Lots of Lindens!

Embellishing the Linden Sweatshirt // Boots & Cats

So many Lindens! Okay, well…two Lindens!

When I first made this pattern two years ago and participated in the Linden swap, I concluded with saying I would definitely be making more. Why wouldn’t I? It’s a quick and easy pattern, has a classic shape and lends itself to warm fabrics that satisfy my need for more sweaters. When you have 6 months of cold weather to deal with, you never seem to have enough sweaters. I just want to be warm, people!

Embellishing the Linden Sweatshirt // Boots & Cats

In my sewing journey I feel like I have crossed over the bridge of making things that look ‘home made’  into making things that look comfortable and fashionable . For the most part I have to say that beyond improving my skills, it has a lot to do with my fabric choices. I’m finally being very particular about quality and things like how it feels, drapes and moves. After observing other seamstresses and discerning what it is about their makes that make them look polished and professional, I uncovered the next step; trims and embellishments.

For the longest time I would never have even thought about including extra details like piping, embroidery or colour blocking. Which is why the sewing community is such a wonderful place, there are so many opportunities to be inspired and see things that unlock something new in your mind. About a year ago on Instagram, I saw a gold-piped Linden by Elle . It looked so beautiful and professional and it was definitely one of those *ding* moments.

Embellishing the Linden Sweatshirt // Boots & Cats

I almost immediately started hunting for gold piping of my own. I first found some on Etsy, but when it arrived it was overly shiny, puffy and so not chic. Feeling a little burned I filed away the idea. Luckily good ol’ fabricland had the PERFECT gold piping (dainty, sparkly and just cool) when I was searching for something else. (Of course, you realize that by sewing this beautiful gold detail onto black fabric it will be impossible for your camera to capture it’s perfect beauty – so you’re gonna have to trust me on this.)

I paired the piping with a quilted poly knit. I liked the play between the lines in the fabric and the contrast stripe of the gold.  As I was preparing to cut out my fabric, I decided to stick my nose into my stash for any other fabric that wanted to be a Linden. I’ve only done it once before, but I prefer batch sewing when making the same pattern. It makes it seem much quicker and the results are twice as satisfying.

Embellishing the Linden Sweatshirt // Boots & Cats

I unearthed a swath of grey french terry from my Blackbird fabrics remnants order and juuuuuuust managed to eke out enough for the second sweater (the sleeves may or may not be a little lot off grain). Totally stoked on my gold piping, I couldn’t just leave this one plain now could I? I dove into my random box of bits and bobs full of rick rack, trims and more. A number of years ago I inherited a bag of random sewing everything and inside were a number of lace trims and off cuts. I didn’t really expect to like the look of white lace, but this one just felt at home as soon as I experimented with placement. Sold.

Embellishing the Linden Sweatshirt // Boots & Cats

I zipped them both up on a weekend afternoon, making my regular length adjustments. The lace had to be tacked down to the front and back before sewing it up to keep it from flopping around and I learned that hand sewing down all the little details takes up WAY more time than you think it will. The lace also didn’t have a flat edge, so I could have sewn it first and then tacked it on top of the seam, but I like the definition of the edges being tucked into the seam. The piping was a far easier detail to add, just being sandwiched in the seam and done. I think I am going to have to stock up on more piping for the future.

When I was making these, I was pretty confident that because of the gold trim, the black one would be my favourite. But the surprising outcome of the lace, plus the super cuddly factor of the french terry, has solidified the grey one as #1 sweater in my heart.

Embellishing the Linden Sweatshirt // Boots & Cats

I love the feeling of constantly being inspired by fellow sewing people. Linden is one of those great patterns that is so simple – but has endless possibilities to create something totally unique. There are still so many ideas out there…and it’s still winter…so…more sweaters, anyone?

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 easier 😉

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.

 

All That Glitters // Self-Drafted Sequin Maxi Skirt

DIY Sequin Maxi Skirt // Boots & Cats

Lately in the sewing world (and in the blogging world as a whole) there’s been a definite trend towards minimalism (hello Marie Kondo!). We should be sewing thoughtful, practical basics that speak to the core of our style. Instead of closets stuffed with party dresses never worn, we need a pared down selection only with wearable items we love most.

For the most part, I totally agree with this. I think reducing waste and making the things we love to wear, and will wear often, is a valuable use of our time, space and resources.

But sometimes, there are sequins.

DIY Sequin Maxi Skirt // Boots & Cats

Sometimes a project calls to you, and you need to give in, just a little, to your sense of impracticality.

During the holidays I saw Madalynne’s exquisite skirt and immediately fell in love. As smitten as I was, I had no need for a sequin skirt at that time (or any time really) so I filed it away in the back of my mind in the ‘future projects’ folder.

As we rolled into 2016, after a wave of holiday sewing and a particular dress that I couldn’t get quite right, my sew-jo hit an all-time low. I had lots of projects to make, but just couldn’t round up enough cares to move forward. It’s kinda sad when you feel like that.

Early this month, Heather wrote a brilliant post to help kick our butts into gear and get over sewing fear. Usually, this would have been the pep talk I needed. But for once, I wasn’t really in a rut because of fear or option paralysis, it was more a classic case of sewing malaise. I just felt meh about everything.

DIY Sequin Maxi Skirt // Boots & Cats

Then, two weeks ago my co-worker announced the theme for our staff holiday party (yes, i’m aware it’s January). The theme was tailor made for me: Glitter.

I LOVE anything glittering, sparkling and shiny. When I rushed to my closet though, I realized there was very little glitter to be found. After a short existential crisis (who even am I? Why don’t I have any glittering clothing?!) it seemed like an opportunity for a waist-to-toe smattering of sequin goodness!

I felt giddy at the thought of making and showing off this project. As soon as the idea sparked, I could hardly wait to get started and mentally ran through the construction details every night before bed. THIS was the perfect sew-jo booster!

As fate would have it, I was headed to the fabric store with Nicole for a collaborative project in only a few days time. I allowed myself to break my newly established ‘no new fabric’ resolution just this once.  I went in search of a stretch sequin (for comfort and fit) and some soft jersey lining. It was a miracle (and the first time EVER) that the rose-gold fabric I imagined in my head was right there on the shelf waiting for me.

DIY Sequin Maxi Skirt // Boots & Cats

In terms of constructing, I analyzed Maddie’s blog post and followed in her footsteps. I self drafted a skirt using my waist, hip and height measurements, took in the fit 3 cm at the knee, then slashed and spread to the width of my fabric. I forgot how much math was involved in drafting (hence why I avoid pattern drafting where I can) but it was a fairly simple draft (skirts are like that) and took just over an hour to do.

I had mentally prepared myself to insert an invisible zip at the side seam, though I reaallly didn’t want to. Entertaining the notion I might be able to just pull the skirt on, I calculated the percentage of stretch for the fabric. It was about 30%. I then calculated that my waist to hip ratio was 0.76. Theoretically, this means it would work. My fabric could stretch over my hips and remain fitted to my waist because MATH.

But just to be safe, I just cut out and sewed the lining first, then tried it on because math and I aren’t friends and I usually don’t trust it. But it stretched over my hips easily. I also did a test run with my elastic waistband, pulling it on after sewing it to be sure I could get it on before attaching everything. It all checked out a-okay. No invisible zippers for me today!

DIY Sequin Maxi Skirt // Boots & Cats

I would have loved a shiny exposed elastic waistband but I was unable to find one that matched the warm bronzy gold of my sequins. So I simply used my lining fabric to cover basic black elastic. The elastic was quite stretchy so I undercut the waistband about 20% and it was perfect for holding up the weight of the sequin.

The jersey lining makes this skirt so comfortable and soft to wear. I was a little worried  the fabric would make it feel like I was sitting on tiny spikes anytime I sat down, but the small sequins on this fabric were sewn down flat, and you can’t even tell you are sitting on them.

Word of caution to anyone now tempted to get into the magical world of sequins. They are much worse than their cousin glitter. Sequins get everywhere.

Here's how to rock a glamourous winter photoshoot: secret wooly socks.

Here’s the secret to a glamourous winter photoshoot: hidden knee-high wooly socks.

I had planned to cut and sew the sequins in one weekend afternoon, so I could make a mess, then promptly vacuum up the carnage. WELL. After somehow deciding I wanted to be a stickler for finishing on this garment and started hand-stitching down the inside seams, (since you can’t press them because of melting sequin issues), I was not going to finish in a day. It took HOURS. That meant the days rolled on and the sequins took over. We discovered quickly they stick to your feet and get tracked around, but also that socks were impervious to their cling. Living room/sewing space was declared a sock-only zone for over a week. Sorry Rory.

Though I did eventually get to clean them up, they still like to make surprise appearances. I’m not totally sure they will ever go away.

DIY Sequin Maxi Skirt // Boots & CatsI finished the skirt about a week in advance of the party and couldn’t help but slip in on now and again and dance in front of the mirror. I don’t care how ‘impractical’ this skirt appears to be. IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY.

I feel so glamourous in it. It’s just so swishy and fun. When the light hits the sequin it looks like liquid gold and a disco ball at the same time. At the party my co-worker said I looked like an award. I’ll take it.

Minimalism and practicality has it’s case, and I have lots of amazing basics coming down the line, but just for a moment let’s celebrate the happy statement pieces. There’s so much value in the joy they can bring, and all that happy energy it going to be channelled into my next makes.

DIY Sequin Maxi Skirt // Boots & Cats

(Such a statement skirt needed a statement locale to shoot it in, so we ventured out to the really cool Ice Castles built in our city this winter. It was a wonderland.)

Here’s to grossly impractical but oh so empowering sewing! Cheers!

 

Hand-painted Gift Mugs

Handpainted Gift Mugs // Boots & Cats

In recent years I’ve made more of an effort in delivering handmade gifts where I can. It’s pretty much impossible to make something for every person on your list, but mixing in something you’ve created every once in a while can be a delightful treat. My favourite thing about making something is that I can tailor the details to the recipient. It can feel like winning the lottery when you think of that perfect touch to add.

I know my limits when it comes to sewing gifts, so I decided to only make two garments this year. However, I still wanted to craft a few other handmade goodies. After a few conversations with friends it became clear that hot chocolate is pretty much a universal favourite this season. I decided that I would spread the cocoa joy in a hand-painted mug! These make a delightful gift for friends, family or co-workers, that are super easy to make your own. Er…their own?

Handpainted Gift Mugs // Boots & Cats

Instead of just buying a cute mug and filling it with goodies, painting it yourself allows you to make it as personal as you’d like. I chose 4 phrases carefully for each of my friends who would be receiving them, but you can just as easily choose fun phrases that go for anyone.

These are perfect to have on hand for hostesses, secret santa’s and those gifts that just seem to pop up in this last week before Christmas.

Handpainted Gift Mugs // Boots & Cats

You’ll need:

  • Blank ceramic mugs (as many as you’d like to make!)
  • HB pencil
  • Ceramic paint in a contrasting colour (I used Pebeo Porcelaine 150)
  • Small paint brushes, both firm and soft bristles.

Handpainted Gift Mugs // Boots & Cats

The steps

  1. Brainstorm a few phrases or designs you’d like to include on your mug. Think of who will be recieving it and what they like. Pinterest also has lots of fun ideas. You’ll want to keep it relatively short (2-5 words) so it will be easier to paint.
  2. Sketch out your ideas on paper.
  3. Using a soft pencil, sketch your words onto the mug. You can use masking tape to make sure you have straight lines. Once your paint dries, you can wipe any marks off with your fingers.
  4. Paint! I found a firm brush worked best for printed letters, and a softer brush for script. If you are painting on a darker background you may need more than one coat.
  5. Follow the paint instructions for drying. For me, that meant letting them dry for 24 hours, then baking for 30 minutes in the oven to set it. This made the paint dishwasher safe!

Handpainted Gift Mugs // Boots & Cats

Once you’ve painted your mugs, it’s time for the really fun part; filling it with a few fun and festive goodies! I chose two different hot chocolate mixes, candy canes, a Jacek chocolate bar, some sewn ornaments and a pom pom.

Go nuts and fill it with whatever you can think of! Other ideas might be marshmallows and cookies, small gifts like lip balm or jewelry, or even a tiny bottle of Bailey’s to go with that hot chocolate.

I’ve already started to give these away and It’s such a joy to pass along a handmade gift. The best part is watching people notice the personal touches.

Handpainted Gift Mugs // Boots & Cats

Are you making handmade gifts this year? I’d love to hear all about em (and steal your ideas for next Christmas…)

Kitty-ful Shift Dress // Colette Laurel

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

Seems like it would be obvious, but it took me a while to grasp the importance of good fabric in making a garment look real. I know things you make are ‘real’, like it’s tangible, but I can’t think of any other way to describe a quality, wearable garment.  You know, that magic combination of looking polished, professional and elevated (and a lot less home ec project). It’s all in the fabric.

With all the good fabric stores in my city shutting down just as I discovered them, I’ve recently turned myself to online fabric shopping and the world opened up. In one of my online hauls this spring I purchased a large chunk of Lizzy House’s Cat Nap collection. I mean, how could I possibly resist?! Lizzy’s designs are whimsical and fun, but very well designed as to avoid being too twee. Kitty Dreams design is my favourite of the bunch and had to go towards something special. Because cats.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

There have been quite a few stunning swing dresses in this print floating around, but my standard 2m order couldn’t quite accommodate the pattern I had in mind. Also, I have yet to decide if swing dresses are ‘me’. I love how they look on other people, but always feel a little off in them. But I digress. I opted to keep it simple (and not break up the awesome print) and make a basic shift.

Perhaps surprisingly, this was my first shift dress! It’s one of those basics I kinda just skipped over to get to making more ‘exciting’ things. I looked through my vintage pattern stash and there wasn’t quite the shapes I wanted there, so I went on an online hunt and after much  indecision I landed on the Colette Laurel.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

The warm purple of the fabric meant it was going right to the top of my fall sewing list. I am all about warm and cozy colours this time of year. Once the pattern arrived (and I swooned over the brilliant branding) I swiftly cut out all my pieces. Then the autumn days vanished and it sat. It sat for weeks, and to be honest it made me super anxious. I mean, it’s highly uncommon for projects to sit in limbo that long.

Turns out I just needed a good deadline (isn’t that just the key for us procrastinator types?). I had the opportunity to spend my birthday weekend in the mountains and decided I NEEDED to take advantage of the locale to shoot some blog photos. Laurel was waiting: three days later she was up and running.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

I didn’t read many pattern reviews before diving in, so I cut size 4 based on an ‘average’ of my measurements. I later realized I should have graded down the bust since it is technically at a size 0 in Colette and read that the patterns run a little pear-shaped. (I also didn’t make a muslin, because who has time for that?!)

When I first tried it on there was quite an excess of fabric in the tummy area. Not so flattering. The physics of pattern-making sometimes boggles me, but I have a feeling it had to do with my lack of bust fitting. It was a bit too late (too lazy) to take out the sleeves and darts to reconstruct everything, so I just compensated by taking in 2cm from each of the side seams and it managed to do the trick. It still sometimes bubbles out when I sit, but you don’t notice too much.

I added 10 cm to the length as per usual, but then  decided I wanted a wider and heavier hem. This ate up most of my additional length. For future Laurels I may have to order a few extra cms of fabric, I barely have anything leftover. Suffice to say, it’s on the short side but I don’t mind much. If it does become a problem I can always let down the hem later anyway.

IMG_0451

Invisible zippers and I aren’t totally bffs yet, so I just cut the center back edge 0.5 cm back and installed a regular zipper instead. Also, how stoked was I that I found one that matched the orange PERFECTLY?!

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

The biggest win for me on this project is that this was probably the first time I have 100% correctly installed bias tape. If you look at my early makes you’ll see that the bias technically fulfills it’s purpose but is inserted inside out or backwards. It’s such a simple technique, but it never occurred to me that I was doing it wrong. I guess I needed Sarai’s super detailed and patient instructions to get it to click. +100 XP to me!

I am so excited to wear this dress. Perfect for layering, I am going to have fun playing with different tights, scarves, sweaters and more this season. I love that it’s a statement piece but the colour and shape are going to make it quite versatile. And it’s full of cats! Yay. AND when I looked back at it, this dress checks all the boxes from my wardrobe architect exploration in terms of colour, fit and shape. So double yay.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

Now that the technical bit is over with; LOOK AT THE VIEW! Even though I live so close to the mountains, I haven’t been in years. It was so crisp, refreshing and festive and cozy and awesome. We spent two days with an awesome group of people (in a giant rental house) playing board games, hide and seek, hiking, and playing in the snow. We were lucky too, lots of sun and decently warm weather, perfect for snowballs and sliding on the ice. I’m already planning another trip back in a few months.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

Of course, what kind of crafter would I be if, sitting in a chalet by a roaring fire in the midst of winter, I didn’t get any knitting done? I haven’t finished my sweater yet (why does it take so long?!) but I’ve been inspired and whipped up a quick knit while I was there. But more on that in a bit.

The BlogPodium Dress // A V8766 & B5982 Mashup

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of travelling to Vancouver to attend the 5th annual BlogPodium conference. To be honest I hadn’t heard of the conference before, since it had been previously held over in Toronto. Then I received an email from Jennifer letting me know it was to be held on our side of the country this year. I got so excited and HAD to go. I even booked my tickets from Berlin to be sure I didn’t miss out.

Meeting up with like-minded peers, geeking out over blogging and travelling to the coast? Yes please. Blogpodium is targeted at design and lifestyle bloggers and provides them with a platform to connect & collaborate in a beautiful venue featuring brilliant speakers.

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

Beautiful lettering of Justine Ma Design

To say it was amazing would be an understatement and the energy from connecting with friends new and old was electrifying. I could go on but some of my fellow local bloggers have already recapped the event better than I could, so visit their blogs to read all about it!

What I’ll tell you about was the fact that I was attending a conference for bloggers. ie. the most stylishly dressed people of all time. If I was to attend this conference…what the heck would I wear?!

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

I knew it couldn’t be just any old outfit and I wanted to be sure it was handmade (after all, that’s what a huge portion of this blog is about. I need to live my brand! ha). It would also need to be pretty powerful. In crowded rooms I tend to shrink away, especially if I feel intimidated by the ambition, style and brilliance of those around me. I wanted wear something that made me approachable, yet seem cool and successful. I placed it upon the dress I made to make me feel bold, confident and be a true representation of myself. That’s kinda a lot of ask of a dress now that I think about it.

I dug out this dreamy structured linen  stripe that has been maturing in my stash for about 3 years. It came home in my Sig Plach closing sale haul (among many unnecessary pretty things I needed to have before the store closed forever) and I knew it was something special. It had the potential to be something show-stopping, but I never previously had the project to make it shine.

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

I decided this is what my dress would be. The bold stripe deserved a cupcake-y Kate Spade-y shape and just the thought of it got me giddy. I  grabbed the pattern B5982 because I loved the ruched and pleated skirt and felt it was perfect shape for what I was going for. However, I worried about breaking up the stripes on the bodice with the princess seams. Also I kinda wanted to have sleeves, since it’s just easier than carrying a sweater with you everywhere (I’m ALWAYS too cold, okay?). Enter V8766.

I had never franken-patterned before, but have seen it done many times to brilliant effect. I took the Vogue bodice and matched it to the Butterick skirt and I could not be more pleased with the result. A big plus about mashing up two ‘Big 4’ patterns, as I discovered, was that all the notches matched up! That means I didn’t have to adjust the darts or skirt pleats, they fell into perfect alignment. Hurrah!

I wanted to say that the sewing itself was a breeze, which it was technically, but it definitely didn’t feel that way at the time. This make kinda got emotional.

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

I first made a muslin and added my usual 6 cm length to the bodice and it seemed great. When I cut into my fabric, I made sure to end the bodice on a full stripe so the pattern could continue seamlessly into the skirt. But then for some reason when I tried on the dress…the waistline was WAY too long, like almost at my hips! I brought the skirt back up another 3cm and all was well…except my perfect stripe matching! Blast.

I also went with a full lining since the fabric was a little sheer (and itchy if I am completely honest) and when I put it in and tried on the dress, I felt like it was so lumpy and bumpy and awful. All of a sudden this amazing fabric and design felt heavy, and icky and it made me feel so insecure of myself and skills. It was clear I had tied too much of my perceived success at the conference into the success of this dress that it sabotaged the process. I wanted to quit so bad and just forget the whole thing.

But, I sat and thought about it for a bit. I had already put out a peek of the project on social media, so I basically blackmailed myself. “It would be quite embarrassing show up not wearing what you told everyone you would, no?”. I grumbled and pushed on.

I made a few fit adjustments and completed my hand-finishing (which I ended up quite proud of) and without trying it on again, hung it up for about a week.

I don't usually post shots of the guts but c'mon look at how beautiful that lining is at the zipper!

I don’t usually post shots of the guts but c’mon look at how beautiful that lining is at the zipper!

Luckily, it does seem that time heals all sewing wounds, because when I made my peace with it and put it on a few days before I left (to see if I needed to pack a contingency outfit) it fit like a dream. It was exactly what it was supposed to be.  The shape, the pattern, the FUN. The joy and enthusiasm I had for the project had returned. And I couldn’t wait to pack it.

Just some other alterations and sewing notes; I cut a size 12 from both patterns, added in-seam pockets, raised the neckline about 2cm and drafted a neckline facing to attach the lining. I found it easier to make the dress and lining completely separate and attaching them to the facing at the very end, just before hemming.

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

When you get heavily emotionally invested in any project you are making, I think it is so important to give yourself time to take a break. Once you distance yourself from the object of frustration, you gain a little perspective. Ask yourself why it’s so important to you to create this and what is the worst that would happen if it didn’t work out. You’ll probably find that you have deeper reasons for your emotional reaction than the project itself and once you separate the two, you allow yourself the simple joy of creating something, no pressure attached.

I relieved the dress of my expectations to have it make me connect with people at the conference, because really, it never had the power to do that for me anyway. I am so grateful I powered through and finished it. I felt so at ease with myself as I wore it and felt no need to compare with others in the room. Some people asked if I deliberately dressed to match the decor (nope, coincidence), and many were interested to hear about my process. The dress was a wonderful conversation starter (especially after Jenna called me out for it in her talk!) but it was me who got to do the talking.

I’ve learned that I find my joy in making without expectations. Tying yourself (and ego) into the results can be a frustrating and heartbreaking experience I’m hopefully aware enough of to avoid repeating. I am thankful that this dress rings true to who I am in the end, but the process felt way too heavy – creating is supposed to be fun! Just gotta let it go, and trust that it’ll work out.

My friend Jenna rocks at photobooths. Also, check out that pattern matching at the side seams! Photo credit: Vancouver Photobooth

Jenna totally rocks at photobooths. Also, check out that pattern matching at the side seams! Boo yah! Photo credit: Vancouver Photobooth