Ice Cream Airelle Blouse

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

Have you ever had one of those projects that you had such high hopes but just never seemed to get quite right?  When making it sort of feels like wading through molasses? It completely weighs you down and kills your creative energy?  You find it was impossible to make decisions on how to move forward with it? And you couldn’t allow yourself to move on to another project until you just got it done and out of the way??

Meet Airelle

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

Two summers ago I picked up this adorable ice cream cone printed polyester fabric from Fabricland on a whim, attracted to the print while waiting for more essential fabric to be cut.  It was the perfect summer fabric that sat at the top of my stash staring at me until I decided what it was going to be. I loved the print so much, but felt intimidated by its slippery nature and couldn’t fully visualize what I wanted it to be.

I eventually settled on the idea of a cool summer blouse and the Airelle pattern seems to be a good match for what I was going for. Fear of that fabric though kept me procrastinating a whole year before I forced myself to just dive in. Me Made May was also a huge player in the motivation – I wanted something new to wear and the sun had started to shine. It was time to accept the challenge.

To say the fabric is slippery is an understatement. It slides, warps, and pulls at the slightest tug and it was an ordeal to cut it evenly (spoiler: I didn’t).  I think I need fabric weights and maybe a larger surface to use my rotary cutter for any future attempts?

I added my usual 3 cm to the waist length, and rounded off the hem, adding a little additional length to the back piece. I also eliminated the darts. If you ask me I will claim that I wanted a flowy silhouette but in reality it’s because it seemed like a nightmare to attempt them in such a fussy fabric. I’m glad I left them off.

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

My first iteration was very different than it is today. I had added in (then removed) piping at the yoke, and decided it looked good sleeveless. Then I wore it (for MMMay Day 22), and I found that the shoulders didn’t sit properly without the sleeves, so I unpicked my bias finishing and added them.  I had opted out of the collar (I was unsure how well it would hold up in this fabric) but the pattern without it left the neckline a strange shape. So I lowered and refaced that too.

As the project went on I questioned myself more and more at every step. Self-doubt really wore me down. I still didn’t know what would be best outcome for the top. I made these adjustments along the way but as I went I just felt more and more defeated by the project. I didn’t want to work on it anymore. I didn’t want to work on ANYTHING anymore.

I powered through and made all changes that were necessary to get this blouse to at least an 8/10. And I am proud of myself for that. Though, once it was done I neatly folded it up and left it on my sewing desk until the photo shoot, instead of my closet, where most makes immediately land.

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

Wearing the top this week to get the photos helped change my perspective a little bit. I have lots to be thankful for. It fits well, looks fun and still embodies the spirit of the summer. To me, it STILL feels like something is off and I don’t know if that will ever go away, but I made something cute and wearable. More importantly, I conquered my first polyester satin project and I can wear it outdoors! In public!

My favourite aspect is the back of the top; the shape of the extended back hem and the contrast yoke just feels really cool and breezy.  I hope to capture that in future projects. I want to include some multi-fabric and colour blocked garments in my wardrobe.

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

At the end of the day I really am just glad the project is done and I can start new and hopefully more fulfilling things. I have a pretty crazy Anna dress near completion and some other fun dresses on the to do list. The sew must go on!

How do you deal with your sew-jo killers? What motivates you to get yourself back in the game after a disappointing performance? Also, tips for working with fussy fabrics also appreciated.

The Great Sewing Day

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

This whole past month was about sharing and connecting with a community of like-minded creatives from around the world. I LOVED it, but it was another reminder that locally, I have a very limited supply of sewing friends. There are only a few of people in town whom I can rant about the scarcity of good knit fabrics, or titter excitedly about new indie pattern releases with. With that, the chances of attending a sewing meet-up are practically zilch.

So I decided to change all that.

When I talk to people about sewing, I will most frequently hear “I wish I could do that”, “I haven’t sewn since high school”, and  “I can barely fix a button!”. It seemed like there was interest, but a lack of confidence and skills to pursue the hobby.

Enter the Great Canadian Sewing Day!

(I’d decided to call it that after a month-long binge watch of all 3 seasons of the Great British Sewing Bee). I gathered up a handful of interested friends and family members, booked a party room, and planned out 8 hours of Sewing 101 fun!

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

In reality the day was nothing at all like the Bee. Pretty much the exact opposite, in fact. I wanted a low-pressure, fun, sew-along type afternoon that focused on fundamental skills and basic fit and customization.  I narrowed down two patterns that my seamstresses could choose to make, both from Sewaholic – the Belcarra blouse or the Hollyburn skirt. Two people chose the blouse and three chose the skirt, so it was an even mix.

How it worked was that I would demonstrate and explain a step for one pattern, and had the gals execute that step on their own. Then I demo-ed a step for the other pattern, let them work on that and repeat. I also circled the room and helped guide and get people out of jams (literally – some sewing machines weren’t too happy with us). It was all about patience and baby steps.

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

This was the first time I had ever attempted something like this. Being the center of attention is not my strong suit, but I was glad to dip my toes into the world of teaching sewing. I think I communicated well and it was really fun. The best was to see people excited when they finished a step well and could see the project coming together.

I did not, however,  anticipate how exhausting it would be to constantly jump around between two patterns, helping people and finishing the demo steps. By the end of it, I had abandoned both my teaching garments and finished them at later days.

I also completely underestimated the time commitment. (I can barely tell how long I’ll take on a project just myself, I don’t know why I thought I could predict how long it would take teaching 5 people two patterns…but I digress). The anticipated 6-8 hour workshop devolved into a manic 13 hour marathon. Complete with exhaustion and relentless determination to just FINISH the dang things. By 1 am we were all just ready to go to bed and never look at a sewing machine again. Woops.

Next time I will make it a 2 day affair.

I had a really fun day spending time with my friends and giving them a little taste of my hobby. I hope I imparted some tips and tricks and I really look forward to seeing what my new seamstress friends make in the future.

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

Tips for hosting your own Sewing Day:

  • Sugar, caffeine and pizza are a must.
  • Bring lots of extension cords and power bars for everyone’s sewing machines and irons.
  • Have lots of space for sewing tables, cutting tables, and ironing boards.
  • Have an extra machine on hand if possible in case someone’s machine acts up or breaks.
  • Focus on teaching ONE pattern.
  • Break down the sewing time into smaller chunks to avoid exhaustion.
  • Have finished garments from the pattern on hand to help people see the ‘bigger picture’ when doing funny-looking steps like pockets or closures.
  • Pump up the jams! (But not so loud they can’t hear you explaining something).
  • Encourage creativity with the pattern but also focus on keeping things simple enough to complete.
  • Have everyone take measurements in advance so you can be prepared for any sizing/grading help they may need.
  • Keep it fun and lighthearted. Be sure everyone knows not to expect perfection on their first garment.

Have you ever taught a sewing workshop before? Have you ever had a friend teach you? I’d love to hear your stories.

 

Me-Made-May // Week 4 (and a bit)

Me Made May Week 4 // Boots & Cats

And that’s a wrap! 31 days of me-made garments. Thank you for all of you on Instagram putting up with the barrage of selfies for the last month. Though it was annoying at times, I think I might miss this challenge. It was a nice excuse to get a little more dressed up each day. Plus, the community and support throughout this month has been astounding. I’ve ‘met’ many new seamstresses, been inspired to try new things and I have a better understanding of what I need to do in order to support a me-made wardrobe.

This year I pledged to wear at least one me-made item a day for the entirety of the month, and in that, I succeeded. Some days were a bit of a stretch but I made sure to make it happen. After people knew I was participating, it was fun to have them ask me “Okay, what are you wearing that you made today?”, which opened up the conversation to talking about my hobby and passion to people. It can be hard topic to introduce to the conversation sometimes, but this was a great excuse to talk about it as much as I could.

I didn’t have it in my pledge to make anything new, but the challenge did inspire me to complete FOUR new garments this month, which I am pretty sure is a new sew-speed record! Most of these were one or two session makes which are SO satisfying. It’ll be a bit challenge to slow down and tackle a bigger garment now. When I sew with the intention that I want to wear the clothes the next day, I tend to rush and make sloppy decisions. I think a high quality summer dress is just what I need next.

I am so thankful I dove in and participated in this year’s challenge. I had so much fun and I am definitely going to keep my focus on incorporating my me-mades into the everyday rotation. (Which I think was kind of the point of this whole thing!)

Without further ado, here is the last week (and a bit) of Me Made May 2015

Day 22: Ice Cream Airelle Blouse

day22

The photo may need a little explaining. Today’s Friday challenge was ‘animals’. I could have just worn my cat dress again, but I decided to interpret a different way. Meet Hobbes, my stuffed tiger. I was really into the comic in Jr. High so I started hand-sewing him in 7th grade Intro to Sewing. It took about 5 years to slowly complete because I kept forgetting about him. I tried so hard to make him as comic-accurate as possible. The Airelle blouse has nothing to do with this, but I had just finished it the day before and wanted to toss it in the mix. I love the contrast yoke and the silhouette in the back is great, but the front is lacking something. I think I may make a few changes and add the sleeves in. We’ll see.

Day 23: Pink Plaid Sixties Shift

Day23

This is another older make and my first real vintage pattern. It was a mail-order pattern from my Grandmother’s stash and I loved the shape and the little button belt. I didn’t look at the pattern too closely when I first cut out my fabric and it wasn’t until my first fitting I noticed the length was crazy long, past my knees! So I had to chop a good amount off of there to get the look I wanted. I am happy with how it turned out, but I hate wasting fabric like that. It’s also a great reminder about how far my skills have come. I had to re-jig the neckline last summer, but remnants of mistakes (like totally backwards bias binding on the hem) are good little mementos.

Day 24: Soft and Summery MC6359

Day24

We were in a bit of a heatwave this past week and I was quickly running out of options. I had this pattern and fabric in my stash for a few months now and it was time to jump on it. I used the same lace that details my Gabriola skirt to add contrast to the back and it is seriously one of my favourite me mades at the moment. Fun fact: the fabric was actually purchased as a ‘jersey infinity scarf’ for $15. I loved the colour, the feel and the drape and there were no seams or hems so I had to have it. Good knit fabrics just that tough to find around here.

Day 25: Cotton Sack Dress

Day25

Another repeat. +25 degrees calls for a loose summer dress. Had fun playing with different accessories this time around.

Day 26: Geometric Hollyburn Skirt

Day26

You may remember this fabric from way back when. I have tonnes left and used some to make this swishy Hollyburn skirt. I taught this pattern to my friends during the ‘great sewing day’ back at the beginning of the month. Just needed a few finishing touches and it was ready to hit the town. It’s a silhouette and print I don’t usually go for in skirts so I will see how much I like and wear it this summer. It was a great excuse to step outside my comfort zone.

Day 27: Julia Cardigan

Day27

I am so proud I only repeat this baby ONCE! Boo yah. Long day of meetings, running around and a hearty Bday dinner for Rory meant I just wanted to be optimally comfortable (for tree climbing, obviously)

Day 28: Senna Dress Remixed
Day28
In order to keep myself from feeling like I was in a repeat rut, I took this outside the box and mixed in this non-me-made skirt I’d been dying to wear and layered it with my Senna dress to make a whole new outfit! I loved how it turned out and may have to try with different skirt/dress combos!

Day 29: Cat’s Cradle Sorbetto

day29

On Thursday I got a very happy mail parcel full of Lizzy House’s Cat Nap fabrics and I couldn’t wait to pounce! I downloaded Sorbetto and promptly made this cute little tank. Even after adding my traditional 5cm to the waist length and rounding out the hem, it was still pretty short on me! Bust darts are a bit too high as well. Shoulda made a muslin- but it is still super adorable and will look great tucked into skirts, so I don’t mind that much. Also cats.

Day 30: YEG Cat Fest

Day30

A friend and I managed to venture out to the Edmonton Cat Fest this weekend and there was no me-made more fitting than the Belladone. Rocket Mama loved it too!

Day 31: Vintage Green S2927

Day31

We did it! I’d reached the end and realized I hadn’t worn this dress yet! This lazy Sunday was perfect for this soft vintage fabric dress. I always second guess myself in this dress, never 100% sure if the style works for me, or how I should do my hair or accessorize it. But I really do like it and I just need to experiment a little more to find out the ideal formula for this piece.

Thanks for following along with me and I already can’t wait for MMMay16!!

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?