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Summer Uniform

19 Jun

A few years ago (2009) I bought this beautiful Heather Baily material (called Pocketbook in Rose from the Nicey Jane collection) and I’ve been hoarding it in my material cupboard since then.  It’s such a lovely soft cotton and the pale colours so reminiscent of a breezy summer day.  The skirt pattern is from Simplicity (#2226) and is easy and relatively quick to sew up.  It’s got a little fullness from the tiny gatherings in the front and a nice wide waistband. One of my favorite things about the pattern are the pockets.  I just find skirts with pockets so much more comfortable for some reason.  Probably because I have a quick place to put all the garbage my kids hand me every few minutes (these kids actually pass garbage cans to bring me their trash!).The back has a simple zipper closure and a bit more gathering.This just might turn out to be my summer uniform of 2012.  Note to self…clean mirror.

Japanese Sewing Books

14 Jun

The other day Amazon Italia delivered me two beautiful Japanese sewing books (in English!).  They are full of really great skirt, dress, shirt and pant patterns.  The books are really well laid out and the patterns explained in a very understandable manner (not the case for a lot of sewing books).

The book’s  styling and photography is really beautiful and the material used for the patterns really shows off the unique Japanese fashion sense.  I’d love to get my hands on some of those thick linens they use in a lot of the patterns.  They mention that a lot of the linens are actually Italian but I’ve have yet to discover where you can actually find them in Italy.The book Simple Modern Sewing always offers three variations to one pattern.  That way you can almost always find a style that suits you and your body type.  This checked top above will definitely be one of my first projects.Wish me luck.


6 Jun

Yesterday in our sewing group we made a really simple, beautiful and usable shopping bag.  This quick and easy project was very welcome after our previous projects  filled with pleats, zippers, piping, hems and darts.  For the outside material I used  Ripple by Brandon Mably (for Rowan).  The inside material is just a simple floral that I bought decades ago and has been taking up space in the material cupboard.It’s a semi-lined (only the handles and about a 1/4 of the way into the bag) and big enough to fit lots of spesa (groceries).Off to the market I go!

I was thinking of trying to transform this shopper into a flowy summery shirt (I’ll call it the Shopper Shirt….everyone will want one!).  Wish me luck and let me know if you have any advice to actually make it work!

Floral Frock

22 May

With the promise of warmer weather on it’s way I thought it was time to tackle sewing a nice summer dress.  It’s a wrap around dress that ties in the back and the fabric I used is Anna Maria Horner’s “Good Folks” series (I bought it a few years ago).  It’s such a beautifully soft thick cotton (so no lining was needed).

I don’t have an adult size dress form so I had to put it on this child size one (and I’m not ready to expose my winter white legs).  I’m am definitely not this size in real life.  The actual length of the dress is mid-knee.The pattern is from the Dutch sewing magazine KnipMode (from January 2003).  It’s a really great and easy pattern which I will be making again many times.


15 May

Usually when I buy a beautiful expensive fabric I hoard it away in my cupboard for at least a year or two before actually getting the nerve to use it.  I get it from my father who does the same thing with shoes and clothes.  He calls it the “purchase resting  period”.

But after buying those beautiful Echino fabrics in Japan I was really itching to sew something beautiful and usable with them.  So I decided to use this bird patterned linen/cotton mix for a purse I was making in my sewing group.  I think it helped that we were being led by a very experienced sewer who I knew would make sure the purse turned out perfectly.

It’s a lined purse with pleats, zipper AND piping.  A real make-you-sweat pattern.  But the result is beautiful.

Japanese Fabrics

25 Apr

When we were on our recent trip to Japan a few weeks ago one of my goals was to find a fabric shop that carried the beautiful Echino Japanese linens.  I had a feeling it wasn’t going to happen due to the fact I wouldn’t know how to ask for a  material shop in Japanese and that Tokyo is such an enormous city that it could well take days and many trains to actually find an address.

So it must have been destiny that I just so happened to walk by a fabric shop in Kyoto with the exact Echino fabrics I have been eyeing for years hanging in the window.  I still can’t believe my luck.

Then to make the whole experience even more perfect my husband left me there alone with a wallet full of money for over 30 minutes.  Yes,  he is a saint.  And he did this not once but twice while we were in Kyoto.

The shop had everything on my wishlist for a Japanese fabric shop.  The Echino linens, pattern for Japanese-style apron and a huge selection of other Japanese and non-Japanese designer cottons.  And get this…the prices were even quite  reasonable.

The famous Echino fabrics.  The two rolls are a plasticized material which I’ll use to make toiletry bags.A few more purchased fabrics.  My good friend suggested I scour the local 2nd hand shops for a white chair like the one  in the red fabric and then make a pillow out of the fabric to put on it.  I love that idea.  Then I’ll also have to buy a little yellow bird as a pet to hang around on it.I’ve always wanted to make a little purse with one of these snap enclosures and I found a few different sizes in the fabric shop in Kyoto.  I assumed the directions would also be in English (because there is English on the front of the package).Guess what?  They’re not.  Any suggestions or advice out there?


17 Mar

I seem to be passing a lot of time in front of the sewing machine lately.  I go for ages without sewing a thing then suddenly I’ll have a month where I pass hours daily in my little sewing room.  Bits of thread are to be found all over the house, stuck to my clothes and in my hair.

Here’s another recent sewing project made in our sewing class.  Our zipper skills are slowly getting better.  Slowly being the key word here.  They are both essentially the same bag but we lined the second one.  Which was not an easy task.  There seems to be a lot of “sewing logic” that I’m still lacking. 

As much as I love that yellow material I’m officially sick of seeing it.  I’ve been sewing things with it for months.  So I guess that means it’s time to go to a beautiful Japanese material shop to buy some new fabrics. (The Japanese characters in the post title mean sew…I hope)

Tree skirts

9 Mar

While my mom was visiting we got to do some really nice sewing projects together.  Aprons, zipper pouches and a few simple skirts for my daughters.  Every year in March I make each of my twin daughters a special skirt (and crown) for their birthday which is on March 28th.  This year I bought some really nice (I think) tree/bush patterned material in Canada.  I love the different greens in the print, the cotton is really nice and soft and it’s definitely not something you’ll find in a kid’s clothing store in Italy. 

I know the bright yellow isn’t the typical colour you’d pick to go with this material but I just love the combination together.   I had to take the skirt into a local fabric shop to buy the binding for the hem and when the salesgirl saw it she was horrified.  She looked at it and said “e molto….particulare”.  In other words it’s the ugliest thing she’s ever seen.  So it’s obviously not to everyone’s taste…

I used a thick elastic band for the waistline because it’s so comfortable for the kids to wear.  Plus, if they grow a bit then it still fits.  I’m thinking of making one for myself for when I eat one of those 4 hour Italian lunches and my pants always end up feeling a little too tight for comfort.

So 2 skirts with images of 2 different types of forests for 2 very sweet little girls who will be turning double digits in a few weeks (gulp).

Folkabilly Apron

7 Mar

A few weeks ago my mother gave me some old vintage apron patterns that used to belong to my grandmother.  I finally chose a model I wanted to sew and this is the result.

I was going for a little folkabilly look (cross between happy homemaker from the 50’s, a folksy peasant lady and rockabilly).

The pattern was really easy to follow and I love the fact that all the pieces were already cut out and ready to use.  Which means my grandmother probably made this exact same apron about 50 years ago.

I’m going through an apron phase at the moment and I’m really looking forward to going apron shopping in Japan next month.  Maybe I’ll even find an easy to follow pattern such as this.


17 Feb

It’s almost that Carnival time of year again.  Soon the streets will be filled with confetti, paper streamers and spray string (I hate that stuff).  Already all the bakeries have overflowing trays of freshly baked (fried) chiacchere.  There will be kids wandering the towns and cities dressed up as princesses, pirates, clowns, soldiers, cowboys and knights.  It’s an exciting time of year for Italian kids.  Lots of festas and even a day or two off school.

Amazingly enough one of my children actually wanted to wear the cloak that I made.  She was even excited about it.  In the end I did manage to hem it and it looks like a grade nine student Home Ec project.  As I was doing the last iron to make it look as good as possible (considering) I managed to melt part of the sleeve.  Gotta love those synthetic fabrics.  I told her not to let anyone approach the cloak for close inspection.

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