included making a key-hole in the back neckline (so I could get my head through without more stretching) and hand-making a thread loop for the button.

As I was making this dress I had the doubts in my mind, stemming from how impractical this dress seemed. The bold vintage dresses in my closet (like so) are rarely worn. I felt like I was breaking all my newly set rules and I was uncomfortable with that.

I plugged along, working through the dress if for no other reason than to publish something on the blog this week. It felt kind of pointless, knowing it would soon be hanging in the closet for eternity, only adding to the over abundance of clothing I already own.

Then once it was all finished and I got ready to photograph the dress, something strange happened.

I looked in the mirror and felt so GOOD. More so than any other crazy dress in my closet has made me feel. It suddenly didn’t matter if people thought I looked odd – I felt like I looked wonderful. The colours and the shape and the styling just DID it for me. Plus, this dress is dang comfortable, like pajamas. I spent the evening after these photos with a milkshake watching Netflix.

While we endeavour to shift our focus from the frivolous makes to more conscious sewing, it is so easy to feel restrained by the new ‘rules’ we put on ourselves. Is it practical? Can I wear it to work AND a night out? Do the colours suit me? Is it mix and matchable? Is it what I see myself wearing? Does it check all these boxes?!?

Vintage Butterick 3435 Shift  Dress // Boots & Cats

These rules are great and are the foundation of a sustainable me-made wardrobe, but sometimes you got to go with your gut. You need to go out there and make something that makes your eyes light up, that make you feel powerful. The garments that take you away from your daily ‘self’ and into your alter ego. If we don’t allow ourselves these makes – then what is the point of being in this creative hobby?

So go, fellow seamstresses: make that tulle maxi skirt, that brocade jacket or sequined trousers. Let us embrace the insanity of the limitless and make something truly awesome. No, I probably will not be wearing this dress to work anytime soon, but its going to be worn again and again and make me feel confident, stylish and awesome.

That’s why we make things, right?

Sketching lately

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

It’s been about 6 months since my grand declaration of more dedicated sketching and practice, and I have to say it’s finally taken off. At the beginning it almost felt like it wasn’t truly going to happen (remember the failed 365 challenge?) and it took a LOT of motivation to get my butt moving . Over time though, the discovery of new tools and building the habits has me sketching almost every day.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

I love it as an outlet to zone out from my day and reconnect with my creativity. I often sketch on the floor, lying on my stomach like an enthusiastic toddler. It keeps me away from the computer (read: distractions) at my desk. Anytime I have an idea or feel inspired, instead of running to Pinterest I run to the pen and jot it down. I’ve also begun frequently including colour into the mix, as I discovered my perfect medium in January.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & CatsThe subjects of the sketches are different daily. It is much more meditative without a set goal in advance. I sometimes feel inspired and emulate the works of others to explore and feel what a new aesthetic is like. I thought the key to getting better was regimentation, but I’ve had the most fun and success with random experimentation.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

I sketch when ideas strike or when there’s a few lazy minutes to spare. I am surprised and very pleased with some of my recent sketches. I daresay I may even be ready to turn some into my my first fabric designs(!).

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

My latest ‘gadget’ is a Fashionary notebook: pages upon pages of barely-there croquis to draw fashions upon. Before sewing I sometimes need to fully visualize what the end garment will look like to make important decisions (prints? sleeves? pockets? trim?) and often try to sketch it out. Humans are dang hard to draw though so the faint outlines are a huge help so I can focus on drawing the clothing at hand. I am also enjoying the element of drawing the textile designs on it too.

This little addition has also helped fuel the sketching fire by aligning my sewing efforts with my illustration efforts. Bam! 2 for 1.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

If you want to get in on the sketching game here are a few of my tips/challenges to try:

  • Keep a notebook and pen within arms reach at all times
  • Instead of pinning that thing you like – draw it out!
  • Follow other artists and illustrators on Instagram – peek at their sketchbooks and try their style on for size (but make sure to give it back once you’re done)
  • Draw on the floor – preferably in a warm sunbeam
  • Play with prints and patterns, then place them on things. Sketch the design on clothing, furniture, stationary…
  • Relax and have fun!

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

Thinking of Spring // The Linden Swap

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

In my opinion, the best part of blogging about sewing and DIY projects is the community of creative people that surrounds it. I could spend hours on Google or Pinterest typing in pattern names and numbers, seeing how other’s have interpreted, changed and completely manipulated a basic design. The immense amount of skill, creativity  and charisma out there is mind-boggling. In the last few months my passion for sewing has been invigorated by the oodles of talented seamstresses online and it motivates me everyday.

At the start of this year, I made a personal goal of getting more involved in this community and wanted to work on making connections with more sewists (is that the technical term?) over the web. As if by fate, a few days later I spotted the #LindenSwap put on by Oh She Dabbles and We the Sewing. It was a sign, and I was so in!

The idea was that two sewists would be paired up and they’d make a Grainline Linden for one another. After Carrie played matchmaker, I was paired with the lovely Stitch and Cappuccino. We hadn’t known each other before, but I could tell we have similar styles so I couldn’t wait to see what surprise she had in store for me.

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

One cold, dreary Wednesday morning,I got a note from the postman. A parcel had arrived from across the pond! I tore it open to reveal a stunning two-tone cropped Linden (and an bonus chocolatey treat), what an uplifting surprise.

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

A perfect transition piece from winter to spring, this Linden is gorgeous. The grey knit fabric is so soft and lines the whole top, so it has a bit of warmth to it too. The softness of the colour choices was also so to my taste. I forced myself to think warm spring-like thoughts and traipsed outdoors to catch a few photos of this pretty thing.

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

Why am I looking down in ALL the photos, you ask? Because sunshine + snow = BLINDINGLY BRIGHT LIGHT. You know that photography tip that suggests using something white to bounce the light onto your subject in a natural way? Yeah, it was like that but times a bajillion. Also, it was cold. But you must never admit defeat.

She added 3cm to the length of the cropped version of the pattern, which made it a perfect length for me. This is great to note, as I have shied away from making my own B version of Linden for fear of unwanted midriff exposure. It has a perfect loose, boxy edge to it.

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

The one I made and sent away featured a stretchy textured knit with polka dots and plain sleeves on view A (what can I say, I think black and white dots are the cutest). I also added 3 cm to the length everywhere as we discovered we were pretty much the same size. (You can see more details on her blog here)

The Linden Swap // Boots & Cats

Even though I added in a Sewaholic “one of a kind” label to the collar, I have to admit that isn’t tooootally true. I was so enamored by the dots I selfishly made myself a matching one with the leftovers. (I wasn’t alone! True Bias did it too, so I am less ashamed of my selfishness.)

I really hope more swaps come about in the community this year, it was really fun to make something for someone else and it is so exciting to have a surprise garment waiting for you on the other side.

Happy March and think warm!

Everyday Basics // The Julia Cardigan (with pockets!)

A perfect basic - the Julia cardigan // Boots & Cats

About 5 years ago I bought a sweater from Urban Outfitters that very quickly became my all-time favourite. It was lightweight but still warm, had a draped sort of style that could be dressed up or down, it had pockets and it was black. This sweater went with 80% of my wardrobe and was my go-to whenever I needed to feel put-together and stylish. I still have it and wear it occasionally, but time pills all fabrics and I needed something new.

Patiently sitting in my fabric stash was 2m of navy blue bamboo jersey. I acquired it during my internship at Télio and it’s been staring at me for the 2 years since then. It has beautiful drape, a good amount of stretch and is unbelievably soft. I couldn’t simply make ANYTHING with it. It had to be something really great that would be worn a lot in appreciation of it’s quality.

Super loooong sleeves.

Super loooong sleeves.

On some level I had been been hoping all these years to replicate that sweater with this fabric but struggled to find a pattern that fit the bill. Most patterns I looked for had a really long draped front, featured just tonnes of excess fabric or wasn’t my style. I felt a little hopeless and even contemplated self drafting.

Enter Julia.

The moment I spotted the pattern I knew she was exactly what I wanted. I saw that it was a part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel #6 and promptly purchased the bundle (the other patterns were just a nice bonus). It was a dream come true.

A perfect basic - the Julia cardigan // Boots & Cats

My one criticism? No pockets! I need to have pockets in my cardigans, not just to hold items like my phone (always a plus), but I feel way more comfortable when I have a place to put my hands.

I contemplated restructuring the front of the cardigan and adding new pocket pieces, then I realized the doubled over collar band could be used as a pocket bag and all I needed to do was create an opening on the outer layer.

A perfect basic - the Julia cardigan // Boots & Cats

I followed the instructions up until right before attaching the collar band to the rest of the cardigan. I measured the approximate placement of where I wanted the pockets to be and marked the pocket placement. It was here I noticed that the seam where the front and back band pieces met was pretty much where I wanted the pocket to end. I could stitch in the ditch to close up the pocket bag. (This way I won’t have to fish out random pocket objects that floated all the way around the band).

I stay-stitched the opening edge to keep it from stretching, then attached a bias binding to give it some structure. This was a real test of my patience as stretchy fabrics don’t play well with rigid ones.

Then finally as I pinned the collar band all around to the rest of the cardigan, I eased out the one layer from the serger to create the pocket opening on the way ’round.

Did you notice something odd about the way the pocket is pinned in picture 4. there? That’s right! Just as I thought the project was complete I put it on to see that I had accidentally flipped the band around and put the POCKETS ONTO THE INSIDE.

A perfect basic - the Julia cardigan // Boots & Cats

Kids, this is why you should stop sewing before midnight on a Sunday.

Instead of picking ALL the serging around the whole collar band (at the risk of destroying my pretty pretty fabric), I just unpicked the pocket ‘opening’, repeat the bias taping process and then serged the correct side down onto the sweater. A little annoying but totally salvageable.

The Julia cardigan was so simple (minus the pocket fanagaling) to put together. It was a two session project and the next one (and there will be more) will likely be a one sitting deal. I did add about 6cm to the length of everything since I wear my sweaters long. It did make my sleeves a tad too lengthy (they practically cover my hands if I let them) but I decided that I like that fact and it makes me feel extra cozy while wearing it. But because of this and the doubled-over collar, the pattern devoured all 2m of my bamboo *sniffle*. I was hoping I would have enough leftover to make a comfy top or something but only scraps remain.

Soon the weather will be nice enough to shoot outdoors again...

Soon the weather will be nice enough to shoot outdoors again…

Is this the new sweater to beat? Will it take over as reigning wardrobe champion?? Only time will tell – it looks great with jeans, but still needs to pass the skirt and dresses test to know for sure.

What I do know is that I put that special fabric to some darn good use and I am so excited to be building more wearable basics into my wardrobe.