Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Hey! It's been a while!!!

I've been enjoying a bit of a slower pace the last few days... spending time with family and friends and finishing up a few handmade christmas presents!

Isabel has been such an easy fit into our little family. I count my blessings every day. She is so even tempered and sweet. I think she got a lot of Dan's laid-back personality, which is pretty awesome (you may have noticed that I'm a little more on the high-strung, go-go-go side of things!).  Just yesterday, she went in for her two month Doctor's visit. She's grown a couple of inches and is gaining lots of weight!!! She smiles and laughs and is just a pleasure to be around.

I've been having a friend of mine come over once a week to help out with a bit of childcare, so that I can get some work done. I'm slowly working on a new collection which I hope to have ready for January. It will be made-to-order and I will only be taking orders sparingly, so as to not overwhelm myself!!! I am really excited about this collection. My little "maternity leave" break has recharged my creative side. I have so many new ideas I don't even know where to start...!

I just realized a few hours ago that tomorrow is Christmas Eve already. Dan and I decided to scale back a bit this year with our celebrations. The last few years we have spent the few days over Christmas driving all over the place trying to fit in all the celebrations... this year we have decided to stay closer to home. That means we aren't able to see everyone that we normally would which is a little sad, but it feels much less stressful. I'm actually really looking forward to the next few days... especially since it is Isabel's first christmas!

I've had fun over the last couple of weeks reflecting on the Christmas traditions that I loved as a child, and looking forward to passing those on to my little one. The last few years, I've had a real "bah humbug" feeling about Christmas, but now with the baby, I'm starting to feel that sense of excitement again.

I hope everyone has had and will have a wonderful holiday season!! I'm looking forward to being back a little more regularly in the new year. 

Vintage Postcard via Collectors Weekly

Canadian Collective

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A while back, I mentioned a side-project I was working on. I used to co-manage a team on Etsy, called Team Canuck.  After Etsy changed their layout, we had to re-think the direction of our team.  We "rebranded" and renamed ourselves the Canadian Collective. Over the last few months, Kathleen and  I have been busy making the Collective into a place where shoppers can find the best Canadian handmade & vintage goods that Etsy has to offer, as well as providing support to Canadian-based Etsy sellers. It's been a lot of work, but it's also been a lot of fun! The thing I've loved most about the project is getting to meet my "neighbours."

This weekend, we are running a group promotion. Twenty Five members are offering discounts, from 10-20% off... I'm offering 15% off in both my Pattern & Lingerie Shops! The coupon code is CanadianChristmas, and the sale ends Monday!

Here's just a small sampling of the shops participating in the sale:

From left to right: Teaka MarieTrowel & Paintbrush, Ohhh Lulu, G Brosseau PhotographyREBEL by FATEOhhh LuluGazaboo VintageDark RideCrafted by LindyOhhh Lulu SewsTwo MoxieSeeing StarsG Brosseau PhotographyB StudioKiwi Tini Creations...

Two Weeks

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Two weeks have already passed! It seems like Izzy has been here forever, and at the same time like I just had her yesterday.  I see what they mean when they say "it goes by so fast..."

Dan went back to work this week so Izzy, Oliver and I are settling into a routine (or at least we are trying). Last week and into early this week was a little tumultuous. Izzy and I were not compatible breast feeders and as a result, she wasn't gaining weight and was getting hungry and cranky... after hours and hours and hours each day of trying and struggling (she could not stay awake to breastfeed, and we tried everything), we decided along with the very amazing and supportive nurse at the breast feeding clinic, that we would pump and bottle feed Izzy. I was upset at first, but I have to admit that it is really working well for us. We have a happier baby and a happier me. Dan enjoys getting the chance to spend extra time bonding and feeding her, and it gives me more flexibility. The thing that really sold me on bottle feeding this baby was the way she lit up when she finally had a full stomach!  So now I've got to get into the routine of pumping, preparing the occasional bottle of formula and washing endless bottles... I never expected to bottle feed this early so I also had to learn how to prepare bottles, and how to feed her from a bottle! I was surprised at how much guilt I felt at not being able to figure out the breastfeeding thing. I was really grateful at how supportive both my doctor and the nurse at the breastfeeding clinic were. As I learned with my birth experience, baby calls the shots... so you might as well throw your plans out the window.  Do what works best for you and your babe.

One week

I've noticed a huge difference in her over the last few days.  She sometimes practices a variety of facial expressions (which may or may not be fart related). She loves to just focus on your face and stare. She is alert and curious and likes to go on walks with me and Oliver, wrapped up in one of her carriers. Now that we have a feeding system all set up, she is a pretty easy baby (knock on wood).  While my opinion may be biased, I think she's also one of the prettiest babies I've ever seen!

Two Weeks!
I've been so lucky to have so much support throughout the last few weeks, from friends & family near and far.  On Monday, I checked the mail and found a surprise package from my friend Kathleen.  She painted the beautiful piece for us below.  I absolutely love it, and can't wait to frame it up and hang it in the nursery! Kathleen wrote about her process for this piece on her blog.

Painting by Kathleen Maunder
I'm really hoping to get a little bit of studio time this week, but we'll see how it goes...

She's here!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A week ago at this time, Dan and I were at the hospital, listening to the baby's steady little heartbeat.

Baby Izzy at two days old.

Birthin' a baby was nothing like how I expected. While this isn't a baby blog (and I won't go into graphic detail, don't worry), I'd love to share my experience because the idea of birth was something I found really terrifying... and in reality is actually a pretty amazing, not that scary experience (and the best total body workout of your life)... even when things don't go quite the way you plan.

  I felt like I went in to this experience with no real birth plan, but as the big day approached I realized there were definitely things I envisioned and things I really did not want to happen. I had some vague vision of labouring in the jacuzzi tub, rocking around on the birth ball, getting massages from Dan. I really wanted to avoid an inductions, as I heard they increase the pain and possible medical interventions... and I really didn't want to be stuck in a bed. But ultimately my birth plan was "get the baby out in the most efficient and safe way possible." After all, no matter what you plan on, your body and your baby call the shots.
My water broke early on Sunday Morning.  It was not nearly as dramatic as in the movies. In fact, it took me a few hours to realize I'd better get by butt to the hospital.  We went in at about 8 and got looked over. My doctor just happened to be doing rounds so he was able to check us out and send us home, with a plan to come in for monitoring every 12 hours or so. Between hospital visits, I felt great. We went out for lunch, ordered pizza, watched movies, tidied up the house... went back and forth to the hospital for check-ups. Finally at about 1:30 on Monday morning I started getting contractions. Never in my life was I so excited to have horrible stomach pains every 10, 9, 8... minutes! We waited until they were about 6 minutes apart, called the hospital, then headed in.  We took a seat and waited to see a nurse.... and the contractions stopped.  Completely just stopped.

We waited around a bit. There seemed to be a mini-baby boom at the hospital (a result of a brutal winter?), and things were very busy. I kept hoping that things would just happen "the way they should" but after 30+ hours of waiting for labour to start, we decided we'd induce. The crappy part was it had to be administered by IV, and I'm scared of needles and being stuck in a bed. I was surprised by how disappointed I felt about being induced, but at one week past my due date I was also pretty ready to be done being pregnant. 
So, I got a few jabs, was set up in a delivery room, got comfortable in bed because I knew I'd be there for the next several hours, and we started the induction. Contractions started very fast, were regular, and we were rolling.  I took a shot of some pain medication and we literally just chilled out with the nurse for about 4 hours or so, chatting, watching tv, and really just having a good time! The pain medication didn't really do anything for the pain, but definitely took away any anxiety. Between that, keeping your mind calm, and some practiced, yoga breathing, labour was really manageable and not scary. 

I guess it must have been about 3:30 when the pain got really intense and I decided I'd give that epidural a try. I have to say, the pain wasn't the worst pain I've felt in my life, but I am of the mindset that if I can avoid being in really bad pain, why not? I was pretty freaked out by the idea of a spinal catheter, but in reality the procedure was quick and painless. By the time it was in place, the nurse looked at me and said "something is different, I think you're ready to have the baby." Sure enough, the epidural hardly had time to kick in and the baby was on her way.  I was terrified that the epidural would leave me numb, but I still had a ton of feeling (and was walking around an hour after delivering).  I pushed for an hour and a half, between which we were joking and laughing with our nurse and doctor, and at 5:36 pm my beautiful baby Isabel was resting on my chest. In total, I was only in active labor for about 5 and a half hours.

I wanted to share this story because as I was pregnant, I read a lot of scary things about "medicalized" deliveries. I had a very medical birth. Induction, pain medication, epidural, etc., and it in now way diminished my experience. I left the delivery room feeling so proud of myself for doing what I had done, and so happy with my experience... In fact, my experience couldn't have gone better and I've basically been raving about giving birth all week (ha! I never would have believed it). We were all calm, and relaxed, and most importantly, we ended up with the most beautiful, healthy baby girl.  My advice to anyone about to have their first baby, or planning on having a baby is to go into things with an educated but open mind, and most importantly, do what you feel will be best for you and your little one.

Since Monday, I have spent hours just looking at her thinking "How on earth did I ever create something so beautiful?"  I can easily say, she is the most amazing thing I've ever had the pleasure of being a part of...

We brought Oliver home from my parents last night and had our first real night as a "family" together. Oliver is adjusting well to having  a very loud little sister, and Isabel doesn't seem to even be phased by Oliver's snorts and barks.

So, it's been an exhausting week, but I am so glad to have her out in the world with us! I'm sure I'll be spamming the blog soon with pictures... hope you don't mind. She really is adorable and has two very proud parents.

PS. I apologize in advance for typos, spelling errors, sentences that may just drift off... I'm running off of about 4 hours of sleep a day

What I'm working on...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Now that my sewing work is on hiatus, I've had a bit of time to work on my Pattern Shop... this is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I've been rephotographing items, editing photos, and coming up with sewing pattern bundles!  All of the patterns remain the same, but the photos are all new and fresh...  You'll be seeing new Pattern Bundles being added over the next few days, so keep an eye out in the shop!

Lola Panties Variations

One of my favourites... the Lola Panties!
One of my most popular bras, the Jasmine.

Now available in a set... the Jasmine + Lola Pattern Bundle!

Sewing for me...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The nice thing about the baby being a little off schedule is that I've had some time to sneak in some sewing for me...!  I recently bought a couple fabrics online to make a couple pairs of Hudson Pants, but while I'm waiting for that to arrive, I thought I'd stock my own lingerie drawer. 

A couple months ago, I needed a racer-back style bra for under a specific top I wanted to wear. So, I made a Jasmine Bralette for with criss-cross straps, and no back closure, just pull on style in natural organic cotton jersey, and it quickly became my favourite bra. I seriously would wear it for days, without it coming off...  I figured I'd better make one in black too, since black tends to be the colour you will find me in most!  Being heavier chested, I like the criss-cross straps in the back I feel like it evens out the weight of the bust across my back better. It's an easy alteration to make to the Jasmine Bra - just make slightly longer straps, and cross 'em in the back.  I used 1/2" strapping, which works fine for me, but I kind of wish I could have used something a little wider... I just didn't have any in stock!

I made this bra out of a single layer of cotton-lycra jersey. It's about the weight of a good pair of yoga pants, which is great for me because it provides a litle extra support.  Also, you can't see it, but when I make these bras for myself, I put in 3/4" band elastic, instead of standard 1/2". Again, no alteration needed to the pattern, but it's a good tip for ladies with larger than a DD bust.

Since I've been pregnant, I've found a slightly looser band to be more comfortable (I think because of the pressure on my ribcage).  So, this pull on style, as opposed to a back closure, really works well for me.  I feel like it would even make a great light-weight exercise bra for yoga, or when I get back into lifting.

I've talked a bit before about manipulating the Jasmine Pattern to suit a larger bust. I've graduated to a G cup (ugh) during my pregnancy and I still find these to be the most comfortable bras for my body type... not all full-bust ladies would agree, but for myself and my body type, unwired bras are still the best.  I do a really simple pattern alteration for myself, and cut between a small-large for the cups (start by cutting size small around the band, and graduate to large towards the apex of the bust), and cut a size small for the back band.  I also add a bit of height to the cup - really important for larger bust sizes. There isn't just more to cover horizontally around the chest, but vertically as well.

And of course, I had to have bottoms to match. I made two pairs to go wtih this top.  A plain organic cotton pair, and a cotton lycra floral pair.  For these, I used my Zooey Bikini Bottom Pattern. The pattern comes with instructions on how to make them as lined Swim Bottoms, but if you ignore the lining on the front and back panties, they make great bikini-cut panties. I've LOVED these during my pregnancy because they are low cut, and the elastic (in this case, stretch lace) around the legs keeps the fabric in place. I think I've made myself about 7 pairs of these in the last few months. I'll be doing a step by step tutorial on these bad boys when I get a chance. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Today is my due date... and so far no sign of baby. Every once and a while I think I feel a contraction, then I wonder if it was just something I ate... Pregnancy really took it's toll on me over the last week, and I have been feeling very achy and tired. Today I managed to take Oliver for a walk all the way around the block, do some cleaning, get dinner in the slow cooker, and ship off an order.  I also did a bit of sewing for the baby! I'm trying to keep myself occupied as much as possible to make the time go by a little faster.

I think I've done everything I can possibly do to prepare for the baby's arrival... I've washed the diapers half a dozen times, pre-washed most of the clothes, practiced putting on my maya wrap, packed/unpacked/repacked the hospital bags, done prenatal yoga, etc, etc... I never, ever in my life thought I'd be looking forward to excruciating labour, but seriously, this waiting is killing me!!! The other day, I realized that (because of the miscarriage in September) I've only spent 3 of the last 16 months NOT pregnant.  I feel like I've done pregnancy... I'm practically a pregnancy expert now (kidding!). I'm ready to see what this next part is all about (not to mention the fact that my back and hips are so sore). 

Anyway, enough complaining about my aches and pains... Today I made a couple little sweatshirts for baby. I'm obsessed with these patterns from Brindille & Twig. The Sweatshirt pattern is my favourite though. They are so quick and easy to sew up, and are a great way to make use of smaller scraps of knit fabric.

I used this pattern once already to make a black and red floral top. Today I made another in floral, but with chevron knit banding, and one in black and white knit with a lace applique.  I'm hoping these will be easy to put on and comfortable for the babe.  Now if only she'd hurry up and get here!!

Ohhh Lulu Pattern Hacks: Brigitte Strappy Bra

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Brigette Triangle Bra is my favourite bra pattern. While it is still a light-support garment, it can also offer adequate coverage for larger busts, while also being sexy and fitting well under every-day clothes.  There are lots of interesting ways to style the Brigette Bra - you can sew it in a solid jersey, sheer lace, add bows or ruffles, or add trendy strap detailing like I'm about to show you here!

What you will need:
2. Supplies for the Brigette Bra
3. Three additional 1/2" Rings
4. Three pieces of 1/2" strap elastic, approximately 2" long each.
5. Approximately 1/2-3/4 yard (depending on size of bra you are making) additional fold over elastic


1. Assemble the bra according to the pattern instructions, and apply neckline elastic.

2. Fold additional piece of Fold Over Elastic in half and stitch closed with a zig-zag stitch.

3. Cut the stitched piece of FOE (fold over elastic) in half and trim it back so that it measure approximately 1" longer than the front neckline edge (see picture below). 

4. Wrap 2" lengths of strap elastic around metal rings and stitch closed.

5. With a zig-zag stitch, apply band elastic to the right side of the garment. Decorative edge of band elastic should be pointing up, towards the top of the garment as it will get folded under in a later step.

6. Baste one metal ring piece onto the the wrong side of the (CF) Center Front of the garment and trim back any excess seam allowance.  The piece of strapping should extend approximatley 1/2" beyond the band elastic.

7. Turn Band Elastic under and top stitch in place with a zig-zag stitch, as directed in the pattern instructions. When you get to the CF, stitch carefully over the piece of strapping.

8. Apply elastic to the remaining upper edge of the bra, leaving a 1" tail of elastic beyond the "peak" of the cup - follow the pattern instructions for how to apply elastic.

9. Place the Strap & Ring piece over the "Tail" of elastic that extends beyond the cup, and secure in place with a row of stitching.
(sorry for the fuzzy photo!)

10. Turn the excess elastic under and top stitch across with a narrow zig-zag stitch. Make sure to careful back-tack in place as this will become a point of stress on the garment - you'll want to make sure it's stitched securely!

11. We now have rings placed at the CF and peak of each cup!

12. Using the folded pieces of FOE, secure one end of each piece around the CF ring. I use a zig-zag stitch to secure in place. Trim back excess FOE as close to your stitching line as possible.

13. Wrap opposite end through the ring at the peak of the cup. The folded piece of FOE should run parallel with the edge of the Front Neckline.

 14. Follow the pattern directions to complete the straps and back closure.

And... that's it! It's a few more steps and some fiddly details, but this style looks great under loose tanks and sheer tops. You can easily use this same tutorial to add strap detailing to the Sarah Longline Bralette as well!

My first quilt

 I few weeks ago I got this idea that I'd like to make a quilt for the babe.  My personal style for things around my house is more modern than fussy, so I wanted something simple and that had some interesting shapes and graphic pattern so that we could also use it as a floor mat early on (apparently babies need something called "tummy time"). I found this tutorial and pattern on See Kate Sew and decided I'd give it a try.

I bought 1/2 yard pieces of 6 different cottons - solid black, peach, ivory and teal, and two prints, a black and white star print and grey polka dot print.  For the back I used a small black and white floral, and bound the whole thing in pink bias tape (I didn't make my own, but probably will for my next attempt!).

This crib-size quilt went together so fast! I cut it out and pieced most of it together in a day, and did the quilting (by machine) and binding the next day.

Having never quilted before, I did mess up a few things. When I assembled my first row of triangles, I forgot to add a 1/4" seam allowance beyond the "peak" of the triangles so that when I sewed my next row onto it, the peaks stayed sharp.... I also had assembled it in such a way that I couldn't press the seams open neatly, so my whole first row got picked apart and reassembled. Also, one corner got a little wonky when I was quilting it together. I think my assembly of the top wasn't quite perfectly and I would up with a slightly bubbly corner... So, what I've learned is to press open my seams as I go, stitch very very accurately, and more carefully pin the topper to the batting and back.

I'm not sure I'd ever take on a much more complex or traditional style quilt than this, but I've learned that quilting is something that I DO really enjoy!  I'm already trying to find patterns for more modern style quilts, and contemplating trying to make a full size one for our bed.  I can see how quilting can quickly become an all-encompassing (and expensive!) hobby.

Hear my voice!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A little while ago, Corinne from The Sewing Affair approached me about doing an interview for her podcast. I have to admit, I was really nervous about doing a podcast interview... but I also knew it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I absolutely loved the idea of an indie sewing podcast, it's such a great thing to listen to while making your makes! And, I was also excited to connect with a fellow Canadian sewist & blogger. When the time came for the interview, I was surprised by how long we ended up chatting. Corinne is an absolute natural when it comes to getting introverts like me to talk ;)  It was so much fun, and I hope to make another appearance on her show in the future.

You can listen to my interview Here.  We chatted a bit about everything, from how I got my start, to where to source supplies. I hope you enjoy the interview, and take some time to listen to her interviews with other Indie Pattern Designers. I'd like to say a big "THANK YOU!" to Corinne for the opportunity to appear in her podcast and on her blog. It was really a lot of fun!

Cat & Doe...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Now that I've semi-officially started maternity leave (by which I mean all of my work-sewing is done), I've had some time to sneak in some more baby sewing...

For this little dress, I used a baby dress I had bought as a pattern. I made it out of that pink deer-print french terry and edged the neck and sleeves with ruffled cotton elastic lace. I absolutely love this style, and I can't wait until the baby arrives so I can see how it fits!

I also made these little slippers, using the Baby Show Pattern from Petit Boo on Etsy. These were super easy to assemble, very similar to the adult size ones I've made for myself in the past.  For these, I interlined them in organic cotton batting, lined them in bamboo velour (which is SO soft), and made the exterior out of grey cat-print cotton. I like that this pattern comes with an elasticized ankle opening. I'm hoping it will help them stay on baby's feet. 

Aside from sewing, I've been busy trying to get the house ready... cleaning and organizing, making room for baby swing and play yards. I still need to give my studio a clean, but am taking a bit of a break this morning. Week 39 of pregnancy is proving to be very hard on the back and hips and standing/walking/doing anything for too much time is really difficult. For me, that has been the hardest part of pregnancy. I'm used to being able to push myself TO THE X-TREME. During the last phase of my pregnancy, I've learned that my body definitely has it's limits... it is hard to adjust to that, but I'm trying to do my best, and trying to take it easy. Oliver is a little upset with me because we can't go for quite as long walks as he would like. He's been a trooper right now though, and is snoring peacefully beside me as I type...

It's just a few days now until my due date! I'm uncharacteristically relaxed, just ready to see what it will all be like.  This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada which will be a busy one for us. My mom is hosting dinner on Sunday, so I really hope that the baby can hold on until next week!!!

Ohhh Lulu Pattern Hacks: How to Sew Lace Trimmed Lola's

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This Pattern Hack is a follow up to my post on Lace Edging for Lingerie.  I like to use scalloped lace instead of a twin stitched hem on my Lola's because it helps to reduce panty lines and is just plain pretty! Here is the way I trim my Lola's with Lace.

What you will need:
2. Scalloped Lace - approx 1.5 yards.
3. Stretch Knit fabric (yardages given in pattern)
4. Elastic for waist
5. Small scrap of cotton jersey for gusset lining

1. Stitch together the panties back and crotch seam as directed in the pattern instructions.

2. Baste gusset lining in place.

3. Place stretch lace trim on rightside of garment and stitch in place with a zig-zag stitch. Do not apply tension to lace - this pattern does not need contouring around the leg openings. I align the straighter edge of my lace with the raw edge of my leg opening. If you are using an exaggerated scalloped lace like I have, make sure your scallops are even on either side.  As I discussed in part two of my post on Lace Edging for Lingerie, I sew two parallel rows of zig-zag stitches to apply the lace.

4. Trim back excess hem allowance. Be careful not to clip into any of your stitches!

5. Sew your side seams, making sure that the lace hem meets up.  Be sure to backtack to secure your seam and knot off your serged seam finish if you are finishing with a serger.

5. Finish waist with elastic and embellishments of your choice!

There you have it! Adding lace to the leg openings of the Lola pattern takes a little extra time, but in my opinion, the results are totally worth it!

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