Have you made the MMM pledge?

‘I, Joanne of Zoe Livana, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear a handmade or refashioned item each day for the duration of May 2013. In addition, I endeavor to make a pair of pants or skirt (hopefully both) in May 2013.’

In honour of accepting this challenge, I’ve decided to give you a brief history of my sewing experience. Read on if you’re interested.

I’ve only been blogging since the beginning of the year, but I’ve been sewing for much longer than that. I’ve been sewing since junior high, and my first project was a pair of boxer shorts, which I finished so quickly that I was able to do a second project, which was a little bag that looked like a miniature gym bag  (I still have it back at my parents house filled with old makeup). The following year, I chose a more challenging project, which was a stuffed bear, which I gave to my Oma when I was finished.

In high school, I made several garments for myself. My favourite was a pair of wide-legged trousers I made from bright turquoise corduroy. The pattern I used was vintage, and was missing the fly pieces, and not knowing anything about putting in a fly, I just attached a zipper like you would to a skirt, not even lapped! But I lived in those pants! They were so comfortable and I got loads of compliments on them at school.

I kind of commandeered my mom’s sewing machine, so for my graduation present she got me my very own sewing machine. Yup, while my classmates were wishing for new cars, all I really wanted was to sew! My first job was at Fabricland in Calgary, a job I started in my last year of high school (mainly to pay for gas) and kept about a year after I graduated. I went on a trip to Europe after that a few months later when I came back, I found a job at another fabric shop! It was during these  years of working at fabric shops that I accumulated a lot of what’s in my stash.  Not that our employee discount was so great, but we could always watch the sales, and know when nice fabric was being marked down for the bargain basement.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of years and I find myself in The Netherlands studying for my bachelor’s degree, during which time I sewed a few small projects using the sewing machine belonging to my boyfriend’s mother. I hadn’t had my own sewing machine for about 5 or 6 years, so in realizing that I probably wasn’t going back to Canada, I took my sewing machine back to The Netherlands with me one holiday. I bought a special converter for it and everything so I wouldn’t fry the insides and I’ve been using it ever since, sometimes on a daily basis, and since I’ve started blogging “regularly”, definitely every week!

Now that Me Made May is in sight, I immediately see the holes in my sewing wardrobe, namely no pants that I’ve sewn myself. I made tons of pants back in high school, but I’ve grown (wider, unfortunately, not taller) since then, and haven’t sewn pants for myself since, I think. Ok, that’s not entirely true, I made a pair of leggings a few months ago that turned out horribly. They were designed for teenagers, I think. You know, the thin ones who wear everything on their hips. I know I did at that age. Nowadays, if I wear pants on my hips, I also have a bad case of plumbers butt. Yes, I admit it! And muffin top. We like muffin tops to stay on our muffins, not on our pants.

You may see a pattern going on in my blog so far, that is, I like to make dresses and tops, which is why I’ve also challenged myself to make pants and a skirt next month. Right now, surprise surprise, I have a top and a dress on the slab, and if I can squeeze it in, I also want to make a party dress for an event next month. My sister-in-law is also due at the end of the month, so I want to make her a Perfect Nursing Top as well. But I did recently cut out the Kelly Skirt and the Thurlow Trousers. These are definitely on my to-do list.

I am going to visit my parent’s in May, so I’m hoping that when I pack, I will be able to choose a travel wardrobe filled with self-stitched items. I was already going to challenge myself to take a small amount of clothing and mix and match when I get there. My sister has already told me that I can use her fancy new sewing machine and her Fabricland membership while I’m there, so I might have to take those patterns with me and whip them up there. Also, I should have a look for some photos of those awesome corduroy pants to show you guys!

For guidelines and to sign up for me-made-may, visit So, Zo…’s blog.

Sureau pattern giveaway winner!

And the winner is… Drumroll please…



Congratulations to Sabrina T on winning the Sureau pattern! Happy sewing!


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Sureau reveal and a giveaway


Hello everyone. Today I am revealing my Sureau dress to you. And I also realized that my blog has been around for a whole year! I’ve only really started blogging the last few months, but still… It warrants a giveaway, don’t you think? Sorry, the giveaway is now closed. First, the reveal.

ImageI love how the style cinches in my waist. I cut a size 40 for the top and a 42 for the skirt. I also added 4cm to the bodice to make the seam lay on my waist. I could have even added another centimeter.


I used a 100% cotton fashion fabric I found in the outlet section of my local fabric store, Jan Sikkes. It cuts and sews up beautifully, and even has a little bit of stretch to it.


I’d like to give a shout out to the coffee shop blog for this awesome photoshop action.


Isn’t the strawberry button the cutest?!

ImageAs you can see from the two photos above, the bust area is a bit of a problem. I took the one above after I lifted my arms and pulled the dress back down a bit. The facing doesn’t lay flat on one side, and it kind of bubbles on the other side.  I unfortunately have no idea how to fix it, and standing completely straight and with my shoulders back doesn’t make me excited. Maybe I need to move the underbust darts down?

sureau giveaway

 Would you like to make your own Sureau? You have a chance to win this pattern! Just leave a comment telling me about the fabric you’d like to use to make it. The contest is open to anyone in the world with a mailing address. I will choose a winner in one week and will announce the winner on 15 april 2013.

Sorry, the giveaway is now closed.

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A bombardment of stashbusting briars Part 3 of 3

Welcome to part 3 of my stashbusting briars. If you want to make your own, order the briar pattern here.


Version 3: Short sleeves

Get ready for a few crazy photos. I think I got tired of ‘normal’ posing by the last top.






For part 1 click here

For part 2 click here

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A bombardment of stashbusting briars Part 2 of 3

Welcome to part 2 of my stashbusting briars. If you want to make your own, order the briar pattern here.


Version 2: 3/4 length sleeves

For this version, I added 3cm to the length. I had added 2cm to the long sleeved one, but I wanted to make the hem a bit wider, thus the extra centimeter. I’m not crazy about the neckline facing in this one, not the facing itself but just the way it drapes on me. I like the one on the long sleeved one better, which I did with a needle.


briar 1-4


The unflattering but necessary back view.


I think I was channeling Amanda from Bimble and Pimble in this one.

click here for part 1

click here for part 3

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A bombardment of stashbusting briars Part 1 of 3

I am sitting on the couch in a ray of sunshine and I can barely see my computer screen but I don’t care! Even though the temperatures are low, the sun offers a promise that spring is around the corner if I’m just a wee bit patient.


Briar is definitely my favourite pattern at the moment. I only had time to make one in February for the sewalong, but now that I have a bit more time, I’ve been whipping them up like nobody’s business!

They probably take about 2 hours in total (a little more than two episodes of your favourite show) to make, including cutting out the fabric. There are only 4 pieces: a front, a back, and two sleeves, and because it’s made of jersey fabric, there’s no need for zippers. The only zipping you’re doing is zipping through this project!

I don’t have a serger, so I used a zigzag stitch for the seams and then trimmed them down to about 0.7cm (half of the seam allowance). And the hems were done with a twin needle. This is a must for sewing with jersey/knit fabric in my humble opinion!

The only other thing I’d say is to PRESS THOSE SEAMS AND HEMS. It’s recommended in the instruction booklet, and you should take it to heart.  I kept coming out with wavy hems, for example. I stretched them out a bit, then pressed them, and the tops look just like they came off a rack.

I’ve broken this post into 3 parts, one for each version of the briar. The other two are 3/4 sleeve and short sleeves.


Version 1: long sleeves

For this version, I added 2 cm to the length of the top and I finished the neckline with a twin needle, just like with the hems.

briar2-1 velvet truffle





Click here for part 2

Click here for part 3


Reveal: The Cordova Jacket in Black and White


So here it is finally! I have a few things left to do on the inside, but it’s pretty much done.

First, I promised to tell you about how I attached the peplum. Since Tasia from Sewaholic did not reply to me, I decided to ask the lovely Trisha from Made by Trisha because she made a great version of the Cordova jacket in purple. Here was her reply:

I’m at work, so I don’t have the pattern in front of me, but if I remember correctly, I think I had a similar issue. If memory serves me, the back of the jacket needs to be a bit longer than the peplum so you can fold it under slightly for the hem. Does that make sense?

So I had to fake it to make it. I ended up pinning and sewing the peplum 3.5cm from the back edge. It turned out pretty well, but I probably should have made it 4cm. I hope this helps some of you who want to make the jacket.

I’m pretty happy with this jacket. I like the contrasting fabrics. Don’t ask me about this silly pose.

I’m not sure aout the size. Once I saw this picture, I kind of think it’s a bit too big on me. Although, that would make it easy to wear a sweater under it.

I love the sleeve pleats! They look so cute! I also didn’t realize how terrible these jeans look from the back! I shall only wear them with tunics from now on.

Well, as a wearable muslin, I think it turned out pretty well. What would I do differently?

  • Maybe I need to cut out a smaller size.
  • I would use a thinner fabric like a canvas.
  • I will definitely line the next one.
  • And attach the peplum 4cm from the lower back bottom edge.

Cordova jacket progress

Hello everyone!

So I’m making a wearable muslin of the Cordova Jacket from Sewaholic patterns. Here’s a little update on my progress:

I decided not to line the jacket, except for the sleeves, so I’m using two finishing techniques for the seams: for the boucle-type fabric, I’m finishing the seams using bias binding; for the wool, I’m just pinking it because it doesn’t fray anyway. Maybe it looks a bit strange, definitely incongruent, but with my track record, it’s pretty good. I’m not one to finish seams at all, but I’m trying to change that. My recent purchase of these new pinking shears shows my commitment to that goal 😉


Here’s a couple of photos of what I’ve done so far. It’s basically step 1 in the instructions, which is to sew together the front and back and sides. I’ve hit a bit of a roadblock with adding the peplum because it’s not supposed to match up at the back.  The bottom of the center back acts as part of the facing. However, mine does match up, and there are no markings or measurements for me to follow.


Sure, I could figure it out by measuring the facing and stuff, but that takes time. And I’d rather be working on my thesis or my blog than figure out a pattern. So I wrote a quick message to Tasia of Sewaholic patterns to get some advice, which I will share with you in my next progress report.

On a side note, that bit of blue showing through on my dressform was a failed attempt at a Roxanne tunic from Victory Patterns. I was making a wearable muslin from an old voile curtain. But curtain voile is a terrible fabric to make something fashionable out of! When I tried it on, the sleeves were pulling in the back, which totally wrecked the fabric. I think, I mean, I know I have to make it out of a different fabric, and maybe add a little bit extra around the shoulder. So it was not in vain. But I am not ready to part with it yet, that’s why it’s still on my dress form.

Everybody hurts, sometimes.

I recently read a tumblr post from a DIYer confessing that she had problems with depression. That same day, I went to change my incoming voicemail message and BOOM. My old recorded message was still there. My pre-accident message.

Dad on quad

My dad, on the left, riding said quad

That may not seem like just cause to break into tears, but I did. You see, I had this accident a few years ago where I ran into a tree with a quad. It was just a normal day. I had gone with my parents to British Columbia to visit family there for the weekend. On the second day, early afternoon, my cousin had taken out the quads. One was small that the kids could ride and the other was a huge motherfucker. So the kids were wizzing around. My dad also took his turn on the quad. Someone asked if I wanted to go on, but I at first refused. But it looked so fun. So I changed out of my skirt and into blue jeans, I borrowed a pair of sneakers from my younger cousin, put on a helmet, and after a quick lesson on how to shift and accelerate, I was winding my way through the yard.

Dad on quad 2

Dad on said quad, right, and my parents dog, left

I looped around the side of the house, but there was a tree in the way. I tried to avoid it, but somehow the quad got away from me. Nobody saw it and I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I ended up pinned between the tree and the quad. Not being able to breathe from the force, I passed out. I came to with someone saying “somebody call an ambulance!” in the background. As it turns out, thankfully, my cousin heard the motor sound change, and when he came to check, thinking I’d stalled the engine, he proceeded to pull the quad off of me all by himself.

I was laying on my stomach, helmet still on my head, and my parents on either side of me.  I remember that the helmet seemed like it was choking me, so I took it off myself. Then I touched my neck and I looked at my hand and there was blood on it. I couldn’t swallow and I kept apologizing for having to spit. When the ambulance finally arrived, after what seemed like forever, they checked my spine and turned me over. They could see the injury on my neck, but they had to check for other injuries, so they cut off my clothing, which I remember totally pissing me off because if they’d asked me to, I would have taken them off myself. I was wearing new jeans and a new leather jacket that I had gotten on sale and knew at that silly moment that I’d never find another jacket like that at that price. I was perfectly coherent, answering all of the EMT’s questions, yet unable to give a good answer to the question of “what happened?”

air ambulance

The ambulance that came to get me

In the meantime, an air ambulance landed in the neighbour’s yard across the street. I was on a stretcher and I had my neck stabilized and an oxygen mask over my face and mouth. I was wheeled into the ambulance and we took a very short ride across the street to get to the helicopter. It was the only helicopter ride I’d been on in my life and I’m kind of sad it happened when I couldn’t enjoy it. They strapped me in and gave me one of those sucky things they have at the dentist to suck out the spit from your mouth because I couldn’t swallow.

I think they took me to Columbia hospital, a car ride that would normally take 45 minutes from my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Surrey, took only 10 minutes in the helicopter. That’s where I got to go in an MRI so they could rule out any spinal injuries I think. When it was clear, they took the neck brace off. I remember thinking that I really had to go pee, but all of the doctors were talking around me and not to me, so I waited. When I finally got the chance to tell them I had to go, they told me they were going to put me under and put a catheter in. It was quite scary because I still felt like I could get up and go by myself, even though my airway was slowly closing.

In the time I was out, I was intubated and transferred to another hospital, Burnaby I think, so I could have surgery done by a specialized ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor. As it turns out, my larynx had been broken, along with some soft tissue damage on the left side of neck. Also, both of my vocal chords had been detached, either in the accident or during the intubation. So the ENT doctor had to reattach the vocal chords and did a tracheotomy because my throat was much too swollen for me to breathe on my own.

Apparently I woke up shortly after the surgery, but I was so doped up that I lost at least a day. What I finally remember was waking up with a tube in my nose and a tube in my throat and I could not talk. My mom was there and she told me not to talk and that she had called my husband and he was trying to get there as soon as possible. However, at the time, there was still a bit of volcanic ash from the Iceland volcano erruption that had happened about a month before, and there were a lot of people who had to travel that had been delayed. The accident happened on a Saturday, and I think he arrived on the following Wednesday.

Now for the fun part.

To be continued…


The Cordova Jacket preparations


The first thing that struck me about this pattern was the fact that I needed to cut out one size! I knew that Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear-shaped women, but it still surprised me that I didn’t need to flare out the pattern at the hips. It took me a whole episode of Bunheads to cut out, but then my scissors were dull, so that didn’t help.

I ‘finished’ this sack dress from a burda download recently and when I tried it on before hemming, I realized that it didn’t fit correctly. It was too tight around my thighs and too huge around my waist. It literally looked like I was wearing a potato sack made from fashion fabrics. I made the dress out of a remnant of black wool coating and a heavy knit for contrast at the sides. I tried to take it in a bit at the waist, but it still looked terrible. So I’m going to selvage the wool to make a wearable muslin for the Cordova jacket.

I don’t think it will be enough, so I shall take this really cool black and white checkered fabric I bought to make a purse and use it as contrast and maybe a sleeve. I’ll have to see when I lay out the pattern pieces. I’m not going to line the jacket. Maybe the sleeves. Instead I’m going to finish all of the seams with seam binding. I’ll save the work of adding a lining to the other Cordova jacket project I have in mind.

A quick google search of the Cordova jacket has yielded no process photos from any bloggers. Would anyone like to see my process? I’ve never really taken a lot of photos while I’m sewing, but I could try.  Well, I’ll leave you with a photo of me getting ready to cut out the pattern. And yes, that’s the sack dress.


So, I was able to cut out all of the pieces from the dress and the checkered fabric except for the front facing. So I might cut up an old pair of black treggings for that.

I think this goes well with the stashbusting challenge theme for March: Impending Seasonal Change. I am really looking forward to summer so I can wear all my pretty dresses. In the meantime, I might be able to get away with that if I have a warm and stylish jacket to cover up with.