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.

Heart on your Sleeve // The Plantain Tee

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

There’s a time in every seamstress’ journey where she realizes that party dresses and twirly skirts do not a wardrobe make. She then does a complete 180 and focuses down on basic patterns, neutral fabrics and wardrobe staples. That time has finally fallen upon me.

I first got the itch to reinforce my closet with some staples last summer after making a Belcarra blouse with some printed cotton. It went with EVERYTHING and it was so invigorating to wear a make more than once every few months. I then broke the ice with knits when I tested the Senna dress. Add it all up and you got yourself a recipe for some good casual wear. I’ve since made a turquoise Coco, a Julia cardigan, not one but TWO Linden sweatshirts (granted, one of them is crossing the ocean right now to it’s new home for the #LindenSwap) and a Plantain tee. I’ll share all in time, but today i’ll start with the Plantain, since it is so suited for the season.

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

During the holidays I needed some good knit fabric. Our city has lost most of our great fabric stores in the last few years, so locally I am basically reduced to shopping at Fabricland. It’s fine for notions and some wovens but seriously lacking on knits. I took to the web and landed in the land of Girl Charlee. While I found exactly what I needed for gifts, a few extras may have landed in my cart (bundling up saves shipping, right?). I got this gorgeous grey stripe ponte and it’s been staring at me since then.

Last weekend I decided to put it to use in a Plantain tee. I loved the concept of a simple, long sleeved tee (I always get cold) with elbow patches but I wanted to keep it from looking just ordinary. I started looking at printed fabrics for the elbow patches, thinking maybe a floral would be quirky, or maybe lace? Then the inspiration hit me – hearts! The idea probably nestled into my subconscious as all the valentines bits and bobs started appearing, but I loved the idea and grabbed the scraps from my Linden and made the patches. I used a solid black knit as the design was already wielding a hefty cuteness factor and I didn’t want to launch it over the edge.

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

To make sure the patches were at a suitable size and scale for the pattern, I traced the original pattern piece on some paper and drew the heart within it, approximately the same size. Other changes I made to the pattern was to lengthen the whole thing 4cm (as I do with practically everything), heighten the neckline 2cm and reducing some of the flare at the hips. I cut a size 36 and it fit perfectly. I did hem my sleeves too closely to the edge of the fabric though, which stretched them out and gave them a bell-shaped edge. Will make sure too avoid that next time.

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

The fabric was a DREAM to work with. Stretchy, yet firm.  I love the subtlety to the stripes. I’m glad I bought 2m and have some leftover. It would be so dreamy as a Coco for the spring!

Hopefully I won’t bore you with all the basics coming up. I think there’s a special challenge in working with something simple, you have to make it well and find subtle ways to amp it up. I’ve been finding endless inspiration online for unique additions or techniques for these types of patterns. (Exhibit A: Lace touches on Laney’s and Mokosha’s Linden Sweaters, or this colour blocked Coco!)

Heart on your sleeve Plantain tee // Boots & Cats

Sending out wishes of love to everyone this Valentine’s season- especially YOU, you blogging, sewing, creative community, you!

Cat Crazy Belladone

Catcrazybelladone

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

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

backbelladone

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

neckline

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

kittystockings

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

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

Have a great week everyone!