Tag Archives: sewing

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 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!

Two (or actually one and a half) Christmas Dresses

4 Jan

Hello Blogoworld! (I like that better than blogosphere I think.) I hope you all had a great holiday and got to eat food with loved ones, and didn’t do what I did and drink ALL THE CHAMPAGNE on new years.  Seriously, don’t try to buy any.  It’s gone.

I have here a not very good blog post.  You still with me?  Aww thanks.  I just wanted to do something to get me back into blogging so instead of putting it off until I happened to be wearing makeup and had someone around to take the perfect picture.  I tend to go from zero to sweat pants the second I get home and have a hard time getting out of them again which makes it hard to get pictures of party dresses.

vintage inspired dress

Ok so slightly grainy camera phone picture but we shall move past that for the moment.  The fabric has little birds and berries on it, and I became completely obsessed with it back in October.  I had one of those occurences where you don’t buy something and then you spend three weeks thinking about it so you know it’s meant to be.

I used a irridescent purple taffeta for the flappy wing details (technical term people) and belt.  This is the first belt I have made from one of those little vintage kits.  I maybe didn’t pick the easiest fabric to work with as the taffeta frayed quite easily but the project was definitely doable.  The only problem I had was that they give you this little double-sided sticky thing to adhere the fabric to the buckle and it was all dried out from age so I made a new one from layers of double-sided tape.

Has anyone used one of those kits?  Do they all use the same method? I feel like there must be another way to cover the buckle.


This is the half a dress, because as you can clearly see, I have not photographed the bottom.  The fabric was an amazing kitschy vintage Christmas print.  It has little story books, poinsettia lamps, and snow flakes- J’amie! I shall take much better pictures of this dress and a close-up of the print because I need to share my crazy pattern pride.

Last year I saw someone on Sew Retro with a really kick ass Christmas print shirtwaist and I thought ‘I gotta get me one of those’.  The sad part is I finished sewing this on Dec 23rd so I only got to wear it once until next year. Sad panda 😦

Ok so that was my fairly paltry blogging effort for 2013, but I kind of feel into blogging again so that was the point I think.  I hope everyone out there has a happy, healthy, hilarious 2013.

Scarlett O’Hara or Woman on the Verge

5 Sep

I, like most people*,  spend a lot of time trying to discern if I have in fact lost my marbles or if there is any chance that this is how a human being might actually behave.   I wonder if I am pawning behavior off on an ‘artistic temperament’ that is actually nothing more than stone cold crazy.  If I am indeed crazy should I do anything about it?  Medication? Vacation? Years of therapy? I don’t believe that I can afford any of those.  What I can afford is Ikea fabric that was left over from my new curtains.  Can I pawn crazy off on poverty?  Probably not.

Crazy or no.  Here is my new skirt.  It is very bright green.  It has massive flowers/ cabbages/ pod people on it.  It has a dwindling number of Geisha buttons (stupid crowded bus).  It is kind of crazy.  But it is also awesome. I’m not going to be one of those people who seems normal but then screams at you in a hasty mart at 3am for taking too long to pay for cheezies.  Nope, I am going to wear my crazy on the outside.  With pride.

green ikea fabric half circle circle

Not the best picture, but waiting for photographic perfection was not turning out a whole lot of blog posts.

closeup of green skirt with geisha buttons

I am extraordinarily fond of these buttons.  I hope the one that got lost on the bus was picked up by a curious child or a magpie-like old lady and not merely vacuumed.

curtains made from green Ikea fabric

Here are the curtains.  The first and last pair I will ever sew.  And yes, I do own a gumball machine.  I gave it to the boyfriend for Christmas one year.  I believe he would have been happy with a sweater but I felt like a gumball machine was the more practical choice.

(* No? Really? Darn.)

A Post By Any Other Name

22 Feb

Do you remember this dress that I posted about a looooong time ago?

Well, when I made the dress I also started making a matching jacket to go with it but of course that didn’t get done.  The poor thing sat the ‘I’ll do it later’ basket in my sewing room growing more and more morose.  Occasionally I would spare it a few words of encouragement such as “oh right this, I should finish this”, but generally it was a pretty depressing time to be a half finished jacket.

Basically the idea was to turn my sleeveless dress into a not-so-sleeveless dress for occasions of incliment weather.  I used some white vintage rick rack with gold threads in it for the sleeves and neck which was almost as fun as saying ‘rick rack’ but not quite.

Extra karma points to anyone who spots my neon chartreuse panda print PJ pants sticking out the bottom of my skirt but doesn’t comment.

The Night Has a Thousand Eyes

26 Nov

Apologies to anyone who now has that song stuck in their head, but it is a necessary evil as I have finished the crazy halloween eye fabric dress.

I wanted to make a very demure LBD with this because of the fact that it’s, y’know, crazy halloween eye fabric.  I also plan to wear it with pearls.

There is a kind of weird glare coming from stage right, a ghost perhaps?.   But there she is.  And I am totally done making this pattern, I am moving on.  Ok I have one more dress cut out (purple with huge yellow flowers) but then I am definitely going to draft something else. I did have a better picture of the belt but WordPress is being tricksy tonight (I blame the ghost), so I give up.  The belt was super fun to make although I might re-do the bow so I can get a large eye centered on each side so my bow can stare down with malice anyone I find annoying.  Watch out world, I’ve got me a blog ghost and a lurking bow.  If only I had some sort of foe to defeat.  Must spend more time as a character in juvenile fiction.  ‘Tassie Vicars and the Bow of Malice’?  I could be a kickass pre-teen outcast who has to do battle with some evil spirits she encounters while cleaning her grandmother’s potting shed.  I could wear different dresses that have magical powers like the one with eyes could see into the future and the one with roosters could scare off basilisks.  On second thought perhaps I’d better stick to my day job.

Rose Coloured Contacts

16 Nov

I bought this fabric in NY for TWO DOLLARS A YARD!  And I know I am systematically opposed to type shouting, but this was six months ago and I am still so happy about it.  Naturally I bought a ton of it, and naturally I felt bad about how heavy it was when I had to ship it back to Vancouver, and naturally the resulting dress has a very  large skirt.  Lets face it, I am well aware that my love of circle skirts is the only thing between me and all out hipsterdom and I am going to cling to that fact like a fat guy clinging to the last bag of Cheetos.

I may still make a belt for it.  I am a sucker for a good belt and for some reason none of the fifty-something I already own seem to work.  Ah first-world problems.  I think this will be my new ‘happy’ dress.  You know that one thing you own that makes you forget all your problems and go twirling around a dirty subway station like it’s a meadow in the Alps?

Disclaimer: Absolutely no offense was meant to any fat guys or their Cheetos, I have myself at times been known to cling to snack foods with an unholy vice-like grip.  It was just a convenient simile.