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Crafting a Rainbow

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Come visit me on Wordpress!

It’s official - Crafting a Rainbow has moved! You can find me now at http://craftingarainbow.wordpress.com/ ! 

It’s been a few weeks now since Tumblr blocked Bloglovin’ users from seeing Tumblr blogs, and I’m tired of waiting for them to sort it out. I’m also annoyed at Tumblr for blocking 3/4 of my readers in one fell swoop. So bye bye Tumblr, hello Wordpress!

Unfortunately, because my tumblr blog is not going out to Bloglovin’ users, it’s a bit hard to spread the word that I’m moving. I’ll apologize now that I’m about to bombard you all on Twitter and Instagram with reminders that I’ve moved… and I’m even asking a few bloggy friends to help me out by adding a little message from me to their next blog post.

If you kind souls would help me too by tagging the following message onto the end of a post sometime, that would be much appreciated! <3 

"Hiya! Gillian from Crafting A Rainbow here, letting you know that I’ve moved my blog from Tumblr to Wordpress, so you can now follow me here: http://craftingarainbow.wordpress.com/ Tumblr has been blocking Bloglovin’ users from seeing Tumblr blogs since early August, so I’m relying on the kindness of the blogging community to help spread the word! Thanks, my lovelies!” 

It’s the Sewcialist Tribute Month, and I choose…

Alessa from http://farben-freude.blogspot.ca! And as it happens, she already did a Tribute Month post to me! 

You see, as Alessa explained in her post, we’d talked in the fall about making outfits inspired by each other. We’ve got seriously similar taste in colours  - I mean, just look at the woman’s stash! 

Emerald, turquoise, red and navy!!! Stripes and dots! I’m so in love. 

In addition, we’ve got similar taste in me-mades: cute and comfy everyday knits, for the most part! Take a look at some of her outfits for Me-Made May. I just love how consistent and well-defined Alessa’s style is, and it all looks great on her. If anyone could make me want to wear solids, it’s her! 

But not quite yet - because here’s what I made for Tribute Month:

Tribute Month - Alessa

I ordered this material from fabric.com back in the fall, because it just screamed “Alessa!” In fact, it’s been in my stash so long that Leila from Three Dresses actually brought it up to me (my Columbian fabric mule) when she came to visit in November. I love the colours, but the fabric turned out to be thin and quite stretchy, and I just couldn’t figure out what to make.

Tribute Month - Alessa

And then along came the Comino Cap pattern, and I knew I had a winner! Because there are so few seams in the dress, there isn’t much stress on the fabric… and I was *just* able to squeeze it from 2yards with some semblance of stripe matching (on the skirt, at least!) 

Tribute Month - Alessa

As it happens, the Comino Cap is pretty much reversible (on me, at least!) so I can wear either side as the front. I really can’t decide which side I like best!

Thanks, Alessa, for letting me knock off your style! I’m really enjoying the Tribute Month posts by Inge and Ali - this is the first Sewcialist theme that’s been run entirely by someone other than me, and they are doing a bang-up job. I’ll just happily go into retirement then! ;) 

Have you got anything planned for Tribute Month? (I mean, really, once you start thinking about it pretty much any project could be a tribute to someone inspiring online!) 

Cali Fabrics Haul Video!

Guys, I swear I don’t normally buy as much fabric as I have the past few months… you know what? Screw it. I probably do buy this much fabric all the time. Knits just fly in and out of my stash too fast, and  I get stressed when i’m running low. Must. Have. Faaaabric!

This time I ordered from Cali Fabrics, which was a spot-on recommendation from Heather at Where Heather Grows (who, by the way, is making awesome after awesome thing this summer!) 

Here are the fabrics I ordered: 

As you can tell, I’m really happy with my order! I’ve prewashed it all since filming this video, and it all stayed nice. 

If you are interested in ordering from Cali Fabrics, the coupon code for first-timers is “Save10”. They also have a 10% off coupon code if you follow them on social media, so I’ll have to remember to use that one next time! They also have a blog where they announce sales. (I know I sound like I’m shilling for them - but I’m just a happy customer/fabric addict, I swear!) 

I’ve been thinking about lately about how nice it is when a fabric store feels like a cohesive collection expressing someone’s taste. For example, Wanderlust, EmmaOneSock, and Marcy Tilton all seem to have just one buyer who buys what she likes! Whomever buys for Hart’s also seems to have really defined taste (stripes, dots, solids, and no multi-coloured prints) and I’d say Cali Fabrics has a similarly cohesive collection. Even Girl Charlee, though I’ve been disappointed in the fabric quality, has a really clear colour palette and style. (Fabric.com is just so big that it has a bit of everything.)

What’s great is that if you and the buyer have similar taste, you know you are going to find fabric you like. We all have different preferences, but maybe we can find fabric stores that “fit” just like we prefer certain pattern companies. I know that Heather is a sucker for what Marcy Tilton and Emma One Sock post, but it’s usually not quite me. Denver Fabrics seems to choose warm-toned rusty dark colours, which looks killer on Lady Katza, but never tempts me. On the flip side, I really like what Wanderlust and Cali Fabrics are choosing, so I know it’s worth watching for new stock. 

Is there any store/designer/blogger that picks just the right things for your taste, and makes you want ALL THE THINGS?

p.s. For my other fabric review videos, go here!

Moving to Wordpress?

So apparently Tumblr has blocked Bloglovin’ from showing Tumblr blogs… Have you noticed that? I assume it will be reversed at some point, but it’s annoying for now! I really like blogging on Tumblr - it’s got a super-simple interface, and it does everything I need.

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But I know a lot of you use Bloglovin’, and what’s the point of a blog without readers? As a result, I’m thinking of moving over to Wordpress. it’s what I use for the Sewcialist website, and it certainly has more capability than Tumblr. 

Bonus: New platform means a new template! I’ve had my current “look” for at least a year and a half, and it feel like time to change. But - I have NO IDEA what direction to go! Help! I started by looking on Etsy, but I don’t know what I want. Quirky? Bold? Clean? Bright? 

I’ve got a lot of questions today: 

  1. How do you approach redesigning your blog’s look?
  2. Can you suggest any easily modifiable Wordpress templates, designers, or places to buy reasonably priced templates?
  3. Link me up! Who has a blog that you think is really nicely designed? 

Thanks team!

3 years married!

Today is our wedding anniversary… and I’m ashamed to say that we I totally forgot and made plans to do entirely separate things all day! Jamie went to see Guardians of the Galaxy (for the 3rd time) with his brother, and I drove around to a few fabric stores about an hour away. Ah, romance! ;) 

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(In fairness, we did celebrate out official got-married-at-town-hall anniversary last week… but for goodness sakes, my husband has a tattoo of today’s date on his arm? How did I forget it?) 

I’m going to two weddings this month, which has made me reminisce about my own. We had a fantastic day - casual, nontraditional, and fun. (Oh, and stinking hot!) I don’t want to bore you all with a sappy recap, so instead, I’m going to show you some of the outtakes, mistakes and shenanigans that I remember far more fondly than the centre pieces, favours, or any of that stuff that takes so much planning! 

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1. Prewedding nerd time! We got married at Jamie’s parents house out in the country… which is also where his brother/best friend lives the dream life of a well-stocked basement dweller! Because getting married doesn’t have to mean growing up, ammiright?

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2. Coffee Filter Flower Bouquets. I worked on these for MONTHS! I dyed the filters in japan, brought them home to Canada, and spent the evenings making endless flowers. Loved them… and totally forgot to carry them during the ceremony! My bridesmaids realised they’d forgotten their bouquets as the started walking, but I admit I didn’t think of it until after. Oh well - didn’t miss them, and it meant the wedding party got to strut across the lawn like badasses to this.

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(Note, if you will, my sister’s Myrtle-esque teal dress… and my brother-in-law’s top hat and 5’ high walking stick, made of a metal pipe and topped with crystal knob - because weddings are for making dreams come true! ;) 

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3. Marrying ourselves. We’ve both atheists, so we never considered having a minister… and since we are both teachers, we felt like we could easily keep things rolling ourselves! We walked down the aisle together, and read from the program/script we had taped into a book. Mine was Anne’s House of Dreams, where she gets married to Gilbert, and Jamie’s was a comic about Mister Miracle living in the suburbs with his superhero wife, Big Barda. 

That’s why I’ve got this picture of Big Barda and Mister Miracle in my sewing room…

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If you aren’t into comics, the hidden compliment of his choice is that Barda is taller and stronger than her husband - I dearly love Jamie for making me feel tough!) 

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4. Casual Time! Shortly after the ceremony, the party began… and apparently even my comfy flats came of pretty immediately!

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(Oh, and my dress? WAS FREE! FROM THE NICE PEOPLE OF THE INTERNETZ! I was active on Offbeat Bride, and someone offered up her custom-made dress which just happened to be my size! I added the lace belt with flowers, and sewed on the turquoise tulle, and my mom, bless her, altered the waist for me. Hard to believe I wasn’t a sewist 3 years ago, or I’d have done it myself! Now, the deal was that I pass it on after, like the sisterhood of the traveling wedding dress… but I admit I’m still too sentimental to part with it. Good thing it’s a timeless style! I’ll pass it on one day…)

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5. Bunting. My mom and sister made heaps of bunting… and it’s since been used for at least 6 other weddings, birthdays, and parties. It’s the sewing project that keeps on giving. They used bias tape and raw-edged triangles, and it’s held up really well!

(Oh, and Jamie broke out the casual clothes before dinner! Suits are just not him.) 

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6. Textiles. It was the perfect excuse to dig out the family’s prettiest linens, like the tablecloth above. 

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Pinned under my dress, as my something old, was this lace hankie made by someone at least 5 generations back in my family. My mom, sister, and Granny all wore it on their wedding day too!

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Much newer, but also precious, is this afgan my sister Anne knit for us. I use it every day, and I love it so much! She also knit me a gorgeous teal silk shawl to wear on the wedding day, but… I LOST IT!!!!! The night before the wedding I was crying looking for it, and of course, no sign. She was a champ about it… and thankfully it turned up later, safely wrapped in fabric and stashed in the same room I’d searched! I made a Scout tee to wear with it months later, and blogged about it here.)

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7. Lego Mini-Me(s)! My awesome family chipped in and made us cupcakes instead of cake, which were topped by Lego figures of jamie and I. Somehow though, the Lego figures got lost that night… so all we have are these pins with pics. (Seriously, I think losing things was the theme of our wedding!) 

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There you have it! A hopefully not gag-inducing reminiscence of our wedding. Three years ago we had just moved back from Japan (and Jamie had cracked his ankle bone as we left, so a month before the wedding he was on crutches!) It’s taken us three years to have jobs, an apartment, and two cats, but life is good, and there is no one I’d rather spend it with. いまからしぬまで, Jamie! 

What went wrong at your wedding, or one you attended? Sure they all have #%$& ups, right? 

Toronto Meet-up Revisited!

We had another meet-up in Toronto recently… well, two weeks ago! I don’t know how times flies by so fast. 

We started of at the Bata Shoe Museum, working out way up to the newest exhibition, called Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th century. I watch a LOT of documentaries about history, and I thought I’d know most of the stuff, but there was a lot to learn! Plus, it’s just so cool to see gloves, shoes and dresses up close - such tiny hands and feet!

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From left to right: 

      • me
      • my mom, Cathy, who is getting back into sewing with a new machine
      • Kerry, who was wearing THE CUTEST retro maternity dress (handmade, of course), and also some really nice teal Croc shoes which I’m still envious of! 
      • Andrea, who is wearing her Oonapalooza outfit
      • Chloe, in a really great African wax print dress
      • Catja, wearing her first knit project and a sweater knit by her mom! (Wish I could get in on that.. cough cough… sister dearest?
      • And Bev, who like Kerry, I was meeting for the first time! 

Who doesn’t love an exhibit with a sewing machine? 

After a walk in the rain and a little coffee break, we found our way to local yarn (and fabric) store Ewe Knit for a swap!

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They were really kind to ket us use their space  - in the past, we’ve always done our swaps at a restaurant, but then inevitably the food arrives just as we’ve spread things out everywhere… This was much more relaxed! (Not to mention that they had wine for us, and a $50 gift card to raffle. Oh my!)

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Andrea and Catja!

I’m not a knitter, but there’s something about the rainbow display of yarn that makes me wish I was.

Ewe Knit has branched into fabric recently, included a wall of Liberty lawn… 

…and a few bolts of Liberty Jersey!

At Ewe Knit, we were joined by Sara, who was wearing her made-that-day Myrtle from the taupe Liberty jersey on the left… and Kristin used the gift card she won to buy some of the blue and yellow print for herself! 

It was a really fun meet-up, as always… although I have to admit that it took me the better part of two days to mentally recover from being so social. I really am becoming more reclusive in my “old” age.

Oh, and for the record… if you are interested in finding more sewists in your area, I’ve had really good luck just starting a Facebook group and seeing who shows up! I started the Toronto FB group about 2 years ago, and when I moved in the fall I started a regional group for the area where I live now.

Here are a few of the ways I’ve found like minded people:

  • connecting with local knitters, who tend to be more organised, and often know a couple people who sew…
  • googling bloggers in the area, and leaving comments inviting them to check out the group
  • chatting to people in the fabric store
  • and when in doubt, spread the word through family and friends

Once you find a few people, they always know a few more… and then you are set! 

Have you connected with other sewists, and how? 

Pinning from my blog!

So Oona pointed out to me today that none of the pictures on my blog are pinnable! Ooops! I didn’t realise that by setting my Flickr photos to private with high security I was stopping then from being pinned.

I’ve changed the permissions from the last few months of posts at least… Could you help me out by seeing if the pics are pinnable for you? (You don’t have to *actually* pin anything, just see if you can!) 

Thanks!

PS. Truth be told, I was setting my pics as Private because if they are public then my mom and aunt get daily emails telling them I’ve added photos… and I felt guilting overloading their inboxes! :P

Colette Myrtle

Colette Myrtle

This, friends, is my sheepish face. Sheepish because I am once again showing you a knit dress (is this the 5th or 6th in a row?). Also sheepish because I admit I kinda love to hate on Colette’s knit patterns (so simple! so much ease! so many damn pages to tape together! strange finishing techniques!) but it turns out: I love this dress! 

Colette Myrtle

The fabric is ITY that I bought locally and stashed for a maxi dress - but I’m glad I made it into this instead. It’s an almost perfect work dress. Looks pretty, needs no ironing, will work in all seasons, and matches half the cardigans in my closet! (The only imperfect thing - even though I deliberately made alterations to make the drape higher than, say, a Maria of Denmark Day to Night cowl, I still don’t think I could bend over without flashing my whole bra. And in a classroom, bending over will always happen!) 

Colette Myrtle

I took a lot of advice from two friends who had made this pattern before me: Stephanie from LoveTeachSew (edited: she just blogged it here!) and Sara from Hamilton Chicklets, (edited: blogged here) who whipped one up and wore it to our Toronto Meet-up. Based on what they told me about their experiences, I did the following: 

  • Lined the back bodice as well as the front. I’m not a fan of turning and stitching to finish an armhole, as the pattern suggested. 
  • Swapped out the skirt for (you guessed it!) Kitschy Koo’s Comino skirt. The myrtle skirt pattern was 3” wider (which would have given me a skirt with 12” extra ease!) I learned from my Oonapalooza dress that i’m not a fan of a gathered skirt with a blousy top. This skirt has the perfect amount of wearing ease for me. 
  • Use swim elastic at the waist, instead of doing a channel with1” elastic as suggested. No reason, really - just personal preference. 
  • Shortened the bodice at least 2” (because I wasn’t going to use wide elastic, and because I’m short waisted… and because I fear too much blousing in the bodice!)
  • Graded from slightly larger than a medium at the waist to an XS at the shoulders. My measurements would have put me in a M at the shoulders and a L at the hips, but as drafted the pattern seems to have very wide shoulders straps (like, *almost* a cap sleeve, which I think looks odd!) 

Colette Myrtle

Once the bodice was put together, I had to: 

  • Take out an extra 1/2” at the armcye curve from the shoulder seam down.
  • Scoop out the underarms a bit. I had used stay tape on the seam, and combined with tracing an XS at the shoulder, I can see why I needed extra room. (I have a 42” bust, so just imagine the ease on someone with a 33” bust as suggested!) **Ack! Wait! I just looked at my pattern again, and I graded from a XS at the shoulders to a medium at the bust. I take it all back!  Colette sizing buts me in a L at the bust, and an XL at the hip, so I basically just went down a size at hips and bust, and down 3 sizes at the shoulder.**
  • Put elastic across the back neck, between the two layers of fabric. I forgot that Colette patterns are always too wide for me back there.

So basically, Myrtle was a starting point - but not much is left as drafted!

What I can say about the pattern is that it was definitively THE WORST pdf I have ever put together. 

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It’s 60 pages long, but look at the size of those borders! You loose so much of each page to trimming, and that’s totally unnecessary. On top of that, the 2 plus sizes are nested as a separate unit, so you have to tape together two of every pattern piece. Worse, the pieces are laid out like this: regular size bodice, next to plus size bodice, next to regular sized skirt, next to plus sized skirt. Why not cluster one size grouping together, and put the other size pieces together too? Then it would be so much easier to only tape half the papers. And the kicker - the giant rectangle of taped pattern pieces is something like 12 pages wide! Huge, unwieldy, and so much margin for error. In the end, the two bodice pieces were all I used, and that could have been printed on 15 pages easily. URGH. 

Now, in fairness, Colette is going to be reconfiguring the pdf and releasing it in sections so you can print only the size range you want. Thank goodness! I don’t know how it took them this long to decide to do that. It’s not like this is their first PDF pattern.

Colette Myrtle

One comment I’ve heard from people several times about the pattern is that it doesn’t look like the models in Colette’s pictures are actually wearing the size prescribed to them, because they don’t have as much ease! I’d agree with that… but I think part of that comes from how big the change from size to size is in the larger end of the pattern. For example, each size (s, m, l, xl, 2xl, 2xl) covers two dress sizes for a woven (0,2,4,6,8, etc). In the smaller sizes, than means a range of 2” different in bust size (i.e. if you measure 33” or 34”, make an XS) but in the larger sizes it’s a 4” range (if you are a 40, 41, 42, or 43”, make a large.) That’s a big difference in size! If you measure 40” you’ll be swimming in it, but on a 43” bust it might look more fitted. I vaguely remember Colette explaining why they did this in some post, but I can’t find it now. Personally, i think their knit patterns seems to have too much ease to begin with, but the shift in sizing increments does help explain how that ease could get exaggerated or masked, depending on where you fall in the range. 

That was a lot of kvetching - sorry! The great thing is though, I have a dress I love, and a pattern I’ll definitely make again. 

Have you sewn with any Colette PDF patterns? What do you think of their knitwear? 

Bronte Knit Dress

Surprise! I made another dress! And it’s a knit! Oh, the thrills and chills, I tell ya. 

Jennifer Lauren Bronte Dress

This one is near and dear to my heart (ugh, I swear that wasn’t a pun) because it’s based on the Bronte pattern by Jennifer Lauren. I’ve gotten to know Jennifer a bit through Me-Made May and our blogs, so it’s fun to sew one of her patterns! 

Jennifer Lauren Bronte Dress

This is a rare project for me that involved multiple muslins to get the fit I wanted. I did TWO muslins, people! Most notably, I narrowed the front shoulders, extended the back tabs longer, and scooped the front neckline at least 3” lower. In retrospect, I could have gone even lower! The skirt is from the Comino cap dress, and the waistband is… just a rectangle. 

Jennifer Lauren Bronte Dress

The fabric is part of my Wanderlust haul… and I have to say, I loved it less the more I worked with it! After prewashing, it started clinging to itself like mad, which affects the drape. It’s a tissue knit, so I had to line the bodice… which of course, led to the eternal conundrum of which seams to sew first… 

Truth be told, I’m quite enjoying lining more of my knit bodices. The more I do it, the more intuitively I can figure out how to sew it together so that I can do alterations as I go. I usually do a combo of clean finishes (thank you, burrito method!) and folded bands where I want it to have more stretch recovery over time.

Case in point: 

Jennifer Lauren Bronte Dress

For the neckline, I clean finished and topstitched the front bodice, but I went for the folded band across the back bodice because a)I think it’s cute and b) I didn’t want that part to stretch over time! You can tell I did a slightly shoddy job of topstitching down the overlap - but who cares?

The sleeves were another conundrum… I’d already finished everything else, so when Instagram convinced me sleeves would be cute, I had to set them in the round. *GASP!* I haven’t bothered to do that in over a year. (Recently I realised I’ve probably also avoided zippers for a year or more too. Not that I struggle with them, just that I find them avoidable!) Back to the sleeves though - I slashed and spread about 3” total to try to make flutter sleeves, but they ended up just kinda loose. I sewed them in wrong-side out twice.. recut twice… and generally hated the process.

Jennifer Lauren Bronte Dress

The dress though, I like! It turned out very wearable, and as close to retro as I’ve made in a long while. Along the way I got really inspired by these custom knit dresses from Ureshii, which are a fun way to imagine different necklines and skirt shapes put together! A lot of the designs seems to have a similar sort of back bodice/shoulder neckline as Bronte, but often with cut-on sleeves like this or this. I’m curious to give that sort of design a go! (Bonus: Ureshii is run by two Canadian sewists, so I’m hometown proud… and the word “ureshii” means “happy” in Japanese!) 

Phew! That’s more than I’ve yammered on about fit or alterations in a  long time. Guess it comes from finally trying out some new patterns this summer! 

Meanwhile, despite all of my stashbuilding, my fabric supply is starting to feel a little thin. I tend to go through it pretty fast because nothing I sew takes more than a day or two. I’m in the market for multicoloured rayon knits - florals, abstracts, that sort of thing. They are surprisingly hard to find in colours I like…Can you suggest any online stores I should check out? 

Oonapalooza dress done!

Oonapalooza Saltspring Mod

My Oonapalooza dress is done, worn, and photographed! Don’t know why that seems like such an accomplishment… but it IS a whole lot of ITY to wrangle!

You might remember my plans

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You guys wisely told me to do v2, and I did. It’s a modified Sewaholic Saltspring, with the front and back neckline raised. I traced a slightly smaller size, since I was using a knit, and took a few inches off the bodice length… I have to admit I didn’t use the instructions at all. Instead it was all a big geometry puzzle in my head! 

Oonapalooza Saltspring Mod

The straps are a double layer of fold-over elastic (pure laziness on my part) fed through a channel in the front and back bodice. I used swim elastic for the waist (again, laziness and it was all I had in the right width) which does work well because it’s quite stretchy but also strong enough to hold up the full maxi skirt!

Oonapalooza Saltspring Mod

Putting in a slit was an important part of Oona-fying this dress. The Saltspring skirt is HUGE , so I just cut from waist to hem, sewed to mid-thing, and folded back the rest to finish. It would have more impact if the skirt wasn’t as full, I think - it really doesn’t show much even when I walk! I *could* have done the slit higher… but truth be told, I always wear legging shorts under skirts to avoid friction, so this is a wearable compromise. 

Along the way, I learned that posing against a wall is harder than Oona makes it look! 

Oonapalooza Saltspring Mod

Yeah. You might be getting the vibe by now that I’m not in love with this dress. Nothing wrong with it, and it is perfectly fine… but meh. I’m not sure if it’s disappointing because I put a lot of work into altering the pattern, or if it’s because it turns out I don’t like this high faux-halter neckline as much as I thought I would! I think the dress suffers from being blousey everywhere. I think it would have been more flattering if the top was more body con with a defined waist, or the skirt was smooth at the waist and then flared out dramatically. As is… fine but very demure!

Oonapalooza Saltspring Mod

As a result of my haphazard drafting, the back is out lower than the front… and I actually rather prefer the back bodice worn in the front! But then the slit is in the back, and that’s just odd…

Oonapalooza Saltspring Mod

The great news is that the dress cost less than $20 in materials, and I got to test out my drafting skills and try out a new silhouette in the process. Learning-wise, this dress is a win! I’m sure I’ll wear it again sometime… family BBQ maybe, or something like that? For now, I’m happy to move on and think about the next dress - because I still need something to wear to weddings this summer! 

Tell me I’m not alone on being a little disappointed on some projects! What have you worked hard on, only to feel a bit “meh” in the end? 

ps. Speaking of slightly meh, I wore my navy polka dot Comino cap dress for the first time the other day, and realised that it’s too monochromatic for my tastes! I wore it with matching mint shoes and necklace, and felt rather generically pretty until I had layered on a pink cardigan and multi-coloured floral scarf! The dress itself was lovely to wear, but I really think I need to stick to multi-coloured fabrics! (Except my next dress coming up, which is black and white…)