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!

Cozy and Quilted // Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

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

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

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

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

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

Anyway. I made a skirt!

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

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

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

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

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

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

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

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

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

Cozy Quilted Hollyburn Skirt // Boots and Cats

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

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

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

The Great Sewing Day

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

This whole past month was about sharing and connecting with a community of like-minded creatives from around the world. I LOVED it, but it was another reminder that locally, I have a very limited supply of sewing friends. There are only a few of people in town whom I can rant about the scarcity of good knit fabrics, or titter excitedly about new indie pattern releases with. With that, the chances of attending a sewing meet-up are practically zilch.

So I decided to change all that.

When I talk to people about sewing, I will most frequently hear “I wish I could do that”, “I haven’t sewn since high school”, and  “I can barely fix a button!”. It seemed like there was interest, but a lack of confidence and skills to pursue the hobby.

Enter the Great Canadian Sewing Day!

(I’d decided to call it that after a month-long binge watch of all 3 seasons of the Great British Sewing Bee). I gathered up a handful of interested friends and family members, booked a party room, and planned out 8 hours of Sewing 101 fun!

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

In reality the day was nothing at all like the Bee. Pretty much the exact opposite, in fact. I wanted a low-pressure, fun, sew-along type afternoon that focused on fundamental skills and basic fit and customization.  I narrowed down two patterns that my seamstresses could choose to make, both from Sewaholic – the Belcarra blouse or the Hollyburn skirt. Two people chose the blouse and three chose the skirt, so it was an even mix.

How it worked was that I would demonstrate and explain a step for one pattern, and had the gals execute that step on their own. Then I demo-ed a step for the other pattern, let them work on that and repeat. I also circled the room and helped guide and get people out of jams (literally – some sewing machines weren’t too happy with us). It was all about patience and baby steps.

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

This was the first time I had ever attempted something like this. Being the center of attention is not my strong suit, but I was glad to dip my toes into the world of teaching sewing. I think I communicated well and it was really fun. The best was to see people excited when they finished a step well and could see the project coming together.

I did not, however,  anticipate how exhausting it would be to constantly jump around between two patterns, helping people and finishing the demo steps. By the end of it, I had abandoned both my teaching garments and finished them at later days.

I also completely underestimated the time commitment. (I can barely tell how long I’ll take on a project just myself, I don’t know why I thought I could predict how long it would take teaching 5 people two patterns…but I digress). The anticipated 6-8 hour workshop devolved into a manic 13 hour marathon. Complete with exhaustion and relentless determination to just FINISH the dang things. By 1 am we were all just ready to go to bed and never look at a sewing machine again. Woops.

Next time I will make it a 2 day affair.

I had a really fun day spending time with my friends and giving them a little taste of my hobby. I hope I imparted some tips and tricks and I really look forward to seeing what my new seamstress friends make in the future.

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

Tips for hosting your own Sewing Day:

  • Sugar, caffeine and pizza are a must.
  • Bring lots of extension cords and power bars for everyone’s sewing machines and irons.
  • Have lots of space for sewing tables, cutting tables, and ironing boards.
  • Have an extra machine on hand if possible in case someone’s machine acts up or breaks.
  • Focus on teaching ONE pattern.
  • Break down the sewing time into smaller chunks to avoid exhaustion.
  • Have finished garments from the pattern on hand to help people see the ‘bigger picture’ when doing funny-looking steps like pockets or closures.
  • Pump up the jams! (But not so loud they can’t hear you explaining something).
  • Encourage creativity with the pattern but also focus on keeping things simple enough to complete.
  • Have everyone take measurements in advance so you can be prepared for any sizing/grading help they may need.
  • Keep it fun and lighthearted. Be sure everyone knows not to expect perfection on their first garment.

Have you ever taught a sewing workshop before? Have you ever had a friend teach you? I’d love to hear your stories.


Me-Made-May // Week 4 (and a bit)

Me Made May Week 4 // Boots & Cats

And that’s a wrap! 31 days of me-made garments. Thank you for all of you on Instagram putting up with the barrage of selfies for the last month. Though it was annoying at times, I think I might miss this challenge. It was a nice excuse to get a little more dressed up each day. Plus, the community and support throughout this month has been astounding. I’ve ‘met’ many new seamstresses, been inspired to try new things and I have a better understanding of what I need to do in order to support a me-made wardrobe.

This year I pledged to wear at least one me-made item a day for the entirety of the month, and in that, I succeeded. Some days were a bit of a stretch but I made sure to make it happen. After people knew I was participating, it was fun to have them ask me “Okay, what are you wearing that you made today?”, which opened up the conversation to talking about my hobby and passion to people. It can be hard topic to introduce to the conversation sometimes, but this was a great excuse to talk about it as much as I could.

I didn’t have it in my pledge to make anything new, but the challenge did inspire me to complete FOUR new garments this month, which I am pretty sure is a new sew-speed record! Most of these were one or two session makes which are SO satisfying. It’ll be a bit challenge to slow down and tackle a bigger garment now. When I sew with the intention that I want to wear the clothes the next day, I tend to rush and make sloppy decisions. I think a high quality summer dress is just what I need next.

I am so thankful I dove in and participated in this year’s challenge. I had so much fun and I am definitely going to keep my focus on incorporating my me-mades into the everyday rotation. (Which I think was kind of the point of this whole thing!)

Without further ado, here is the last week (and a bit) of Me Made May 2015

Day 22: Ice Cream Airelle Blouse


The photo may need a little explaining. Today’s Friday challenge was ‘animals’. I could have just worn my cat dress again, but I decided to interpret a different way. Meet Hobbes, my stuffed tiger. I was really into the comic in Jr. High so I started hand-sewing him in 7th grade Intro to Sewing. It took about 5 years to slowly complete because I kept forgetting about him. I tried so hard to make him as comic-accurate as possible. The Airelle blouse has nothing to do with this, but I had just finished it the day before and wanted to toss it in the mix. I love the contrast yoke and the silhouette in the back is great, but the front is lacking something. I think I may make a few changes and add the sleeves in. We’ll see.

Day 23: Pink Plaid Sixties Shift


This is another older make and my first real vintage pattern. It was a mail-order pattern from my Grandmother’s stash and I loved the shape and the little button belt. I didn’t look at the pattern too closely when I first cut out my fabric and it wasn’t until my first fitting I noticed the length was crazy long, past my knees! So I had to chop a good amount off of there to get the look I wanted. I am happy with how it turned out, but I hate wasting fabric like that. It’s also a great reminder about how far my skills have come. I had to re-jig the neckline last summer, but remnants of mistakes (like totally backwards bias binding on the hem) are good little mementos.

Day 24: Soft and Summery MC6359


We were in a bit of a heatwave this past week and I was quickly running out of options. I had this pattern and fabric in my stash for a few months now and it was time to jump on it. I used the same lace that details my Gabriola skirt to add contrast to the back and it is seriously one of my favourite me mades at the moment. Fun fact: the fabric was actually purchased as a ‘jersey infinity scarf’ for $15. I loved the colour, the feel and the drape and there were no seams or hems so I had to have it. Good knit fabrics just that tough to find around here.

Day 25: Cotton Sack Dress


Another repeat. +25 degrees calls for a loose summer dress. Had fun playing with different accessories this time around.

Day 26: Geometric Hollyburn Skirt


You may remember this fabric from way back when. I have tonnes left and used some to make this swishy Hollyburn skirt. I taught this pattern to my friends during the ‘great sewing day’ back at the beginning of the month. Just needed a few finishing touches and it was ready to hit the town. It’s a silhouette and print I don’t usually go for in skirts so I will see how much I like and wear it this summer. It was a great excuse to step outside my comfort zone.

Day 27: Julia Cardigan


I am so proud I only repeat this baby ONCE! Boo yah. Long day of meetings, running around and a hearty Bday dinner for Rory meant I just wanted to be optimally comfortable (for tree climbing, obviously)

Day 28: Senna Dress Remixed
In order to keep myself from feeling like I was in a repeat rut, I took this outside the box and mixed in this non-me-made skirt I’d been dying to wear and layered it with my Senna dress to make a whole new outfit! I loved how it turned out and may have to try with different skirt/dress combos!

Day 29: Cat’s Cradle Sorbetto


On Thursday I got a very happy mail parcel full of Lizzy House’s Cat Nap fabrics and I couldn’t wait to pounce! I downloaded Sorbetto and promptly made this cute little tank. Even after adding my traditional 5cm to the waist length and rounding out the hem, it was still pretty short on me! Bust darts are a bit too high as well. Shoulda made a muslin- but it is still super adorable and will look great tucked into skirts, so I don’t mind that much. Also cats.

Day 30: YEG Cat Fest


A friend and I managed to venture out to the Edmonton Cat Fest this weekend and there was no me-made more fitting than the Belladone. Rocket Mama loved it too!

Day 31: Vintage Green S2927


We did it! I’d reached the end and realized I hadn’t worn this dress yet! This lazy Sunday was perfect for this soft vintage fabric dress. I always second guess myself in this dress, never 100% sure if the style works for me, or how I should do my hair or accessorize it. But I really do like it and I just need to experiment a little more to find out the ideal formula for this piece.

Thanks for following along with me and I already can’t wait for MMMay16!!

Me-Made-May // Week 3

Me Made May Week 3 // Boots & Cats

Another week, another handful of me-mades. This week has definitely been more of a struggle than the rest. I made the discovery that most of my makes are for mild weather, and this week’s heat wave made things a little challenging (not that I am complaining about it! ). I dipped into some repeats but tried to keep creative in how I styled and documented them so I didn’t feel like I was being lazy about it.

Here’s a glimpse into my week:

Day 15: 70s peasant dress

Me Made May Day 15 // Boots & Cats

This week’s Friday challenge was ‘something old’, so I dug out one of the first garments I ever made. My grandma was teaching me to sew the summer before the 7th grade and I picked out this 70s pattern from her stash to make. I love the styling and illustrations on the envelope and I imagined I would be as trendy as them. I told myself I would wear this for the first day of junior high. Well…sizing proportions and fabric choice made this dress far less appealing than on the envelope and this dress was relegated to the ‘costume’ drawer for years. Well I decided to give it a go and guess what? It fits now! Ha.

Day 16: Hand-stitched hair bow

Me Made May Day 16 // Boots & Cats

Today was apartment cleaning day, so instead of running the risk of ruining any me-mades in the throes of it all, this little hair bow was just the ticket.

Day 17: Comfy and casual Plantain tee

Me Made May Day 17 // Boots & Cats

A day at the park with warm sunshine and a cool breeze was perfect for my stripey tee.

Day 18: Self-drafted ‘paper bag’ skirt

Me Made May Day 18 // Boots & Cats

Another A Beautiful Mess DIY dress-up project, I made this a few summers ago, and ran with the paper bag concept by using this burgundy burlap type fabric. It’s surprisingly comfortable and was so easy to make. I walked to the market on this holiday Monday to get some bedding plants to set my garden.

Day 19: Tilly and the Buttons Coco top

Me Made May Day 19 // Boots & Cats

My first repeat (I made it 19 days!), I paired this top with these crazy pants I had custom made for me last summer by Todoruk Designs. I love these pants so much. Retro meets modern. I made the coco with these pants in mind, actually. A 60s loungewear dream.

Day 20: Vintage fabric Belcarra blouse

Me Made May Day 20 // Boots & Cats

It was getting far to warm for any of my other makes, and this lightweight Belcarra is a summer fave, so another repeat but styled with jeans instead of a skirt. This pattern is so versatile, and I am almost finished making my third!

Day 21: Belcarra version two!

Me Made May Day 21 // Boots & Cats

It was a swingy skirt day for sure, and my grey Belcarra blouse paired perfectly with this bicycle Heart of Haute skirt. Blissful.


From Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

Ah… the season of pumpkin spice is descending upon us. After a brief jolt of winter early this September, we are now experiencing the seasonal sweet spot. The days are sunny and warm, while the mornings are crisp and refreshing. We can play with interesting layers and combinations; our closets have never felt more alive. Knits and chiffon, skirts and sweaters, summers kiss in an autumn hug. Seriously, this is the best.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

Near the end of summer, I went through a major sewing boom, pumping out projects like a factory, one of them was a Gabriola Skirt from Sewaholic patterns. I was so stoked to wear it a few weeks ago, but a spell of SNOW put that dream on hold. Now, more inspired than ever to play with the seasonal crossover, I was elated to dance in the shower of falling leaves in this creation.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

I loved sewing this pattern. It was simple, yet the hip yoke detail adds so much OOMPH. I did have a bit of a connundrum on my hands that provided some inertia getting started. I knew from the moment I found it that I wanted to use this blue vintage floral print fabric for this pattern. I had gotten the last of the board with a total of 2.6 meters.

The pattern calls for 4.6 m. Also, being a vintage cotton, it had a width of about 90 cm. It probably wasn’t meant to happen, but I get pretty stubborn sometimes.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

I reduced some of my needed yardage by digging out scraps of  ivory lace for the contrast hip yoke (which looks so great with it anyway) and then went to shaving down a TON of the volume from the original pattern. I basically had to remove half the skirt (without sacrificing length). You should have seen how happy I was when I first got all my pieces to fit. Grainlines were a suggestion when it came to these pieces. Luckily the print is forgiving.

So while not as flowy and voluminous as the pattern originally intended, the heavier/stiffer nature of the fabric played well with the a-line silhouette.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

On a beautiful +26 degree day, I coerced Rory to capture this skirt in full seasonal transition mode. (He’s becoming quite the photographer and he is super serious about it – he even brought his own knee pads so he could get the best shot). The sun was perfect, the leaves just starting to turn a golden hue – the perfect for the summer side of this transition.

Once the temperature drops I am looking forward to wearing it with chunky sweaters, scarves and layers. PLUS, since it is full length, I can wear as many layers of tights and leggings as I want underneath and no one will know. This is genius I tell you.

Summer to Autumn: Gabriola Skirt // Boots & Cats

Here’s to autumn! Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.