On a roll with my dress

I decided that while I was on a sewing roll I would keep going. I was still on the trickiest bit of sewing, but when I was reading the instructions, I was just so confused. This was a problem, I had no one to ask about reading a sewing pattern. Then I had the clever idea of looking different versions of the dress that people had made on instagram, so I searched #charliecaftan (the name of the dress).

This saved me, what I was thinking in my head was correct. Here are two pictures of what I was working on. Before and after.

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What I was looking up on Instagram was what that middle panel was supposed to look like. As you can see, it was indeed supposed to be sewn in as a window.

However I tried once, and like we saw last time, the fabric is easily damaged so I altered it myself and just tried to do a really neat stitch to seal it down. The instructions from the pattern online said to be very careful to not let it pucker…I was so close! But I figure with the tulip fabric and flowiness of the dress, it will be okay.



Next I had to work on the neckline. I had to start with something called a staystitch. I was figuring it was just a stitch to kind of lay down the fabric, I was right. Here is the end result of the while neckline. I was SO. Proud. of my straight stitching, I am learning it really pays off to listen to what the online experts have to say in terms of ironing, pinning and letting the fabric sew smoothly and easily.



Here I go!

It was a big day for me today. I began sewing. It was a bit delayed as I didn’t realize I needed to use interfacing. But off I traipsed to fabricland, I had to ask for some help, but that’s okay! I learned another new thing- how to iron on fusible interfacing.

I was really trying to read the pattern carefully. In fact, I often read most steps two or three times then practiced it in my head. It was actually really good mindfulness training since I was concentrating so hard.



Like I mentioned I was going to go crazy pinning. At one point in the pattern it said use as many pins as you need, no problem. It also said that this point was the trickiest bit of sewing- at least I got to get it over with on the first day!


Nice, straight seam Marley.

As you can see from the picture the pattern wasn’t lying, even with my pinning, I didn’t get it straight. So I took a deep breath and carefully took out the seam. Fine. Did it again but then I realized, while I sewed it perfectly straight, it was way bigger than the recommended 5/8”.


[Brownie break taken at this point.]

After a delightful treat and some self-talk, I took out the seam a third time, re-reading the pattern instructions and explaining to myself what I was going to do, double checking the seams.





As you can see from the other side, I did a right-sized and also straight seam. BUT this was what I was a bit worried about, damaging the fabric. I am not going to fret about it though, perhaps with some wear and even a quick dry in the dryer might work them out. Also the aim of this project isn’t perfection so it will fine!

Next, I will keep going with the trickiest bit of sewing for this pattern.

If you happen to have any tips for erasing fabric nicks or sewing with rayon, I’d be happy to hear!


Do your research Marley

Now that I had all of my pattern cut and ready, it was time to start sewing! That being said, I was a bit apprehensive about sewing a non-cotton fabric, and the fabric I chose was rayon challis after all. I’ll admit, I never heard of that exact type before purchasing but how hard can it be? Anyway, I decided to do a bit of research in the hopes of finding some tips for handling and sewing this type of fabric.

This was the first website which happened to also be a blog. I started reading… “it tends to be a bit more difficult to sew with than a cotton voile…Rayon challis is a great fabric for the advanced beginner, intermediate, or advanced sewist.”

giphy5Courtesy of Giphy.

There were a few good tips, such as how to carry the fabric from sewing machine to iron while working with it. Since it is such a lightweight and flimsy fabric, it shifts quite easily.

I visited a second blog, and one of this bloggist’s tips was to make sure to wash the fabric twice. Now, growing up it was common knowledge to wash fabric twice to ensure any kinks or shrinking possibilities were out of the way before sewing. However, in the past couple of years, I have worked on some quilts, so have chatted with a few sewing experts in those fields, they say that is a myth, that washing it is unnecessary. Companies now pre-wash fabrics and it just adds an extra step to the sewing process. So I didn’t wash my rayon challis, and besides, it is a flowy, patterned-fabric dress, so should hide any shrinkage that happens. Another tip this same blogger gave was to use a smaller stitch- I even know how to do this on my machine. Woohoo!

The third blog I checked out actually answered one of the questions I had. It said to use a lot of pins when sewing the fabric. Since rayon challis is so flimsy and light, I wasn’t sure if pins would make permanent holes in the fabric or not, so I only used one or two for each pattern piece (thanks to my trusty chickpea weights). Now that I know I can pin away I will be using a lot. A.lot.

Lastly, all three blog posts stated these same tips:
-be very careful not to stretch or pull the fabric when stitching, let it flow naturally and sit flat
-after you finish the whole garment but BEFORE hemming, put it on a hanger and let it just hang for a few days, this will prevent a wonky hem. I guess the fabric then gets time to sit and adjust to all the seams.

I guess rayon challis really is delicate.

giphy6Image courtesy of Giphy.

One thing that was missing however were some inspirational quotes to encourage me to keep trying even when I inevitably get confused or have to rip out some stitches. I like things to go the way I have it planned in my head and when they don’t, with sewing anyway, I can get quite discouraged.

I guess this could apply to my sewing too?

I feel like I’m writing an online serial. On the next instalment, maybe I’ll actually use my trusty Brother.

Cut that fabric, just do it!

When I completed the mid-term self-assessment and got to the question about what Alec could do to support me, I realized why I feel like I’ve been slacking on my Digital Learning Project- I am afraid to make a mistake. With the stage I am at (cutting the fabric), making a mistake could mean the end of the project or you know, the project as I know it, so I have been putting it off. I’m not sure why since there isn’t going to be any sewing epiphany in the next couple weeks so here I go with cutting.

I knew I had to lay out the pattern pieces on the fabric and the pattern guide even showed how to do it. BINGO. SEW SIMPLE. But one thing I wasn’t sure was if the fabric had to be layed inside or not, or if that even made a difference. However as we know, I am leery of making a permanent mistake so I turned to the internet for help. There was no statement that I could find explaining how to lay out the fabric so I turned to my sister for help:


Thank you to my sister. Who, yes, also loves cats as much as me. Our childhood cat used to run in our mom’s patterns messing them up while she tried to lay them down. Guess I should have been helping her instead of being entertained by the cat.

While the internet was no help for figuring out how to lay out the fabric, I did find some other tips when cutting out fabric.

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Via The McCall Pattern Blog.

I guess pattern cutting could be tedious. One of the suggested ways to make it less tedious was to use a high table, well I don’t have a table that’s 3 meters long so that one was out. It also said to cut at a “cheerful time of day…” so I chose right after lunch on Sunday?

On this post (and a couple others) it says to use sewing weights instead of pins to secure the pattern but all I have are dumbbells and I didn’t know if the uneven weight distribution would mess it up so I thought I would stick with pins.

I also watched this youtube video for additional tips on proper pinning. Thank goodness I did, I wouldn’t have really thought about aligning it straight and possibly leaving room for seam allowance.


Once I felt like I did all of the research I could, I started cutting but saw what the websites meant by the pins making the fabric uneven, however I didn’t want to put the dumbells on to lump the paper and fabric up. So I thought of an alternative. It actually worked pretty great!


I used pins to make sure the pattern wouldn’t move around and then just slid the cans around to the area I was cutting. Here are my fabric pieces.



Slacktivism, activism, offend-everyoneism?

This Tuesday’s class on social media activism was a really good one for me to [virtually] attend. Being that it is 2017, I have most definitely heard about, seen, perhaps even unconsciously participated in social media activism. As I mention in my title though, I find this type of social media very tricky. Our society seems so sensitive nowadays that you never know when or how you are going to offend anyone. In everything I do, I always just want everyone to get along, in fact my number one strength in Clifton Strengths Finder is Harmony. I get quite irritated when people take things personally and in terms of social media, when viewers seem to think we should all prescribe to the same belief system or causes. It’s unrealistic and even unhealthy that we would all believe in the same things so I’m not sure why certain people find it necessary to argue our beliefs so strongly.

Image via Giphy.

Along this same point, there is so much negativity online which I believe can also deter people from making a difference online. For example, Katia mentioned how some people or groups were not too happy with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, because it, in essence, took money from other charities due to its popularity. To me, this is just people trying to find something to complain about. I believe it is things like this that can discourage productive conversations about social activism. Speaking for myself, I don’t want to bring up something and then have people criticize me for bringing it up. I don’t know that my skin is that thick! Is there anyone else who feels this way as well?

Having said all this, I do see the merit and value in moving beyond a personally responsible citizen to a participatory or digitally oriented citizen. We have this wonderful tool, the internet and all of its platforms, at our disposal, so I think it is up to us to do our best to use it effectively. Though it may not always be easy or comfortable, (especially for a Harmony person such as myself), baby steps are a good way to start. I feel like I could start by simply sharing a news article, sharing a link for a charity or cause that is important to me. Once I feel comfortable with that, I could move more into social activism. Does anyone else feel like they need to set themselves up a little action plan such as this?

Major Project

When Alec first told us about the Major Digital Project, I was quite excited, I love projects and learning new things on my own. But that also kind of left me torn, since most things I want to learn, I have already figure out, eg. knitting, crocheting, basic bike maintenance, or were things that required tools I didn’t have, eg. building a mini dollhouse, intense bike maintenance or were things I thought I might get bored/mentally done with pretty quickly, eg. making a pie or bread that my stomach could handle. One that stuck with me was sewing, I am an okay sewer, meaning, I can sew in a straight line, thread a machine, sew a button on, things like that. I enjoy sewing but I can’t do much beyond those basic skills. Here are some things I have figured out how to sew, thanks to the sewing machine I received as a birthday present a couple years ago and skills my mom taught me when I was younger.

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As you can see, all have something in common, straight lines and most, four sided. And none required a pattern and are mostly made out of basic cotton. One of my favourite accidental pastimes is browsing the internet for sewing projects I will never do. Why won’t I do them? I don’t know how to follow a pattern, how to sew non-cotton fabric nor do I know how to sew anything besides a straight seam. My sister has a similar pastime, and while her skill level is a bit higher than mine, she doesn’t do patterns either. We always say that one day we will buy some fancy non-cotton fabric, a pattern and make something “cool.” Of course, we never do. But I always think, I am a fairly smart person, and I have some decent skills. I have learned nearly all of my knitting and crocheting skills from youtube and various websites, why couldn’t I figure out sewing? WELL a big hurdle for me will be to move slowly and try to finish it in one day, as I tend to feel like with all my sewing projects. Another hurdle will be learning that mistakes are okay and sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and redo what you just did.

So all this being said, I decided my project will be to complete one or two sewing projects, with the conditions of:

-using a pattern
-sewing with non-cotton fabric

PS This post is actually a few weeks old, I figured out categories yesterday so had to do some copy and pasting. It is the first one in my Major Digital Project category.

Cut cut cut

Now that I had my pattern, I decided it was time to print it off and begin assembling. I downloaded and printed the guide and actual pattern off. 45 pages later, A+ to me, I printed it off properly, getting the gauge correct the first time.

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Once I look inside the guide, the assembling didn’t seem near as daunting. It seemed simply like a puzzle- assembling the pages in the right order to form the parts of the dress. So, I did that and here it is, I did have to move some furniture to get it to fit in my living room.

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Feeling pretty proud of myself, I decided to soldier on. As you can see from the top picture, I had to pick out my size so that I knew what lines to cut, I did my measurements and figured that out, still feeling pretty good about my abilities.


I started out by cutting this piece. I’ll be honest, I don’t know where it fits in with my dress patternbut it looked like a good, simple one to start with.

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At this point, I really felt like I was cruising, like do I even need to learn anything from anyone about sewing or do I know it all already? Well I was snapped back to reality pretty quickly when I looked at the next piece I was to cut out.

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What is a notch? Why are there dozens of lines intersecting with each other? How am I supposed to know what line to cut into? And what are those solid black dots?

Image courtesy of Pinterest. I couldn’t find any other link. 


I looked on the pattern website and nothing there. So, I proceeded to google and looked up:
-What are notches on a sewing pattern?
-How to cut out notches on a sewing pattern

I found a couple websites through which I eventually figured out that notches indicate where pleats are in the finished garment. Often they are triangle or diamond shaped and you are supposed to make a little cut in the fabric to indicate where they are.

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Image courtesy of The Sewing Coach.

Thank you to the internet, I figured out what notches meant and was able to finish cutting out my pattern. Woohoo! Next step, cutting out the fabric.