Adventures in San Francisco

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

I really don’t want to be that person but…where the popsicles is summer going?! It gets hard to keep track of the time and take it in when everything is just go go go for months on end. Example; we went to San Francisco two months ago and it feels like it was only a few weeks ago. To be fair, I have been doing lots of sewing and soaking up the sun outdoors, so I felt no immediate rush to post about our trip, but now as July winds down I need to step it up.

And what, she made a video!? How’s that for being worth the wait. It’s been a number of trips now that I set out with the best intentions and¬†took lots of video clips in hopes of making little montage videos when I got home. But most (read: all but this one) still sit in a folder full of micro-glimpses into our adventures. This time though, I told myself I wouldn’t let that happen…and I didn’t. So for that alone I am very proud, but I do hope you enjoy. (There are many of Rory’s antics to enjoy in there too. For those just wanting to see cats, they start at the 2 min markūüėČ )

 

As with our last trip to California, we began by attending the Bay Area Maker Faire. Because I wanted to attend my friend’s wedding, I arrived late and only had one day to take in the expo. I knew what I wanted to see and what I knew I could skip, so one day turned out to be plenty. As always with this type of event, you are completely surrounded by creativity and really cool things. It’s hard to know where to focus!

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

I was pretty impressed that I spotted a fair number of textile artists and engineers hiding in the nooks and crannies. I also caught the MakeFashion show and spent some downtime in the fiber booth. I first learned crochet in that booth 2 years ago, and was stoked to see weaving now included. Using a mini loom I took some time to chill and made myself a little piece to take home.

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

After the faire, we made our way into San Francisco proper. We had the pleasure of once again spending lots of time with our friend Dat, who knows more than anyone about the cool and interesting things to do in the city (last time, he brought us to roller disco). This time though, we spent more of our time relaxing in our Airbnb, particularly designing and shooting a video for his latest art project.¬†The piece consisted of translucent origami cubes filled with LED lights where¬†the hues¬†and intensity were controlled by the movement of your hands. It’s so mesmerizing, you could stare at it all day long.

Of course, when you spend hours playing with light sculptures, you get quite hungry.¬†Dat taught us the method of sous vide cooking, which is essentially cooking your food (in sealed bags) at a¬†consistent temperature in water for a set amount of time for the perfect outcome every single time. We quickly mastered the art of the ‘poached’ egg (hence the random, but perfectly-gooey egg in the video) and later set out to cook the tenderest, most delicious steak and chicken (which then of course went on top of home made pizza. Hungry yet?)

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

When we weren’t cooking and filming, we tried to cram in as many new sights into our four short days as possible. We started with the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park (which was steps from our Airbnb). I had my sights set on the Oscar de la Renta retrospective exhibit since we were planning this trip and was so intrigued to go see it.

De la Renta’s work was so globally influenced, they actually had most of the exhibit divided by his inspirations, rather than by era. From lacy flamenco dresses, to fur lined Russian-inspired coats, his attention to detail (and the work of his atelier) was incredible. Rory even noted that even though his work spanned decades, you couldn’t place the era for an individual piece. A dress from the 70s would be positioned next to a dress from the late 90s and you wouldn’t be able to tell which was which. He had such a talent for creating elegant, classic pieces and it was really cool to see them all up close.

When I was studying fashion history, I found myself intrigued and obsessed with watteau pleats in 18th century dresses (I even wanted to include them in one of my designs for¬†intro to pattern drafting, but couldn’t wrap my head around where to start haha).¬†So naturally, these Marie Antionette-inspired gowns were my absolute favourite. The green striped off-the-shoulder dress was my favourite of the entire exhibition. It was in a funny place and hard to get a photo of, but I just love the swaths of fabric in a¬†that beautiful green hue. Delightful.

Most of our transportation was by walking, since we were approximately 30 minutes from most of¬†we wanted to do. Of course, it feels like no time at all, because the architecture is such an exhibit in itself and you¬†really can’t get tired of it¬†(maybe if you live there, but I still find it fascinating). As we walked the streets, we would point out¬†places with cool features and play “would you live in that one?” choosing to ignore how much money we would probably need to do so.

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

Wrapping up our first full day, we headed to Workshop SF for a block printing class. Social and creative classes are few and far between here so I wanted to be sure we got to do something crafty in such an abundant community. Workshop is a really cool studio that offers a myriad of classes from floral arranging, to makeup, screen printing and more. We only had a limited selection due to the dates we were there, but textile printing just seemed like a wonderful fit.

We were tasked with coming up with designs, carving our blocks and printing our fabric within two hours, but we learned lots and our group was really fun. Rory mastered the carving tool and different tips to meticulously create his bumblebee, and our instructor Danielle taught us a simple-now-that-I-know-it-but-mind-blowing-at-the-time technique of not totally blending your inks to create a gradient effect.

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

Since it popped up in my feed over a year ago, I had been following Kittea on social media. Knowing there would be a cat cafe in San Francisco while we were visiting was too good to be true and I cleared a morning in my schedule for a nice cuppa and some cuddles. A lot smaller than Kopjes in Amsterdam, there was no level of ‘pretending to be here for the tea’ with the guests. It was ALL about the kitties. Many of the (adoptable) cats were quite young and very playful, so it was easy to interact with them. I did make a friend who was down to just wander into my lap for a few minutes then¬†head back to his bed, and repeat.

I don’t think I can think of a better way to kick off a morning.

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

From there, we hopped an Uber to Union Square and Britex fabrics! I know I self-imposed a fabric shopping ban, but when high quality fabric stores are available to you in person, you take that chance when you get it. I went in with nothing in particular in mind, hoping to find some fabric that ‘spoke to me’. I had no idea we’d be spending the next two hours wandering the floors and failing to not¬†get distracted by shiny things.

I loved the vibe of the place, and everyone there was so nice. Many people commented and appreciated the print of my Laurel dress and were keen to give me a hand with everything I needed. I have seriously never seen so many notions so beautifully laid out in one place before. I am seriously envious of those who have places like this to gather, relate to people, and find amazing textiles in your own city.

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

I made the rounds though all the floors, mentally picking out the things I’d like to circle back to. Finally on the top floor ‘sale’ section, this neon pick paisley brocade jumped into my arms, soon to be a pencil skirt for fall. On the way back down I grabbed a few interesting trims for ‘just in case’, then finally some fun prints to top it off. I made my first Liberty print purchase after much deliberation for a light summer top and grabbed some light grey striped seersucker for some high-waisted shorts. I also could not have left without this interesting and dainty border print fabric and impulsively grabbed the softest fabric ever in the abstract floral print. I should have grabbed some solids I know, but without a project in mind and a whole rainbow at my fingertips I just couldn’t choose.

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

We were also lucky enough to stumble into the Minted pop-up shop (it had just opened the day before). Before I saw the name on the sign, the bright and happy pillows and prints in the window sucked me in. I am a sucker for stationery so wandering in may have been a mistake for my budget. It was really cool to see the collaborative design concept brought to life and curated together in such a beautiful way. I managed to only wander out with some pens, gift tags and one roll of wrapping paper thankyouverymuch.

It was also a nice reminder of my surface pattern design motivations and was really inspired to see the creative work from so many people in one beautiful space.

Crafty Adventures in San Francisco // Boots and Cats

The rest of the few days consisted of sitting¬†and reading on the beach (and watching crazy people swim in the frigid water), climbing trees, eating churros at the wharf, and walking until our feet could walk no more. If I had an extra day or two I would have loved to do some vintage shopping since we were so close to all the good stuff in Haight-Ashbury, but we were so exhausted I’ll just have to save it for next time (and there will definitely be a next time).

I hope your summer isn’t flying by too quickly and I hope to share some summery frocks soon.

A Swingy Sundress // Vintage Butterick 4634

Vintage 60s Tent Dress // Boots & Cats

Ahhh! I am finally back¬†in the land of the living…er blogging. After being away in California for a week, we then celebrated Rory’s 30th birthday (with a robot-themed costume party) and the wedding of one of my closest friends, all in a short window of time. It was¬†totally exhausting, to the point that I barely wanted to move, so it took a little while to recoup.

Luckily, I sewed up this summery frock right before the madness, just in time to wear for another wedding the day before departing to Cali. The perfect kick-off to my summer sewing.

Vintage 60s Tent Dress // Boots & Cats

Amazingly, some of the balloons from Rory’s birthday are still floatin’ around so I thought I would take them with me for the photos. It was pretty funny, this shoot. I decided last minute to venture out¬†and in the morning everything looked beautiful and sunny. I went and curled my hair, did my makeup and and set up my camera remote, and as soon as I got dressed to go…it was raining. AH the most frustrating feeling, no?

Luckily it was one of our usual summer rains and was gone nearly as quickly as it came…but it left the wind behind. My¬†normally peaceful walk to the university campus was, as I am sure, wildly entertaining for any passerbys. These balloons deserve a medal for their fortitude. Whipping around, getting tangled, and getting pulled by the wind at full force. I basically had to hug them to keep things under control.

At our destination, they were mildly better behaved, though when I wanted to take shots without them my weight wasn’t weighty enough and I had to run down the sidewalk chasing them like a loon at least 3 times. But look¬†how cute they are!

The things we do for our blogs, eh?

But I digress. About 5 years ago, I raided the sewing spaces of both my grandmothers leaving with a huge file box full of their old sewing patterns. I remember that summer, sitting on the floor rifling through, knowing I couldn’t take them all and trying hard to choose what to keep. I¬†immediately grabbed dresses, both full skirts and shift dresses, mostly from the 60s and early 70s.¬†It was, however, easy to leave behind a large stack of frothy garments from the 80s.

Vintage 60s Tent Dress // Boots & Cats

This was around the time of my sewing renaissance, near the end of high school and my skills were definitely lacking. The first pattern I made from the stash was a late 50s circle skirt and was way too heavy with the fabric I chose, and I did not know how to properly fit the waistband. I wore it once. The second was a cute 60s shift that I made in a pink plaid… quilting cotton.¬†I wore it twice. (and years later noticed the bias binding was done laughably wrong and I managed to fix t up a bit for MMMay ’15). After that, the vintage patterns lay dormant.

When I was fabric shopping for Martha, I came upon this blush floral fabric and fell immediately smitten. It has a crepe paper-like texture that I hadn’t seen before. Though it¬†didn’t make the cut for Martha, I asked for a humble 1m, knowing I would find something for it this summer. Around this time, summer wedding invites flowed in, and I couldn’t help think that this fabric would be so nice for a wedding. I stared at my pattern shelf and couldn’t see anything that suited the fabric or what I had in mind. I dug out the file box and this tent dress jumped out at me. A match made in heaven.

Vintage 60s Tent Dress // Boots & Cats

The pattern is Butterick 4634 and from what I assume is the late 60s. I scoured the envelope and instructions to find a printed copyright date, but for some reason Butterick and Simplicity patterns don’t seem to have it. It is a one-piece dress, meaning that it is cut on the fold and is seamed at the shoulders and centre back. The pattern has lots of options, such as a high collar and various sleeves. I opted for view F, sleeveless with the collar.

Now, tent dresses like this eat up a LOT of fabric, which at the moment, I did not have. I measured the width of my fabric and carefully took in volume from both sides and under the armscye until I could squeeze it onto my fabric. This left the dress with a softer, more a-line shape. I also just squeezed out the collar, leaving nothing but fluttery scrappy bits behind.

Vintage 60s Tent Dress // Boots & Cats

The sewing itself was a breeze, and at this point I find I can intuitively figure out most of the steps (especially now that I understand how bias binding works.) The instructions¬†for sewing on the collar were really helpful and easy. I really like the finish. I did have to adjust the size of it though,¬†because the collar was HUGE. It was so tall it looked like a neck brace and I shaved off about half the width. (As I look at the pattern envelope now, I realize you are probably supposed to fold over the collar. D’oy).

The pattern ¬†called for a zip closure at the upper back neck, but since my fabric was so light, I opted to leave it open as a keyhole, and just close the collar with two buttons (and Tilly’s elastic loop trick). At the end, I noticed¬†the dress had a slight high-low hem effect happening, which was a happy surprise and played well with the overall shape. I attribute the shift because of my pattern meddling earlier.

Vintage 60s Tent Dress // Boots & Cats

I am so happy I was able to eek this dress from the fabric I had. I have two more weddings this summer that I don’t need to worry about finding a dress for. Ha.

After my month-long stitching hiatus I feel like I have my sew-jo back, just completing a Papercut Patterns dress yesterday and another project cut and ready to go! I know some sewists find it hard to make things in the summer, but I really enjoy that there are usually plenty of occasions happening to wear new creations almost immediately.

This has really helped me get motivated to look back into the vintage pattern box more frequently.¬†I was pleasantly surprised to notice that I have¬†the pattern for the jacket Jade made for 1960s week¬†on the Sewing Bee… I smell an autumn project on the horizon.

Vintage 60s Tent Dress // Boots & Cats

Me Made May 2016

Me Made May 2016 // Boots and Cats

Welp. We did it everyone, another Me Made May come and gone. It was a different experience for me this year, as I chose not to take the photo aspect of the challenge as seriously as I did last year. Partly because this month was quite busy and the time did not exist, but also in part because the creativity and gussying up required to take photos up to my standards takes a lot out of me, and I can STILL feel the exhaustion I was left with after last year.

On the flip side, because I wasn’t as dedicated to the daily ritual of documentation and thinking up new places for photos, the month went by quite quickly and didn’t have the same mindfulness attached to the challenge as before.

Having sewn quite a few new goodies in the past year, I knew I would have a decent time of finding things to wear. Strangely though there were a lot of mornings that I felt at a loss. I actually referenced last years photos more than once to get some outfit ideas. I also had a unique curveball of travelling to San Francisco for 7 of the days. The weather provided a strange middle-ground of warm but cold that my me-made wardrobe needed some fanagling to accommodate.

Lessons learned:

  • I need¬†more tops! I couldn’t believe how many mornings I was longing for pants but couldn’t because my selection of tops had already been depleted.
  • Solids. Solids. Solids. Nearly all my me-mades are made with a delightful printed fabric, usually bold in colour or design. This mean’s they don’t play nicely with one another. I need some basic cardigans for the dresses, and skirts to go with the tops I do have and general other layerable bits.
  • High-waists please. I am loving the short top trend, and have a few already, but I don’t have many bottoms to pair with them without showing skin.¬†I have a grid print cotton that’s just begging to be a 60s crop top that needs something to go with it.
  • I should take more time to discover new outfits and pair the items I¬†have with each other in creative new ways. I found a few winning outfits this month because I took the time to play.
  • I think it’s time to try to make jeans. It really it would make this whole month a lot easierūüėČ

In case you were curious, this is what my month ultimately ended up looking like (with the limited photos I do have):

Me Made May 2016 // Boots and Cats

Day 1- Unblogged knit Belcarra blouse. Fabric is so comfortable but the neckline is droopy because I didn’t accommodate the pattern properly for the drapey knit. Perfect for Sunday lounging about, though.

Day 2- Vogue 1236 ‘paperbag’ dress. We were spoiled with a very warm May, so this summery dress was perfect.

Day 3- Lace-backed MC6359. Still one of my favourite casual pieces. This is one of those pieces my future tops should aspire to.

Day 4- Vintage floral print Belcarra blouse. Still a soft, comfortable favourite.

Day 5- Geometric canvas Hollyburn skirt. I made while demonstrating the pattern to some friends last May. I discovered I could pair it with a¬†cropped swing sweater and it was probably one of my favourite ‘new discovery’ outfits this month.

Day 6- Cat Nap¬†print Laurel dress. I like wearing this dress when I will be around people because it’s a great conversation starter.

Day 7- My new Martha dress! I had just finished sewing it and wore it to take photos for the blog, then continued to wear it out and about, until it popped a seam I didn’t reinforce properly. D’oh.

Day 8- Cat Nap Sorbetto tank. Great for layering, noticing it fits a bit small.

Day 9- Julia Cardigan. Only a matter of time before this one hit the scene. I think it was a Monday thing. I almost count this as a cheating piece because it is so comfortable and goes with everything. I wear it all the time, so¬†it doesn’t really need the boost of love Me Made May is intended to give to our clothes. Ah well.

Day 10- Striped Plantain Tee. Another awesome basic. Should make a few more in solid fabric.

Me Made May 2016 // Boots and Cats

Day 11- Shiny gold Laurel dress. I needed to have a photo taken for work and it was a great opportunity to wear this dressier dress.

Day 12- Grey cotton Belcarra. Made of the same fabric as my Vogue 1236, it’s a bit stiff and needs to be broken in a bit still.

Day 13- Knit Belcarra, again. I just wanted to wear something soft again.

Day 14- Yellow Lace Skirt. I was attending a bridal shower and wanted to wear something bright and girly. I had a fun discovery outfit with this one too, pairing it with the stripes worked better than expected!

Day 15- Blue Coco Top. The style is great but the fabric is not. I have an ivory one planned on the way.

Day 16- Self-drafted (copied) Batwing top. I loved this fabric and decided to try and copy a batwing sweater I had bought. I traced it out and juuuust squished the pattern onto the fabric. Then I realised this fabric has far less stretch than my original, meaning the sleeves are hella tight. Love the chevron on the sleeve though. Live and learn.

Day 17- Gabriola Skirt. Flowy, floral, fantastic.

Day 18- Julia Cardigan. Crossed the halfway point, feeling lazy.

Day 19- Senna Dress. The fabric has a coolness to it which is perfect for spring. I tossed it with a new cardigan and really liked the combo. Secret work pajamas!

Me Made May 2016 // Boots and Cats

Day 20- New vintage tent dress. Will be blogging soon! Made from a vintage pattern from my Grandma I sewed this up real fast (only 2 pattern pieces!) just in time for my friend’s wedding.

Day 21- Stripe Coco Top. Classic and cool for a (unexpectedly long) day of travel.

Day 22- Stripe Coco Dress. Wanted something bold to wear to Maker Faire, as well the ponte was the right amount of warm for the cool Bay Area air.

Day 23- Lace-backed MC6359. Comfy repeat.

Day 24- Saiph Tunic. Needed to play with some layering, but worked out nicely for walking through museums and parks.

Me Made May 2016 // Boots and Cats

Day 25- Cat Nap Print Laurel Dress. I visited a cat cafe this day. There is no way I could NOT.

Day 26- Polka Dot Linden. Comfy, warm, casual.

Day 27- Julia Cardigan. Lazy travel day.

Day 28- Knit Hollyburn Skirt. Not sure what to pair it with for a warm spring day. Tried to strike gold again with the striped shirt- had limited success compared to the yellow skirt.

Day 29- Striped Plantain Tee. Laundry day.

Day 30- Knit Peggy Dress. Felt like wearing something more outlandish nearing the end of the challenge. Almost forgot to take a photo. Was worn while enjoying cookies.

Day 31- Ice Cream Airelle Blouse then floral print¬†Belcarra. It was a warm, summery day and I decided this make needed some love. I wore it for about an hour, but the shoulders were so tight I couldn’t focus on anything else. Changed into my trusty Belcarra and tossed it into the ‘something needs to change’ pile. C’est la vie.

I am surprised at how often I felt the need/laziness to repeat tried and true makes instead of venturing into other me made’s I have but didn’t wear at all. Luckily, my to-sew list has just grown by a LOT and I can’t wait to dive in.

Have a happy June, and enjoy some guiltless freedom wearing a few non-me-mades this week hehe.

 

Flower Power // Tilly and the Buttons Martha Dress

Swingin' Martha Dress // Boots and Cats

Blooming, bright and frolicky¬†is exactly how you’d describe the light sunny days¬†of May¬†this dress.¬†¬†That’s right folks, spring (aka dress sewing season)¬†is upon us in full swing and I am thrilled to share another bold¬†60s-inspired frock¬†to kick it off.

Last month the lovely team at Tilly and the Buttons reached out and asked if I would be interested in previewing a new pattern. Unlike anything I had ever seen before from an indie pattern, the Martha dress is a princess-seamed, bell sleeved, bias-skirted wonder. I instantly fell in love with the high collar and heavy late-sixties vibe. I did not hesitate to accept.

Swingin' Martha Dress // Boots and Cats

This is probably one of the most vintage looking new makes in my wardrobe (though¬†I think¬†Peggy comes close) and not something I’d be likely to find elsewhere, which makes me quite happy. Thankfully my friend let me take photos in her mid-century wonderland of a house to complement it. I could not imagine a more perfect¬†setting to play and swish around in this dress.

I knew immediately I wanted to go all out California-girl with the fabric and went to the store in search of the brightest floral I could find. Luckily this neon polyester crepe had no trouble jumping out at me. I also purchased some matching yellow crochet trim to play with, but I ultimately left it off because this fabric won’t let anything else share the stage. My second design choice was a mint lace with underlay, based off a long lost sold-to-someone-else Etsy find, but I didn’t want to sew multiple layers together for a summer dress. Perhaps in version 2.0?

Swingin' Martha Dress // Boots and Cats

I also toyed with the idea of making a sleeveless version, which would probably be more comfortable on hot days, as well as more practical for cool-weather layering. After much debate (and Instagram feedback) I decided to leave them on. I really need to accept that I need more sleeves in my life. The bell sleeves also cement the vintage vibe. A sleeveless version probably would have a skater dress feel, which really opens this pattern to different styling opportunities.

If you are on a fabric budget, or have a great textile in your stash, I will say that the fabric requirements are quite generous and you can do a lot with less. The envelope suggests over 3m of fabric (to accommodate the bias cut skirt pieces, and long skirt version), but since I made the mini skirt in one of the smaller sizes, I was able to arrange and cut my pieces and was left with a solid meter of fabric leftover.

Swingin' Martha Dress // Boots and Cats

Because of the crepe texture of the fabric, it was great to sew with, sort of ‘sticking’ to itself and keeping still. However in cutting out the pieces, this was one of the few times¬†having a cutting table would have been ideal. I do all my fabric cutting on the floor of my living room and while it works for thicker, stable fabrics, the soft flowy nature of this was not having it. I used my rotary cutter and 3 small cutting mats strategically placed underneath piece by piece to get the job done.

This haphazard cutting method left me with a few¬†errors in my pieces. Things shifted and slid, as they do. For example, ¬†when I went to attach the skirt to the bodice it was far too long! I could have gathered the skirt to make it fit but it would have totally ruined the dress’ silhouette. After some frustrated pondering, I opted to let out the¬†side and princess seams to a 0.5 cm seam allowance to get them to fit (perfectly with aligned seams, I might add).

Swingin' Martha Dress // Boots and Cats

I am not a fan of facings on the best of days and for this project in particular I felt it was a bit superfluous. Because my fabric was so light and flowy, it added visible bulk to my neckline, so I removed it (with the exception of a small triangle bit to keep the zipper faced), and simply overlocked the collar piece to the bodice. I’ve said before that the beauty of the insides of my garments isn’t my #1 priority so this was an easy decision to make. I’m sure with a sturdier fabric the facing would add a nice finish and support the collar well.

The small tip of using a hair elastic for the button loop closure was one of those mind-blowing sewing hacks that make life so easy and make you say ‘now, why didn’t I think of that?!”. I felt a little guilty at first, cutting into a perfectly good hair tie, but since only a small portion¬†(~5cm) is needed, I saved the remainder for future loops. It has lots of stretch and looks so good. Total win.

Swingin' Martha Dress // Boots and Cats

Size wise I cut a straight size 2 from Tilly’s size chart. It is a pretty spot on fit, though I could have graded out a little at the waist I think (my measurements sit between size 2-3) to allow¬†extra room for pizza parties. Since the pattern has a natural waist seam I added my¬†traditional 4 cm bodice¬†lengthening (which as I now type this, I think also had probably something to do with my bodice/skirt alignment issues…)

What I really enjoyed about making this dress was the inclusion of new techniques that aren’t difficult, but things I simply hadn’t encountered before in a pattern. The bias cut skirt pieces and the high collar were new things to play with and learn from, without feeling scary or unattainable.

Swingin' Martha Dress // Boots and Cats

I am looking forward to picnics and patio parties and all other excuses to wear bright summery frocks. Not to mention even more summery frocks to sew sew sew. Ahhh I love this time of year.

This pattern was gifted to me as part of a request to preview the new Martha pattern. All opinions and sewing gaffes are my own.

A Shiny Shift // Colette Laurel #2

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

We’ve had one heck of a beautiful spring this year. The snow has been long gone for weeks and there have been numerous picnic-worthy afternoons. So my bright idea was to make something heavy and dark! Ha. I’ve had this beautiful metallic fabric staring at me¬†since November and it needed to be dealt with.

During the holidays, I was mildly obsessed with finding shiny, sparkly, metallic fabrics to suit the season and pretty much grabbed any that I saw. I wanted to make this dress around New Years, but with the whirlwind of holiday sewing, then making my dresses for my 60s shoot, it got a little delayed. I felt bad about leaving it behind until next holiday, so I quickly made it up before diving into more flowy, flowery things.

I bought the fabric because of it’s unique texture and metallic finish, but at first wasn’t sure what to do with it. Then at a local fashion event a friend wore this amazing metallic shift dress. What are friends for, if not to copy their cutest clothes?¬†Since I had such success with my cat print Laurel, I knew this would be a great pattern¬†to use and let the fabric shine (har har).

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

The fabric has a chunky knit-like appearance, which included open spacing. To avoid any wardrobe malfunctions it needed to¬†be fully lined, except¬†the sleeves. Luckily View A of the pattern was meant for sheer fabric and a lining, so there was zero guesswork putting it together. Colette recommends attaching the outer¬†and lining pieces together first, and sewing the dress as though they are one. You don’t get the separate overlay effect, but you also don’t see the darts and seams through the sheer fabric (though you’d probably not notice with this fabric anyway). It saved a lot of time (and hassle trying to attach separate layers)¬†and I am rarely picky about what the insides of my projects look like, so it’s likely I will use this method in the future.

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

I didn’t want to line the dress in black because I felt like it made the dress too dark. I wanted to keep the warmer essence of the gold and hoped to line it with something in that tonal range. I didn’t have anything in my regular stash (that wasn’t super itchy or bulky) in the right colours, so instead¬†used an old bed sheet from my muslin pile. I am trying to actively avoid buying more fabric when I already have so much, and what better way than to upcycle! The cotton was the right brown and already super soft. It was the perfect choice for this type of project.

I was lucky enough to find a gold zipper in the perfectly matching shade as the fabric, and knew a bold exposed zipper would be the perfect complement to the overall feel of this dress. I had to do a bit of mental math to make sure I accommodated for the width of the zipper since the pattern calls for an invisible zip (approx 0.3 mm on each side), but it went in super smoothly and it’s my favourite detail on this garment.

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

Sizewise I cut a 4 in the waist and hips but made sure to grade down to a 0¬†at the bust to avoid the excess fabric problem I had last time. People have talked about the armscye being a bit small in this pattern, and while I noticed it a bit in the kitty dress, I didn’t make a note of it and definitely¬†noticed it on this one. Most likely attributing it to the thicker fabric + the lining. You can see the fabric pulling from the arms around the neckline in some of the photos. It’s not uncomfortable, but noteworthy for future projects.

I also opted to just stitch down the bias finish on the neckline instead of hand-sewing it with an invisible stitch. It was more a choice made because of time (I want to make more springy thinnngggss)¬†but seeing the images, I like that it gives an extra bit of dimension¬†and moves the light on the fabric. I know some people like the clean finish, (and sometimes the fabric demands it), but for something like this I didn’t feel it affected the outcome.

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

For these photos I was lucky enough to work with my friend¬†Myles.¬†After a beautiful¬†and sunny¬†past few weeks, our scheduled day turned out to be a¬†chilly,¬†gloomy, rainy day. I’d like to¬†think it worked out in favour of the moodier, cooler weather design and fabric of the dress and that the cold weather was worth it. So yay for happenstance.

Even though mentally I felt like I grumbled through this project¬†(like, why aren’t you a flirty warm weather garment, you silly thing?!) I am stoked on this dress. It’s gratifying to know it emerged complete from the seemingly endless queue of¬†projects. In all likelihood, it¬†won’t get worn much until next fall/winter¬†when it seems to better suit the mood, but you never know when the right event might just come along.

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

And speaking of spring things, whose gearing up for Me Made May?! I am definitely going to partake again this year, loving how much it reconnected me with my handmade wardrobe last year. This year though, I don’t think I will have the time to properly document my outfit daily.

Taking interesting¬†photos every single day is exhausting and totally drained me creatively last time, so though I will be wearing a Me Made everyday, I will only really post when the inspiration strikes. I’m so looking forward to following along with everyone else, that’s the best part!

Imitation vs Inspiration // Authenticity in Style and Sewing

Jean Shrimpton Photoshoot // Boots and Cats

Have you ever seen a photo of someone and just wished you could be them? Whether it was their on-point style, their illustrious setting, or their radiating confident attitude. This can lead to jealousy, but oft lends itself to ideas and inspiration. Pinterest has opened the doors to every image of every style imaginable perfect for each person’s tastes. Personally, I can’t get enough¬†of vintage photos and styling, especially from the mid-century. I¬†want to be transported to that era of designer dresses, flawless eyeliner and sculpted to perfection hair. I imagine the feeling of exuding youthful coolness and fun, so effortlessly.

Style icons,¬†muses, and inspirations do come from all eras, times and places for me, but ever since I opened a¬†John French Photography calendar when I was 15, model Jean Shrimpton became¬†one of those women captured in time that I’ve always wished I could be.

I guess what all this is getting at, is¬†that the real reason I arranged a full out sixties photo shoot was that I wanted the opportunity to be Jean for a day. There’s a photo from¬†a 1965 issue of¬†Vogue that just captures the essence of everything I love and admire about the decade. I’ve always wanted to step inside that photo and live a bit of that reality. While that isn’t possible, I looked to the talented friends around me and thought, if I was going to make it happen, we could do it right.Jean Shrimpton Photoshoot // Boots and Cats

The whole experience was a dream, a day full of laughs, inspiration, (and a few dresses thrown in for some good blogging measure). I could not be happier with everything that came as a result. But as I started to share and post the photos, I felt a twinge of apprehension.

If you know me in real life, you know this isn’t how I dress and look everyday. In fact, I appear very 2016 casual.¬†I am by no means committed to vintage style regularly.¬†I love it, but it doesn’t always work for me, and takes more time and effort than is usually available. I worried that people who knew me thought I was simply wearing a costume, or those who found me and the blog through these photos would find some of my other sewing projects and feel like I’ve deceived them, thinking I was a mod-girl 24/7.

It’s really a shame that in this day and age, with access to so many influences and muses,¬†there is still the prevailing idea that we are supposed to be committed¬†to a single style persona. We’re encouraged to explore and develop our personal style, but there’s a¬†catch; “It’s totally okay to be anything you want to be, but as long as you stick to that one thing.” I understand why we think this way, if someone presents themselves consistently, it’s easy to understand and relate to them.

Authenticity in Style // Boots & Cats

I, and so many people I know, have such an array of interests and fashion muses that it seems inefficient (and boring!) to stick within that box. It can be hard, because to people who don’t know you, it creates a dissonance in who they’ve assumed you are, but I think we need to work toward allowing ourselves to take on a new persona as frequently as we like¬†without fear of being judged as fake, or a poseur, because you fail to commit to a single definition of how you look everyday. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable to be a 60s girl one day, to a J. Crew girl the next, and a fluffy skirted fashion blogger the day after that.

The way I see it, there are so many ways to draw elements of your style in different ways, and those may change depending on the aspects of your life. Sometimes certain things don’t fit the situation , but it’s a balance of your mood of the day, convenience and practicality, your environment, your dream self¬†and your aspirations that all work together to create your style output. And sometimes that means you appear radically different each day to the next.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, you have to wonder, no matter how you choose to present yourself, where are you drawing your style from? How is it influenced from¬†those you admire – by drawing your look from someplace else, where is the line between imitation and inspiration?Jean Shrimpton Photoshoot // Boots and Cats

These photos, for example, were planned out down to the colour and size of the flowers¬†to directly reflect the photo in Vogue. Does that mean I¬†wasn’t creative enough? Is my¬†choosing to recreate something that brings me joy celebrating¬†the¬†influence it’s had on me, or does it display a lack of individual creative thought?

In the world of sewing, I often ask myself if choosing to make a dress exactly how it appears on the pattern envelope makes me less of a creative person than someone who hacks, slashes and reinvents the design¬†or even drafts their own concept from scratch? Sometimes, the way a garment is¬†presented by the designer is exactly what I want to have in my life, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for not re-interpreting it.

Can you even compare someone¬†looking for something relaxing and straightforward make¬†with someone who had the desire to inject their own elements based to grow their¬†skills and techniques? Maybe it’s not something we should consider at all, and instead look at the act of creating ANYTHING as a marker of expression and leave it at that?

Authenticity in Style // Boots & Cats

To me, creativity is a¬†spectrum and there’s no wrong way to do it. Following the steps 1-2-3 can be an¬†entryway to learning something new, or even a relaxing way to keep moving forward. I didn’t stray very far from the envelope my first few patterns, and I stick pretty close when I entering new territories (sewing with knits, or tailoring) or even trying a new craft altogether. It’s okay to make the decisions and play out your work in the way that speaks true to you.

Recreating these photos brought me, and those who helped me bring it to life, a lot of joy. The fact that we had to plan, collaborate and bring everything together was enough of a journey that, even though we were quoting the source material, lent itself a voice of it’s own.Jean Shrimpton Photoshoot // Boots and Cats

I believe the reason the online sewing community in particular is thriving is because of the concept of inspiration. I don’t know about you, but before I purchase any new pattern, I have to do an image search for every possible version I can find of it made online. It helps me visualize what can be possible, and what options are open for me to explore. I enjoy seeing how everyone infuses their own elements of style. I find things that have been made the exact same way I want to make it,¬†and I am sometimes pleasantly surprised with twists people have put on things that I hadn’t even considered before. There is so much to be gained by just being open to the ideas and concepts from everyone, and getting to know all sides of them, and embracing the style they present.

Something as simple as a few fun photos can open up so many questions! I definitely would love to hear any thoughts you have on the subject as well. Do you feel comfortable deviating from your ‘normal’ style, and does sewing allow you to do that more easily?

And when you are creating something, how closely can you draw from others before it becomes more than just inspiration? Have you ever felt nervous to share something you are afraid people will judge as inauthentic or copied, even if your journey to that result was completely you own?

A Taste of the 60s // Striped Coco Dress

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress // Boots and Cats

I’ve got another really fun one to share with you today. For the second look capturing the fun and bright spirit of the 60s, how could I deny you the most perfect retro-made-modern dress¬†that is¬†the Tilly and the Buttons Coco?

I realized that I don’t really have much to say about this dress, yet it’s one of my favourite makes to date. It’s funny how that works out that way.¬†When I initially got this striped fabric, I knew right away this was exactly what it was going to be.¬†A striped Coco has been on my sew-do list since I first laid eyes on the pattern. I talked about my finding-a-good-striped-fabric woes in the post¬†about my Coco Breton top last month, but if you got any good stripe sources, hook me up!

Both striped Coco projects were actually cut out at the same time. I cut out the dress, then noticed I had enough left to make the breton top too. Probably because it was still pants weather at that point, the top got made first.

On that note about pattern cutting, I have to ask, what’s your process with sewing projects? Do you work on a single garment, start to finish before starting something new, or do you have multiple things on the go? I used to be strictly one-at-a-time, but I found I ended up sewing less frequently because of it.

Cutting out pattern pieces is definitely my least favourite part of the process (it doesn’t help¬†that¬†I don’t have room for a table and I work off the floor) so it takes a lot of inertia to get started on a project, especially if I am short on time.¬†I have started to cut¬†out a few projects in bulk when I have lots of energy, so¬†I have at least one or two projects¬†ready to go when sewing time is scarcer. I do have to be careful not to prepare TOO many projects or else they stare me down and make me feel guilty they aren’t done yet, but so far this is working pretty well. I’d love to hear how you work around your projects¬†and prep things to sew. I’m all about streamlining.

Anywho, back to Coco.

I was trying to think about why this dress just worked for me. It was hard to narrow it down to describe. It’s this perfect blend of simple yet bold, classic yet unique, different but everyday wearable. It’s everything all in one, and it just ‘clicks’.

This makes my¬†third Coco overall. I said it before, but I think this pattern will be my ultimate TNT. I remember when I first started thinking about what I truly wanted from my clothes, I was often pinning styles that had the 60s funnel neck collar, without pinpointing that was a¬†design element I loved. Once I discovered Tilly, it totally made sense to me, and it was one of the first indie patterns I bought.¬†Unfortunately my first top was made of a poor quality fabric and hasn’t worn super well over time.

Construction notes are super basic: Straight cut in size 2 with usual waist length added. I wanted to play with the graphic nature of the stripe so I opted for the option with contrast cuffs. I thought of adding in the pockets too, but it was much too busy. It was all sewed with the overlocker except for the hem.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress // Boots and Cats

The thick ponte makes this dress the perfect transitional piece for this strange winter-spring (winting?) hybrid season we are currently having. It’s soft and snuggly with a print that says bring on the sunshine.¬†I also want to make more Coco tops in a selection¬†of basic solid colours (though my stash is currently lacking in the solid color department…) to wear year-round so keep your eyes out for more retro goodness.

One more look coming from this photo session with Breanne Marie Photography comin’ atcha next week.

A Taste of the 60s // Papercut Patterns Saiph Tunic

Papercut patterns Saiph Tunic // Boots and Cats

I’m not the best at sticking to sewing project timelines.¬†This dress was one of my intended fall sewing projects that just so happened to avoid getting done¬†til January. Luckily, we are having a very mild winter so¬†finishing it now does nothing to diminish it’s wearability.

The Saiph Tunic from Papercut patterns has a very unique silhouette that¬†can seem a bit daunting to people,¬†myself included. I don’t have anything like this in my wardrobe, as I tend to find comfort in more fitted and shaped garments. However, I felt like it was time to take a risk and step out of my comfort zone and try something a little more unique with this¬†unfitted bodice and drop waist ruffle. I also kinda dug that¬†the shape gave off a swinging 60s vibe. Very youthful and flippantly fun.

Papercut patterns Saiph Tunic // Boots and Cats

As I was wrapping up this dress,¬†I had another very¬†mod style dress in the works and took the opportunity to have a lot of fun with my work. I rallied some¬†very talented friends and put together a stylized photoshoot for the dresses. Though Saiph is totally wearable on the daily, what better way to capture¬†it’s spirit than by going all out and playing up the fantasy of¬†it. Plus who doesn’t love playing dress-up and tapping¬†into a¬†hidden¬†alter ego?

Sewing this dress was a breeze regarding the technical aspects, which was great as it allowed me to just work slowly and focus on executing it well. This was my first time sewing a Papercut Pattern and the diagrams and resources were very clear and easy to follow. I also have the Sway Dress which I CAN’T WAIT to get into this spring.

As many people noted online, this dress is SHORT, so I added a whopping 15 cm to both the waist and sleeve lengths to spare me some decency. When I first tried it on sans ruffle, it had great shape and fit well. The sleeves were the perfect length for me (the longer the better!) However,¬†¬†once¬†I basted the ruffle on, it looked WAAY to much like a vintage night shirt (and not in a good way). I really liked the¬†look of¬†added flounce at¬†the skirt, so I removed it,¬†took up the bodice length about 4 cm and reattached it. It was at this point I conceded I can’t do a totally shapeless design and ¬†took in the side seams about 2cm each. These changes¬†helped the pajama factor, as well as reduced the excess fabric bulk at the waist¬†if¬†I decide to wear it with a belt.

Because of it’s unique shape, this dress was definitely one of those garments I couldn’t decide if I liked or not. I would put it on and be in love with it, while simultaneously zoning in on all the bits that look weird or ‘off’. At the end of the day I had to give in to the love, and hope that I just need to get used to the parts that strike me as odd. Either that or after a few wears I will decide it’s just too much. In any case, I just need to wear it a few more times to come to a proper conclusion. I would encourage those of you on the fence for this shape to just go for it and see how you feel in it!

Papercut patterns Saiph Tunic // Boots and Cats

The fabric is the first Atelier Brunette fabric from Anna Ka Bazaar that I have worked with since acquiring my haul in Paris last August. It was such a beautiful dream to work with. It was as stable as a quilting cotton, but with¬†incredible softness and gentle stretch that makes this garment FEEL like pajamas (secret pajamas FTW!). I definitely had ‘the fear’ cutting into this special fabric for a project with so many unknowns (new brand, unique silhouette) but it was probably my preciousness of the fabric that really made me slow down and focus on my execution, instead of rushing to the end as per usual, and it definitely paid off.

Because if the lightness of the fabric, I should be able to get a number of wears out of this dress even as we go into spring, even with¬†the full-length sleeves. I look forward to playing with layers of cardigans, scarves and belts for a more everyday feel. I do like this pattern and find it very interesting. I would like to make a version as a¬†top but I think I’ll need a drapier fabric to avoid looking like a tent.

Papercut patterns Saiph Tunic // Boots and Cats

It was so much fun to dress up and play with the mod side of the dress for this post,¬†and a huge thanks to Breanne Marie Photography, Dani White (hair)¬†and Brittany Batt (makeup)¬†for making the whole ensemble come to life. I can’t wait to share what other vintage goodness¬†we have in store.

Cozy and Quilted // Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

I’ve hit a bit of a sewing wall. More specifically, dealing with a feeling of frustration¬†with types of¬†of the garments¬†I have been making. I guess I’ve been riding on a bit of a plateau of my skills for the past year or so and it’s lead me to feeling pretty stuck. Up until this point, I’ve relished this stage of my sewing journey, ¬†knowing exactly what level I can execute and¬†being able to make things quickly without thinking too hard. But it’s definitely a comfort zone and I worry I’ve gotten to comfortable.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE (almost) everything I have made during this phase, but I also can’t help feel that something is missing. Like the clothes¬†(and subsequently myself) haven’t been living up to potential. The only way to describe it, is that my garments feel¬†quite ‘flat’. I hope that makes sense. For example, all my garments are made with a single fabric, with¬†basic style lines. They often rely on the fabric print to make the statement, but are usually a pretty ‘safe’ textile to work with.

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

To try and understand how to get out of this frustration I look at the type of clothing I am drawn to in stores. I can easily dismiss the basics I could make myself, but am still insatiably drawn to clothes I perceive at this ‘next level’.¬†I gravitate towards unique textiles, with drape or texture. I like garments that have a dramatic combination of fabrics and ¬†play with matching embellishments. Not to mention all the complicated wardrobe staples like jeans, coats and undergarments.

After uncovering these dynamics, I have a new lens for moving forward with new projects. How can I take this garment to the next level? How can I make it something worthy of wanting to buy? What can I do to challenge myself, or take it beyond expectations?

Anyway. I made a skirt!

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

I happened to purchase this quilted fabric in different colours on separate occasions for different projects. I found the weight and texture very interesting and I happily had plenty of  leftovers to make something with. Initially I was going to use the navy fabric alone, but realized there was nothing stopping me from using the fabrics in combination.

After¬†recently dipping my toes into the world of colour-blocking with Coco, I decided to play with the technique again. Intrigued by the subtle colours and sort of serious¬†nature of the textiles, I paired it with a pattern that had both volume and femininity. This is my second Sewaholic Hollyburn,¬†(I made the first last May for #MMMay15…realizing now there are¬†so many unblogged projects from that month…), and I love the simplicity of construction and¬†drama of the result.

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

Some projects leave you feeling energized and excited the whole process…this was not one of them. I was so full of doubt as I was sewing this up. The whole time wondering if ¬†it was all too much? Were the colours too strange? The¬†quilting texture mixed with the blocking distracting? Luckily, after the rollercoaster of emotions as soon as I tried it on the first time, I was in love.

As far as construction¬†notes, I didn’t make too many changes overall. To make the blocking, I traced the pattern pieces, cut them 15 cm from the hem¬†and added seam allowances. Putting it all together, I sewed the band to each pattern piece before commencing regular construction. For some reason I couldn’t get the side seam matching quite right. In the future I would likely assemble¬†the skirt and the band separately, then attach them together in the round for a straighter finish.

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

I cut a straight size 4 that was a¬†perfect fit but I didn’t account for the soft stretch (and recovery) of this kind of fabric.¬†The skirt pulled down quite easily, especially when I put stuff in the pockets. Instead of taking it apart to reduce the size, I sewed a stiff elastic to the inside of the waistband for added structure. It worked really well, and I got that snug hugging feeling I really like in a fitted waistband.

I did use my overlocker to sew it all together, but Tasia posted an awesome tutorial¬†about making this pattern knit fabric on a regular machine. In fact,¬†¬†I didn’t stumble upon that post until I had already completed the project. She has great tips for getting a clean finish, especially that trimmed and hand-stitched¬†hem. Next time I will likely go that route.

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

I can’t get enough of the silhouette in this garment. The swing is fun and dramatic, but the colours make it quite sophisticated. I feel like a street style blogger in it.¬†It did take me a while to find items in my closet to pair it with (this¬†top is actually a dress…) but I accept it as an interesting challenge. It’s a perfect winter skirt, since it is so warm and cuddly, and should pair well with other textures and layers.

It was interesting approaching this project with the critical eye and actively questioning my process. I look forward to discovering my ‘next level’ of garments. Whatever shape that journey will take.

Maybe you can relate to this frustrated ‘stuck’ feeling? Have you been in that¬†limbo where you can¬†make fun¬†clothes, but unsure of how to make a cool, fully-functional wardrobe?

Stripes & Solids // A Colour-Blocked Coco Top

Colour Blocking your Coco Top // Boots and Cats

If you asked me to describe my style I would probably tell you something along the lines of:¬†classic, kinda preppy, with¬†a vintage twist. I have a tendency to make some very loud statement pieces that step outside of that description, but on the daily I tend to feel most comfortable and confident in neutral colours and classic cuts.¬†You’ll find me often in skinny jeans and cardigan, or if I’m feeling fancy, a high-waisted skirt and a comfy sweater.

But for the longest time a crucial staple in the classic-preppy-vintage style profile was glaringly missing from my wardrobe selection: a Breton top. (Or as most people know it, a striped shirt, or sailor shirt. Tilly rounded up a wonderful history of it here)

I’ve always loved the ease and¬†style that was exuded from a Breton. So effortless, so chic. This admiration, of course, made me unwittingly picky about what it should be. Not too sheer or draped, has to have the classic wide neckline, long sleeves, preferably colour blocked, with smaller, unbalanced stripes.

How could any shirt possibly meet those standards? Turns out, they couldn’t. It seemed the more I looked for the perfect shirt, the more elusive it became.

Colour Blocking your Coco Top // Boots and Cats

So I turned to the wise muse that is Dr. Seuss in one of his all-time classics.

Did that stop the old Grinch? No! The Grinch simply said,

“If I can’t find a Breton top, I’ll make one instead!”

 

(That’s totally how it goes.)

Though, as you sewing folk will know, simply deciding to make the perfect Breton top isn’t as easy as waltzing in to the nearest Fabricland to get started. Finding a halfway decent striped knit can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Even when I did manage to find a fabric that was soft, had good stretch recovery and weight…it was always in the weirdest colour. You’d think black and white would be far more in demand.

Thankfully, this Christmas I received the most wonderful gift. I opened the box and inside was a beautiful black and white striped ponte knit from Girl Charlee. The heavens opened, angels sang, and many projects were planned.

I unquestionably chose Tilly & The Buttons Coco for the pattern because it perfectly encapsulates the vintage and modern vibes I love. (I plan on making many 60s funnel neck versions soon too! I think I can safely say this is one of my first TNT patterns)

Colour Blocking your Coco Top // Boots and Cats

I wanted to soften the look of the stripes for this top and opted to colour block the shoulders. Ideally it would have been in white, but the ponte I had was a slightly cream colour and didn’t match. Luckily, black goes with everything.

I looked into some colour blocking pattern hacks in bloggerland¬†and it seemed like a pretty simple adjustment. The Grainline Lark tutorial¬†was the easiest way I found¬†to line up your blocked seams. I did start to notice, however, that the shoulder curves on the Coco sleeves were quite shallow. I feared this would mean that if I blocked my pattern straight across from the armpit seam it wouldn’t cut straight across my body as I wore it.¬†I¬†didn’t want to lower the blocking either (it would look strange if it cut across the bust), so I would need to do some crafty drafting.

Colour Blocking your Coco Top // Boots and Cats

Using a highly professional (made-up) method, I had to determine the shape of the sleeve cap so it would appear straight as I wore it. I put on my first Coco I made and took an elastic band and wrapped it on my arm. I moved it up until it was touching the underarm seam and arranged it to look straight. I then got Rory to take a measurement of the elastic to the shoulder seam. This distance was about 12 cm. (If I cut straight across the pattern piece, this distance was closer to 10cm, meaning it definitely would have angled upwards when I wore it).

To make my pattern pieces, I traced the sleeve onto some paper and measured 12 cm (+the seam allowance) down from the center of the sleeve. Using a dressmaker’s curve, I met the center line with the underarm seam points, so it would match my blocking point on the bodice. I then cut along this curve, added seam allowances, and had my new pattern pieces!

Colour Blocking your Coco Top // Boots and Cats

It was stressful cutting out the pattern pieces, not knowing if this would actually work or not (yet not stressful enough to make a muslin it seems…). The stress must have impeded my attention to cutting detail and I totally miss-cut¬†one of my sleeves (it was the bottom layer and I didn’t notice I hadn’t enough fabric in that spot). I hate that feeling of wasting fabric on silly mistakes.

Then for some strange reason after I re-cut my second sleeve and compared it to the first, even though they start on the same stripe and measure to the same length…they end on different stripes? I tried to even it out when hemming but I didn’t want to make one sleeve much longer than the other. Can’t really explain how that was accomplished…but hey I bet you didn’t even notice.

I cut a straight size 2, but added my usual 6cm length to the bodice and sleeves, and took down the flare of the pattern a bit at the hips.

Colour Blocking your Coco Top // Boots and Cats

The sewing was a breeze, as this wasn’t my first Coco rodeo. Tilly’s instructions are beautiful and simple with helpful tips thrown in. I just love this pattern so much.

And wouldn’t ya know, my pattern hacking totally worked out! It can be harder¬†to see in the photos because the stripes and fabric movement, but the line of the colour blocking is DARN NEAR PERFECT! Aha. Victory. Pattern drafting and I have¬†a nice streak going.

I am so pleased to welcome this classic staple into my wardrobe FINALLY. The ponte is soft, stretchy and quite thick, making it a wonderful winter top. Come summer though, I might want to make a lighter weight version.

I guess the search for stripes continues.