5 steps for a better year of sewing


UPDATE YOUR STATS | Ideally, you’d be doing this before starting every project but being mindful to remeasure yourself periodically will save you from unplanned surprises when things don’t fit. Granted, you may want to wait until after you’ve fully digested the holiday leftovers and get a friend to help you with the tricky parts like shoulder width and hips. I like to put my numbers on a sticky note right on the inside cover of my sewing notebook so it’ll be an easy reference whenever I need it.

INVENTORY YOUR STASH | No matter which method you use to organize (or not) your sewing stash, chances are there are deep dark corners that you have no idea what is hiding in there. Brave the uncertainty and have a thorough inventory of your fabrics, sewing supplies, books and notions. Knowing what you have, and maybe discovering a few new things you forgot you had is a great way to get a baseline for how to approach your projects in the new year. Make a list of items that need replacing and create a spot where all your supplies have a dedicated home – I’ve found that being prepared is the first step to a successful project.

GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO LET GO | Guilt. You know it, I know it and it’s often what prevents us from letting go of projects that are going no where. The difference I found with sewing, as compared to my other hobbies like makeup, is that the process to learning creates a lot of failed tangible material objects. You feel guilty for cutting into that nice piece of fabric only for it to look less than flattering when trying it on and even more guilty to get rid of it because of the time and energy already spent on it. Sometimes an item is worth re-strategizing and sometimes, if it brings you anxiety just to look in it’s direction – just let it go! The money was spent the moment you bought the fabric and it’s served the purpose of practice so stop hanging onto items you dread working on and start fresh. Continue reading

2018 Sewing Plans

Well hello there 2018! I’m super excited to bring you my sewing plans for this upcoming year and this time, I’ve decided to streamline my thoughts into focus areas rather than dictate specific project plans. The latter I found, as I attempted to do the #2017MakeNine series, became too constricting and didn’t reflect my mood changes throughout the year. As one commenter in my video noted; hobbies should be fun, relaxing and certainly not cause stress or feel like a creative burden. With that as my guide, I intend to let projects flow as the year progresses and have set looser guidelines to guide my year. Should you want to keep track of my progress through the months, you can find the finner details in the sewing tab at the top of the page – I’ll be looking forward to ticking all the boxes!
Happy Sewing,

Tips on sewing a workwear wardrobe

Workwear. One of those words that sounds terribly boring on the surface but has so much inner potential. While I do prefer non-fussy and easy to wear pieces, I also advocate for a working wardrobe that makes you excited and happy to put on clothes in the morning. When it came to off the rack options, my struggles had always been fit and price point. Being short and dressing professionally can often be at odds with each other. And then it suddenly struck me, with a twist in colours and fabric choices, there was no reason that I shouldn’t or couldn’t sew my own workwear. Here’s a peep at what I picked up recently and my plans creating your own ready to work sewing capsule.

Before you get too excited picking out patterns left and right, it’s crucial to evaluate your everyday environment both at work and on the way to/from work. This is especially important if you transit as you’ll need to account for weather and temperature challenges. Personally, this translates into comfortable but weather proof pieces that will keep warm on the road but still dust off nicely when I step into the office. Full length pants with ankle coverage so I can pair with boots along with an easy pull on waist design so I’m not fumbling with zippers and buttons. Options in crisp wovens or wooly knits would be ideal.

The magic word of the fashion world, layering is something to keep in mind when planning a handmade wardrobe as well. Lots of brands offer patterns that contain a mix and match set of pieces that you can duplicate in different colours and textures but still maintain a cohesive overall look. These are great if you find a silhouette you love or don’t want to fuss with piecing together individual separates. All the hard planning is done for you so all you do is sew it up and go.

If tackling a whole working capsule seems much too daunting, start off with one key area in your collection that you want to expand. For me, this means tops, blouses and sweaters because while I can get away with wearing the same two pair of pants throughout the week, I am missing interchangeable top pieces that add fun to dressing up. This translated into buying designs for silky tops that will make use of all the fun prints I always see in the fabric store but never know what to do with. Think multi-seasonal, the same pieces could be worn solo or layered under a long vest in the chillier months.

Its sounds like common sense but having a vision of the colour palette or specific fabric for your sewing pattern before you check out means you’re more likely to sew  it and see it to completion. I would say this takes the most experience to truly grasp because it’s so easy to just see the design as its made in the photo sample. Figure out what element attracts you to that pattern and how will it look with the rest of your closet. When I see Butterick 4136 for example, I know it’ll be so stylish as a gingham or tweed skirt paired with tall suede boots and a cozy sweater.

Just as I started this post talking about the challenges of great fit in a professional capsule closet, I want to end on this note as well. If you do a little extra digging, you will find that the Big 4 (Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity, McCalls) do have a few options for petite sizing which means you’re more likely to get a better fit straight from the envelope with minimal adjustments. Most of today’s picks were chosen for exactly this reason and I can’t wait to get started on them.

Follow my sewing progress on Instagram #sewwithgerry through the week to see what I’m making.

Happy Sewing,

Handmade| Ogden Camisole – True Bias

Ogden Camisole - True Bias
Ogden Camisole - True Bias


This sassy little tank top started with me in my usual habitat…shopping, when I came upon this beautifully whimsical fabric with prints of little bees in bright yellow. On the next few trips, I’d always stop by to look at it on the bolt but with nothing to use for it, every time it stayed in the shops.

PATTERN: True Bias – Ogden Camisole

MY NUMBERS: 34 – 27.5 – 37
PATTERN SIZE: 2 (B33-W27-H35)
EDITS: Shortened body and straps
FINISHES: Double stitched rolled hem

That is, until I found the Ogden Camisole pattern and what do you know, the two together is completely adorable! As I don’t prefer to wear anything too fussy design wise, I often find myself at the cusp of being boring with my wardrobe but it’s these unexpected combination of fun fabrics and classic silhouettes that creates an interesting modern piece. My challenge with finding the perfect ready to wear tank is either a too low cut in front or too long straps but sewing one myself means I can fix both in a jiffy.


Ogden Camisole - True Bias

I love when simplicity in good design makes a garment easy to sew plus easy to wear and Ogden is just that. No bias cutting, no complicated seam finishes plus this even comes with a built in facing (which I’ll have to lengthen next time). Being adventurous, I thought the loose looking camisole would be fine sized down but as you can see, it pulls at my high bust (where the fabric creates horizontal lines) so I’ll have to go in for a size 4 next time. Can’t wait to see how this looks made up in blush pinks, stripes, florals, leopards…..

Happy Sewing,


SEW WHAT NOW | August sewing updates & progress

Well, I think the reality is I simply can’t seem to pre-plan or sew fast enough to wear the things when I need them! Somehow creating a wearable wardrobe is about sewing one season ahead despite it not being the most motivational. My summer progress has been slow but a few new patterns always puts me in a good mood and hey at least I got some fall things ready to go… (I say this as I’m sitting at my chair toasting in the muggy heat and seriously contemplating running cold bath).
Anyone else loving the Chanel fall collection? I might have to do some online shopping to match those gorgeous colour combinations but I haven’t been this wow’d in a while and it’s giving me all kinds of feelings!  How would you wear these colours in your wardrobe?
Happy sewing,

Monochrome to foxes – discovering colour in my wardrobe

The best thing about getting back into garment sewing has been all the all the little revelations and epiphanies along the way. In between sewing pockets and struggling with zippers, I’ve been really excited to fall in love with colour again. 
In my childhood my mother dressed me in ditzy florals and pastel pink button down shirts but my teenage years were clouded by blacks, greys and lots of denim (denim my friends, is another story). Coming out on the other side in early twenties, I had soon adopted a fear of colours and prints. I often hummed and hawed over what went together then shove my frustrated pile in the back of my closet and put on something safe instead. Didn’t they always say black was slimming? The problem was that I had stopped loving my clothes.
Colourful fabric prints

My wardrobe overhaul has been in the works for more than a year now yet looking back at the progress, I’m glad that it was a slow and purposeful project. I started branching out from my comfortable greys into coloured solids and classic patterns like stripes and polka dots then before you know it I was buying foxes, poppies and cartoon clouds. My guidance came from bloggers like Oh Joy and Oona Balloona who expressed so much happiness through their bright and colourful clothing choices that it was practically addicting.
This week I’ve thinking about this new vintagey mustard yellow floral rayon that’s going to be made into an Eve dress; it makes me smile just looking at it! I’m really starting to think this is what life should be about.
Chat soon,

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Sew What Now | Whats on my cutting table

Just as I’m typing up the title for this post, I realize I’ve been a little forgetful about proper sewing updates. In fact, the last Sew What Now video was from the holidays but this month, a blog post will just have to do. Despite the slow start to spring this year, I’m looking forward to getting a few skirts into my wardrobe because I’ve wearing nothing but my dark denim and waterproof boots and I am so done.

SIMPLICITY 7069 | The 70s Slip

This pattern was a impulse purchase after my frustrations with sewing up a Seamwork Ariane slip. While I was initially smitten with the contoured cups and stylish elastic edging, I just didn’t have the skill set to tackle it and now it lays in the maybe-later bag. This 70s vintage slip has a few of the same elements such as the bust shaping but in a much more relaxed design and you know…no fussy lingerie elastic. While I will have to make some height adjustments, I love that this is a 5-in-1 design that will pretty much cover everything I’ll need to build a basic under-dress collection. This is one of my #2017MAKENINE projects.

SIMPLICITY 1688 | The 50s Librarian

Think cropped sweater, little gloves and seam backed stockings… I immediately feel in love with this 50s skirt pattern when I first saw it. Frankly, I’m always looking for pieces that are fitted but without zippers and this one even allows for a lined option – navy outer with leopard print insides anyone? This would be great as a fall/winter staple but might work in a medium weight twill for spring as well. Piping to the edges? Cool button details? How about an external pocket? Oh the possibilities!

McCalls 5912 | The 70s Casual Chic

Now this is a bit of a remake as I first stitched up a heavy weight test version of this 70s double slit skirt during the winter…except its now too big. The great thing is that practice makes perfect and cutting into this pattern a second time, I found myself breezing through the instructions and this will most lightly be the next completed project post coming to your screen! There’s a sneak peek of it over on my Instagram but I can tell you now that the fit (in a smaller size) is amazing and it will definitely be a well loved hit in my wardrobe.

In other news, I’ve also made a few changes to my original plans for #2017MAKENINE as I’ve replaced a few of the projects with other additions so make sure you pop over to that page to see what’s up and as always, you can find me on social media for instant sewing progress… and maybe a few fails too because what’s life without a little variety.

Happy Sunday,

I made a vintage wiggle dress | McCalls 3461

There’s a lesson to be learned here and I’m just going to call it out now; perseverance (paired with Google) makes you a winner. If this dress looks familiar to you it’s because I started cutting the fabric two years ago and have only recently completed it with a cry of exaltation! This vintage McCalls dress was one of the first in my now growing collection of decade sewing patterns and the chic illustration along with sophisticated silhouette caught my eye right away but I was in for a wild ride.

Pattern: McCalls 3461
My Measurements: 34 – 27 – 37
Pattern Size: 12 (B32-W25-H35)
Edits: Narrowed the seam allowances to accommodate for fit, regular back zip instead of lapped zip
Finishes: Seams zig-zagged, kick pleat at back, sleeves and neckline faced

What I love: The fit on this dress makes me so happy! I really wonder why modern commercial patterns (and indie ones at that), no longer give fit options for different height variations right in one envelope. It’s a common misconception that petite adjustments simply mean taking a few extra inches at the hem but a proportioned fit means everything from sleeves to torso and even how high the back slit ends. This feels so much better on than 90% of what I try on in a shop at the mall and I’m smitten.

Details: One thing I quickly learned about vintage style is that darts are a big deal. Closer fitting silhouettes mean the need for more shaping details so there’s plenty of front and back darts on the bodice as well as the skirt itself. It helps to create a more hourglass figure even if you may not be blessed with one. On me, this dress actually has a looser fit in the hips but its well disguised as the skirt puffs out a little on its own. It has a back kick pleat which looked intimidating to sew but actually turned out just fine. And pockets? Yes please!

Challenges: One word. Zippers. Having only successfully installed a dress zipper once in all my years of sewing; I was over confident that putting in a 22″ lapped zipper as the last step on a full constructed dress was going to be easy. Oh so wrong! First I couldn’t even get the entire piece to fit under the sewing machine without wrinkling into a big bundle and then I came the problem of not getting close enough to the zipper teeth. One year, 3 books plus a few Youtube tutorials later and I finally put the entire zipper in albeit not a lapped version. Hey, exposed zips are trendy now right?

All challenges and frustrations aside, this single dress taught me so much about fine sewing and I’m excited to delve deeper into techniques and more dresses! I’ve also become more selective about choosing proportioned vintage patterns which means I can focus more on the sewing and less on the fitting. Would I make this dress again? Not until the memories of the dreadful zipper fades but I probably will give it another go at some point. Now if only the westcost rains will clear up so I can wear this out!

Happy Sewing,

My first quilt…in progress | #sewwithgerry

Sleep Tight Quilt
I’ve always made it perfectly clear that despite my love for sewing, quilting was not my calling. And granted while I still don’t think I have the patient and dexterity for real piece by piece quilting, I was completely smitten with this Sleep Tight fabric collection designed by Sarah Watts..so much so that I am now in possession of a piece of this all the way from Japan, shelled out money for quilt batting and am now madly Googling quilting for beginners. If you look at the history of the craft, it was traditionally born out of making do with fabric remnants and scraps but has now grown into a huge community. In fact, here in Vancouver, I’m willing to bet there’s many more quilters than actual garment sewists.
With the print on this fabric being the star of the show, I didn’t want to cover it all up with machine quilting stitches so instead I’m going to attempt some hand work to go over and around the animal motifs and then finish things off with an extra border to add length and width to the panel. Too much newness for a first time quilter? Guess we’ll find out!

Happy Monday,



I made a Japanese wrap dress | #sewwithgerry

It sounds like such a silly trivial thing but I often get super stressed thinking about the prospect of cutting into a beautiful piece of fabric. The inability to do the fabric justice or simply screwing it up always weighs on the back of my mind especially if the piece is vintage…like this little floral number. over the holidays, I finally held my breath and cut into the crisp black cotton which then turned into a little wrap dress and it couldn’t have been any more perfect.

Sewing Floral Wrap Dress//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Pattern: Stylish Party Dresses – Dress H
My Measurements: 34 – 27 – 37 | Size Made: Size 8

Edits: None
Finishes: Seams zig-zagged, hem/sleeve edges pressed and stitched, wrap around facing for neckline, self casing elastic at waist.

I am super pleased at how easy this all came together and while there are many small details to be sewn, the overall process didn’t use any fancy techniques yet produced a very professional finish – something that I often attribute to Japanese styling and design. The dress itself is actually quite roomy especially in the bust and hips but the simple elastic at the waist pulls it together enough to be flattering. To be on the safe side I did round up my measurements to a Size 8 but I speculate that a Size 6 might be just fine as well (the key would be the should width fit). If you don’t plan on wearing this with a slip (which is what I will eventually be doing once I make one), I highly recommend adding a hook and eye closure or a snap at the intersection of the bust wrap.

This is the case of a project in which the colour and pattern can completely change the feel of the finished dress and it’s often something I try to impart when I talk about purchasing vintage patterns that can look dated. A wrap dress like this can be worn on the weekends with ballet flats, your white slip on Vans or to the office with a pair of heels. If made in a thicker ponte de roma or double knit, it can pass as a fall dress or even winter appropriate in a wool so the options are plentiful. I’m so excited to wear this out once the warm start cooperating and there will certainly be more of this design to come.

Happy Sewing,