Miss-fires of 2013


Unfortunately, it is easier to list my misses than my hits this year.  Some of it has to do with fit, and some of it has to do with sewing mishaps, and then there’s losing interest and moving on to new projects. Without further ado, here are the misses of 2013, in no particular order.

Black and White Cordova: A missed opportunity, in a way, because when I wrote this post early in the year I said I only had to add lining to the sleeves. I have yet to finish this jacket, and the more I look at the pictures the less I want to.  I don’t think it fits too well, actually.

Pink Sureau: This photo shows exactly why I hate this dress.  It bunches up around the upper bust. And you can see the bust darts come up way too high. I even held a giveaway to get rid of this pattern! I wore it only twice: to take these pictures and one day for MMM13. Someone in the comments mentioned I probably need a FBA, so I suppose I will try to master that in the new year.

copycat challenge dress: Why is this a fail, you may ask? If you read my post, then you know how much I love this dress.  Well, when I attached the skirt to the bodice, I didn’t extend the zipper into the bodice. So I am afraid to wear this dress and break the waist seam, as it is already ripping near the zipper.

Laurel contest entry: I’m not a fan of this make at all. I wore it only for the photoshoot. I tried to be all creative and shit for the Laurel challenge and by copycatting a cool, colour-blocked shift dress I found on the internet. I think the fit is a bit too loose for my liking and the block in the front makes my boobs look enormous. I was, however, super stoked at my sewing skills getting around those tricky corners.

Other (unblogged) misses include:

Redvelvet dress from Cake Patterns or as I like to call it, saggy side boobs: I was pumped for this dress from the get-go. However, the bust pleats ended up at the side of my boobs instead of in the center of them. I’m pretty sure it’s an easy fix but I just don’t feel like it… The good thing about this project is I found out my boobs are low.

The Ava dress muslin disaster: After taking the time to do a FBA, even tediously photographing the process to make my first tutorial, when I actually went to sew the muslin, it was an epic fail! I went with the larger size for my upper bust (a size 6 instead of size 4, even though it would end up being ½ inch too big), and then completely forgot about it when doing the FBA, therefore adding about 3 cm more than was necessary. I also completely forgot that most bodice darts are too high for me, so when I made the effort to make the bodice muslin (out of a slippery cheap satin, I might add), I tried it on and almost cried. So much for a last-minute New Year’s Eve dress… The only thing good about it was that I had remembered to add length to the bodice – 7 cm of length….

Skinnified Thurlow trousers: Making wide-legged trousers is not as easy as it looks. Fitted through the hips and upper thighs, and beyond that turned into a disaster. I already tried to take them in  myself, but I actually need someone to help me pin them. It’s not easy tailoring on your own!

What were your sewing misses this year? What have you learned from them?

Top 5 Hits

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I shall be joining in on the top 5 lists for 2013. I have been experiencing a bit of a creative block as life has creeped upon me the last few months, so I haven’t really been sewing or blogging in that time. In October, I defended my thesis, then ended up having to hassle a few teachers to get my grades in by the end of the month, but missed the cut-off by a few days. I officially graduated on November 4th and went to the ceremony at the end november even though my diploma wasn’t ready, because my mom flew all the way from Canada to join in on the festivities. We had a lovely couple of weeks together hanging out, watching movies, and shopping. We even went to the infamous christmas market in Germany.

So on that happy note, I shall get into the top 5 Hits.

#5: Vogue 8651 tunic: I did not blog about it, and I did not take any pictures of it, but I made the sleeveless tunic for my sister-in-law and she wears it almost every time I see her since I made it for her birthday in August. I also made her a different tunic for her birthday last year and she wears that a lot as well. My brother-in-law tells me that she wears the things I made her ALOT, so I definitely consider this make a win.

#4: The Rebecca Taylor design dress (Vogue 1152): This dress doesn’t fit perfectly, and maybe I didn’t use the best fabric for the pattern, but I really like it anyway. I can wear it in the summer, or in the winter with leggings and a long-sleeved tshirt underneath. I am a big fan of versatility (and dresses!).

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#3: The retro-print, stash-busting Briar: This is probably my most-worn me-made make of 2013.  I absolutely love this top.  It is super comfortable and (imho) looks good too. I made two other briars in two different sleeve lengths, but I like the long-sleeved one the best because I am cold more days out of the year than not. There are also two more in my sewing queue – one for me and one for someone else. And I might just use up the rest of my knit stash for briars…

#2: Purple and green polkadot belladone: The Belladone from Deer and Doe is quite possibly my favourite pattern. Even though there are still fit issues (ahem, do a bloody FBA already, Joanne!), I love this dress! I love purple on me, and I coveted this fabric for almost half a year online before I bought it at a fraction of the cost at the bi-annual fabric fair in Leeuwarden. And don’t forget that green piping! I feel as though this garment was kind of an aha moment. It only took me 15 years to figure out that my torso is 4-6cm longer than commercial pattern bodices!

And the #1 hit of 2013: The not-so-retro dress.  It just goes to show how important a muslin is! I shall never make a fancy dress from a new pattern again without making a muslin first. This dress fits me like a glove! I got a lot of compliments on the dress, and had fun doing the crazy photoshoot with my best friend back home in Canada.

What were your hits for 2013?

New Patterns: First Impressions

It’s fall, so pattern companies are introducing new patterns. I am especially interested in what the lovely indie pattern companies are doing. Aren’t you? With their beautiful instructions and great fit.

Most patterns I’m really excited about but some patterns I’m very underwhelmed by (I’m looking at you, Colette patterns). So I thought I’d give a roundup of all the indie patterns that I’ve seen. Maybe some of them you haven’t seen yet (I doubt it, though). Plus you’re getting my two cents on each one. You can click on any of the pictures to be taken to the website.

Zinna by Colette Patterns

Let’s start off with the one that is irking me the most. I’m sorry but I can’t get behind this pattern. The one pictured here is the one I dislike the most.  The chiffon one with lining, that one looks pretty, but nothing I can’t find in one of my back issues of Burda magazine. If you’re handy with patterns, I think you could easily make it yourself with a couple of rectangles and a fitted waistband. I gravitate more towards the Kelly skirt or the Beignet skirt for a skirt with buttons.

Hawthorn by Colette patterns

I was just added to Colette’s mailing list a few weeks before Hawthorn’s release. I was so excited because I really love their designs. I was a little bit disappointed by the Laurel, as I just don’t think it looks very flattering on me, although I saw a ton of beautiful versions in the Flickr group. But I was definitely underwhelmed when I saw this dress.  I thought it could just be the styling on Colette’s model, so I waited until a few versions popped up in the blogosphere. Some were beautiful, but most I didn’t like too much. I think shirt dresses just aren’t my thing. But I do love the half-circle skirt!

Aupebine by Deer and Doe patterns

This dress is so adorable. Since I made that apron of mine with the pintucks, even though they’re really annoying to sew, they look really cute. This is definitely high on my wishlist.  I think first I will make a tunic of sheer material to wear over a slip and leggings.

Red Velvet by Cake patterns

I’ve never been so excited for a pattern release before. I liked the tiramisu from Cake, but I never purchased it because I kept thinking it was only so-so.  But this…. This is really quite lovely. You have some options for the bodice and skirt, plus you can go crazy with colour or print blocking if you want. I’ve heard great things about the fitting of Cake patterns, so I think I won’t be able to contain myself when it’s released (there’s no release date yet; I’m hoping end of september/beginning october).

Virginia leggings by Megan Nielsen

I’m a sucker for leggings. I have a pattern from McCalls and they were way too low rise for me. I’m happy that Megan included both high rise and low rise in her pattern. Plus they’re available as a PDF download. Instant gratification! This is definitely coming up in my sewing queue after my unselfish sewing is finished, for which I’m actually using a Megan Nielsen pattern for! I’m making the maternity skirt for a pregnant friend of mine.

Dandelion dress & top by Disparate Disciplines

I was one of the kickstarter campaign investors, so I got this pattern for ‘free.’ I really can’t wait to try it out. It’s got really interesting seaming along the side, and you’ve got a lot of options in just one pattern: a top, a dress, and different necklines. I think it would be great for job interviews with a blazer over top.  She’s also got a ‘pay what you want’ cami pattern that was recently released. Also very pretty.

Anna dress from By Hand London

Ok, not so new, and they’re coming out with one or two patterns shortly (Georgia and Polly, I believe). But I just had to give a shout out to the By Hand London ladies for taking the blogosphere by storm! I’ve been seeing multiples shoot up on many blogs. I am also a fan! I want to make the short version with an asymmetrical v-neck.

Asymmetric Kimono dress by Ralph Pink

I thought I’d add this pattern by Ralph Pink. If you haven’t heard of this pattern company yet, go check it out.  Not that their collection is all that new. Kazz the Spazz wrote about their jumpsuit a few months ago.  There’s some interesting stuff over there, especially if you’re into making corsets.  The 2013 collection has some cool looking designs that you can have fun with colour blocking, like the jigsaw dress. I haven’t tried one yet, but I find them to be very reasonably priced.

So, what do you think? Which fall patterns are on your wish list? And did I forget to mention any new patterns?

 

*disclaimer: all pictures are copyright of their respective owners. I’ve used them here for illustrative purposes.

Terribly sweet blogger

I am so terrible for not posting this sooner, but I’m going to have to say ‘sorry, not sorry’ after reading this blog post by So, Zo. I’m not sorry that I have a life in addition to sewing and blogs. But I do thank all my readers for following me and posting all of your lovely comments.

So, a couple of months ago, I was nominated for an award by Sally of Sally Bee Makes! 😀 Thank you Sally, again. Sorry it took so long to get up this post (sorry, not sorry).

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So, this is what I have to do now:
1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you.
2. Answer 5 Super Sweet questions.
3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post.
4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers.
5. Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog.
The questions:
Cookies or cakes?
Cakes. I love making them and I love eating them. Especially the mini kind.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate please!
Favourite sweet treat?
At the moment, panna cotta. Just got back from Italy where I ate a lot of it, and now I’ve made it twice! It’s got calcium, right…
Sweet nickname?
My nickname is Jo. Sweet? I think so.
My nominations:
And I’ll probably be away from the blog for another month or so because I’m most likely doing my thesis defense at the end of the month, so I need to put all my energy into finishing off my thesis, giving a presentation, etc etc…

Me Made May ’13 round up

Hello lovelies. I was MIA for almost two months from the blogosphere. I hardly kept up with reading my sewing blogs, people! I flew to Canada for 2.5 weeks in May for a family affair. My grandparents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and we were in for quite the shindig. My sister was in charge of organizing, so she had delegated loads of tasks to every member of our family. When I arrived, two weeks before the party, there were still lots of little things to do. My cousin was in charge of a photo presentation, but my Oma’s (grandma’s) photo albums hadn’t been scanned yet. Since everyone else was working, I had the lovely task of scanning almost 200 old photos from my grandparents’ family and their wedding. Let me tell you, scanning is quite the long and arguous task. It took me two afternoons of scanning, plus another full day to touch up the photos in photoshop. So I sent the jpgs off to my cousin, and in the meantime, my sister and her got into a tif about the presentation, my sis blaming my cuz for not caring about the presentation, and my cuz accusing my sis of leaving everything to the last minute. Of course, no one is phoning with each other, it’s all going through texting, which is the reason this all started because texts do not show intonation, but they do allow you to write things you may not say in real life. Oh dear, the drama! In the end, it all worked out of course.

So in the midst of all the preparations and visiting family and that, I didn’t give myself the time to take pictures every day. I shall remind you of my pledge before I get started with the pictures: I, Joanne of Zoe Livana, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear a handmade or refashioned item each day for the duration of May 2013. In addition, I endeavor to make a pair of pants or skirt (hopefully both) in May 2013.’

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Day 1: refashioned threadless tshirt

Day 2: a UFO brought to life!

Day 2: a UFO brought to life!

Day 3: 3/4 sleeve Briar top

Day 3: 3/4 sleeve Briar top

Well, I never said I was going to take photos every day! haha. I actually thought since I was repeating outfits that I had gotten everything, but now that I’m going through it I see that I have not. I missed my polka dot Rebecca Taylor dress and my long sleeved Briar top.

Day 4: Two tshirts into one refashion

Day 4: Two tshirts into one refashion

Day 5: threadless tshirt refashion

Day 5: threadless tshirt refashion

I got to wear a lot of my threadless tshirt refashions. I really love the prints at threadless, but I don’t always want to wear tshirts, so I bought some XXL tshirts and converted them into dresses. 😀

Day 6: Colette ginger skirt

Day 6: Colette ginger skirt

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Day 7: Deer and Doe Sureau dress

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Day 8: Military-inspired Burda jacket

I wore this Burda jacket almost every day of this month. I really love it! But I have a sad story, a cautionary tale if you will. I prewashed the shell fabric, but not the lining because I thought it was just a regular old polyester satin. I WAS WRONG. I washed the jacket at the end of the month and now the hems are puckered because the lining shrunk. :(((((( So, ALWAYS PRE WASH YOUR FABRIC EVEN IF YOU THINK IT’S NOT GOING TO SHRINK.

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Day 10: threadless tshirt refashion.

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Day 11: At the airport wearing my comfy Briar top

May 11 is the day I left for Canada to visit my family. You can tell, because my Me Made May pictures suddenly get very sparse.

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Day 11: threadless refashion

I seriously do not trust Dutch hairdressers! I have been to see quite a few, and every single time, they cut off way more than I ask for. I ask for a trim, a couple of centimeters, split hair removal, and it always ends up being about 10cm shorter. So I’ve been cutting my own hair. So it was a treat to get my hair cut in Canada and get EXACTLY what I asked for. Well, except for the styling perhaps…

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Day 13: Burda jacket and Deer & Doe’s Belladone

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Day 16: threadless refashion

The above photos were both taken by professional photographers. The first was a family photo shoot because it’s been years since we got one done, taken by the lovely Anna Michalska. The second one was taken in a ghost town, Dorothy, Alberta, by my best friend N. If you want to see some cats beer posing, go check out her blog.

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Day 18: another threadless refashion

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Day 21: Belladone 2.0

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Day 25: A Knipmode dress from issue april 2013

May 25 was the anniversary party and this is the dress I wore!!! I shall blog more about it soon. My friend took some pictures and then her computer crashed and she lost all of her data. 🙁 I was waiting for her to send me some cool edits, but luckily she already sent me a few pictures, which I will post sometime in July probably.

I also slipped up for 3 days! Those were the days I returned home and I was far too jet-lagged to bother to do laundry, so I had no more comfy me-made shirts (i.e. my briars) to wear. I just pulled on a pair of sweats and threw on a tshirt and called it a day. Which, I guess points to another gap in my me-made wardrobe: comfy pants. So I kind of missed the dramatic ending on Flickr. I was busy catching up on my sleep!

And I also didn’t really fulfill my goal to make a pair of pants or a skirt. Instead (surprise, surprise) I made two dresses, the last two pictures (one of them already blogged here). I guess my Ginger skirt kind of counts, because I made it after my pledge, but it just happened to be the end of April and it took me just one day from start to finish. Actually, I did plan on making another ginger skirt from a nice chambray I scored in my home town for $4.50/m. Instead I did things like go to my sister’s boyfriend’s house for a BBQ and get my friend to take pictures of my new makes.

Well, I hope you all had a great Me Made May, those of you who participated. I know I did! But I must say, I’m glad to be wearing my store bought clothes again.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Have you made the MMM pledge?

‘I, Joanne of Zoe Livana, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear a handmade or refashioned item each day for the duration of May 2013. In addition, I endeavor to make a pair of pants or skirt (hopefully both) in May 2013.’

In honour of accepting this challenge, I’ve decided to give you a brief history of my sewing experience. Read on if you’re interested.

I’ve only been blogging since the beginning of the year, but I’ve been sewing for much longer than that. I’ve been sewing since junior high, and my first project was a pair of boxer shorts, which I finished so quickly that I was able to do a second project, which was a little bag that looked like a miniature gym bag  (I still have it back at my parents house filled with old makeup). The following year, I chose a more challenging project, which was a stuffed bear, which I gave to my Oma when I was finished.

In high school, I made several garments for myself. My favourite was a pair of wide-legged trousers I made from bright turquoise corduroy. The pattern I used was vintage, and was missing the fly pieces, and not knowing anything about putting in a fly, I just attached a zipper like you would to a skirt, not even lapped! But I lived in those pants! They were so comfortable and I got loads of compliments on them at school.

I kind of commandeered my mom’s sewing machine, so for my graduation present she got me my very own sewing machine. Yup, while my classmates were wishing for new cars, all I really wanted was to sew! My first job was at Fabricland in Calgary, a job I started in my last year of high school (mainly to pay for gas) and kept about a year after I graduated. I went on a trip to Europe after that a few months later when I came back, I found a job at another fabric shop! It was during these  years of working at fabric shops that I accumulated a lot of what’s in my stash.  Not that our employee discount was so great, but we could always watch the sales, and know when nice fabric was being marked down for the bargain basement.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of years and I find myself in The Netherlands studying for my bachelor’s degree, during which time I sewed a few small projects using the sewing machine belonging to my boyfriend’s mother. I hadn’t had my own sewing machine for about 5 or 6 years, so in realizing that I probably wasn’t going back to Canada, I took my sewing machine back to The Netherlands with me one holiday. I bought a special converter for it and everything so I wouldn’t fry the insides and I’ve been using it ever since, sometimes on a daily basis, and since I’ve started blogging “regularly”, definitely every week!

Now that Me Made May is in sight, I immediately see the holes in my sewing wardrobe, namely no pants that I’ve sewn myself. I made tons of pants back in high school, but I’ve grown (wider, unfortunately, not taller) since then, and haven’t sewn pants for myself since, I think. Ok, that’s not entirely true, I made a pair of leggings a few months ago that turned out horribly. They were designed for teenagers, I think. You know, the thin ones who wear everything on their hips. I know I did at that age. Nowadays, if I wear pants on my hips, I also have a bad case of plumbers butt. Yes, I admit it! And muffin top. We like muffin tops to stay on our muffins, not on our pants.

You may see a pattern going on in my blog so far, that is, I like to make dresses and tops, which is why I’ve also challenged myself to make pants and a skirt next month. Right now, surprise surprise, I have a top and a dress on the slab, and if I can squeeze it in, I also want to make a party dress for an event next month. My sister-in-law is also due at the end of the month, so I want to make her a Perfect Nursing Top as well. But I did recently cut out the Kelly Skirt and the Thurlow Trousers. These are definitely on my to-do list.

I am going to visit my parent’s in May, so I’m hoping that when I pack, I will be able to choose a travel wardrobe filled with self-stitched items. I was already going to challenge myself to take a small amount of clothing and mix and match when I get there. My sister has already told me that I can use her fancy new sewing machine and her Fabricland membership while I’m there, so I might have to take those patterns with me and whip them up there. Also, I should have a look for some photos of those awesome corduroy pants to show you guys!

For guidelines and to sign up for me-made-may, visit So, Zo…’s blog.

Sureau pattern giveaway winner!

And the winner is… Drumroll please…

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Congratulations to Sabrina T on winning the Sureau pattern! Happy sewing!

 

It’s been a while

Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything. I have a pretty good excuse though. First I went on internship at MetFarm and now I’m working on my thesis so I can finish up my Masters degree. Below is a picture from the project I did during my internship. This week I had an interesting interview with John Apesos of Symbicity. We had a talked about vertical farming, LED lighting, and food in general.

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On a more crafty note, I have been posting sewing project progress photos on my tumblr site. I shall reserve this blog here for the final reveals of my projects.

Photo copyright of Joanne Smolka.

Meaning of Zoe Livana

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Zoe Livana is not my real name, it’s my alter ego. I love the names because they are quite unique and beautiful.  They are both of Greek origin, and together they mean ‘life goddess.’ To me, that is what women are. They have the power to carry life within them. It is mysterious and miraculous how a woman’s body makes room to grow a life within them after conception.

Alternatively, Livana is also of Hebrew origin, but means ‘Moon.’ It doesn’t have quite the same effect…

I don’t quite remember how I came up with it. It was almost 10 years ago I think. I believe I was trolling baby names websites in seach of cool names I could use as a brand.

I’d like to thank Natasha Ivanco for designing my banner and these awesome logos! She is a great photographer and graphic designer. <3

Established 2012

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Welcome to my blog, where you will read about my adventures in sewing. I mainly sew women’s clothing, but I also sew kid’s clothes, accessories, and blankets now and then. I hope you enjoy reading!