The sewing bug!

Before I started knitting, I was always into crafty stuff – friendship bracelets, seed beads, painting, clay, some cross stitch. In middle school (grades 6-8), we had “family studies” (aka home ec) which was half cooking and half sewing. There was a big family studies room with tons of sewing machines and kitchens. It was great! We learned how to sew a pincushion, a tote bag, shorts, and a stuffed animal from a kit.

I did some sewing on my own too, at home – mostly elastic waist skirts, a few with zippers, tote bags, and one time in high school I made a bustier kind of thing with plastic boning and laces (it wasn’t very good and didn’t fit very well either). I went through another sewing jag in university too (there’s a bunch of projects in my archives!), so I guess it just comes and goes every few years.

The difference is, now I don’t have a sewing machine so I’m doing it all by hand! My mum says she has an extra machine to give me, but I haven’t picked it up yet. I do enjoy the handsewing, and it makes me feel closer to the project, somehow. I do need some new summer tops!

The other day a bunch of us on Twitter and Instagram did a photo challenge – sharing a day with photos every hour or more. I decided it would be a good day to get started on a Wiksten tank. This pattern is super popular! I cut and sewed a muslin of the dress version in a day, though I didn’t hem it. I used the same fabric as the back of my quilt – a piece of an Ikea duvet cover. It’s definitely wearable, but it turned out to be a bit big on top so I’ll size down the armholes for the next one.

Some photos of the process!

2:50pm. Shiny new shears. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

3:25pm. Seaming. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

3:51pm. French seam. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

4:28pm. Neckline binding. Fit looks good, might add bust darts. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

Wiksten dress muslin

Wiksten dress muslin

Wiksten dress muslin

Although I’ve done it off and on for years, I’ve never really been great at sewing – I’m not very good at cutting and sewing precisely! Hopefully I’ll learn some new things this time around. Now that I really understand garment construction from designing knitting patterns, I feel much more equipped to alter things to fit me. My next Wiksten will be the tank, with the pattern adjusted for a smaller size up top but graded out to a larger one below the armhole. I’m going to use this block printed, super light cotton that I bought in India a few years ago.

block printed cotton

Eventually I’ll work up to cutting this Liberty fabric that I got at the workroom last week. (Ooh, shiny new scissors too.)

new stuff

I also have a handmade dress that I really love that I’d like to duplicate the shape of, now I just need to pick up some big paper to draft a pattern! SEWING!

8 Responses to “I’ve Caught It”

  1. Shayla

    Oh wow! I can’t imagine sewing a garment by hand; it takes me forever to sew anything with a machine. I’m horrible at cutting the pieces out too and am MUCH more comfortable knitting anything. Great job though! Makes me want to sew something.

    Reply
  2. Katharine

    The Natalie Chanin books (Alabama Studio Style and Alabama Sewing + Design in particular) are so inspiring when you don’t have a machine!

    Reply
  3. megan

    hi laura! your new website looks great! I too started sewing this week…I always get a sewing fever in the summer. I made a “staple dress” yesterday. now i want to make another staple dress but with the wiksten tank neckline. You need a machine!

    Reply
  4. Seanna Lea

    I highly recommend Pattern Ease. It’s what I use to both transfer patterns and it works great for erasing and doesn’t damage the sewing scissors to cut!

    Reply
  5. Robin

    A few years ago, I read a tip which said that you could use medical supply paper (the stuff that is rolled out across the top of the examining tables in the doctor’s office) as paper for patterns. I picked up some from a Shopper’s Drug Mart medical supply store and it’s great. It comes in a roll but doesn’t curl up when unrolled; it’s inexpensive; and it’s durable.

    Reply
  6. hamilton chicklets

    Congrats on the new site! Looks great! And sewing entirely by hand takes some serious commitment! I was eyeing that LIberty fabric at the Workroom.. resisted but maybe I should re-visit that decision. Will make a beautiful tank!

    Reply
  7. hamilton chicklets

    As an aside, I recommend the Swedish tracing paper that Karyn sells at the Workroom. It’s more expensive than some of the other options but it’s durable, is nice when cutting slippery fabrics as it “sticks” quite nicely, it stores better than most and is easy to iron when you want to use it again. The downside to it is tape… I have yet to find a tape that really sticks to it when I am altering my patterns pieces. Sara

    Reply

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