Sewing for the Circus

Where have you been, you might ask? Why I have been having adventures, some of them combining my very favourite things: sewing and the circus!

I was asked by Atlantic Cirque to create some costumes for two human statues, and sent along a photo of the general idea of what their client was looking for. I created some silver wrap dresses with an elastic waist, so that as many people as possible could wear the costumes. Sewing for trapeze artists follows the same principles as other sewing, with a few specifications.

1. Big arm holes. Aerialists tend to have very well-developed arm, chest and back muscles (for obvious reasons) and need bigger arm holes for a good range of motion. Knit fabrics are always helpful. I nearly made them out of a swim-suit lining, but there wasn’t enough left on the bolt.

2. Bring on the glitter! When I went fabric shopping, I requested that the employee bring back out the New Year’s Eve fabrics from the back room. Fabrics that reflect the light really work in these situations!

3. Versatility. It’s good to keep in mind all the other possible roles these costumes could be used for: disco ladies, 1930’s, 1940’s, Marilyn Monroe, etc.

4. Danger! Is the artist going to hang upside down in this? Excess fabric can get tangled up in an apparatus.

I used the bodice from my Brushstroke Wrap Dress and created gathers instead of pleats on the shoulders. The bottom is a gathered rectangle with two draped triangles on top (cut on the bias). I’m really pleased with how they came out and am tempted go buy more of that fabric for me! I may have just found my Halloween costume….in June.

Sleeveless in the City Dress

This was my second version of Butterick 5454. I wanted something super comfortable – but still cute – to wear this summer while I am traveling. I wanted a dress that I could wear with flip-flips during the day, and heels during the night.

I loved the colour of the jersey and knew it would be perfect for just such a dress! This time around I added 2 inches to the front of the bodice pieces, so that I would have a little more coverage than my long-sleeved version and again, I opted not to sew down the pleats on the skirt. I also opted out of the short-sleeve version of the pattern and instead added just enough around the armhole for seam allowances.

I’m really happy with how it turned out! I think this will be perfect for just throwing on (maybe even as a bathing suit cover up) and just throwing in the suitcase. Here’s to a carefree summer! Thanks to Denis Duquette for the fabulous photos!

Colette Palette Challenge – My Moodboard

In an attempt to be a little more organized when it comes to my sewing projects I am participating in the Spring/Summer Palette Challenge from Colette Patterns.  I would like to pack as many hand-made items on my travel adventures this summer (more on that later), so I will be sewing with those trips in mind.

After a dreary Canadian winter, I am really looking forward to a wardrobe full of bright colours! I have been keeping some inspiration images on Pinterest (here and here). I’ve got a yellow Minoru on the go at the moment and already know that I want to make a fuchsia one as well. I know there will definitely be more maxi-dresses in my future and more knit fabrics, and that I am in need of skirts.

So, it’s a loose plan, but at least it’s a colourful one!

Image Sources: Blue Suit, Dress, Orange Skirt, Shoes. Tulip photo: my own.

The Brush Stroke Wrap Dress: Knits!

Disclaimer: The sleeves are the same length! I have no idea why I didn’t have them in same place for the photos!

Ta-da! My first attempt at knitwear! I decided that I was severely limiting myself by being such a chicken about sewing with knit fabric. I used Butterick 5454, which came together really quickly. It was only once I had completed the dress though, that I was able to see what a disaster the sewn pleats were. I unpicked them, so that the volume created by them would start right from my waist rather than from my backside (there are two more pleats on the back). I was much happier with those results. I was shocked by how easy the whole process was: I was expected stretched out seams and hems and basically a big mess.

I still learned a lot though: next time I’ll raise the neckline, and I’ll probably sew a little snap on the bodice of this dress so that it won’t be quite so va-va-voom, but  really, I love the fit. The pleats coming from the shoulders meant that I didn’t have any pulling across the front, and it’s so comfortable! It feels like I’m wearing a big, bright cozy t-shirt.

I need to figure out how to wash dark knit fabric. I don’t know if I even needed to wash it before hand. If you can image, this fabric was even more vibrant before I washed it (which was in cold water and just a little time in the dryer).

Do you have any tips for sewing with knits? Washing them? I’d love to hear!

Photos courtesy of the great Denis Duquette.

Style inspiration: Maria


When I saw the dress above (from the new Madewell spring collection), I immediately thought of The Sound of Music but couldn’t quite figure out why. It took a little research, but I found the “Maria” dress that was wandering about my brain. There is a very interesting post about the original dress here, and see if you can spot the one I mean in the video.

I think a peony pattern would do just fine to re-create the Madewell version, don’t you think?