Two is Better than One // Zadie Separates

Zadie Separates // Boots and Cats

I am just in the nick of time to share my #FailFebruary garment! Even though in the end I found a creative solution to turn around what was a sad little project, I found it amusing that it went so wrong so many times this month. Maybe I just had to share a fail with y’all, no?

Earlier this month, I was really excited to see the new Zadie dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons hit the scene. I love the interesting seaming and pleat details. In what can sometimes feel like a sea of basic raglan and shift dress patterns, this dress felt fresh and unique to me. I’ve really been appreciating patterns that give us different and interesting elements or seamlines that let us play. The colour blocking possibilities with this pattern in particular are endless.

So naturally I chose two fabrics that barely contrast each other.

I knew I wanted to make this dress up quickly, to both catch the ‘new release’ wave (since I am often years behind haha) and to give myself a cozy but cute winter dress that my wardrobe really needs right now. I didn’t have any fabric on hand so I went on the hunt and it was SO HARD to narrow down what I wanted! Did I want to play with a print? Contrasting colours? Mixing something neutral with something to stand out? I seriously stared for hours at my million online fabric shopping tabs and the colouring sheet in Photoshop rendering every possible combination. Eventually I narrowed down my fabric to this cozy french terry in two soft colours (oyster and ivory) that would just give a hint of the contrast. After one too many bright dresses that are amazing but I never wear, I figured something more subtle would be nice. Plus, I’ve been loving my Linden in this fabric and knew it would give optimal cuddle factor, and coming from Blackbird I would have it within the week. Sold.

The Zadie pattern itself is a really neat pattern. Instructions are clear, and even the tricky corner seaming of the side panels/waistline/skirt was straightforward. (Though admittedly I DID have to hand stitch the corner closed, both my fear and the squishyness of the fabric made it difficult to run my seams right up to the exact point, but it was an easy enough solution). It sewed up very quickly and I loved all the tips and tricks along the way. Just a note for fabric shoppers, as with all Tilly patterns, they only list one set of fabric requirements, so if you are on the lower end of the size range, you don’t need to buy as much as they suggest (though in my case, having extra on hand turned out to be a huge blessing).

Zadie Separates // Boots and Cats

I was so excited to bring this dress to reality once I got my fabric, but the further along I got in the construction, I started to get fears about my fabric choice. Even though I chose a medium weight knit, as suggested, I kinda took for granted the bit about the stretch recovery. As I added more and more pieces to the dress I realized how heavy it would all end up being. The fact that the waist doesn’t have a full seam meant that the side panels would be taking the weight of the skirt. The french terry had such soft stretch that my fears were realized as soon as I slipped it on… I had one droopy, sad sack of a Zadie. Womp womp.

This was actually so disappointing, and really a fundamental mistake on my end, ignoring how the design of the garment and the fabric would interplay with one another. I didn’t want to start from scratch, mainly because the fabric is soooo comfy and a great quality, I’d hate to see it go to waste (plus, start the agonzing fabric/colour combination hunt all over again? No thank you). It basically came down to two options; take in all the seams in hopes of letting a tighter fit support the weight of the skirt… or give it the chop. In a traditional fit-and-flare pattern with the seam along the natural waistline, this decision might have been easier to make, as the two halves would be leaving a bit more to work with. But the empire line pretty much determined that if I wanted to use the top at all there would need additional fabric to be added on.

After staring at it on the dress form, asking friends for advice, covering each half with my hand with one eye closed to try and envision what might happen for about 3 days I decided just to go for it. I first unpicked the seams attaching the skirt to the bodice, then measured and marked the halfway point to cut through the side panels. Out came the scissors and soon I had a sweater AND a skirt. Yippee!

Zadie Separates // Boots and Cats

To finish the skirt, I dug out an 1.5 cm elastic and measured it around my waist at a comfortable stretch. I then measured the width of the skirt waist to get the circumference of my new waistband and cut it twice the width of my elastic plus seam allowance. I used my overlocker to attach the band on one edge, folded over, and hand-stitched the other edge with an opening to feed the elastic through. There wouldn’t be an easy (or flattering) way to wear the skirt at the original empire waist, but with the a-line silhouette it works perfectly fine at the natural waist.

For the sweater, I decided that adding a wide hem band that ended at my natural waist would be the simplest option and would make it a versatile piece to pair with my high-waisted skirt collection. To make the band I measured the hem of the bodice laying flat, then took the length I wanted the band to be (10cm) then doubled it. I cut two rectangular pieces from those measurements. I sewed them together lengthwise, pressed them in half, then attached it with my overlocker to the top (exactly like the hem band on the Linden). The first band I cut I reduced the width to have extra negative ease so it would sit nice and tight. However it was too small for the top which meant that put together the seam was laughably wobbly, wavy and so sad. Plus whenever I moved my arms it would ride up and not slide back down. SO MANY #FAILS.

After sitting in time out for a week, I unpicked the old band, redrafted the hem band without reducing the ease and it worked like a charm. Phew.

Zadie Separates // Boots and Cats

If you want to make this pattern into separates before you sew up the whole thing, just line up the side panel pattern piece along the bodice and mark the seam line. This is where you can cut the side panels, add your seam allowances and repeat for the back pieces. I can make a little tutorial for this if you’d like, since pictures are probably more useful than words. Just let me know 🙂

After all the trials, tribulations and fails, I am actually really stoked about how the cropped sweater turned out! The princess seam details are so unique and unlike anything I currently have, and it will pair so well with my selection of skirts. If I am being completely honest, the skirt was less of a success. The pockets show through the fabric and look kinda lumpy, and the colour doesn’t go with too many of my tops. It is wonderful as a lazy, cuddly, at home skirt, so who knows. I can also wear them both as an ensemble, but I don’t think I will actually do so, especially when mixing and matching can be far more interesting.

Zadie Separates // Boots and Cats

I’ve enjoyed following along with everyone else’s projects they’ve shared that have been less than ideal. It’s always reassuring to know that it’s not always sunshine and roses and sometimes projects don’t work out. We can only hope to reflect, learn and become better seamstresses.

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

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?

The Flyaway Anna Dress

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

It’s time for the fall frenzy! Thick linen skirts, cozy knitwear, LONG SLEEVES! Well…not quite yet. Snuggly, warm-hued clothes-to-be are being cut as we speak but there are still summer makes left to share. It feels awful rushing these end-of-season projects along. I mean, had they been made just a few short weeks earlier they would have had more than a few seconds in the spotlight. I guess it happens to all end-of-season makes, but it’s extra tragic when our victims are pretty summer dresses. I hope they will forgive me when I wear them all the time when spring rolls around.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

After our little week in Banff, Rory and I took our real vacation south to Waterton and Nelson, BC. It was our first time venturing to that part of the mountains and we were so glad we opted to visit. The mountain views and hikes in Waterton were so stunning and unique, plus there’s nothing like sitting lakeside eating a hot dog after a day exploring waterfalls and trails. Nelson was a charming little town filled with heritage buildings, beautifully designed and unique parks and not a chain store in sight. We ate delicious local food, took a vintage streetcar to the beach and danced at a night market that appeared to have the entire town present. It really reminded me that some of the best travelling doesn’t need to be that far from home.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

Anyhow, back to the dress. This is my second Anna dress and it has been sitting in my to-sew pile for a good long while, and only after planning the trip did it shoot to the top of the pile to actually get finished.

The fabric is from my Paris visit to Anna Ka Bazaar (it only took a year to get to that stash, but I am working my way through it now and it’s very exciting). It’s a buttery soft rayon fabric and has a gentle stretch that makes it super comfy to wear. I love the subtle abstract print that many people think looks like a flock of birds. When we were taking the photos we were secretly hoping a bunch of birds would fly up from behind me to match, but it was far too windy for any feathered friends to fly.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

As you can see the wind made this shoot kind of tricky, but I was determined to utilize that beautiful view. I guess I am stubborn that way, but it also made for a creative challenge which is something I enjoy. I always want to think of different ways to present my makes on the blog that is visually interesting but still useful for people looking for inspiration and information about the garment.

With my first Anna dress, I find that the waist is very close fitted, and actually a smidge too tight after a wash. I decided to cut this one a little generously around the pattern pieces, which naturally meant I was totally swimming in it. After taking it all back in, I found a fit I was happy with, but the fabric was shifty and hard to press, so my seamlines no longer match up. C’est la vie.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

Since I made this dress on relatively short notice, I didn’t have time to head to the fabric store. Luckily I had a cream zipper from my stash. It’s a vintage metal one from a random bag of zippers my grandma gave me. It’s a little worn down and if I simply pull the two back pieces apart it will just slide open. After wearing it twice I haven’t noticed it open much with movement which I am happy for, but it’s still not an ideal situation.

I find that stocking up on notions to be a challenge for me. When I am at the fabric store I only grab the zippers I need for projects I have immediately in mind. I don’t know how to properly anticipate which ones I might need later on. I don’t drive and there are no shops nearby, so trips to the fabric store only happen once every few months. Sometimes I want to make something spontaneously but get stuck by the fact that I don’t have a zipper in the right length or colour or style. Any tips for stocking up on notions in advance? Do you just buy one of every type and colour and stash them like a squirrel preparing for winter?

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

About making this dress, there’s not too much else to say. Anna is a beautiful pattern and I love that I don’t have anything else quite like it. It’s perfect for making in soft, floaty fabrics and has a dressier vibe while still being totally wearable any day. I hope I can transition this dress a little further down the calendar with some layers, but it can sometimes be hard to blend in light, wispy (unlined) garments. Many times the skirt fabric just sticks to my tights! Nothing like walking to work and having to tug at your skirt every few steps.

A Bright and Bold Gabriola Skirt

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

Last month I was lucky enough to steal away for a week in the mountains while Rory attended a conference. This happened because of this exact exchange;

“I told my mom I was going on this trip next week and she asked why you weren’t coming.”… “Wait… why aren’t I coming?”

I knew there would be some beautiful views available to me (as, hello, it’s the mountains) and in good sewing blogger fashion I spent the precious few days I had before leaving to sew up at least one new thing to shoot while I was there. When you have the opportunity for something new in the background you do not squander that chance!

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

The garment in question was this beautifully swishy and fun Gabriola skirt. It was a delightfully fast make. Though it did feel like time stood still finishing all those long seams, they were all straight lines so it wasn’t a huge risk to take if I happened to zone out and think of other things partway through.

I bought this fabric last summer in Paris from Anna Ka Bazaar knowing I wanted to make this exact pattern with it from the very beginning (quite rare for me these days). I knew the shape of the triangle print would play nicely with the unique hip panels on the skirt, and that the cotton would be so soft and breezy for the last few weeks of summer sun.

This is my second Gabriola, but last time I was working with limited yardage. THIS time I had enough and was able to go full-out volume. Growing up, I loved pretending that I was wearing long dresses everywhere, holding an invisible skirt as I walked up stairs and everything, and let me tell you, this skirt gives me full out princess vibes and it is very fun. You’ve never had a gust of wind blowing your skirt in beautiful wisps and waves feel so satisfying until you’ve made and worn a voluminous maxi skirt.

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

I had a touch of trouble with the waistband once again. Last time I had to take in about 1 cm from each side seam (I just pinched in the sewn in band because I was lazy) and was mindful of making sure it fit right. Measurement wise it totally should fit snug, but when I wear it I find it sits slightly loose. It doesn’t look like it’s too big but I can feel it and it’s very annoying. Sometimes I noticed the skirt even twisted around me a little. I like my high waisted garments to feel quite snug.  I don’t want to take it in, however because I worry when I sit (or eat a large meal) it will be too tight. I think the solution for me is to only make high-waisted garments in stretch fabrics instead of wovens, or consider adding in a bit of elastic or something to the waistband.

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

Speaking of waistbands, how picky are you when laying out fusible interfacing? I know since it is supposed to provide support, you should use one solid piece, but I couldn’t bear letting these odd bits go to waste. Seeing as it is fused to the fabric I figure that puzzle-piecing the scraps into things like waistbands should be fine. Since it is enclosed, if one of the scraps peel away it won’t go anywhere. I have done this before and haven’t experienced any problems, but are there any horror stories I should know about before I keep doing this? What else are you supposed to do with the off cut bits?

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

I also opted to add some inseam pockets, as that was one thing I really noticed was missing every time I wore my other skirt (#pockets4ever!). The hip detailing made an opportune placement to slide them in. I am pretty happy to have them, but I do notice it changes the silhouette of the skirt, as it doesn’t glide over the hips as smoothly as if they weren’t there, and they do gape open when I sit down. It doesn’t bother me much right now, but if it ever does, it’s the easiest fix ever to take them out.

Other notes; I cut a size 2 at the waistband and graded to a 4 at the hips and added about 5 cm of length to the hem to make sure it could actually hit the ground. Fabric is a lightweight cotton that pressed really well to play up the crisp lines of the print.

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

I am noticing a pattern of me making these skirts just as summer ends (I think they just sink to the bottom of the summer to-sew list) but I think a really lightweight rayon or something in a solid colour would be beautiful for the beginning of summer. Ah well, next year. Onwards to fall sewing plans!

In the breeze, Sway with ease

Bright Sway Dress // Boots and Cats

The dog days of summer are in full swing. Sunshine! Humidity! Thunderstorms! The intense desire to avoid wearing pants!

No? Is that just me?

As we settle into the heat of August there is nothing more unpleasant than putting on anything tight when the air around you already feels like a thick, woolen hug. It’s at precisely this point every year when I realize I have exactly two casual free flowing dresses on hand for at least a week of sweltering weather. Luckily THIS year, I also happened to have the Sway dress pattern plus some brightly-coloured floaty viscose unassigned to any other project.

I have been wanting to make a Sway dress for some time now, loving the versatility of the pattern. I had a few fabrics on hand that were sort of earmarked for this dress but there was just something about the combo that wasn’t exciting and I avoided the project for months. As I felt the heat and pondered my Sway, I glanced at my pile of newly acquired pretties from San Francisco and this floral popped right out at me.

When I was fabric shopping, I really liked this fabric but didn’t have any projects in mind for it, so I decided just to get my standard 1.5 m that I get for any I-love-this-but-unsure-of-what-to-make-with-it fabrics. I found that with amount I can make a sizable number of patterns without having tons leftover. As I locked into making a Sway dress however, things were tight. It didn’t look like it was even going to happen.

Bright Sway Dress // Boots and Cats

According to the sizing, I am an XS, but since the pattern is anything but fitted, I traced the XS sizing for the bodice/bust area, and then graded down to the XXS on the sides to squeeze both pieces onto my fabric. I am also quite thankful the print is didn’t have an obvious direction so I could invert the front and back pieces. I also saved 3 cm by eliminating the seam at centre ‘front’, which I opted for the round neckline. The design of the sway dress allows so you can wear it forwards, or backwards, depending on what neckline you want.

Bright Sway Dress // Boots and Cats

For some reason, v-necks and I don’t get along well so I knew I’d almost always wear it at the back, leaving the seamline there, and cutting the ‘front’ on the fold. After I sewed the dress up I realized there is now another reason I probably won’t wear it the other way around. There is some…unfortunate…flower placement in the bodice region.

As has been mentioned by many before, Papercut Patterns are quite short. I didn’t have the luxury of adding any length as I usually would have, but just enough to cut true to the midi length version of the pattern. It actually works out to be the perfect length for a hot summer dress, just landing above my knees. I am fairly sure the mini version of the dress would be more like a shirt. (Actually…a Sway shirt would be super cute…writing that idea down now).

I barely managed to get the waist tie and pockets cut out of the fabric, and had to resort to an ivory cotton I had on hand to cut the facings, but I got everything out!

Bright Sway Dress // Boots and Cats

While on the topic of facings; usually you will find me firmly on team bias binding, but I forgot about all in one facings for sleeveless garments. I had only ever done this once before and OMG I LOVE how it turned out. It’s so crisp and has such a neat finish. So if anyone now asks, I am on team bias binding* (*unless I can use an all-in-one facing.)

What I was most impressed with in making this dress was how quickly it came together. It is very rare for me nowadays to have the attention span to complete a garment in one go. Not counting the fabric tetris to get it cut out, I think it took me 2 hours from start to finish in one sitting. It was SO satisfying to go from pieces to a garment in a single stretch.

Bright Sway Dress // Boots and Cats

I have happily worn this dress so many times this summer! It’s become my new go-to on those days where it’s just too warm. It’s the perfect blend of breezy, cool and still a lil’ fancy. Because the fabric is so light and flowy, I love the look of it worn with the belt, but I think as the weather cools down it would be super cute with some tights and full trapeze shape.

Here’s to those projects that just seem to be a success; easy to make, uses up all the fabric, fits a need in your wardrobe and gets lots of wear time. Have a sunny week, friends!

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!

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.