Friday, August 26, 2011

Mitchell Fabrics - A Non-Chain Store!

I just discovered the best fabric store in Winnipeg. Actually, I've been there before, but not since getting into garment sewing, and I'd sort of forgot about it. NOT ANYMORE!

Photo from

Mitchell Fabrics is a family-owned company that was established in 1946, and is apparently the largest and best known independent fabric store in Canada. AND IT'S IN MY HOME CITY! EEEEE! Ahem, anyways. It's a huge store, with over 22,000 square feet spread over two floors, and a third floor dedicated to warehouse space. They also have a wholesale division that specializes in the fabrics used by local Hutterite colonies, and other similar communities across Canada and the US, which I think is pretty cool.

Very lovely lace knit fabric (colours were nicer in person), at $2.97/m. Darn it, should've bought some.

Photo from

The main floor hosts the respectable fabrics: quilters cotton, denim, apparel fabrics, wedding lace, suiting, shirting, coating, patterns, notions, tools, etc. The place is as big as any Fabricland that I've been to, and is a joy to lose yourself in. I saw silk cotton voile and silk chiffon and various other lovely luxury fabrics for the first time today, and yes, I pet them quite thoroughly. Mmm can't wait for the day that I can afford to sew with those, yessir!

But the basement, OH THE BASEMENT! Okay, the first thing you see is a large display of drapery and upholstery fabrics, but beyond that is all of the 99 cent/m bolts and the VINTAGE FABRIC SECTION!

Original 1960's vintage fabric (as opposed to the vintage inspired prints, I suppose?) Considered purchasing some of that navy with white flowers on the right there, and that lovely geometric blue brown and white in the centre.

Seriously, they have the coolest fabrics! I think Tanit-Isis would blow up from excitement in this section. :D

I can't get over these fabrics! But what would I DO with them?

There was so much I wanted to purchase, but sadly I was shopping with a plan, and I need to be careful with my cash until I find a job. (BOOOOO!) And also they closed at 5:30 and kicked me out of the store, which was just as well.

The tag on this one said it hailed from Japan. LOVE the bright colours! What would you do with it? A dress? A fun tote bag?

My biggest problem with all of these bright fabrics is that I won't buy anything unless I have a plan for it, and I have no idea what I'd do with most of these fabrics.

I adore this fabric. I almost want to buy it and make myself a pillow out of it so that I can snuggle it.

Except the two shown below. The blue with round white and red fabrics would either make a lovely casual top (if it softens up a bit in the wash), and the blue with red and green strawberries definitely needs to be a nice blousy top, don't you think? Although I left them behind, I think I need to go back. I just fear for my wallet if I do...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nattering on about nothing, really, but at least it's a post!

Yeah, I know, I haven't been posting at all of late. Between a family reunion 2 weekends ago, coming down with The Plague and being bed ridden all last week, a wedding this weekend, and then my laptop kicking the bucket, sewing and blogging haven't exactly been a priority.

This despite the fact that my wedding gift was supposed to be a pair of aprons I was supposed to finish last week, but they got an IOU in their wedding card instead. I was too sick to finish, or even start, his apron.

Thank you to those who gave me suggestions on how to applique the dragon on! I've revamped my plan, but your advice will be useful regardless. If and when I ever finish the bloody thing. Turns out the fabric I chose for the main part of the apron is crap - wrinkled like crazy when dried and won't iron out.

I'd include some pictures, but they all died with my laptop. Joy. I do have one I pulled from facebook, though.

Please forgive the disheveled look and gold flats. Picture taken at the end of the night after a whole lot of dancing! Did look cuter with brushed hair, dry face, and heels. :D

The wedding was fun though, and I got to wear a dress I picked up at Value Village. Never ever in a million years would I have thought this silhouette would work for me, but I guess I was wrong. It's quite flattering! Must keep in mind for future dress designs. Must also keep in mind that 100% polyester really does suck for a dancing dress.

I always have ideas for blog posts, but I never seem to get to them. One that I would like to do is a closer look at this dress. It's actually quite interesting, since it's fully lined, has boning, invisible zipper that is overlapped by the waist tie (ties at the back), and interesting seams. I adore how they mixed the bias and straight pieces with the plaid.

Maybe now that I've said that, I'll actually do the post!

I do have another me-made dress to show off, if I ever finish hemming it. I also had a plan for fall/winter sewing, but, well, laptop, so who knows when I'll get back to that. Maybe I backed it up 2 weeks ago, when my laptop first started hinting it was about to kick it, but I'm not sure.

Anyways, I'm done nattering. Until next time, happy sewing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Have you ever been given a sewing tip that changes everything?

While working on a dress yesterday, I was thinking about sewing skills, and the tips and tricks I've learned along the way. I think one of the most useful tips I've ever received was about easing in a sleeve.

I hate easing in sleeves, but I get better at them with every attempt. That's partially because of a tip passed on by Steph from 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World.

After whining about my various failed attempts, Steph suggested that I put the side of the fabric to be eased down against the feed dogs to prevent bunching and help ease the fabric. That...wasn' I'd be doing it previously. I think about this tip every time I have to ease in fabric now. Such a little thing, but it makes a world of difference.

Thanks Steph, for the great sewing tip! It's been immensely helpful in my ongoing war against sleeves!

I think that this shared bank of knowledge is one of the things I love best about the online sewing community. Everyone is so supportive and helpful, and it makes sewing so much more enjoyable.

Do you have a favourite or useful tip that you're glad to have learned? Is there anyone who has passed on a great tip to you, however obvious or simple?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Finished Project: vintage pattern Simplicity 6808 - Apron

So I made an apron.

Actually, it's a gift. My best friend's sister is getting married in about 2 weeks, and I decided to make her and her soon-to-be husband aprons. It was actually my best friend's idea, since her sister likes to cook and bake, and since my buddy is getting them a barbecue, the soon-to-be hubby needs a BBQ apron!

For her apron, I used Simplicity 6808, a pattern from 1966 that I found at Value Village. I was excited to try it out, as I've been wanting to make up a vintage pattern, but am sort of terrified of the fitting issues with these types of patterns. Not so much so with an apron, though.

It was a neat pattern to make up. Useful instructions, but they don't really baby you. And they gave lots of ideas for different finishing variations, which was nice.

I used quilting cotton, and I even lucked out at finding the main print in the clearance aisle. I was drawn to it because the recipients favourite colour is bright blue (in fact, it's one of her wedding colours), but it also included lime green - her kitchen colour, and purple - which will tie in with her soon-to-be's apron (and is her other wedding colour). The discount was a great bonus, especially since the original price was $20/m!

I even made my own double-fold bias tape using my new bias tape tool! Since I wanted a clean, stitch-less look, I attached it the non-lazy way: lining up the raw edges and machine stitching along the fold line of the bias tape, then flipping it around and hand stitching the back side of the bias tape. As opposed to my normal way of attaching bias tape, which includes folding the bias tape over the fabric edge, pinning the snot out of it, and then machine-stitching it on with my fingers crossed. That way...sometimes works... The non-lazy way turned out really nice, to my surprise...and mounting fear for future bias-taped projects.

I only have two complaints about this pattern. First, the front bib is a little too narrow. The bib is designed for a narrower body, and I just find that on my (only slightly! lol) wider body, the proportions look off. But it's not too bad. I'd recommend widening the bottom of the bib at least a couple inches if anyone else tries to make this and isn't as teeny tiny as the sketched women on the envelope.

Second, the pockets droop open too much. They have you attach a piece of fabric the same width of the apron skirt, and sew 2 vertical lines to make 3 pockets. I find that when you're wearing the apron, the pockets droop open, and it flairs out too much, probably because of the heavy bias tape along the opening. I solved this by attaching snaps at the top of each pocket to keep them closed and close to the body. Buttons could be a fun alternative, or even just sewing more, smaller pockets.

This was a fun pattern to make, and very easy. It's no wonder aprons are often the first project people sew!

For the soon-to-be hubby, I'm making a basic black apron (of my own design), but since he like purple and dragons, I'm going to attempt designing and appliqueing on a dragon cooking a hotdog.

Have I mentioned I've never appliqued before? I even just had to look up how to spell the word! If anyone has any useful tips and tricks (or links to tips and tricks) of appliqueing, I'd be very grateful!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Zig-Zag Quilt Construction

There is so much craziness going on in my life right now, it's sort of ridiculous. But you don't need to hear about that, so instead I'm going to share with you one of my little, newly discovered joys.


I swore, swore that I was never going to quilt again after making my Mom's scrabble quilt a year and a half ago. Then I won that cute quilt top kit, and all of a sudden, I'm hooked!

I started it when I was at my Mom's and itching to do something creative, figuring I'd get a few triangle squares put together. But Lo! I got them ALL made up. And then I got all of the horizontal strips sewn together. Haven't gotten much further on it since returning to the city, but I'm itching to do more.

I think I've caught some sort of quilters rash. Is there a cream to help with this?

Anyways, I was pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to make the triangle squares. I didn't have access to either the internet or my Quilting Grandmother, but a little thought went a long way, and I wound up using the internet approved method after all!

I simply marked a diagonal line from corner to corner on the light blue fabric with a pen fabric pencil, then layered and pinned it to one of the patterned pieces.

Then I simply stitched 1/4 inch away from this line on both sides of the mark. I don't have any of those fancy quilters tools, so I just used the edge of my zig-zag foot. (Apt, using a zig zag foot for my Zig-Zag Quilt - maybe I should incorporate some zig-zag stitches to it as well!)

Then all you need to do is cut along the line, and voila! Two completed triangle squares!

Just make sure that you put right sides together, NOT wrong sides. Whoops!

Once I got the triangle squares together, I had a great time playing with different designs. Here's a few of the ones I tried, as shown in some quick figures I made in Powerpoint. (BTW, it was ridiculously easy to make these in the program, once you get your square design made. Keep that in mind!)

Option 1: Keeping all like fabrics together in a zig-zag. I liked the idea of it because I love all the fabrics in the kit, and this was a great way to show them off. But I wasn't a huge fan of it in practice, since some of the more directional prints looked off.

Option 2: I mixed up the fabrics in this version, which I liked much better. Actually, this design was a bit of a whoops. I was trying to make the bigger, 3 square deep zig-zags, but messed up the sides. While it was a neat effect, the centre peaks looked too much like arrows, and I wasn't a fan of the affect.

Option 3:
What I was trying to do in option 2. I seriously considered this one, because I felt that the larger zig-zags really showcased the fabric well. But in the end, I simply liked the final option best.

Option 4 (and obviously my choice): I really did like the small zig-zags from option 1, but with the mixed up pattern. But instead of zig-zagging across the shorter width of the quilt, I decided to make them go across the long edge of the quilt. It worked out really well with 4 zig-zag rows.

3 of the horizonal rows are missing, being stitched up and draped over a chair. But you can see the affect.

As it turns out, this is exactly how Nikol made her version of the quilt. Hehehe, whoops! Oh well, we'll have twin quilts!
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