The Cookie Zipper Blouson

The Cookie Zipper Blouson
I’ve had the Cookie Zipper Blouson by Waffle Patterns on my sewing radar for quite awhile, but had forgotten all about it. Then we were in the midst of planning a last-minute trip back to Vancouver and I was suddenly in need of THE jacket to solve my persistent outerwear dilemma. So I finally did something about it–I made myself a blouson!

My outerwear problem stems from my need to wear 3/4 length sleeves. Also, long sleeves rolled up to a 3/4 length. Shirts with sleeve tabs are awesome. I LOVE 3/4 sleeves! They hide the jiggly bits under the upper arms and they are more practical than long sleeves–when having to wash up after your kids, there’s no need to constantly push up your sleeves.

Anyhoo, if you wear 3/4 sleeves as often as I do, you’ll understand that choosing outerwear becomes a challenge. Cardigans are out–the sleeves are too narrow, causing the 3/4 sleeve to bunch up. Same problem with blazers. Wool coats are too wintery for the Bay Area. Besides, I’m not interested in anything past hip length anymore–it makes me look shorter and I’m definitely not about to compensate by wearing heels. So parkas, coatigans and trench coats are out, too. Finally, I wish I were cool enough to wear a cape. Nope, I am not. Do you see the dilemma?

Worn with my favourite Wiksten Tova 3/4 length shirt (yay!):
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
I feel like singing the Peg + Cat “problem solved” song! The Cookie Zipper Blouson is roomy in the arms, hip length, with a loose-fit, while maintaining a flattering silhouette.
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
The fabric is a heavy-weight stretch woven cotton with silver thread that gives it a metallic sheen. I bought it at Dressew in Vancouver and it’s exactly the same fabric as Froo’s coat dress. It’s the colour of black coffee–a really dark brown that Pantone would describe as a “warm black”.

The inside of the jacket is super soft and feels like brushed flannel. But the best part is the pretty bias tape binding that I used to finish my seams!
Bias Tape for Cookie Zipper Blouson
I made oodles of 1″ bias tape to make 1/4″ double-fold bias tape. I love the vintage look of this print. If there’s one thing I would do differently next time, it would be to make wider bias tape. 1/4″ leaves very little room for error, especially with thick fabric.
Bias Tape for Cookie Zipper Blouson
At the hem and pockets, I finished the seams with my serger. The hem needs to stretch and I couldn’t figure out how to ease the bias tape around the tight corners of the pockets. I should have changed the thread colour!
Bias Tape for Cookie Zipper Blouson
The pockets are a little snug. I have tiny hands, so it doesn’t bother me, but the opening of the fabric could be longer by 1″. The opening didn’t extend past the end of my 5″ zipper, so topstitching became tricky. The pocket fabric is the same stretch cotton twill used in Froo’s Sunki dress.
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
I was a little nervous about sewing up a separating zipper for the first time, but the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. Each step of the pattern is clearly illustrated–the pattern is a serious gem. But anyhoo, gold zippers! It adds a dressy element to the blouson.
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
I was really hoping to find the kind of thick rib knit fabric used in bomber jackets, but I couldn’t find any. I ended up buying a regular rib knit fabric at Jo-Ann. It was the colour of coffee with half & half, but with a package of Rit Dye in Dark Brown, I got it to a shade of coffee with milk. I didn’t get the perfect match I was hoping for–I should have mixed the dark brown dye with a bit of black dye. It was my first experiment in dyeing fabric, which wasn’t the horrible experience I was expecting, but nonetheless, a long process involving guesswork with an uncertain outcome.

I had to adjust the width of the knit pieces. The rib knit is extra stretchy with not-so-great recovery, so I trimmed 1″ off the cuffs and 2″ off the collar. I left the hem band as-is because I had already sewn on the end pieces, but it could have been shortened considerably, for a better fit.

All of my colour references are about coffee–I have been a zombie mommy. Luckily, we are in the land of Tim Hortons coffee and babysitting grandparents. This weekend, we drove to the North Shore to visit the Capilano salmon hatchery, but took a detour to Deep Cove–I convinced the hubs to go for honey doughnuts. They are like fluffy cake doughnuts, with a crispy exterior drenched in honey. Mmm…
Deep Cove Honey Doughnuts
Deep Cove Honey Doughnuts
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
One final comment–I’m sure I’m being picky, but since I had a lofty goal, I need to dissect every detail! I sewed up the 38 and I think it would be perfect for a non-stretch fabric. With a stretch woven, I think I could go down a size. Stretch wovens are my new favourite apparel fabric! I will definitely be making another one. Although the pattern doesn’t come with lining, there’s a tutorial here for instructions on adding lining.

I hope the weather in the Bay Area will finally cool down when we return. We left during a heat wave–I’m sooooo ready to hide in my cozy blouson, while drinking a much needed coffee, in chilly autumn weather!

Wishing you a wonderful Canadian Thanksgiving! There’s always oodles for me to be thankful for.
The Cookie Zipper Blouson
Froo & Boo in Canada
Froo & Boo in Canada
Daddy & Boo
Thanks for visiting!

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Perfect Pattern Parcel: The Lady Skater Dress

Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
I made a dress. But hold on a life-altering moment, I made a dress that I actually like AND one I would wear often AND could work like a boss* (those were actually part of the sewing instructions!). I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I LOVE my new dress!
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
I’m participating in the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 blog tour today! Bloggers extraordinaire, Jill (Made with Moxie) and Rachel (Imagine Gnats), have put together a great selection of PDF patterns to support independent designers and to encourage a growing community of makers. Proceeds from Parcel #1 will raise funds to Donors Choose–a charity organization that helps students in need. I’m honoured to be sharing my handmade dress with you!

Parcel 1 CollageThe Skater Dress by Kitschycoo / Dandelion Dress & Top by Seamster Patterns / Summer Concert Tee by Dixie DIY / Ava by Victory Patterns / Accordion Bag by Sew Sweetness

I used black bamboo stretch French terry, my all-time favourite knit, which is also the same fabric I used for Boo’s art museum vest and trousers. It is sooooo soft and drapes beautifully. I would highly recommend bamboo stretch French terry because it doesn’t curl, making it easy to lay flat, cut and sew.
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
I chose the 3/4 length sleeve option. Then I decided to mix things up a bit and add a cowl neck collar with side zippers, the same way that I made Froo’s yellow sweater. I inched up the front neckline by 3 inches and attached a 5 inch collar. The zippers give me options for wearing the collar in different ways. Scroll down for a mini tutorial!
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
I can see this dress becoming a staple in my wardrobe. Which is surprising since I hardly ever wear black, solid colours, or dresses. I live in jeans and shirts with happy colours and interesting patterns, polka dots, florals and graphic prints.
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
The dress came together really quickly. The instructions were clear and straightforward, with oodles of useful information on sewing with knit fabric. I even bought black serger thread to match my fabric! I like the cowl neck collar the best folded over once.
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
As for outfitting the Lady Skater dress, I’m obsessed with my moccasin boots. I can’t help it. I wear them with everything! I ordered the very last pair that just happened to be in my size on sale, as a Christmas present from the hubs. They didn’t arrive for over a month, so I woefully thought they weren’t meant to be. Meanwhile, the hubs felt bad and surprised me with a Wacom tablet for Christmas. Then my boots arrived and I have been wearing them ever since!
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
As for my mini tutorial, bear in mind that the zippers have some weight, so the collar doesn’t stand up on its own. If you want a stiffer collar, you could back the fabric with fusible interfacing. Otherwise, let’s begin!

Start by measuring your neck opening and using the calculations in the photo, cut your collar pieces. My zippers are from zipit. You can play around with the placement of the zippers, as long as the width measurements will add up using the calculations below (click on the photo to enlarge):
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
Using a zipper foot, sew the tops of the zipper down to the backside of the zipper. Trim edges.
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
Sew both zippers to the back collar piece first, following the photos below:
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
Sew a loose gathering stitch 1/4″ from each length of the front collar piece.
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
Your collar should now look like this:
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
Baste the bottom of the collar closed and put a pin to mark the centre front & back of both the collar & dress. Pin the collar to the dress, with right sides facing together. Serge or sew together. Reinforce the zipper ends by sewing across the bottom of the zipper, trying to get as close to the metal bottom as possible. I don’t have a clear picture of this (sorry!).
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
Et voilà!
Perfect Pattern Parcel #1: Lady Skater Dress
There’s still some time to get your Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 before the sale ends tomorrow! There’s also a rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win some great prizes.

Thanks for visiting! Be sure to check out what participating bloggers have created with their parcels:

One Little Minute / SeamstressErin Designs / One Girl Circus / casa crafty / the quirky peach / Kadiddlehopper / Sew Caroline / Groovybabyandmama / Fishsticks Designs / the Brodrick blog / verypurpleperson / sew a straight line / Adventures in Dressmaking / true bias / Idle Fancy / La Pantigana / Crafterhours / Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts / Max California / YoSaMi / la inglesita / Diary of a Chainstitcher / four square walls / Lauren Dahl / Sewbon / mingo & grace / Dandelion Drift / VeryShannon / Sanae Ishida / buzzmills / Sew Jereli / Figgy’s / a happy stitch / Disaster in a Dress / Things for Boys / mama says sew / sew Amy sew / Sew Busy Lizzy / Made With Moxie / imagine gnats

Scoop Neck Wiksten Tova

If my last knit+voile Wiksten Tova was on the masculine side–being grey, with men’s striped shirting fabric and matching Boo’s shirt, this one is oozing with feminine features: florals, swiss dots, rounded corners and pintucks. I’ve become so familiar with this pattern that I took some dramatic liberties with this version–completely altering the inset.

Presenting the scoop neck knit+voile tova!
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
I added pintucks to the front inset based on another shirt that I have with swiss dots. I originally tried to make buttonholes, but my first one went askew and took forever to unpick, so I sewed the buttons through both layers. Although I’m not loving the little white flower buttons, they are inconspicuous and blend in with the white fabric.
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
I omitted the gathered front and intended to put a nice box pleat in the centre of the shirt instead. What I ended up with is a microscopic pleat with a gap in the middle! Hardly noticeable. At all. Boogers.
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
To explain why that happened, I need to describe what I did to draft a new inset. After creating a scoop neck curve, I lengthened the end of the inset where the placket is attached, to account for the extra width of the pintucks. After making my pintucks, I realized that I didn’t leave enough room for the placket. I had to narrow down the placket, ending up with a wider-than-original inset.
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
To achieve a rounded corner, I traced a small bowl over the corner of the inset, cut it off and taped it to the front pattern piece. When sewing the inset to the front of the shirt, I used a lot of pins on the corners to avoid any puckering. I love the look of the rounded corners!Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
I used store-bought 1/4″ double-fold bias tape to finish the inside of the inset.
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
For the back collar, I shortened one collar piece and attached it the same way as the cuffs, except the ends are tucked in, similar to the application of a bias tape finished hem.
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
While I love the floral printed knit, it has very little stretch and it’s not as soft as my grey tova–I have a feeling that it’s not going to hold up so well in the wash. I’m guessing that the fabric is more poly than cotton, which will start pilling with lint balls. I’ll have to remind the hubs not to put it in the dryer when he does the laundry!

Finally, a couple of photos of me in my latest tova. I had Froo take some outside, but it was rather windy:
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
We tried once more before going back inside. This is what Froo’s photos look like, when they haven’t been rotated and cropped:
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
I tried taking some photos inside, to escape the elements. These ones are a classic example of my “I’m trying to look focussed, yet at ease” pose:
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
This next pose is “how I really feel when I take these types of photos”:
Scoop Neck Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
I think my latest tova is dramatically different! I don’t have to worry about flashing a bit of bra here and there with this inset–it is staying shut. The scoop could be a little scoopier, but overall, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out! This is my 7th Wiksten Tova (my 3rd one in knit fabric) and I’ve finally had the courage to alter the pattern. I’m still sewing them up, at least one more–a round-up post will surely ensue.

I’m also drafting a mini version for Froo. I was going to use the same fabric, but then we took a trip to Santa Cruz on Labour Day and stopped by Hart’s Fabric for what seemed like 5 minutes, although the hubs was convinced it was an hour. I was drooling over the fabric selection!

When we finally got to the beach, Froo & Boo had a great time playing in the water. They had absolutely no interest in the boardwalk. The hubs tried a funnel cake for the first time. Boo ate most of my soft serve pineapple icecream. There was a crowded bunch of people trying to savour the last bits of summer. Oh hello, September!
Santa Cruz on Labour Day
Santa Cruz on Labour Day
Santa Cruz on Labour Day

Datura Blouse + Bias Tape Hem Tutorial

Froo & Boo: Bias Tape and Buttons
Have you ever started a project and never got around to finishing it because of something small, like buttons? Or a bias tape finished hem? Or both? That’s what happened with my Datura blouse.

When I became a contestant for the Super Online Sewing Match, I had to send in a self-portrait. Holy smokes–who knew it would be so hard to find a decent photo of myself? All of the photos I’m in either include Froo or Boo or both. Even finding a photo of just the hubs & me is rare. So I threw on my Datura blouse with an open-flap back/unfinished hem and asked Froo to take a photo of me. This is the photo that ended up on the Sew Mama Sew blog:
Datura Blouse by Deer and Doe Patterns
Does the fabric combination look familiar? I must have been in a creative rut, sewing a shirt for myself using the exact same fabric in a baby girl’s dress:
Roses & Chambray Dress
In a “who wore it best?” contest, my little niece would win hands-down, with 100% of the popular vote. I must have thought it worked so well on her, that it would work on me, too. I was completely outstyled by a baby–I guess that’s why I never got around to finishing the blouse. The weather also cooled down considerably in July, so that might have something to do with it. Excuses!

The Datura blouse pattern is available from the Deer and Doe pattern shop. I think the chambray and country roses are fitting for my first ever French pattern:
Datura Blouse by Deer and Doe Patterns
But nothing is more chic than covered buttons:
Datura Blouse by Deer and Doe Patterns
Yay! My buttons are finished! I took the easy way out and omitted button holes, sewing the buttons straight through both layers. I used size 5/8″ covered buttons to make a dozen buttons, mimicking the look of a wedding gown. C’est romantique, non?

I would delve into the details of sewing construction, but I don’t remember making this blouse. Looking through my past posts, I must have started at the end of June, which isn’t that long ago! I’ll share what I do know:

  1. I made the blouse in size 38 and the fit is parfait.
  2. The instructions are sparse. Par exemple, the instructions read, “Stitch the remaining bias tape as hem facing, at the bottom of the blouse.” No illustrations, no detailed step-by-step dialogue guiding me through my confusion.
  3. I will definitely make it again. Encore!

I thought I would provide a mini bias tape hem facing tutorial, if you’re a visual learner, like me. As a disclaimer, I’m pretty new to bias tape and the method I use is the one that makes the most sense to me. There are oodles of online tutorials on how to make bias tape (I’ll leave you to find your preferred method), but not too many on how to sew a hem facing with bias tape. Even the good ones I’ve found are missing the crucial photo on how to start and finish when hemming with bias tape.

I made some bias tape with quilting cotton from Jo-Ann. I chose to use quilting cotton because it is heavier than chambray, creases better and provides structure. Besides, the dusty aqua with small and squishy polka dots is a fun surprise on the inside of the blouse! I cut 1″ strips on the bias and used the #12 (1/2 inch) Clover bias tape maker. This is what single-fold 1/2″ bias tape looks like:
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
My brain looks at that and I immediately think, there are 2 folds, that must be double-fold bias tape. Oh no no no. If you were to take single-fold bias tape and fold it again, in half, that would become double-fold bias tape. So my 1/2″ single-fold bias tape can be transformed into 1/4″ double-fold bias tape:
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 1: Leaving a 1/2″ tail, align right side of bias tape on top of the right side of the shirt, a scant 1/4″ from the bottom edge. Pin.Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 2: Tuck in the tail to align with the edge of the placket. Pin. (My placket is purposely inside out because I liked the look of it better this way.)
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 3: Using the fold line as a guide, sew the bias tape onto the shirt. Your stitch line + scant 1/4″ edge should give you less than a 1/2″ seam allowance. Sew until you are about 2″ from the other end of the shirt.
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 4: Trim bias tape to leave 1/2″ tail and tuck it in (as in Step 2), then sew down.
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 5: Press bias tape up, towards the bottom of the shirt, tucking the edges of the shirt underneath the top fold.
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 6: Trim edges as needed. Then press to the inside of the shirt.
Datura Blouse Hem Facing TutorialDatura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 7
: Press entire bias strip on fold.
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 8
: Starting from the bottom edge, top stitch the bias tape to the placket, then pivot the needle at the corner to top stitch the entire length of the bias tape. (I really should have started on the other side–I had to shove the shirt through the neck of the sewing machine!)
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 9: Press everything in place and admire your work.
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Datura Blouse Hem Facing Tutorial
Step 10: Have someone take photos of you wearing your new Datura blouse. Froo was behind the camera again:
Datura Blouse by Deer and Doe Patterns Datura Blouse by Deer and Doe Patterns
I must admit, I love everything about this blouse! If I had a wee complaint, it would be my lack of bottoms to match–I wear jeans 90% of the time and chambray on denim is just too blue. I haven’t worn these khaki pants in about a year. I kept trying to put my hands in my pockets, but the pockets are horribly shallow.
Datura Blouse by Deer and Doe Patterns
Datura Blouse by Deer and Doe Patterns
When I took off my blouse, Froo poked my belly and asked, “mommy, why do you look like a pumpkin?” I couldn’t stop laughing! Underneath my Datura blouse, hides a pumpkin–I feel a bit like Cinderella. Yet another reason to love the Datura!

Grey Wiksten Tova & Flashback Skinny Tee

After my last post about an experimental Wiksten Tova, I was excited to test the success of a second knit+voile tova. I chose to start with the grey because the fabric is a dream–butter soft and thin, without being sheer. The fibre content is a mystery, but I think it’s cotton blended with either lycra or polyester, with just enough stretch to give it drape without a boingy yo-yo effect.
Grey Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
Just as I was starting, I came across this helpful post by Grainline Studio when sewing with knits. One thing that I find really important when sewing with knits is to take the time to really smooth out the bumps and bubbles, without stretching the fabric when preparing it for cutting. A small bubble could distort the entire shape of a pattern piece.

Et voilà, my grey Wiksten tova!
Grey Knit+Voile Wiksten TovaGrey Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
One improvement that I made with this version is my recent discovery of the stretch tricot stitch on my sewing machine. It works like a zigzag, but oh so much prettier. (When sewing knit fabric, a regular straight stitch has no give and the thread would break when the seams are stretched. That’s why a zigzag stitch or a serger is used for knit fabric.) A double-needle is a great solution, but I am finding that it doesn’t work well with all types of knits, especially the thin stuff.
Grey Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
A detailed look at the stretch tricot stitch on the hem:
Grey Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
The fabric for the inset is not actually voile–it’s a lightweight cotton shirting fabric. I couldn’t decide if I wanted the stripes running vertically or horizontally–as a happy compromise, I choose to position the stripes diagonally. I like how it turned out.
Grey Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
I accidentally sewed the inset inside out when attaching it to the front of the shirt. You can tell because the placket detail is on the inside. Luckily, the stripes are identical both inside and out, so it doesn’t really matter. But I spent a lot of time trying to match up the stripes on the placket, only to have them hidden!
Grey Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
I sized this tova down and changed the sleeves to omit the sleeve cuffs. I originally wanted it to have fitted 3/4 length sleeves, so I took in the width of the sleeves, using the Made-by-Rae Flashback Skinny Tee pattern as a guide. Unfortunately, my arms are not as skinny as I would like them to be and the sleeves were too tight! I had to cut new sleeves, but ran out of fabric, so I settled for short sleeves. I would have liked them a bit shorter, but this length is great for covering up my not-so-skinny arms.
Grey Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova
I am looking forward to making more knit tovas! It is so easy to wear. The soft knit is incredibly comfortable and the fit of the shirt is loose, yet flattering at the same time. I am planning my next with a matching one for Froo.

With 2 yards of the grey knit, I was able to eke out a flashback skinny tee for Boo–luckily before I had my sleeve issue. I made his shirt in size 3T, but I lengthened the arms and shirt because the flashback tee I made him a couple of months ago is getting small. I liked the look of the diagonal stripes, so I stitched together 2 pieces on a 45 degree angle to create a chevron print for a tiny pocket.
Grey Flashback Skinny Tee
I had a mishap with the neckband and serger, which couldn’t be undone. I ended up having to cut off the neckband, making the neck opening really wide and terribly unsymmetrical. Boo’s skinny tee became a boatneck tee. After his first fitting, he looked like a ballet dancer. I ended up pulling up the neckline and stitching it down with a button at the shoulders. The fish button was a last minute addition to play on the nautical theme.Grey Flashback Skinny Tee
Boo loves the fish button! He wanted to wear his fish shirt to preschool this morning, but I didn’t want it to get dirty until after we took photos.Grey Flashback Skinny Tee
My Boo will not stay still for photos. Even when I try to bribe him with gummy bears, he starts jumping up and down, causing all sorts of blurry motion.Grey Flashback Skinny TeeGrey Flashback Skinny TeeGrey Flashback Skinny Tee
Grey Flashback Skinny TeeGrey Flashback Skinny Tee
This is the first matching project I made for Boo & me. The softness of Boo’s shirt makes me want to hug him all day long. Cuddles in bed while watching Little Einsteins. If only he would stay still… Maybe I should enroll Boo in ballet.

Froo is becoming my reliable fashion photographer:
Grey Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova and Flashback Skinny Tee
Grey Knit+Voile Wiksten Tova and Flashback Skinny Tee
Today was Boo’s last day of the summer session of preschool. There was a cute little party for parents just before the regular pick-up time. Boo’s teacher told me that he is very happy, sociable and will play with everyone. I am so proud of my little man.

An Experimental Wiksten Tova

Everything about this sewing project was an experiment. A potential game-changer in my wardrobe. If successful, my discovery would lead to the perfect harmony of style and comfort.

I’ll start at the beginning: while exploring the Hiller Aviation Museum last Sunday, I spotted a mom wearing a beautiful navy (jersey?) knit shirt with a woven (voile?) yoke in a navy floral print. At the same moment, I realized that the style was very similar to the Wiksten Tova. My excitement could not be contained at the possibility of a knit+voile tova!

The closest thing I could find from searching a couple of my favourite shops is the Castello V-Neck from Anthropologie. I think I need to learn how to embroider…

I used whatever fabric I already had, being experimental and all. For the front inset, collar and sleeve cuffs, I used the cotton voile from the Geranium dress I made for Froo, called “Treasure” in Courage. The heather pink cotton/lycra blend knit fabric is from Jo-Ann. Both are not fabrics I would have chosen for myself. On a personal note, I rarely wear pink. I’ve always been told that I was “cute”, so I avoided anything pink, wearing colours like navy and grey instead. Pink and aqua–now we’re into sorbet and pastel dessert territory. Yikes. But I soldiered on, hoping for the best, yet, wondering if it might end up in my pajama pile.

Ta da! My knit+voile Wiksten tova!
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
If you look closely, you’ll see a seam running down the centre of the shirt. Totally unintentional–I cut 2 front pieces instead of one piece on the fold. I didn’t have enough fabric to cut a new piece, so I serged the 2 pieces together. Oops.
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
I’m still not sure if the aqua and pink are working together or competing against each other. This is my fourth tova and by far the best job I’ve done on the front inset. The voile makes such a huge difference! I also machine-basted the collar before top-stitching it together.
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
When sewing the knit fabric, I followed most of the instructions from the pattern. My sewing machine has a built-in walking foot that helped keep the fabric from stretching. The knit does not need to stretch where it meets the voile, so a straight stitch worked well, finished with edges serged together. For the side and sleeve seams, I only used the serger, to give it more ease. Since the tova is a loose-fitting shirt, I hemmed the shirt with a straight stitch as well.
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
I had Froo take some photos, but she kept chopping off my head. Next time, I will have her stand on a stool. Or maybe I should just buy a tripod and remote. But taking photos with Froo is oodles fun–she’s seriously bossy and my photos end up with some interesting perspective and angles.
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
We came back inside and got one in front of the mirror:
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
Then we took a couple more photos together. We part our hair on the same side, but that’s where the resemblance ends. Froo is a carbon copy of the hubs. She thinks my new pink shirt is lovely and asked me how I got her dress into my shirt.
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
The result of my experiment: this version is too bubblegum pink for me, but the knit+voile tova definitely works as a super comfy and stylish shirt. After dropping Froo off at school this morning, Boo and I took a drive to San Francisco for a “Friday Fabric Field trip” at Fabric Outlet. I managed to pick up fabric for 3 more knit+voile tovas. It was hard to narrow down my choices–with the endless possibility of prints, contrasting solids, tone-on-tone combinations, embroidered voile in swiss dots and eyelet–so exciting! As an added bonus, all of the fabric combined was cheaper than the Nani Iro double-gauze I used in my previous tova. (Still my all-time favourite shirt.)
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
The lightweight blue voile is gorgeous–it has the look of indigo-dyed plaid, with subtle textured diagonal stripes. Not something I would have considered, if it hadn’t been for my attempt to find something to match the navy knit.
Knit + Voile Wiksten Tova
For my next knit+voile tova, I think I will size it down–the front inset tends to gape open from the stretch of the knit. I might even be brave enough to try one with a lace back, like the incredibly sexy one by Venus of Suburbia Soup. Although, I like the knit version because it hides all of the squishy bits, instead of exposing them! I think I will send my experimental tova to my sister–it is better suited as a nursing shirt. Serendipity never looked so good.

I am celebrating my one-year blogiversary today. It’s already been one year since I first published this post. My desk does not look like that anymore. I would update my photo, but it’s pretty messy all the time at the moment. My beautiful jewelry box has been vandalized by Boo, in an attempt to open it. But it’s still glued shut and the contents will remain a happy mystery. Thank you for visiting my blog!

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Round 1: An A-line Skirt

The Super Online Sewing Match After the initial shock and elation of being selected as a contestant for the Super Online Sewing Match, a wave of fear overcame me. The challenge: to draft my own A-line skirt!

I could feel my fear growing exponentially as I considered my challenge. Here’s a step-by-step progression of what went through my mind:

Step 1. Take true & proper measurements. (Oi!)
Step 2. Transfer those measurements onto paper. (Ack!)
Step 3. Make a muslin and adjust the fit. (Eek!)
Step 4. Choose fabric. (Uh oh… this could take forever!)
Step 5. Design finishing touches. (In how many days? Yikes!)

Luckily, the Craftsy video course was extremely fun, informative and dispelled most of my fears (I’m still hung up on Step 1). Deborah Moebes is a great teacher and has the ability to tie in all of your existing sewing skills, including the new ones she teaches–creating a seamless feel to the course. I found an iPad app for it, which made it so much easier to bring to my makeshift cutting table and back to my sewing machine.
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
Anyhoo, my first ever, custom-fit, self-drafted A-line skirt pattern! The piece on the right is a band that follows the curve of the hem to create a contrast hem.
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
This was also my first time making a muslin. I can see the benefits of making one now. I was able to adjust the fit by: omitting front darts, while lengthening the back darts and practicing all of the intricate parts of the invisible zipper, bias tape waistband and pocket placement.
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
I knew I wanted pockets on my skirt. I have a short torso, with what I call a “wrap-around waist” (one that extends into my back), so I wanted a large pair of pockets to draw attention away from my waist. I based the pockets from a Vogue pattern that I had (V8552) and attached them to my muslin. Then I noticed a major design flaw: the zipper opens up into the left pocket.
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
I then drafted a new back pattern piece. It includes a 1/2″ seam allowance added to the fold line, that is used to cut 2 back pieces, instead of one. For my final skirt, the zipper is installed on the back and there is a seam that goes all the way down the centre of the back.

Ta da! This is my made-for-me-by-me skirt:
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
This is the back of the skirt with the invisible zipper down the centre seam, I just noticed loose threads stuck to the bottom of the right pocket! Oops.
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
The bias tape for the waistband is made from the same fabric as the contrast pockets and hem. I absolutely LOVE this print! I added a FROO & BOO fabric tag for a personalized touch:
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
The side seams were finished with my serger and the contrast bottom hem is fully encased, so you can’t see any seams. This was a huge feat for me. When I wasn’t sewing, I was trying to figure out how to construct the hem and after a couple of modifications, I got it right!
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
By chance, the day before I became a contestant, I went to The Intrepid Thread for the first time. I picked up 3.75 yards of Pure Elements, by Art Gallery Fabrics, in Nocturnal (I cleared the shelf, still loving navy blue) and a couple of prints from the Indian Summer collection by Sarah Watson. These fabrics are quilting fabric, but the quality is oh-so-much better. They feel lighter and smoother, with more drape and the slightest amount of sheen. I only bought half a yard of Forest Trail in Mountain–it was intended as shorts for Boo. I couldn’t give up on the design in my head, so I asked the hubs to pick up another yard for me on the way home from work. He assured me that it was very much out of the way, but he went anyways. Love him.

Finally, a couple of photos of me in my new skirt. The outdoor photos were taken by Froo. I chose to wear a billowy summer top to hide the squishy bits, tucked in with a belt, to give semblance that there’s a waist hiding in there somewhere. Even though the pockets flare out, I feel that the lines of the pockets help to elongate my figure, creating a more narrow effect. Score!
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
A couple of bracelets that I made years ago to bring out the colours in the contrasting fabric. Aqua, coral and white, accenting navy blue–this is my favourite colour combination of all time, especially for summer.
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
It was super bright out, so I wanted to see if the colours looked more “true” indoors, without all the highlights and shadows:
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
I think I would wear this skirt more as part of a casual outfit–with an aqua tee and a pair of TOMS. Boo is starting to become a regular photo bomber on my blog. He’s wearing the art smock that I made for him.
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
Round 1: The Super Online Sewing Match
This is why I LOVE to sew: the new skills that I’ve learned over the past couple of days transformed a piece of Swedish tracing paper into a design of my own! The possibilities are endless when it comes to fabric choices, styles and design elements. It could be overwhelming, believe me, I spent a great deal of time scouring Pinterest, but once I sat down to consider a skirt I would actually wear, I could visualize it clearly in my mind. The need to create it took over from there, totally squashing my fears.

Round 1 of the Super Online Sewing Match is done–thanks for stopping by! A huge thanks also to Sew Mama Sew for hosting this amazing sewing match! This week has been a blast.

A sheer Wiksten tank

Light Grey & Navy Blue
The 2 colours that I wear regularly are light grey and navy blue. You would think that I was in my own version of a school uniform. I try to mix it up by adding prints, polka dots or pops of colour, but grey and navy are usually the foundation on which my outfits are built.

For my last online order of fabric, I bought grey gingham voile on clearance–hoping to make another Wiksten tova, since my Nani Iro tova gets so much wear. What I ended up with is a slightly stiffer and shinier version of chiffon. The description read that it was “cotton voile”, but in the fabric composition section, I didn’t read the label: 100% rayon. Yikes. The colour and size of the gingham are just right, but the sheer quality of the fabric is better suited for a Wiksten tank. A happy accident, considering the warmer weather!

Here is my new Wiksten tank:
Sheer Gingham Wiksten Tank Sheer Gingham Wiksten Tank
The rayon voile was not without its sewing challenges. The neck and arm bindings were much more stretched out when cut on the bias, so they needed to be shortened. Also, when ironing, it was hard to get a precise crease, so parts of the shirt are wavy. The bottom hem was a bit of a failure. When I tried to get my hem even along the curve, the only way I could manage was to create little folds, to tuck in excess fabric. I should have serged the edges with a gathering stitch and eased it into place. You can see what I mean in this photo:
Sheer Gingham Wiksten Tank
I’ve made the Wiksten tank once before, also in light grey, briefly described here. I was unsure about using quilting cotton for this pattern because of the way it drapes. So what is my issue with drape anyways? When I wear the tank with a cardigan, my *ahem* boobs create unflattering waves in the front of the shirt. Cardigans are a must for me.
Wiksten tank
I like my new Wiksten tank so much better. I need to wear a camisole underneath, but it’s lightweight and has a nice airy quality to it. Try not to look too closely–my in-laws are visiting, after back-to-back visits from my sister and parents, so I’ve been eating like a tourist for the past month. Doughnuts for breakfast? Fried chicken & waffles for brunch? Dining out? Late night In-N-Out burgers? Check. Check. Check. Check. I think I need to start a smoothie diet with my new Vitamix blender. Yum.
Sheer Gingham Wiksten Tank
Worn with a cardigan. I have about 5 different grey cardigans. I thought I would try tone-on-tone with a different mix of prints. No wavy drapes–woo hoo!
Sheer Gingham Wiksten Tank
Hmm, not sure what I am going to do about my hair, though. I got colour & highlights done a couple of months ago, hoping to cover up my grey hair, but now that my roots are starting to grow, I don’t want to go through the hassle of getting my hair redone. I should just embrace the grey, like I have in my wardrobe.
Sheer Gingham Wiksten Tank

A cruise-worthy skirt

The Froo & Boo family is going on a Caribbean cruise! We will be celebrating a very special birthday, together with the hubs’ family.
Cruise-worthy skirt
I have been holding onto this fabric for way too long, hoping that it would magically turn into an amazing dress. But I’ve learned that the more you wait, the more things change, then eventually, you change your mind altogether. So now that my mind’s been changed, I need to act on it before it changes again.

Even though I was really excited to have a dress covered with anchors, I decided that the fabric would work better as a skirt. I first found this skirt here and knew I had to make one. Then I found Noodlehead’s skirt sew-along with step-by-step photos so I had no excuses! I got the pattern (Simplicity 2226) on sale for $1.99 at Fabricland a couple of years ago. I am really trying to get all of the projects I’ve planned completed at the beginning of this year, before I start new ones.

I love how it turned out! I used the fabric before in my fabric covered button magnets. It’s from Dear Stella Anchors Away–perfect for a cruise!
Cruise-worthy skirt
I also added a sash in the contrasting white/blue anchors print fabric.
Cruise-worthy skirt Cruise-worthy skirt
I made it in size 8 and when I tried it on, I could hardly breathe with the zipper fully closed. That was on February 5. The following day, I started the 30 Day Shred. I set my iPhone alarm every night and since then, I’ve only missed a couple of days. At first, I thought I was going to die. I was also doing yoga once a week, so I was starting to feel pretty good. Here’s the strange thing: after 3 weeks, I haven’t lost any weight. In fact, I think I’ve gained several pounds. Whaaaat?? I feel stronger and I’m eating healthy meals–the only possible explanation is that the squishy stuff surrounding my mid-section is utterly unimpressed with my efforts. So I’ve resorted to wearing Spanx. How embarrassing:
Cruise-worthy skirt
I’m trying to figure out which pairs of shoes are essential to pack. I’m really digging the pink suede oxfords I recently bought at Nordstrom–I try to wear them with everything.
Cruise-worthy skirt
There are a couple other handmade garments that I am packing for the cruise:
Clothing for the cruise
1. A dress (Simplicity 2584, now out-of-print) I made years ago, shortly after Froo was born. I thought sizing up would do the trick, but it was the first garment I had sewn for myself in a really long time and I didn’t prewash my cotton. I was horrified when I couldn’t zip it up from its lowest point. It finally fits! I think it’ll look good at the beach over a bathing suit. This fabric was also used for Froo’s birthday quiet book. After much more experience with buying fabric, I’ve learned that there is a huge variation in quality, even with quilting fabric. This one is covered with a tiny white floral print and the quality is sub-par with stiff cotton.
Cynthia Rowley - Simplicity 2584
2. A Shearwater Kaftan shirt. I feel a little embarrassed that I copied the look on the pattern cover by using the exact same Nani Iro fabric in double-gauze, but I love this shirt. I wore it on the cruise we went on last winter. I also cut the neck opening on the back of the shirt by mistake, so I had to stitch it together with the bias-binding. Oops. I can’t believe how much Froo has grown!
Shearwater Kaftan
I also like this one tucked into my jeans with a fun belt:
Shearwater Kaftan
3. A Wiksten tank. I’m not sure about using quilting fabric for this top–it would work much better with a lightweight fabric, such as cotton voile or double-gauze. Since there are no darts at the bust, the fabric doesn’t drape very well and hangs awkwardly. I was thinking of making it again while slimming down the sides, but it’s super comfortable and hides the squishy bits just fine. The fabric is from the Melrose collection by Red Rooster. This one is really soft and the print quality is excellent.
Wiksten tank
4. Finally, my favourite Wiksten tova, blogged here. This photo was taken last November when we stopped at Harris Ranch for lunch on our way down to Disneyland. Nani Iro double-gauze is becoming my favourite fabric when it comes to sewing for myself.
Wiksten Tova
I’m really excited about spending time with my family and the hubs’ family on our cruise this year. We had so much fun last year, that we just had to book it again this year. Little Boo has probably transformed the most:
Boo on a cruise
He’s still full of trouble, that one. Last night, I had taken off the sewing machine foot to stitch a button and left the foot beside the machine. This morning, Boo ran to me and handed me the foot and said, “Uh oh, broken. Sorry.” He had the guiltiest look on his face. Even though he didn’t break it, I put him in the timeout corner, where Froo was already serving time. I could hear them giggling with each other, but let them hang out there for awhile before walking towards them. They both went really quiet. I sat across from them and the first person to make eye-contact and break the silence was Froo, with, “Sorry mommy.” Then Boo chimes in, “So-zee! Mommy!” There were stern reminders, more apologies, lots of hugs and kisses–but inside, I wanted to laugh at my darling poo-heads. They crack me up.
Froo & Boo in timeout

Why cutting fabric is like playing Tetris

I hardly ever follow the recommended pattern placements for cutting fabric. I like the challenge of figuring out how to minimize fabric waste. So I rearrange pattern pieces, keeping the grainline and fabric prints in mind, until I am completely satisfied that I have wasted the least amount of fabric possible. All those years of playing Tetris have somehow paid off. Although it does slow down the sewing process–it usually takes me several days to finally cut my pieces.

So imagine my disappointment after finishing my Wiksten Tova in Nani Iro and my fabric remnant looked like this:

Since the confetti-dot print is heavily saturated in the middle of the fabric and gets more sporadic and non-existent near the selvedges, I had a hard time thinking up a project for the remnant. After staring at the fabric, I realized I could make an infinity scarf! I made one using this tutorial last Christmas for my mother-in-law and really liked the drape and look of the scarf. I wouldn’t call this post a “tutorial” because I used Anna Maria Horner’s original tutorial, but just a step-by-step process on how I made my version.

Again, to minimize waste, I simply cut out a rectangular-ish shape by cutting straight lines.

One side is completely uneven, but as a wrapped scarf, it doesn’t even matter. The one important thing that I forgot to do was to make sure each end is the same width. (You’ll see why later on.) The total length of the fabric was about 62″. At its widest point it was 12″.

After cutting out the rectangle, I flipped the fabric over so the right sides were facing each other. I pinned it together to hold it in place. I don’t always use pins, but with such a long continuous piece, it’s a good idea so the fabric top doesn’t shift too much while sewing.

I put a small marking 1/2″ from each end and on both sides. This is an important step! Do not start sewing from the edge, but instead, start and finish sewing at your markings.

I sewed both sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

I then finished the cut edge with a zig zag stitch. I dream of the day that I have a serger to finish my seams! After zigzagging the edges together, I cut off the frayed bits and pieces, being careful not to cut into my stitches. I love my quilted fabric notebook that I got from a hand-printed textile shop in India.

The next couple of steps require ironing, my least favourite task. I wear wrinkly shirts all the time, just to avoid ironing. My ironing board is wretched, so I covered it with some cute fabric. Here are the steps: 1. Press seams. 2. Flip right-side out and press seams flat to one side. 3. With seams on the very edge, press both sides together.

Then I pressed one end 1/2″ back, right-sides facing together. This was done on both ends. Then the 2 unpressed ends are pinned together and sewn, making sure that there are no twisty loops in the scarf.

So here’s where I messed up. If both ends were the same width, the edges would line up perfectly. Instead, I had one end wider than the other. So I folded a pleat in the centre. Since this seam will be worn at the nape of my neck, I figured it wouldn’t be such an obvious mistake.

After I sewed the ends together, I zigzagged the edges together and zigzagged each open end individually.

Now for some more ironing. Ugh. Here are the steps: 1. Press sewn seams and one end to the inside of the tube. 2. Using the pressed line as a guide for a fold line, press the other side while tucking in the edge. 3. I realize now that this is just step 2 with the iron at a different angle.

Almost done! Now for the top-stitching. The original tutorial calls for hand-stitching, which is my 2nd to least favourite task. So I went ahead and machine stitched it altogether. The stitching on the backside mostly fell in between the seams and doesn’t look too horrible. In the pictures below, you’ll notice that I inverted the outside pleat. This was not intended. Oops.

Finally, some photos of me wearing the scarf. The first one as a single loop.

This one shows the scarf wrapped twice around my neck. Super soft. Super lightweight. Super cozy, without being too warm. Perfect for the SF bay area.

A close-up. You can’t even tell that one side is uneven.

I made a couple of blunders, but take a look at this:

From 2 yards of fabric, I only have a couple of itty bitty scraps left! These scraps are going into a scrap bin, of course. I’m not sure what they will become, but as in Tetris, it is completely satisfying to clear every last brick.