A Halloween Hemlock Tee

A Halloween Hemlock Tee // Boots and Cats

The fact that October is nearly over is a spooky one for sure. It’s been a crazy month around these parts lately, so much so that I’ve barely had a chance to even glance in the direction of my poor ol’ sewing machine. Maybe that’s the true terror of this story. A solid sewing streak I had at the end of summer has come to a screeching halt and probably would have continued if there wasn’t a deadline at the end of this week in the form of my favourite holiday.

Sure, the idea of making my costume this year went out the window weeks ago, but as I placed my order for the coveted Les Fleurs fabric back in August a meter of this adorable Ghosty Ghost Party print also snuck it’s way in. Can you blame them? Look how cute they are, wearing party hats and everything. Plus it’s a knit, thus totally allowing itself into my stash because of my focus to work with more knit fabrics.

A Halloween Hemlock Tee // Boots and Cats

I bought it with the intention of making a simple tee to wear throughout the month to get in the spirit of Halloween. Then I blinked and October disappeared, and as there is only a week left before everything turns to jingle bells and fir trees, it was time to get moving on it. I couldn’t bear to let the ghosts postpone their party until next year. The fabric print is designed by Lizzy House and I am so glad Andover fabrics included this design in their knits collection. It’s cotton/spandex and so unbelievably soft and comfortable with great recovery. I see why a lot of people make leggings or pajamas with this fabric, but I really felt like a cuddly tee was the way to go.

A Halloween Hemlock Tee // Boots and Cats

I downloaded the free Grainline Hemlock tee pattern knowing it would create an easy, comfortable and versatile tee that I could wear in multiple ways. I didn’t make any adjustments to the sizing of the pattern, but I decided to break up the busy print with some contrast side seam panels in a grey stripe knit.

When I first latched myself onto the colour-blocking idea I had it in my head that the pattern had regular set-in sleeves. However, the Hemlock tee has off the shoulder sleeves and a boxy shape, meaning there’s no defined armscye. This puzzled me as to how I would go about creating a side seam insert without messing up the sleeves,  but I had the idea and I was going to make it work.

A Halloween Hemlock Tee // Boots and Cats

To create my contrast side seams, I cut away the amount I wanted to be in the other fabric from my bodice pattern from just below the sleeve notches (on both front and back) and used these new pieces to cut my fabric. I then took the dimensions of what I removed and cut out strips from my contrast fabric.

When assembling the pattern I attached the bodice pieces at the shoulders, then added the sleeves. From there I sewed up the bottom seam of the sleeves up until the point where the contrast fabric would be inserted. I attached the contrast strip along the armpit, then closed up the sides. Thankfully, it all worked out beautifully, despite the origami.

A Halloween Hemlock Tee // Boots and Cats

For a one-size pattern, I am actually super pleased with the proportions without adjustments. It’s comfortably long, the sleeves sit in a nice spot and though it is boxy, it has a nice amount of volume and is very flattering. I initially wanted to make the pattern with the full 3/4 length sleeve, but I unfortunately was a few cms short of fabric to fit it in. In the end, I am actually thankful for that because the print would be far too busy with all that sleevage. As I am wearing it I also think it would be very cute without any sleeves at all (if only it were summer still…). This is a pattern I can definitely see myself sewing again and again to make some pretty basics that pair with everything. There is lots of opportunity to play with more colour-blocking or mixing fabrics.

A Halloween Hemlock Tee // Boots and Cats

I enjoyed experimenting with different ways to style this shirt. Sure, I can wear it relaxed with a pair of jeans at home, but I was pleased to find out I could dress it up a little and sneak my Halloween obsession into the workplace. Most people couldn’t tell I was walking around in a shirt full of ghosts. Ha.

Happy Halloween!

Fabric Scrap Busters // Hand-sewn Christmas Tree Ornaments

Christmas tree ornaments from fabric scraps // Boots & Cats

There’s something about this time right before the holidays that I really get the itch to clear out the clutter. It’s a serious everything-must-go mentality that won’t let up. It’s probably because I like a clean slate for when the Christmas decorations come out and/or I am subconsciously making room for all the new lovely gifts that start to trickle in. In either case, old make-up is tossed, cupboards are cleaned and my overflowing craft storage pillaged.

This year, my main target is my fabric stash that is somehow not surprisingly  spilling out onto the floor and actually busting the sides of my shelf. When it comes to pretty textiles, I have a difficult time letting things go, even those measly little off-snips. After years of holding on, it’s getting out of control. I began going through and making a textile-only recycling bag of the really not useful bits (melted interfacing, creased-beyond-all-help lining, frayed who-knows-what-that-was, ect.) but I kept coming across decent chunks that could surely go on to be better things.

Christmas tree ornaments from fabric scraps // Boots & Cats

Instead of hoarding them any longer though, if I am gonna keep ’em, I gotta use em. With some faded carols in the background and a cup of hot cocoa in hand, it felt like it was time for some holiday crafting.

With my acquisitions of some adorable prints this year, I found a pretty simple way to utilize my off-cuts. Plushy tree ornaments!

This craft is super easy and awesome to show off some of those brilliant novelty prints in your stash, or would work with other printed textiles (like linens, or tea towels) that need a new lease on life.

Christmas tree ornaments from fabric scraps // Boots & Cats

The steps:

  1. Pick a portion of the pattern motif to become your ornament. Cut around the main design leaving a 0.5-1cm seam allowance.
  2. Flip it face-down and trace the shape onto another scrap of the fabric to create a mirrored back piece.
  3. Find some matching yarn or embroidery floss and snip a 12 cm length for the hanging loop.
  4. Tie the ends in a knot, creating the loop, and place inverted on the right side of your fabric
  5. Place the design right-sides together and hand stitch around the perimeter, leaving a 2cm opening near the bottom
  6. Turn your ornament right side out and fill with stuffing. Slip-stitch the bottom closed.

Christmas tree ornaments from fabric scraps // Boots & Cats

Tips:

Here is a good resource for hand-sewing methods from By Hand London. I experimented with using my machine, but for the small shapes and curves it was difficult to manage and you end up losing the defining shapes of your design. Bonus points if you can spot the misshapen fail-cupcake* on the tree.

Patience is key, especially if you are new to hand sewing. You’ll want to be sure you aren’t stitching too closely to the edges, or else the ends will fray and burst open.

Poly-fill is a good choice for the stuffing, or what I did was shred some of the unwanted off-cuts and put them to use there instead.

Christmas tree ornaments from fabric scraps // Boots & Cats

You can also add a touch of pizzazz with some sequins, beads or embroidery stitching onto more abstracted prints with simpler shapes. The options for where your creativity can take you become endless at this point.

Even if the aesthetic isn’t quite your jam for the tree, skip the hanging loop, toss in some catnip, and boom! Instant cat toy for your feline friends.

Christmas tree ornaments from fabric scraps // Boots & Cats

Each ornament takes about 1 hour to make, depending on your hand-sewing skills. That makes it easy to make one for each of your friends in a print they’ll love most. That, or you can take all the pieces of your favourite print or collection and cover your whole tree!

I hope you enjoy using your fabric in a fun way, and please be sure to share pics if you make these!

Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to sewing those last few gifts. It always seems to sneak up on you, eh? Next year I’ll start my Christmas projects in June.

Christmas tree ornaments from fabric scraps // Boots & Cats

* Rory and I decided that we are going troll our future-selves and put the fail-cupcake on the tree year after year. Hopefully in about 10 years as we decorate we’ll be like “What is this thing even, and why do we keep putting it on the tree?!”. Unless I keep re-reading through old blog posts and just ruined it for myself here again. Bah.

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.