Christmas is coming

One Indian custom we’ve always been observing in our family is that everyone gets new clothes for Christmas, New Year and birthdays.

My birthday is between Christmas and New Year. That means new clothing for three days in the next couple of weeks. But I’ve decided not to buy anything.

I think I’m in trouble.


Advent Calendar Saga, part last

Well, it’s not really an epic saga… But it sure felt like it when I was in the middle of it!

I finished the calendar on Monday night, Dec 1st, after my boy had gone to bed. I had got all the pockets on during the day, and few of the buttons to hang the ornaments on, so we were able to do our first day’s devotional. I finished sewing the rest of the buttons on later that night.

Final result:

Not bad for three nights’ worth of work! šŸ™‚ I was right about the acrylic felt, though, the pockets are quickly stretching out of shape. I might have to replace them with wool felt ones. But not this year.

Advent calendar saga, part 1

J is three years old, and this is the first year he’s really looking forward to Christmas. He’s constantly asking “is it Christmas today?” when he wakes up in the morning, and keeps asking about Christmas tree and decorating. So I thought it would be nice to have an advent calendar for him, to keep track of days. I didn’t want a chocolate one, though… When I was a kid we always had those paper calendars where you open a flap, and then there’s a part of a story or a picture underneath. Our local little Christian bookstore has had them in the past, so we went looking for one last week. ButĀ they were sold out!

Well, I had already told J about the calendar so now we needed to get one. I had a DIY inspirationĀ moment, and hit Pinterest for ideas. There are lots of lovely ideas to choose from. And really, how hard could it be…?

I decided to make a calendar like this, with the Jesse Tree ornaments and story. Jesse Tree tells the stories of waiting for the Messiah in the Old Testament, and then the story of Jesus’ birth, the fulfilment of all the waiting. Even in my most ambitious DIY moments I usually manage to keep some sense of reality (hah!), so I found printableĀ ornaments for the tree here, and maybe I’ll make felt ones or something next year.

So, I just need to make the calendar itself this year. December 1st is Monday. I started on Thursday, after J had gone to bed, and cut out all the felt rectangles for the pockets.

Since it was only 10 pm when I was done, I decided to cut out the numbers too. That shouldn’t take too long, right?

At around midnight I decided to leave the rest for later. Cutting out little bits is a LOT slower than cutting out rectangles!

Friday. I managed to cut out the rest of the numbers in the afternoon, and went to the fabric store to pick up some canvas for the background as well as a bigger piece of green felt for the tree. In the evening I had no time to do anything at all – I had to get ready for a craft fair on Saturday.

Saturday. I pulled out the hot glue gun after J had gone to bed, and started attaching the numbers on the pockets. An hour and a few minor burns later they were done. Whoever designed the hot glue gun probably didn’t envision it being used to glue on tiny, floppy pieces of felt… It was just about impossible to hold on to a number and put glue on it without getting some on my fingertips.

So now it’s Sunday. Sewing day! First I cut out the tree (the easiest part of the whole process so far) and the background piece. Then I started pinning the pockets on the background. I quickly noticed that the canvas piece wasn’t quite wide enough, and I had to trim the pockets a little to make them fit. Good thing too, because they weren’t exactly all the same size. Ahem… One of these days I’ll learn to measure my projects properly before cutting…

The tree and 1/3 of the pockets have finally been attached to the background. The rest will have to wait – it’s 11 pm and I can’t sew a straight line anymore… One thing I may regret later is using cheap craft felt instead of the better wool stuff. I had lots and lots of felt at home, so I used it for the pockets, and bought more of the same for the tree. But it stretches out when I sew – I’m afraid this might not become an heirloom after all… But at this point I fail to care. The main goal is to get it done.

Unforeseen toubles

Well, I didn’t think of this possibility when I started my 365 days of no clothing shopping… I’ve lost 10 kg (that’s 22lbs) since July. The new pair of jeans I had got then are so loose I can pull them on and off with the zipper and the button closed. They look really baggy. I have another pair of jeans that fits somewhat better but those are the ones I needed to replace, and had been dedicated to be playground jeans. They’re back in regular duty now, in spite of looking rather worn…

I’ve been wearing a lot more skirts lately. The only problem is that it’s too cold to wear them on their own – and my leggings are too big too! Which ones are easier to make, jeans or leggings??

I haven’t got any t-shirts made yet either. The fabrics I was so happy about shrank in the wash (and this, children, is why you always wash your fabrics before sewing…) and they’re now barely enough to make a 1980s crop top. I didn’t wear those in the 80s, I’m not going to wear them now. But I need t-shirts. I didn’t find any t-shirt jersey from Our Social Fabric last time, and I couldn’t make it to today’s sale, I’ll have to figure something out. Maybe I’ll pull one of the big ones from my material stash and refashion it, and see what comes of that.

Three months into the challenge. We’ll see how this goes.

Our Social Fabric

Our Social Fabric is a textile recycling initiative, a non-profit that collects donations of fabric and sells them to anyone who wants to buy. The fabrics come from individuals as well as from businesses – garment factories here in Canada (yes, they do exist), film industry, and so on. They are fabrics that aren’t needed and would end up in the landfill, thus adding to the massive volume of solid waste that we dispose of each year.

Instead, volunteers sort out and price the fabrics, organize them in bins according to colour, or leave bigger amounts on bolts – you can buy the whole thing, or get a piece cut for you. OSF announces their sale dates on their website and their Facebook page, and people go and shop. You can also find patterns, books, notions and other sewing-related stuff.

It’s like a treasure hunt – you never know what’s there. In October I scored a 3-meter piece of gorgeous purple silk that’s going to become a dress. (Part of it also became a cape for my little boy, now also called Captain Purple – the only preschool superhero with a genuine silk cape.) And here’s my loot from yesterday’s sale – also called a new dress, a new pair of pants, and who knows what else…

There’s a second piece of the same purple silk, some beige linen-like fabric (although I suspect it’s a blend of some kind), and the light blue, heavily woven, wonderfully drapey, unknown fiber pieces of fabric that will become a wearable muslin (I hope) for the purple silk dress. Missing from the lot is a 4-meter piece of blue cotton that someone (aka. Captain Purple) was turning into a fort when I took the photo…Ā 

Ah, here he is, after pulling down his fort when he needed a scarf instead. šŸ™‚

So that’s yards and yards of fabric that cost me $24 (but only because the silk was a bit more expensive than others) and didn’t end up in the landfill.

The only question I have is, why didn’t I check OSF out years ago?

T-shirts, jeans, etc…

Well, sewing for myself has been on hold. I haven’t finished a single t-shirt… It wouldn’t take too long but somehow there’s always something else to do.

I realized last week that this old pair of jeans I have isn’t going to last even through the winter if I wear them every day – or at least it’s not going to last in such a condition that I could wear them out in public… I’ve started to wear more dresses and skirts with leggings just to save the jeans, and I actually like it! Maybe I’ll become a woman who wears mostly skirts by the time this year is over… They’re easier to make too. Now I need to figure out how to make leggings. Does anyone have a good pattern or tutorial to recommend?

I’ve been sewing a lot lately, just not for myself. For kids. I have this little project called Purple Cat Designs. As some of you may remember, I use to knit stuff and sell it but figured out eventually that I wasn’t making much money that way, and now that I have a little person to knit for it’s just not worth it… But I do take old adults’ t-shirts and hoodies and turn them into kids’ clothing now. It’s so much fun! I have two markets coming up before Christmas, plus a whole load of custom orders to make for gifts, so I’ve been doing that. I’ll make things for myself once Christmas is over, right? Right…

cement mixer shirt


One great source for sewing patterns and tutorials is Colette Patterns. The company is small, independent and focused on great quality, easy-to-use patterns. Their sewing handbook is the perfect starting point for any new sewer.

Earlier this summer (I’m still calling it summer – the weather is mighty fine here in Vancouver) I bough a dress pattern from Colette. Shortly after I had bought it I got an email that there was going to be a sew-along for the dress. I signed up but didn’t manage to find the time to finish the dress in time.

It’s finished now, and I’m very happy with it. I think it’s a great way to start my year of sewing. I adjusted the pattern a bit, left out the elastic from the waist (gathered skirts aren’t my thing) and made it more fitted. I think it’s just a bit too tight over the bust but otherwise it fits well.

myrtle dress