Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Fearless February Pattern Choice

I've decided to join the Fearless February Sewing Challenge over at Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing....because I have lots of fears that hold up my sewing (this challenge really speaks to me!).

I'm challenging my self to make first pair should be finished tomorrow night...and I will post pics right away. I plan to make at least three different pair of pants in this challenge -what I mean by that is that each pair will be made from a different pattern.But I've expanded my challenge to include all the items in a single multi-item sewing pattern. The pattern I've chosen is Butterick 5333. It's a pattern I've had and have been meaning to get to for at least a year. I've decided to include this as part of my challenge because I am a procastinator and I need to gear myself up for this. I thought if I manage to make all the other pieces then I will be obligated to make those pants...

First up....the dress. This should be an easy make for me...I'm planning on using a small print fabric in pink or green for spring...

Report cards are nearly over - just the dreaded revisions need to be done - and my evenings will be my own once I will be able to sew.....

Monday, January 28, 2013

Organizing My Sewing Space

Did you think was a garage? Sadly, it is my sewing space. It shares the basement with a rec room and a treadmill. I am determined to spend the next few weeks fixing it up....while I sew. More pics and less clutter to follow...

What's my next project?

The pattern (sorry for the poorly lit pic) and the fabric (a poly/wool blend I found at Fabricland a while ago for $3/metre). The pattern was purchased long ago and forgotten. In keeping with my sewing goals, I am trying "new" patterns rather than re-using the same old ones.

I'm cutting tonight and hopefully sewing tomorrow night or - if not- Wednesday.

That and report cards are what's up this week....

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Rocky Road to My New Sewing Machine....

A few people told me -emphatically told me- not to buy a sewing machine from Walmart. But I was lured by the price (and saved by their return policy!)
 Singer Fashion Mate - available from Walmart Canada for approximately $195 plus taxes. I bought it and three days later returned it. My issue: it could not make a buttonhole through medium-weight cotton.
  • Top drop-in bobbin with clear cover provides for quicker threading
  • 70 built-in stitches - 8 essential, 8 stretch, 48 decorative and 6 buttonholes
  • 100 stitch functions
  • 6 fully automatic 1-step buttonholes

Notes: I loved the features and it seemed like a great machine until I tired to make a buttonhole. Then I knew it was not for me...See my review of this machine on

Stubborn me, I returned to Walmart and bought the Brother CE8080 which had numerous favourable reviews on and

I had previously owned a cheap Brother before and was reluctant to buy another. But when the Singer didn't work out, I decided to give it a try.
 Brother Sewing Machine Computerized CE8080 Special Project Runway EditionThis picture is from but it is the same Brother CE 8080 that I purchased and owned for one day from Walmart Canada. It has some really great reviews on and I found it to be very rickety and I knew, almost immediately, that it was not the machine for me....My review on Walmart is the second one listed here.

So I took the advice of all my sewing friends, both online and not, who said to check out refurbished models from sewing stores. I did and I was so surprised. What wonderful machines they have available with warrenties and lessons. I was all set to buy one when....

I found my dream machine from a woman who was retiring from sewing on Kijiji. I got it for $275 and it is a dream..........

Kenmore®/MD 606-stitch Computerized Sewing Machine
This is the Kenmore 19005 which is one model older then the one they sell right now...but my original machine was a Kenmore and it works beautifully. I can also still buy a protection plan...
 The woman whom I purchased it from kept it in pristine condition and she had also purchased a lot of extras for the embroidery functions of the machine. (Guess who will be toying with embroidery next?)

SO, I set out to spend $150 - $200 on a cheap machine to tide me over until I had the money together for a really good machine and I ended up with a big headache and lots of running around a great machine that I doubt I will need to replace for a long, long time.

Now, back to the Hollyburn skirt I was making.....

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Blogging Award

Michelle from the bookworm sewist gave me this great award! I am thrilled. She is also hosting a sew-along for Gertie's shirtdress which I will be doing (hopefully with a new sewing machine)...And do go and grab a button - they are amazing!!

Gertie's Shirtwaist Dress Sew-Along

So, first things first, for this award, I have to tell you 11 facts about myself.

1. I read a lot.
2. I am goog when I have goals but they have to be short-term goals or I lose track of them.
3. I want to write a book - a novel.
4. I have a dog that I adore and he is spoiled and becoming grumpy in his old age.
5. I laugh a lot. I've always gotten in trouble for laughing but once I start I can't stop.
6. I love absurd things.
7. I sew to relax.
8. I strongly wish that all children were raised to explore hobbies and interests.
9. I want to be comfortable but not rich.
10. I only buy candy that I do not like, and will not be tempted by, for the students in my class. (They miss out on caramels, smarties, and butterscotch candies as a result.)

Now I get to ask my nominee's questions.
  1. What is your favorite movie? I am not much of a movie watcher.
    2. What is your favorite fabric to work with? So far, cotton.
    3. What is your least favorite fabric to work with? Anything too stretchy beyond a basic knit.
     4. What is your happiest childhood moment? Playing Risk with my brother.
     5. Who was your first love? A boy I went to high school with
     6. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it? Move. Invest. Go to Europe.
     7. What is your favorite board game (or video game)? Risk
     8. What is your favorite thing you have ever made (clothing or not)? My many Renfrew shirts.
     9. How do you keep organized? I throw a lot out. And, I am not that organized.
     10 What is your favorite time of day? Early morning.
      11. What is your favorite book? (would expect any other question from the Bookworm Sewist??) Excellent question. I like a tons of books...but I think my favourite is a book called The Secret History by Donna Tratt.

The Nominees:

seraphinalina This is a great blog.
Red Tin Heart. This is an eclectic blog and I find it very visually appealing.
The Thoughts and Sarcastics Observations of a Starbucks addict. I go to this blog for a good laugh.

Amazing Books Need I say more?

Girl in the Woods Reviews A favourite book review site of mine.

Stitched in Color. Great blog

September Violets This is a really cool blog. Lots of great creativity.

The Naked Spool. I love this blog. It has so many great ideas that I have copied....

Pieces and Love A fun quilting blog...with recipes too!

Cane Pancake Gravy. Lots of interesting subjects.

Curiosity Cottage I wish I was this creative.
Questions for My Nominees:

1.   What is the most important thing about you?
2.    Name three things you would like to do this year?
3.    Do you set goals?
4.    Do you have a dayplanner?
5.    What is your favourite tv show?
6.    What is your favourite book?
7.     Do you sew, knit, etc?
8.    What does an ideal day look like?
9.     Have you ever been to a spa?
10.   How do you make the world a better place?
11.   What is a goal you've set that you met more easily than you anticipated?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Focus on Enjoyment 2013 Re-Sew-lution

This image is from So I Sewed This, a fabulous sewing blog I follow.

I love this idea: to focus on the enjoyment of sewing. I have a day job, sewing is supposed to be fun...

How will I put more enjoyment in my sewing?

  • Make clothes that I can wear. I know! Obvious - but not so for me. Lots of time I finish a project and I don't wear what I made.
  • Make a muslin for each garment in some fun, splashy fabric that makes me smile.
  • no crazy deadlines - real or imagined! This is something that I can improve on in all aspects of my life. I set a timetable and then if I don't meet it, I feel bad. Out with that!
  • no more splurging on fabric I don't need or can't afford. Less debt makes me more relaxed.
  • try one new pattern each month
  • buy no new Big 4 patterns
  • buy all the indie designer patterns I like
  • enjoy this blog and others
  • Don't let things become a chore - take a break when I need it

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Growing Popularity of Sewing and Buying A New Machine

There are four ads on Kijiji in my city that list people who want to learn how to sew. I find that so encouraging. I once thought this was a dying art.No more!!! (And of course I offered to stop over and give a 1/2 beginner lesson for one of the girls. It has turned into a 1/2 hour lesson for three 14 year olds, but hey, I love that these girls are trying their hands at sewing!)

Sewing School is a great website for beginners...

I also spent some time this week looking at a computerized sewing machine - nothing expensive. I am attracted to the ease of making buttonholes on these machines. My machine - a Kenmore from the 70s - makes beautiful buttonholes but I find making them long and tedious. I need something quick so that it doesn't hold up my projects....

Sewaholic recently had a long discussion about this....I read the post at the time but I re-read it yesterday looking for information and tips from the discussion. Basically, the popular advice was this:

1) buy from a sewing dealer rather than a box store

2) go for quality rather than bells and whistles that may not work with time...

3) Don't buy in the US or from a US website because we have different models in Canada and the companies will not honour the warrenties....

And to all the readers of that post - I put away $15 /week into my expensive sewing machine fund and I plan to buy a $1000 sewing machine in a year or so...but right now, I need a cheap - read little money - sewing machine to get me through things like buttonholes....

What do I want?

A basic computerized machine that does buttonholes in one-step.

Where to buy?

Believe it or not, you can buy a sewing machine anywhere. I bought a 1970s version last year from Kijiji for $50. I had it tuned up and it works fine. I just want an alternate one to use for things like buttonhole-making....The buttonholes on my machine are beautiful but take forever. And the one-step deals with computerized ones sound soooo great.

I looked at the Singer Fashion Mate, among others  (available for $178 from

It has metal gears, and interior frame and 70 stitches. On the site, there are 53 commenter's who average a 4+ rating. It also comes with five different presser feet.

There is also the Canadian Tire stores. They have a singer on their website but I've heard their is a Sharp one too.

Sears has some too....

And of course, there are sewing stores and Ebay and Craigslist.

Kenmore®/MD 50-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Newest Sewing Project

Image of 1206 Hollyburn SkirtImage of 1205 Cordova Jacket
The Hollyburn Skirt and the Cordova Jacket are the patterns I am working on right now.

It's great to be back to the old arrangement - working during the day and sewing in the evenings!

I plan to cut the skirt out tonight and sew it up in the next few days. It's a beginner pattern so I am expecting no surprises. I love the Sewaholic patterns because the instructions are so straight forward. There is a sew-along for this skirt by Rachel at My Messings...I may make a second skirt in the sew-along just for fun.

This steel grey fabric is from my stash - it is a heavy polyester weave and it is quite versatile.

After the first Hollyburn Skirt, I will get right into the Cordova. Again, I will be choosing fabric from my stash. That damn stash is just too big...I have to widdle it down.  

I made my New Years' resolutions in November ( my sewing ones at least):

  • finish one new pattern a month (minimum - two would be ideal but not always doable each month)
  • repeats of patterns need to have a variation (either provided with the pattern or improvised by me)
  • purchase no new big 4 patterns for one year to encourage me to use the patterns I own - and to change them to match new patterns I like
  • purchase all the independent patterns I want - they are well made and motivate me to sew more (hey, this challenge is about more sewing not saving money)
  • purchase no new books (with the exception of the Burda Vintage book and the two I ordered this weekend plus any really, really good thrift shop deals that I can;t pass up!)
  • sew a wardrobe of clothes that fit, look good and make me feel good
  • wear the clothes I make


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