Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (The Nettie Bodysuit)

First, let’s set the stage with a little Cyndi…
(I promise there is some sewing coming soon!)

Sometimes there is a pivotal moment in a young girl’s life.  Sometimes that moment is staying up late with your sisters to watch Girls Just Want to Have Fun.

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In case you haven’t seen this gem yet, let me get you up to speed…

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Janey is a military child whose dad has just been posted to Chicago, the home of Dance TV.

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Janey is shy on the outside, but inside that shell she has been studying gymnastics for years, which makes her a pretty bad-ass dancer.

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She goes to a Catholic girls’ school, where she meets badass-on-the-outside Lynne…

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…and they become besties!

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Oh, and Janey gets a hunky boyfriend, too…

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…and they win a dance-off on, you guessed it, Dance TV!

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So this is enough to alter the course of anyone’s life, right?  But what if you WERE a military child who went to Catholic school and who was a little shy and who secretly loved to dance…

I give this film full responsibility for the belief, which I maintained throughout most of my childhood, that I was secretly an amazing dancer, even though I had no training, and all I needed was the right sudden opportunity (like a new school’s talent show?!) to let my never-honed skills shine!

GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN, Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt, 1985, © New World Media

And of course, I would do it in a bangin’ outfit.

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Okay, okay, back to sewing… I just had to set up the stakes.

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So I had an old maxi dress laying around.  It’s from a certain massive Swedish chain store, which may or may not be known for disposable, of-the-moment clothing.  I bought the dress at the last minute for a vacation.  It served its momentary purpose, but it never did much for me otherwise.  I loved the pattern and the colours, though…

Hmm… what could I do with this?

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Drum roll, please…

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I never became an amazing dancer, but I can still live out my dreams in a bangin’ outfit!

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Making the Nettie was a pure joy.  It allowed my inner 10-year-old to come out, to play, and to dance around the room in semi-underwear.

 

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I kind of wish it was socially acceptable to wear this outside with tights and legwarmers.

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And who knows?  Maybe I am secretly an amazing dancer after all…

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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (The Nettie Bodysuit)

Back to Basics: Colette Laurel

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This is offically the first post from the new house (which is the main reason why my blog took a summer hiatus).  No more sewing in the living room/dining room/sewing room/kitchen.  Things on this side of town are S P R E A D    O   U   T   .

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I bought some beautiful almost-black denim from The Workroom and considered adding all kinds of embroidery to it.  The patch pockets on the Laurel were crying out for embellishment.  But no… much like my newly painted 1950s house, this dress is all about embracing fresh and simple with some love for the past.

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One of the most exciting things about the new home?  There is space for a real kitchen table, which means I can lay out a whole pattern without getting on my knees!

As you’ll notice in the pattern photo, there are only four darts in the original Laurel pattern.  Some people look very chic in it, but when I made up my muslin, it looked like a very un-chic sack.  So I added some more.

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And some more.

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And when those weren’t quite enough, I extended them.

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One of the real pleasures of going back to basics is getting to pay some attention to details that you may otherwise take for granted.  For example: store-bought bias tape.

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I’ve always made my own bias tape before, which matches very nicely, but is nowhere near as neat and easy to use as this stuff.

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See how pretty and tidy my sleeves are?

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And slip-stitching.  Usually I am rushing by the time I get to hemming, so I just machine it.  But when I do take the time, it looks so elegant.

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I even added a traditional zip rather than an invisible one.  Okay, this was partly because I wasn’t sure how a heavy denim and an invisible zip would play together.  But also it was because Joan Holloway.

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My dress is not nearly as fitted as hers, but you will note that the back darts are the same.  I think we all know where my research comes from…

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I love this dress.  It feels very chic and comfortable and it goes with everything. Feeling very grateful for the new house and the new make!

Back to Basics: Colette Laurel

A Little Glam: No. 2 One Piece Side Drape Dress

Oh, Drape Drape… I could never stay away from you for long!  This dress is from Hisako Sato’s Drape Drape 3.  It’s called “No. 2 One-Piece Side Drape Dress”.

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It may look like your average slinky cocktail dress, but wait for it…

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There’s a sleeve!

It’s actually meant to sit tightly on the arm and gather into a kind of half-sleeve in the original pattern, but I lengthened it with a cuff to better suit my slinky silk.

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False cuffs aside, this pattern is true to its name: it is all one BIG piece.  So… the cutting stage required about half the square footage of my apartment.

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As you can see, my fabric wasn’t actually quite wide enough for the original sleeve anyway!

The big structural change I made to this design was to add a bust dart.  The original pattern is symmetrical on the front and back.  (It’s actually designed to be cut on the fold.)  I could see that there was armhole gaping on my muslin, and fortunately I found two really helpful tutorials on adding a side dart here and here.

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Since I was making a more formal version of this dress, I added a lightweight cotton lining.  I only attached it to the main dress at the neckline, because I read somewhere that the less attached the lining is to the main fabric, the less it will affect the drape.  I’m not sure if this really affected things or not…

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Originally, I was planning to attach the lining at both the neckline and the armhole, so that I wouldn’t have to use any bias binding, which is how the original pattern finishes the edges.  More experienced sewists can probably understand why this did not work.  Can you guess it?  Lesson learned: you cannot turn a garment inside out from two different places!  There was much head-scratching as I figured this out for myself, once I realized that my neckline was inside the dress and I could not get it out!

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So… I made a bias binding for the armhole and hand-stitched it to the lining, so that it wouldn’t show from the right side.

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I’m pretty stoked with how this make turned out.  I wore it to a friend’s all-out wedding, which meant having it on from about 11am til 3am, including a three-hour drive to change locations somewhere in the middle.  It was very comfortable to wear and the lining meant that my “glow” (read: sweat) wasn’t showing, even after some pretty intense late-night dancing.  I got caught in the rain on the way home, which marked the silk, but oh well.  I got so many compliments on this dress – I was tempted to follow them up by telling people I had made it, but that would just be showing off, right?  Success!!

A Little Glam: No. 2 One Piece Side Drape Dress

AnnaBelle: Anna & Belladone Mash-Up!

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Here is my mash-up of a By Hand London Anna bodice and a Deer and Doe Belladone skirt.

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This make turned out to be on-trend, as I finished this dress just in time to discover the #InternationalAnnaParty hosted by Elle of @lauralovespugs, Ute of @ute_ig and Pips of @magdalenesmuse.  (If you haven’t done so already, check out the #InternationalAnnaParty on instagram for some lovely Anna inspiration and all-around sewing social media love!)

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I realized after my photo shoot (a.k.a. dragging my partner up to the roof for a few pics before dinner…) that I probably should have done a smiling pose, given that it was for a party!  Oh well…

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My original intention was to make a straight-up Belladone dress.  I love a good cut-out – even my wedding dress had one – but I didn’t love the front neckline and I wanted the armholes to be wider.  Also, the fit of the back was giving me a lot of grief.  After two muslins, I discovered the Anna dress, and realized that it was the bodice I was trying to make!

Since my Belladone was already fitting in the waist, I altered the waist of the Anna to match those dimensions.  I also moved the back darts inwards to match up with those on the Belladone.

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Then I started in with alterations for fit.  There were a lot for this one!  The big one was to take out a full 3″ from the front neckline.  To do this, I removed a wedge from the pattern centre front – 1 1/2″ wide at the top, tapering to nothing at the waistline.  I did the same for the back neckline.  I also reduced the length of the bodice pleats by about an inch and did a 1 1/4″ swayback adjustment (on the bodice only).

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The big stylistic change that I made to the Belladone part of this make was to turn the two big pleats in the front of the skirt into six smaller pleats (three on each side).  The smaller pleats are each 7/8″ deep and spaced 1″ apart.  I think this makes for a more flattering silhouette.

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Also, I like how the three skirt pleats sit under the two pleats of the Anna bodice.

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For function, I made the pockets a square shape and added about an inch of depth…

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…because how can you attend an #InternationalAnnaParty if your pockets aren’t big enough to hold your iPhone?

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As I went along, I decided to do a contrasting brown topstitching along the neckline and armholes.  (It’s actually the same shade as the brown birds.)

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The Belladone dress doesn’t have a waistline facing, which means there are raw edges sitting right against your waist.  This doesn’t sound very comfortable to me, so I added a facing.  And why not topstitch that, too?

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To finish it off, I added three rows of topstitching to the skirt hem, each one inch apart.

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This make is definitely outside my comfort zone, as the print is a bit more cutesy than my usual style.  It’ll get some summer wear, though, and it was so inspiring to take part and see all the other makes at the #InternationalAnnaParty.  Now that I’ve got the fit down, I can’t wait to make another… I’d really like to have a go at the long version with a split.  Next time!

AnnaBelle: Anna & Belladone Mash-Up!

Pretty Embroidery

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I took an embroidery class at my favourite Toronto sewing shop, The Workroom, awhile back.  I wasn’t sure that tiny stitches were my thing at first, but then I got pretty into it.

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After I finished my first wonky class assignment, I decided to get ambitious and make a gift for a friend’s upcoming wedding.  I settled on a monogrammed throw pillow.

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I used a satin stitch for the letters, a backstitch for the curlicues and a chain stitch for the infinity sign.

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I couldn’t decide what to put on the reverse side of the pillow until a day of dress shopping with the bride-to-be turned into posh cocktails, which turned into a serious discussion about the aesthetics of palm trees.  (She loves them.)  The red french knots were a last-minute addition, and I’m pretty excited about them.

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The palms were done with a backstitch.  I also added a machine blanket stitch around the front side…

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…and a zipper enclosure with cute and functional bar tacks at the bottom.

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There is something very satisfying about seeing a full picture come together from all those small details.  Also, unlike dressmaking, you can take embroidery projects on the go and do a little bit at a time without a whole lot of set-up and take-down.  (Very important when your sewing room also functions as your kitchen, living room and dining room – thank you, Toronto living!)

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Most importantly, the bride loves her present!  She actually put it on her living room sofa.  That’s right – place of pride.

Congratulations, D & C!

Pretty Embroidery

I’m an animal. (Deer & Doe Plantain)

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Sometimes, fate leads you to a pair of animal pants.  I found these beauties at an outlet mall and needed something to pair them with.  Enter the Deer & Doe Plantain Tee.

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I had some khaki linen jersey leftover from my nephews’ boardshorts that matches the topstitching on the pants – not enough for the full tee, but enough for sleeves!  (The blue fabric is a cotton jersey.)

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The only alteration I made to the pattern was to raise the neckline by 1″ and shorten the neck band accordingly.

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I top-stitched the sleeves with blue thread and the hemline with khaki.  The cotton jersey doesn’t hold the stitch as well as the linen jersey, so I may turn up the hem and re-do it in matching blue, as I did for the neckline.

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This make was very straightforward – I went from cutting out to hemming in one evening.  So satisfying!  (If the tee looks wrinkled in some of the photos, it’s because I couldn’t wait to wear it the next day.)

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These animals are happy to have someone to play with.

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I’m an animal. (Deer & Doe Plantain)

Little Clothes for Little Peeps (GBSB Kids’ Boardshorts)

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The pattern for these sweet shorts is from The Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric.  It’s a sewing book based on a British TV series.  Yes, there is a sewing reality show, and it’s everything you ever hoped it would be!  Imagine the nicest people possible competing in the most good-natured, non-aggressive way possible, hosted by these two sensible folks.

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The book has thirty sewing patterns included.  This is my first make from it.  The instructions are very comprehensive – great for people like me who tend to forget critical steps, like seam pressing!  Also, it’s nice to have some children’s and men’s patterns.


Unfortunately, it is evident that the book was put out in a bit of a hurry to coincide with the end of the series.  I found that, especially towards the back of the book, there were several typos and missing words.  Also, this pattern has measurements for a size 9 in the sizing chart, but the actual pattern only goes up to a size 8.  None of this is too big a problem to overcome – it just took some extra time to extrapolate the size 9 based on the existing sizes.

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I made these shorts as a birthday present for my nephews, who are soon-to-be aged 11 and 8.  They are both tall and skinny, so I made a size 9 for the 11-year-old and a size 7 for the 8-year-old, both with extended length.

The pattern has a shirred back waist.  I’ve never done shirring before and I didn’t have time to conquer a new skill before b-day, so I just put elastic in the back waist instead.

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The other alteration I made to the pattern was to add a side pocket on the left side.

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I am pretty proud of my pattern matching here!

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I really miss my little nephews and I won’t be there for their birthdays this year, so I wanted to add a secret message for them.  I specifically added the pockets for this purpose!

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I embroidered the messages onto the lining and then assembled the pockets ahead of everything else.  From then on, I treated the pocket and left side piece as one pattern piece.

The pocket for my youngest nephew turned out to be a little tricky, as I had barely enough fabric to match the pattern properly.  Thankfully, this pattern has wide seam allowances!

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Lastly, I topstitched the hem and waist of the blue shorts with a yellow contrast thread…

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…and the khaki shorts with a cream colour thread.

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I’ve never sewn children’s clothing before, so it was really satisfying to just focus on the cute details and not worry about a precise fit.  Plus, it gave me lots of time to think about my two favourite people!

Little Clothes for Little Peeps (GBSB Kids’ Boardshorts)