In Which Tassie has a Booth

29 Sep antique sewing machine, makeup bag

Yesterday I did my first ever pop-up shop at my lovely friend Kerry’s fundraising event ‘Greater than Gatsby’ a 20’s themed affair at Hycroft Manor. Hycroft is bee-you-ti-ful (see below picture- which I did take off their website because I was too busy looking around to take any pictures bad blogger).

Hycroft Manor Vancouver

Hycroft Manor Vancouver

Here’s my booth. I brought my -very heavy after two flights of antique manor stairs- antique singer which I think was a nice touch.  People kept asking me if I made all the stuff on it,- which I did not because it would take 19 hours per tote bag and I would have to charge $400 for them, and telling me all about the similar machines their mother/grandmother/next door neighbor used to have, which was really cool.  I rarely get to talk enough about old sewing machines on any given day.

Crow and Gate Clothing BoothIMG_5397IMG_5399IMG_5398


Porcelain and Ink

6 Jun

I love, love, love these porcelain dolls by artist Jessica Harrison.  There is something so charming about the painted on tattoos, and let’s face it, I’m a sucker for anything old-timey that’s had the heck pop-cultured out of it.

Tattooed Porcelain Figures by Jessica Harrison tattoos sculpture porcelain Tattooed Porcelain Figures by Jessica Harrison tattoos sculpture porcelain Tattooed Porcelain Figures by Jessica Harrison tattoos sculpture porcelain Tattooed Porcelain Figures by Jessica Harrison tattoos sculpture porcelain

Tattooed Porcelain Figures by Jessica Harrison tattoos sculpture porcelain




Game of Thrones Embroidery

20 Apr

Ok so full confession I don’t actually watch the show.  I would like to- but I am far too cheap with my TV bill.  One day…. one day….

But how amazing is this? Michele Carragher is my new hero.


Check out Buzzfeed for more.

Cersei Lannister

Adventures in Artiness with MAB Studios

28 May

I got to set off for North Vancouver in the rain today carrying a bulging garment bag full of dresses (imagine trying to board a bus with a dead walrus over your shoulder) to visit MAB Ventures Studios.  If you think this doesn’t sound like an amazing way to spend your day off then you, sir/madam are incorrect.  MAB is an arts and entertainment agency involved in all sorts of amazing art stuff around Vancouver including shows, art classes, summer camps, an art collective, networking, and the Art World Expo.  It is the brainchild of Monika Blichar who is a lovely person, has a new idea every time she takes a breath and, I can only assume, never sleeps ever.  MAB art studio

This is the welcome sign, how cute is that?

I will have a selection of dresses (mostly one of a kinds) from my clothing line Crow and Gate Clothing on sale there for the summer and hopefully beyond.  I am super excited to have something I made hanging out in an art gallery.  I like to think of fashion as art, and I hope that being associated with a gallery will push me to be more creative.

crow and gate clothing


The studio is such a lovely welcoming space.  It was like a little oasis of colour and creativity in the middle of soggy, grey Vancouver.

MAB ventures studios

MAB ventures studios

Even the coffee maker has style.

If you are interested in taking a class or checking out some great merch by local artists and designers MAB Ventures Studios is located at 1335 Pemberton in North Vancouver.  You can also check out their website at

A Confession and Some Doomed Projects

3 Feb

Contrary to how it seems from the title this is not going to be a depressing post.  I promise. The confession is that despite the fact the I spend a crazy amount of time sewing, half of my job is sewing, my hobby is sewing, I went to fashion design school blah, blah, blah I have never in my life used a commercial pattern.  In fact I am afraid of them.

If I make my own pattern I know what I’m getting.  I know I haven’t wasted any gorgeous fabric on a garment that isn’t going to fit right or look good on me.  I read a bunch of sewing blogs like We Sew Retro and lately I have been getting curious.  I have also been noticing how time consuming it is to make new patterns all the time.

The other problem is that being a fashion designer by trade when people ask me if I made something I’m wearing and I say yes I want to have really made it.  Using someone else’s pattern seems like cheating.  Is this weird? No matter. I’m weird, why shouldn’t my sewing compass of morality be weird too.

That being said my lovely Aunt gave me a bunch of patterns a while ago and I’ve just had a look through them and picked out a few that look makeable.

Now most likely these will never get made, but it would save me so much time not to have to make a pattern every time I want to make a new dress so you never know.  I have to say I love the vintage-y illustrations.  Also most of these seem pretty simple to make.  They seem to take up a HUGE amount of fabric though.  Perhaps because I am broke and stingy I just make patterns to use the least amount of fabric possible.  For example I would never make anything without shoulder seams.  I usually buy 2m of fabric per dress, 3 if I’m feeling extravagant.  The kimono dress take 7. Gulp.

peanut butter

Oh I also got gifted some peanut butter today. mmm peanutty randomness

vintage sewing pattern

This is a pretty serious contender. I love the mixed prints on the middle view. Although it is pretty clear that views 1 and 3 think view 2 can’t really sing as well as she thinks she can.

vintage dress pattern

This kimono sleeve/ neckline combo is always a win. I would shorten it though I tend to get lost in long dresses.

Vintage sewing pattern

Accessories! I loathe making bag patterns, and I’m for sure making the top belt in some really funky yet-to-be-bought fabric.

vintage sundress pattern

Sundress with huge pockets? Yes please! If the pockets are not big enough to keep kittens in than they need to be bigger. (I learned this from a friend at design school, and I assume she is correct.)

vintage sewing pattern

I’m kind of dying over the illustrations on this one. I want all of these outfits. ALL of them. In orange. With the shoes. And I want her legs. I’ll finish this post later, I’ve got to visit the gym.

Well that is the tour of things I am probably never going to make.  Maybe I will come out of left field of this one and surprise myself.  I am always surprising myself.  The other day I found a pair of socks in my freezer.  Have a Happy Super Bowl everyone!

Two Weddings and Birthday

30 Jan

I went over to Vancouver Island yesterday for my Dad’s hmm-umph th birthday.  It’s always so nice to go over there.  I can feel time slow down as soon as I get off the ferry and the frantic hustle of life settle itself into a low murmur.  We had a lovely day visiting old friends, and I got to see the new boat that my Dad is fixing up.  (I like old dresses and he likes old things with motors.)

The totally awesome thing that happened that I am about to get to was that my Aunt had found my Grandmother’s and other Aunt’s wedding dresses from 1936 and 1959 respectively.  My sister fit quite perfectly into my grandma’s dress despite it being a bit too short.  The dress is silk (I’m pretty sure) and the skirt is cut on the bias.  It has a bias cut slip that goes underneath that I think would make a pretty dress on its own.  There are I don’t know how many little buttons going all the way down the front to the floor. It was pretty wrinkled from being in a garment bag for seventy-odd years and the buttons are decontructing but other wise it is in pretty good shape.

1930's wedding dressDSCF3455  DSCF3457 DSCF3458 wedding photo

My grandmother in the dress on her wedding day.  She looks very petite in this picture, but I think she must have been taller than we thought as her dress nearly fits my 5’8″ sister and shoes couldn’t have been that tall in the 30’s.

I have the dress in my apartment now and I am going to make a pattern from it before it deconstructs completely.  I am so excited about this project.  30’s garments are not easy to come by and I don’t think I have ever got my hands on one before.  I think that once I have made the pattern for posterity I might be able to finagle it into a very cute dress.  I love the little collar and the bust treatment, and I am a total sucker for lots of buttons. I am thinking knee-length and cap sleeves in a rayon or something with a bit of drape.  Thoughts? How would you change this pattern to make it a wearable day dress?

On to more dresses.  This one was my Aunt’s first wedding dress when she was very young.  I absolutely love it and would definitely attempt to wear it if I was the marrying type, which I am not.  I think I might make something with asymmetrical tiers though.  That detail is just so pretty.

DSCF3461 IMG_1123

Terribly romantic isn’t it? That’s actually me in the back view, the dress fit me a little better being that me and my Aunt are of slightly curvier stock than my sister.  I couldn’t post the front picture of me the dress because I am making this weird cock-eyed expression that is halfway between ‘is it morning already?’ and ‘homicidal rage’.

Well I hope you have enjoyed my family history tour.  Do any of you have any family heirlooms of the dress variety? I would love to hear about them.

I will keep up the posts along my pattern making adventure.  I hope to eventually have a dress in my wardrobe in homage to each of them.

Two Christmas Dresses (with proper pictures)

6 Jan

A Sewing Machine and an Umbrella is proud to present… much better photos that should have been in that last post.

This was my first attempt at Victory rolls, and I have to say they are much more difficult than I had hoped.  I am not really a ‘hair’ person.  I usually spend my time putting together an outfit and then stick my hair on top of my head and swipe on some mascara.  I really love this hair style though, and I hope to one day be competent at it.  I spent a bunch of time looking at internet tutorials, the best of which, in my opinion is by Fleur over at Diary of a Vintage Girl.  Does anyone do this on a regular basis? Any tips?

vintage inspired look

vintage inspired cotton dress


Fleece lined Pockets!

Fleece lined Pockets!


I used some brown and white fleece to make the pocket bags and do the binding on the inside.  I think warm fuzzy pockets are a very important feature in a dress that is going to be worn in December in Vancouver.  Not that is gets that cold here, more so depressing.  I think that is the best way to describe winter in Vancouver two degrees with a chance of depressing.  Fuzzy pockets help.

vintage chtistmas dress

IMG_4922Stupid tag sticking out the back! That particular tag is the most persistent little bugger.

IMG_4931The fabric close up.  The colour is truer in the other pictures, it came out a little more red here for reason that only the camera gods can understand.

So that’s Christmas dresses.  Now onto spring!