Monthly Archives: February 2012

Sew I almost made a dress


I’ve mentioned before that I took an introductory sewing class at Conestoga College in 2009.  The format of the class was basically teach us as much as we need to know to make a project.  Each student picked a different project, and the instructor was present to assist us with as much or as little help as each of us needed.

I decided to attempt a simple, straight lined dress (a McCall’s pattern) that you can see here.  I decided to go with the version that is shown in blue.  I learned a lot while making this dress… but I ended up mucking it up so badly that it is not actually a dress.

During the sewing course, everything was going smoothly.  I occasionally made an error, but my instructor was incredibly patient.  As hard as I worked, I wasn’t able to quite finish by the end of the course.  My instructor spent some time going over the last couple of steps to make sure I could successfully finish it at home.  I was sure I would be able to handle it.  But, then disaster hit.  I had one step left – to sew the bottom contrast colour piece onto the dress.  Before completing this last step, I decided to try it on and see how it had turned out.  It was huge. HUGE. I had made it waaaaaaaay too big for me.  I looked like I was wearing a paper bag.  “No biggie,” I said to Eric, “I’ll just undue the seam and take it in.”

Now, Eric has heard me say things like this before.  He’s learned that when I pick up scissors and say, “I’m just going to fix my bangs,” that it will inevitably end up in a meltdown of epic proportions that will lead to him forcibly removing the scissors from my hands.  He witnessed the outcome my biggest hair meltdown of 2006.  At 6:30am while getting ready for work, I just picked up some scissors to “fix” my hair.

My good friend Michelle and I in 2006 - several months post-hair cut (and probably 2 inches growth)

Let’s just say I butchered it.  I flipped my head around all day at the office hoping nobody would notice.  After work, I immediately headed to a salon where I begged for an appointment.  They kept telling me they were booked.  I stood there, pointed at my head and said, “you HAVE to have an appointment!”.  They squeezed me in, and while the hair dresser worked hard to try and fix my hair, I promised her I wouldn’t let my “roommate” cut my hair ever again.  She had to cut my hair so short to fix it, people remarked for months that I had the same haircut as my younger brother, Scotty.  Thank goodness hair grows back!

When I told Eric I would just take the seam in, he said, “Um, really? Do you know how to do that?”  What he should have said was, “Are you crazy??!!? Just leave it!  Put the seam ripper down!!!”  He should have said that… even though I wouldn’t have listened to him.  Pulling the seam out was my first mistake.  When I took it in and sewed it back up, the dress was no longer symmetrical (even though I did both sides… my skills were just not there yet).  It wasn’t too bad though, and I figured I’d still wear it.  This also happened in the process.  But, it wasn’t until I went to sew the contrast piece onto the dress that I realized the biggest mistake of all.  I hadn’t taken the contrast piece in… and I didn’t really measure how much I took the dress in… so I couldn’t take the contrast piece in properly to match the size of the dress.  I tried and tried to get it to match up… but, after hours of trying, I gave up and just sewed a hem.

Here’s where you’re expecting me to post a picture of me wearing the dress.  Well, I can’t.  My lady bits practically show in this “almost dress” because it is WAY too short.  Without the contrast piece, it actually looks like a long shirt.  The cut does not work as a shirt, it’s much too big and looks like a bag.  Here’s how it turned out:



Let’s just chalk this one up to a learning experience 😉

What did I learn from making this dress?  A lot. How to take body  measurements. How to read a pattern. How to use my sewing machine. How to sew a pleat. When and why to use an iron when sewing.

Would I attempt this dress if I were to go back in time? Absolutely.  I learned a lot.  However, if you’re a new sewer, I would recommend something more simple unless you have an experienced sewer that can assist you when you need it.


1) Know your skill level. Don’t attempt to take something in if you have no idea how to do it properly. This brings us to lesson number two:

2) Ask for help when you need it.

I’ve just purchased some fabric to start my next clothing item.  Let’s hope Maddy’s outfit turns out better than this one.


Sew you’re breastfeeding


We had a lovely lunch visit today with eight wonderful friends.  It was the first time we had all three of our very close in age babies together.  We had a lot of fun chatting with long time friends (gulp, has it really been ten years since many of us met??!!?).

Massimo, Evan & Madeleine

Today made me think of our first visit with our University roommate, Jeff, and his lovely wife Elisa, with our new babies.  Massimo (who just happens to have the most beautiful blue eyes), is just six weeks older than Madeleine.

We sat in a restaurant, chatting all things baby.  We got to talking about breastfeeding, and then onto clothes to wear while breastfeeding.  I had purchased a few Momzelle shirts (this one is my favourite!), and I love, love, love how easy they are for nursing!

Elisa chose another route for breastfeeding attire (a brilliant one!).  She had purchased plain tank tops, cut holes in them, and sewed the edges so they wouldn’t fray.  Genius!  I’m so sad I didn’t think of this earlier!  For all of you breastfeeding mama’s out there, what a great, economical way to breastfeed easily in public.

Since I don’t need any, I’m not going to make one… but I found a super easy no-sew nursing top online that I just have to share from diy maternity.  You can find it here.

Hope you’re all enjoying your weekend.

Sew pretty!


I am obsessed with fabric. OBSESSED.  I recently received some fabric in the mail that I had ordered from The Intrepid Thread.  I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with it, but I just thought it was so beautiful I couldn’t resist buying it.  I just adore the colours.

Peaceful Pagoda

It took me a few days, but I decided what to use it for, and started a new project on the weekend.  Lucky me, I had a little helper on Sunday.

I can’t wait to share the finished product with you!

Sew I’m making (mental) space!


In this post I talked about needing to create space in your life to learn to sew.  For a number of reasons, I’ve decided that 2012 is the year that I not only can make space, but need to make space.  Perhaps the most obvious reason is that I’m currently on maternity leave from my PhD at Wilfrid Laurier University in Community Psychology.  This removes that whole issue of experiencing school guilt… until June, at least.  But, more importantly, creating space in my life for ‘me time’ is so needed right now to maintain my sanity.

For those of you who don’t know, raising my beautiful, strong-willed daughter, Madeleine, for the past eight months has not exactly been a cake walk for Eric and I.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love her more than I can articulate, but being her mommy (and daddy) is tough.  The first seven days went pretty smoothly (aside from your normal bumps).  Day seven it got interesting.  I will never forget that day.  Madeleine cried for 8 hours… straight.  She didn’t even take a break from crying to nurse.  She had this ear-piercing, shriek-like cry.  Eric uses the term bloodcurdling to describe it.

Newborn Madeleine (taken by the very talented Jenn from Bloom Photography)

When Maddy was three months old, blood and mucus started showing up in her diapers.  I was able to get a same day appointment with our family doctor, who had us scheduled in with a pediatrician the very next day.  It was during her first visit with the pediatrician she was suspected to have a milk-soy-protein intolerance (MSPI).  This intolerance would explain her colic, the blood in her stool, her eczema, her persistent bum rash, and her inability to sleep.  But, eliminating milk, soy, and beef just wasn’t doing the trick.  With the support from family, friends (and friends of friends’), we determined that a visit to the naturopath was our next step.  We started seeing Crista from the MacDonald Naturopathic Clinic here in Woodstock.  She has been a godsend.  With her help (and an elimination diet) we discovered that not only was Maddy intolerant to milk, soy, and beef, she also couldn’t handle chicken, eggs, wheat, yeast, or peas.  Since cutting all of that out of my diet, Madeleine is like a new baby. The poor little girl was in so much pain, no wonder she cried so much!

Maddy at 10 weeks

But, let’s not kid, most of the time she looked like this:

Or this:

Maddy is now 8 months old.  We’re still working on the sleeping bit (I’m happy to report that for the first time since Maddy was born I slept for 6 hours straight this past week), but, overall things have improved so much.  At 6 months or so, her colic started going away.  Since then, we have a couple of weeks a month still that are difficult for her (and now that she’s eating solids, it’s very frustrating determining what is causing her troubles… is it the new food we gave her or did I accidentally eat something?).

Maddy at 7 months

I am so happy that we were able to figure out what was bothering Maddy relatively quickly, and I have had a lot of support in radically changing my diet, but the last eight months have taken a toll on me.  As much as I love Maddy, it can be extremely emotionally draining and physically tiring to spend all day with an 18 pound baby who wants to be held 95% of the time (and, just to be clear, even when I’m holding her she’s fussing and fighting me 75% of the time), who now screams if I try and wear her, and who is so strong-willed that some days I think she can’t just be 8 months old.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a ton of incredibly enjoyable moments with Madeleine, and she makes me smile like nobody else can, but at the end of most days I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck… or ten.  When Eric is home, he does what he can (and more than I ever expected), and I’m so thankful for that.  But, now that I’m better equipped to meet Maddy’s needs, I need to meet my own needs better (to preserve my sanity).  So there it is, sewing space for 2012!  I’ve also started creating some physical space in our house for my sewing… stay tuned for details!

Sew I didn’t learn my lesson…


I’m ashamed to say I didn’t learn my lesson.  Different project, different pastime, same mistake.

After buying a replacement set of knitting needles and transferring my project to them…. this happened:

 After de-tangling this mess, I was back to knitting.  I now always put my knitting up high. Too high for babies. Too high for dogs.

Today’s lesson: Learn from your mistakes. Learn your lesson.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!


Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours!!!

Learn how to make these shirts here.

We are missing Eric today as he’s in California this week for work.  We surprised him last week with an ‘I Love Daddy’ mug with a picture of Maddykin’s on it (and lucky him, it was filled with chocolate). I was also able to sneak a card into his suitcase before he left.

Eric surprised me with a lovely sewing gift! A book and a container for my growing number of threads!!!

We also got a sweet surprise in the mail from Grammy & Grandpa Baynton!

With Eric gone, Maddy and I are celebrating Valentine’s Day together, decked out in the shirts I made, and eating heart-shaped cupcakes.  Okay, since she’s only just shy of 8 months, she can’t have the cupcakes… but, that just means more for me 😉  Maddy is also so lucky to have a very talented Aunt Lyndsay who made her an adorable heart hat!  You can read more about it here.  I can’t even tell you how obsessed I am with this hat – it’s just way too cute.

Miss you and love you Eric! xo

Sew ready for Valentine’s Day


As I mentioned I would here, I made a mini-doily heart shirt for Maddykins to wear on Valentine’s Day.  I won’t go into too many details, because you can find Dana’s very clear tutorial here.  I’ll quickly say that I was able to find smaller heart doilies from Dollarama.  I tried Bulk Barn, but they only had 10″ heart doilies – much too big for a Maddy-sized shirt.  I didn’t have the right colour scrap material, so I purchased cheap shirts from Walmart and cut them up.  I also found Maddy’s shirt and pants on clearance there.  Since I’m trying to practice my sewing, I decided to add an additional heart outline (It’s a bit hard to see but the heart is in pink, with a red heart underneath it).  This project was mostly a success.  You can read about my one mistake here.

Perhaps a well kept secret of mine, but I’m one of those mama’s who likes to dress like her daughter.  Eric finds it absolutely ridiculous… and has stopped asking if I did it on purpose.  Now he always knows I did.  For instance, on a day where Maddy wears her leg warmers, mama wears hers too.

This isn’t new for me.  My younger brother, Scotty, probably painfully remembers me trying to force him to wear his red Bradford Public School jogging suit on the same days I wore mine.  We’re only 17 months apart, and people always thought we were twins when we were kids.  So, naturally, this meant we had to dress alike.

Scotty and I back in the day

Given this matchy-match behaviour of mine, I obviously had to make mama a shirt too!  I decided to try an applique shirt for myself, following Melissa’s tutorial.  If you’re going to attempt applique, I suggest reading through the tutorial.  Melissa provides a very detailed and clear step by step process, including a lot of tips.  I won’t reinvent the wheel here, but will give you a quick description of how I made my shirt.

Materials: shirt, scrap fabric, heat and bond lite, thread

1) Trace the pattern onto the paper side of the heat n bond lite.  I used Word to copy the L, V, and E in Arial Black font, size 275.  I googled “heart outline” and found a heart image.  As Melissa reminds us in her tutorial, the L, V, and E must be copied backwards onto the paper.

2) Iron the heat n bond pieces onto the wrong side of the fabric. In this case, I did the L, V, and E on my white scrap fabric, and the heart on my red scrap fabric.  Try not to be like me and pay attention to make sure you iron the right side (paper side)… if not, it’s very sticky and a pain to get off of your iron.  But, should you do it, steel wool works great to get it off 😉

3) Cut each piece out.

4) Remove the heat n bond lite, place the pieces on the shirt, and iron them down.  I followed Melissa’s tips at the bottom of her tutorial for how to sew a name on for this step.

5) Sew the pieces to the shirt.  Melissa’s tutorial gives a lot of great tips on this step, and I highly suggest you read them.  You can see in my picture my stitching isn’t perfect – but I’m happy with how this turned out!