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Spring Parka

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My latest project was spurred on by what I thought was the coming of Spring.  Flowers have started poking up through the soil and the weather was warming up.  Then we got an unexpected dump of snow over the weekend.  No worries!  I know spring is around the corner, and my little ones need some outerwear to combat the most common spring weather around here: RAIN!

I found some pretty amazing sporty fabric that is totally water resistant and feels like lightweight suede.  I got it at my local Fabricland store and it's called Canadian Mist.  It's a 55% Polyester, 45% Cotton outerwear fabric that has a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.  Pairing it with some organic Robert Kaufman Criss Cross in Lagoon (designed by Betz White), and accenting with some turquoise cotton twill, I had the perfect combo.

This jacket is all about topstitching.  Tons of it!!  I always try to estimate how much bobbin thread I'll need to finish a project and only wind up what I think I'll need.  I think I re-wound about three or four times for this jacket!

The back has a curved hemline lower than the front.  This little splashguard will be very useful for puddle-jumping!

One of my favourite features is the visor I added to the design which I know will come in handy for all the raindrops.

Had to add a inner welt pocket for him to hide some little treasures.

This Spring Parka was self-drafted and I'm thinking about making it into a pattern.  I've got some of the same outer fabric in the perfect shade of purple for Anja.  Watch for that one soon.

Mailbox Surprise Series

Friday, February 21, 2014
Have you heard about the Mailbox Surprise Series being hosted by Compagnie-M and Do Guincho?  I was thrilled with the parcel I got!  More details over at Compagnie-M.

A Petit Series

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Today is the day we are finally able to share a little (ok, BIG) secret we have kept from a fellow blogger whom we admire and adore.  Celina, from Petit à Petit and Family is someone whose style, skill, and aesthetic has taking the blogging world by storm, and on a personal level, has amazed me ever since I came upon her blog a couple years ago.

When asked if I would participate in this series, which honours Celina's style, I knew exactly what I'd like to do.  In December, I was so enthralled by the outstanding Nutcracker outfits she made for her children to wear on Christmas Eve.  The colours, the photography, the props, and of course, the designs themselves, all left me so inspired.  And then there was the Circus post, so artistically modelled by her daughter.  I really wanted to capture some of the mood and energy of those photos.  Having a little ballerina of my own, I knew that I would have to create something reminiscent of her favourite Tchaikovsky ballet: Swan Lake.  Anja was so thrilled and eager to have her own input into this idea, and insisted that the video of the Swan Lake Theme play while I photographed her (can you tell she's watching it off camera?).  This was one photo shoot she was genuinely and completely excited about!

So, without further ado, here's my take on What Would Celina Do...

Ballet Sweater: Heidi & Finn
Tutu- Self-drafted
Bodysuit & Ballet Slippers: from ballerina's wardrobe :)

There's so much more to see and enjoy (click on the images)!

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Stellar's Vest and Dress Pattern

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


The first of the E & E Patterns Spring 14 Collection is here!  This collection of patterns is inspired by the nature and landscapes of beautiful British Columbia's West Coast.  

  • 31 page PDF document (3.5 MB)
  • full colour photographs and diagrams
  • numbered, step-by-step instructions
  • prints on both standard 8.5X11" and A4 paper
  • includes both imperial and metric measurements
  • full-size pattern pages (18 pages)
  • 3/8 (1cm) seam allowances included
  • no serger needed 
  • sizes 12 months to 10 years included
  • link to pattern instantly delivered to your Paypal account e-mail once payment processed

The Stellar's Vest and Dress's namesake: the Stellar's Jay (BC's provincial bird).

 View Tester Photos HERE.


Stellar's Vest and Dress Tester Photos

Today's the day of the Stellar's Vest and Dress release, but before that happens, I'd like to thank all the testers who worked hard behind the scenes.  I can't say how much I appreciate each one of them through both rounds of testing.   A huge thank you to: Yolanda, Dora, Monica, Kristal, Rachel, Amy, Erin, Marelet, Julie, Michelle, Tami, Kristina, Michelle M, Melissa, Sally, Tanya, Renee, Shino, Maria, Kate, Terri, Buffey, Kimmie, Jennifer, Marlena, and Chris.

Here are just a few of their photos so you can see some of the variety:






Thanks again, Ladies! 

Sewing With Knits - Read this First

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sewing with knits can be a daunting experience for someone who is new to them, but it doesn't have to be.  As someone who took the plunge as a seamstress awhile ago, I recently acquired a new appreciation for working with knits as a designer.  Knowledge is key, so before my first knit pattern is released this week, I wanted to share a little bit about my experience of designing a knit pattern.

There is a lot to consider when sewing with knits: types of knits, sergers vs. sewing machines, types of needles, stretch percentage, stretch recovery, cutting knit fabric, etc.  I'm going to be focusing mostly on stretch percentage and recovery and will provide links to some great resources that cover the other topics.

To be honest, when I've sewn with knits in the past, I never paid too much attention to stretch percentage and recovery, I just sewed with fabrics that I liked.  The results were overall quite satisfying, although there were a few patterns that caused me to think "Oooo, the size is a bit off on this one.".  Never before did I have the eye opening experience that I had last week when I sewed two samples of the same pattern.

A very wonderful group of testers had been sewing up my Stellar's Vest pattern, and sending me their results.  Through no fault of their own, the results came back ranging from perfect sizing, to very large.  How was this happening, when they were using the same pattern and even the same size?  I adjusted the sizes in the pattern, and had another set of testers do a second round of testing.  The results were better, but still inconsistent.  I figured I had better sew up a couple more samples of my own.

I sewed Anja a size three Stellar's Vest in the A-line version with some adorable fabric from L'Oiseau called Deerly Beloved.  (Side note - I highly recommend everything at L'Oiseau.  The quality and service is absolutely impeccable.)  Ok, back to my experience.  The vest turned out great…the fit was perfect in the chest, armholes were good, everything about it was comfortable and cute.  She wore it immediately and wouldn't take it off until bedtime.

The next day, we did a little mother-daughter local fabric shopping (something that is getting more and more fun now that she enjoys selecting her own fabric!).  She chose some pretty Michael Miller Blossoms 100% cotton knit.  It was a great choice as I wanted something that would match nicely with Tobias' vest.  I took the fabric home, pre-washed it (a must with knits), and sewed up another Stellar's Vest during nap time using exactly the SAME pattern pieces I used the day before.  Nothing changed other than the fabric.  Here was the result:

What changed?  Did my daughter mysteriously shrink from one day to the next?  HA, of course, not! :) But the second garment is a full two sizes too big!  This is when I realized the importance of not 'winging' the use of my knit fabric.  I should've known better, I admit it.  But here's the positive that comes out of this experience: I'm hoping to prevent you from making my mistake!

The first fabric had a stretch percentage of over 50% and excellent recovery, while the second, around 25% with good recovery.  How can you tell with your fabrics?  Cut a 4"X4"(10cmX10cm) piece of fabric, fold it perpendicular with the grain line.  Download and print this stretch percentage guide with tips for sewing with knits, hold the fabric firmly at zero, and stretch it as far as you can.  Alternatively, you can use a ruler using the same principle.  Either way, just make sure you do this.  It makes a world of difference!

So now that you know how to determine the stretch percentage, how do you use this valuable information?  Well, always read your patterns carefully and only use the fabric type and stretch percentage recommended by the designer.  If the pattern does not specify, contact the designer and ask, if possible.  Or, don't use your best fabric the first time around.  You can size up or down depending on the result of your first garment.

Stretch recovery is also very important to consider when sewing with knits.  When you stretch your fabric, does it return to its original size and shape?  Or is it now a little wider than it was before?  You definitely want to use fabric that has a very good recovery.  This recovery corresponds with the quality of the fabric, after all, who wants to wear a garment that becomes wider each time it's worn?  I also prefer my knit fabrics to have some weight and/or a bit of lycra to give them that extra bit of recovery and avoid flimsy, lightweight or sheer knits.  Of course, this all depends on the pattern you are using, so  keep that in mind as well.

In the photos below, it's clear to see which fabric has better recovery.  The top one basically stayed the same width after it was stretched, while the second one returned to its original size.  You can also feel a big difference between the two; the top one has a slightly, rough texture, and the bottom is soft and smooth.

What I failed to do for my testers, was specify the stretch percentage and recovery needed to achieve the best results with my pattern.  Incidentally, the fabrics of all my samples had a stretch percentage 50% or more and very good to excellent recovery until the final floral one.  So, I think a logical explanation is that stretch percentage and recovery played a pretty major part in the varied results (especially after the first round of testing).  Lesson learned!

Here are some other tips I find useful to keep in mind when sewing with knits:

  • Use a stretch or ballpoint needle.  The rounded tip passes easily between the knit threads by separating them.

  • Press often.  When you sew a seam, and it looks wavy, giving it a good press will more than likely fix the problem.

  • Do not pull or stretch the fabric as you sew.  This can create those very wavy seams.  There is a time and place for stretching, such as when attaching bindings.  Follow the directions in your pattern carefully.

Want to read more about using knits?  Here are some great resources to help you have a positive experience when sewing with knits:

Sewing With Knits (Kitschy Coo)
Sewing With Knit Fabrics (sew mccool)
Sewing With Jersey 101 (Prudent Baby)
Tips for Sewing With Knit Fabrics (Oliver + S)
Knits 101 (Shwin & Shwin)
Working With Stretch and Knit Fabric (My Pattern Designer)
Cutting Knit Fabric (Mad Mim)
Ask Dana - No Fear. How to Sew with KNIT Fabrics (Made)

I'm so glad to have had this experience so I can pass on what I've learned.  Knits can be so fun to work with and great for children's clothing because they can be so comfortable and versatile, but it really helps to know how to use them properly.  I can't stress enough how important it is to read through your patterns so you can achieve the results the designer intends for you to have.  Never again will I blindly use knit fabric simply on account of the colour or pattern.  It's worth the time to test out the fabric first so that you can be happier with the results.

If you have any tips or tricks that help you have success with knits, please leave a comment and let us know.  Thanks!

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