Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Marilyn Top

My latest fashion inspiration seems to be the 50s and 60s. I was very inspired watching the latest retro show called Mrs Maisel. Her character is always dressed very fashionably in the classic 50s style. from fit and flair dresses to swing coats.

I love wearing this style of fashion in the spring and summer but I seem to resort back to my old faithful of Goth Sacks when the snow starts to fly. This year I decided to make some basic retro pieces to last through out all the seasons.
I started with a classic style from that era. The tie front top or dress. Marilyn Monroe wore a hot pink dress in Niagara. It’s one of her most iconic dresses And it’s timeless! 

As much as I love the original on Marilyn, I wanted to make a more modern and wearable version. So I designed a tee shirt style top with a full back and tie front top. I wanted the back covered so it covered a bra strap. I can make them with 3 different sleeve options, but I think 3/4 sleeve is my favourite one. The top is slightly below the waist but not too long and the ties are a nice size as well.

I’ve perfected the pattern now and have several versions up for sale in the shop!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Marie Kondo and the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I think I've been brainwashed by Marie Kondo! If you haven't heard of her yet, then try watching her Netflix series called Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.  The new series was added this year and I started watching it just as a lark at first. I thought well maybe she has some good tips on how to organize the house? The next thing I know, I'm pulling everything out of my closets and asking if they spark joy! ha!

Marie Kondo is an organizing expert from Japan. Besides the new Netflix series, she has written two books on home organization, has a YouTube channel, and a blog. I think the main reason I like her method of organization is that she approaches tidying in a spiritual way. Before she evens starts cleaning a clients house, she will take a quiet moment to "connect to the house". Kondo sits on the floor in the living room of the clients home and visualizes how that client wants their home to look and feel. While doing this, she is visualizing more than just a tidy home, but also the lifestyle the family wants in the future. From there, she tries to organize the home in such a way as to manifest that vision for them. I think the show did a poor job of explaining what she is doing when she sits on the floor. She explains it better on her website though.  Perhaps it was too spiritual for an American audience? I don't know. The goal of the KonMari method is to end up with a clutter free home that brings joy and prosperity to your family. She wants you to visualize your ideal life and then work on getting there. Anything that doesn't help you to achieve that goal is undeserving of your space and attention. Her approach makes perfect sense to me. Who doesn't want joy and prosperity?

The KonMari method breaks down the tidying into categories rather than rooms. She starts with clothes, then books, then paperwork, then Komono (a.k.a. miscellaneous items) and finally sentimental items. She has each client start with putting all their clothes on the bed. They then go through each item one by one and ask if it sparks joy. All of this is done while envisioning your ideal lifestyle.  Those items that don't spark joy are then thanked for their service and discarded or donated to charity.

She has six basic rules for starting the clean up...

1) Commit yourself to tidying up.

2.) Imagine your ideal lifestyle.

3.) Finish discarding first.

4.) Tidy by category, not by location.

5.) Follow the right order.

6.) Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

I am about the furthest you can get from a minimalist. I don't know if she is intentionally promoting minimalism, but she definitely leans that way. I may not be ready for minimalism just yet, but I do realize that I have way too much stuff. Too many clothes, too many books, too many movies, and definitely too many shoes. My Hubby reminds me of this fact everyday and I can understand why he is frustrated. I like to shop and then I have a hard time letting go of older stuff. Basically, its too much coming in and not enough going out. Those two things combined make for an overcrowded house full of stuff.  Even after this massive closet culling, I still have too many clothes to fit in the closet, so I turned my spare bedroom into a walk in closet instead. I added 2 racks for myself and 2 racks for my Hubby to store his suits and professional shirts on. Hopefully I can get it back down to fitting in the closets eventually, but right now it just won't work. I haven't even gone through the shoes yet...


My next biggest category to tackle is books and movies. I've already culled both not that long ago but I'm going to have to be even more ruthless in the new purge. Lets face it, I will never have just one book shelf of books like Kondo suggests, but I think I could part with some books that are just hanging around. The other part of this equation is to purge often to keep the house from getting cluttered again. Wish me luck on the next step!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Gothic Victorian Jacket McCalls 7853 Pattern Review

My first make of 2019 is done and its a nice one!  This project also qualifies as my first make of the #makenine challenge I posted about earlier.  It is a fitted Victorian Gothic jacket lined in satin and trim in lace with puff sleeves. I used McCalls 7853 which is a fairly new pattern from McCalls. The pattern envelope looks its meant to be Mary Poppins maybe?

This past week, I started re-watching Penny Dreadful and was really inspired by the beautiful Victorian costumes on the TV series. I even did a whole blog post previously on the costumes from Penny Dreadful here. So I think this jacket has been on my mind for a really long time. The late Victorian period is my favourite for fashion silhouettes. Oh the bustles and lace trims!

After a quick root through my stash, I found a whole bolt of this black jacquard material to work with and a piece of black satin lining left over from another project. I also had the pattern in my stash from a shopping trip months ago. So I was off to the races!

I cut out a size 14 in the jacket and opted to just follow the pattern as is without any alterations. The collar is basically a roll collar with a notch cut out instead of two pieces and the front closes with frogs instead of buttons. The sleeves have a nice gather at the top and I added small shoulder pads and a wedge of material to make them stand up nicely. I fully lined the whole jacket with the satin and then finished the edges with a tiny lace and some gimp trim. I had salvaged the frogs from an old piece of clothing before I tossed it out, so they have been waiting in my stash for the perfect project. I finished off the back with a corset just so the jacket had a bit more detail to it. I used 3/4 inch D Rings and some trip to attach it. They are easier to add than you would think.



The jacket turned out so nice that I want to make a matching vest and long skirt to go with it also. Maybe a Victorian walking skirt would look nice?



Update! Here I am wearing the jacket to a Victorian Tea.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 Sewing Plans and Make Nine Challenge

Happy New Year everyone!

The Make Nine challenge came about when blogger Lucky Lucille decided to post a Make Nine list instead of a best nine list on Instagram in 2016. I made up a wishlist willy-nilly of some items I wanted to make last year and posted it up on Instagram.

I think my choices were a little lofty but I did manage to make a few of these items. I made a red  cape but it was even nicer than the one pictured. I made it in wool and red taffeta. I also made the black and purple cape but I ended up putting a Harry Potter badge on it so it is reserved for Harry Potter events now. And finally I did make a men's vest for the fashion show that looked very close to the one pictured above. Unfortunately, that is all I managed to finish from this list. But there is always this year!

Having a look at the original post about the challenge again by Lucky Lucille I realize that she did give some basic guidelines and questions to follow for the challenge. So I thought it might be fun to answer the questions and put a little more thought into my make nine list this year.

Here are 9 questions to consider when choosing your 9 projects:

1. What do you want or need? Be forgiving about pattern choice but get specific about what you want/need to make this year.  Tops and skirts in more colours than just black. I know crazy right? More proper Victorian pieces in velvet to wear to events. A fitted jacket and maybe a few walking skirts.

2. What did you learn from last year’s successes and “failures”? If you didn’t finish something on last year’s list, ask yourself why. Well I din't get the big dresses made and I think that was because I had the fashion show to do. Some items crossed over but those that were just for myself , I didn't get to. I tend to put things for myself on the back burner but I would like to challenge myself with bigger projects this year.

3. What values are important to you? Are you working towards a capsule wardrobe? A more ethical one? Are you on a budget? Being practical about what you choose to make is not boring or against the spirit of a challenge. There is success in logic. Logical and practical are definitely not terms I would use to describe my sewing or my personal style. Ha! I think maybe I can do some better planning this year though in order to achieve better results and using time management would be a great improvement as well.

4. What’s in your laundry basket right now that you wear all the time? Are you interested in trying to recreate it? Lots and lots of black velvet is my laundry basket! But like I mentioned earlier, some more colour would be nice. Maybe some jackets and skirts to mix and match as well.

5. What types of things do you really LOVE making? What do you dislike making? If you hate making pants, you don’t have to put them on your list just to feel like you conquered some new technique. I love to make dresses and tops, especially knits or velvets. I loathe making pants. I haven't made a pair of pants since the 90s but I might be willing to make some leggings again. But I don't really wear pants often either.

6. Are you a seasonal maker? Maybe your Make Nine list only includes summer patterns. Or winter knits. That’s totally okay! I'm not a seasonal sewer. I make things all year long. Mostly dresses in the summer and spring. And Jackets and sweaters in the fall and winter.

7. Look at your calendar. Time isn’t found, it’s made. How much time can you make for each of the projects on your list? I'm lucky that I work from home and can fit in personal projects around making custom orders or stock for the shop. I do have the time as long as I don't waste it on social media.

8. Do you want to stash-bust? Why or why not? Don’t force yourself to make something just because you’ve owned the pattern for years. If you haven’t made it yet, maybe your tastes have changed. That’s normal. No need to feel guilty about that. Maybe it’s time to re-home some patterns that no longer speak to you and start fresh. I really need to stash-bust in a major way. I also need to de-stash a lot of fabric that I've collected over the years. I just don't have the room for it all. I am going to try and pick from the patterns I already own. I will try to make an effort to use stash fabric first, but I don't want to limit myself to shopping only the stash for fabric.

9. Is there a completely new-to-you type of project that you want to explore? Do you have the time and patience to explore it, knowing it’s possible you won’t like/wear it in the end? If yes, by all means branch out and try new things! That’s how you grow and get better. I made a corset years ago but I want to start making some more. I have talented friends that make corsets but I would rather make my own again.

And so onto my #makenine list for 2019!

This year I chose only fabrics and patterns from my stash so this will be a stash busting project as well! This will make my Hubby very happy. haha.

Fabrics left to right and top to bottom:

1. Thin printed knit perfect for a dress- McCalls 7812 for this print. Its a cute ruched front dress.

2, Dark red mottled sweater knit- Self drafted sweater with ribbon trim.

3. A leopard coat print I have been saving forever- Gertie Butterick 5824

4. Red and Black Floral stretch velvet- Vogue 9265

5. Black stretch velvet- McCalls 7869 Victorian style knit top

6. Black Jacquard- McCalls 7023 Vest and McCalls 7853 Jacket

7. Purple stretch velvet- Self drafted fit and flare dress (maybe long?)

8. crushed fur coat fabric- Vogue 8841 Coat with belt

9. Charcoal grey sparkly sweater knit- Self drafted sweater pattern.

I think that is enough to keep me busy for a while and will help deplete some of my huge stash! I will try to blog about all of them as I go.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 A Year in Review

2018 was such a busy and amazing year for me. It seemed to go by in a huge blur. In January we took a family trip to Cuba. We had the whole family there, 8 of us went and stayed for a week. The trip was beautiful and we loved getting away in the middle of winter to warmer weather. We have been thinking about going to Cuba again this year but haven't quite decided yet.

In March I did a second fashion show with my good friend Madame Absinthe. The theme was Post Apocalyptic, but considering that really isn't my style at all, I decided on a Vampire theme instead for my collection. My thought was that of course the Vampires would survive the Apocalypse and come out of hiding to feed on whats left of the population. I was much more comfortable working on the Vampire theme so I could incorporate some of my signature velvet pieces. I won't go into too much depth and details about the show in this post as it really deserves its own post.

I did a few alternative shows after that including some new Pagan shows I hadn't done before which was really nice. I have been neglecting my blog for a long time which is a shame really because I do enjoy writing. The shows were a great success and I met some new friends and lots of friends I hadn't seen in quite a while. Hopefully I can do some Renn Faires next year as well.

I started doing more sewing related youtube videos and I would really like to get back to that. I smashed my IPad and that put a stop to the videos for a bit unfortunately. I stopped doing the Pagan related videos because I just find the topic too personal to share in videos to be honest. I admire those on youtube that can share themselves freely but that just isn't me. I am an Aquarius after all. There are some things I still keep to myself which includes my spiritual practices. However, I do love being involved in the community both online and in person. My local study group and coven had a full year as well. We discussed so many topics and didn't miss a single Sabbat this year. I am truly blessed to have such an amazing group of people to share my path with.

I did a few Harry Potter events again this year reading Tarot for charity. I love dressing up and playing Professor Trelawney for the events. I also taught a beginner Tarot class at my local book shop that went really well. Hopefully I will get the chance to teach again in the future.


We did several day trips in the summer with the Camaro, which is always nice. And a few road trips in the Jeep to trails in Cottage Country up north.



As for my sewing business, I did try some new items at shows and online this year. I introduced the Stevie Shawls in multiple colours and they were a big hit. I sold almost everything from the fashion shows, only keeping some of the special pieces like the black wool cape. I did lots of shows in the summer and fall but opted to not do so many Christmas shows this year. I'm glad I didn't because it made the season much more enjoyable for me and my family. I focused more on the online sales instead. I did make a few mistakes this year in my choices of jobs I took on. I need to be more selective in what I make and focus on my own style. When doing shows, it can be easy to get sidetracked into making items specifically to sell at shows instead of what you like to make. It's difficult to stay focused for me sometimes. I want to avoid being side tracked this year.


I also tried to share more Outfit of the Day posts on Instagram as people seemed to enjoy those. I learned a lot about myself doing that also. I learned what actually looks good on me and what I like to wear. I learned that I sew a lot but I don't have much of my own designs in my wardrobe which is a real shame! I need to make more items to incorporate into my wardrobe daily. I also want to start sharing more of the sewing progress both here on the blog and on Instagram.






My biggest success this year was that I made progress at losing some weight this year. I started a Ketogenic diet in the early fall. As of today, I have lost 30 pounds which is really exciting. The big issue with the diet is that I am also vegetarian. I have been vegetarian for at least 23 years now, so I wasn't about to just start eating meat. So I did the Keto diet as a Veggie which is really strict even with dairy included. I gave up sugar, bread, and pasta and tried to eat as low carb as possible. You can just imagine how tough it is for a Veggie, but I stuck to it. I am going to have to start introducing healthy carbs back in this year. I also want to get back to cycling this year.

So I would say that was a very busy and productive year all in all. It's good to see it all written out like that because I tend to beat myself up for not doing enough all the time. I think I will have to work on a list of goals for the new year now!

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!