Replacing a Skirt Waistband

A handful of years ago, back when I lived in Washington, I picked up a circle skirt at a favourite second-hand store. Even though it was both adorable and affordable, for some reason I hardly ever wore it. But why? When I finally realized what it was—the waistband was too narrow and it sat at an unflattering place on my hips—I knew I had to do something. The discovery of some sturdy, wide, black elastic that looked like it would make an excellent waistband was the only impetus I needed to make my skirt wearable again.

The materials I used for this project (along with the skirt) were a seam ripper, wide black elastic about 6 inches longer than the circumference of the skirt waistband, black thread, red thread, tailor’s chalk, three hook-and-eye closures, and a sewing machine—although you could easily do all the sewing by hand.
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Book Review: Stay-Stitched

Fact: sewing patterns can be intimidating. Really intimidating. Intimidating to the point that I hardly ever sew anymore because I’m under the impression that anything I would want to make from scratch and then wear would be a hair-pullingly complex and painful process.

To make a long story short, I was very, very wrong.

Erin Arsenault’s Stay-Stitched: Sewing without a pattern and designing as you go is possibly the most approachable sewing how-to book I’ve ever read. It’s also exactly what it says on the box—at no point is a pattern ever used, and since garment pieces are based on your own measurements, everything is designed to fit your specific shape. Arsenault describes it as a “workbook,” and she isn’t kidding. There are spaces for you to fill in with your measurements, and plenty of gridded blank pages for your notes, sketches, and ideas. The book contains instructions for eleven projects, including a simple tote bag, a cute kimono, and wide-leg sailor pants. It also has a list of basic sewing supplies, stitches, and instructions on how to do things such as make your own bias tape, add in pockets, and make facings for neck and arm holes.

Since making a tote bag for the purpose of this review seemed like cheating, I chose to make the “Egyptian Tunic,” a simple A-line skirt with braces. After picking out some cutely creepy Norman Rockwell baby-face print cotton, I set to work on my skirt. It was remarkably easy—all you do is use your measurements to find the waistband width and strap length, and the length and flare of the skirt are up to you. I ended up making my skirt shorter and more fitted at the waist than the book suggested, which was not a problem at all, simply a matter of pinning and re-stitching one of the side seams—and I love the way it turned out.

And that’s the beauty of Stay-Stitched—everything is customizable. All you have to do is re-draw your lines if you don’t like the way something fits or looks. Even if the projects in the book aren’t to your liking, I’m sure you could apply the skills learned in these pages to other clothes-making endeavours. A novice stitcher could learn a lot by starting at the beginning and working their way through. (Just a little note on the projects—the book is very skirt- and dress-heavy, but I’m sure some crafty gentlemen and those who don’t like skirts would appreciate the sailor pants and viking tunic.) I can also see this book being a godsend for anybody who doesn’t fit into standard pattern sizes.

I would highly recommend Stay-Stitched to people who want to learn to make their own clothes but don’t know where to start, or to jaded semi-experienced seamstresses like myself, who just need their faith in their abilities renewed.

Stay-Stitched: Sewing without a pattern and designing as you go, self-published by Erin Arsenault, 2009
reviewed by Kat Brightwell

Riding Pretty

If you happened to be in downtown Toronto last Saturday, you might have noticed a group of particularly dapper cyclists parading around the city. No, it wasn’t a posh courier service running the streets — rather, Toronto was participating in its very first charity Tweed Ride.

Though heavy tweed might seem less practical for active wear than sweats or spandex, Toronto’s Tweed Ride was about more than just biking pretty. The event was a fundraiser for the charity Bikes Without Borders. This do-good attitude applies at home, too — “Cycling in Toronto tends to be quite controversial” says Kristen Corbet, who helped organize the event. “It’s important to us to celebrate bikes and promote their positive impact upon a community.”

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Kat Wornette

Hi there! I’m Kat, and I’m a recent immigrant to Canada from the wilds of Seattle, Washington. Pretty much anything fascinates me, which is both a blessing and a curse. My clothing choices could be described as “all over the place”, and I love to make things – from beaded collars to appliqued sweaters to shrinky-dink pendants. When I’m not at the WORN offices, chances are I’m drooling over photos of flapper dresses and Louis Sullivan buildings.

Vintage Textile
So what if I’ll never be able to afford anything they sell? This store is nothing but pretty, pretty eye candy. If you’re ever in need of a C.F. Worth ball gown or Gallenga coat and have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket, this is the place to look.

Holly Fulton
No question, Holly Fulton is one of my favorite designers. Her bright colors and stylized Art Deco skyscraper motifs are a little bit mod, a little bit Metropolis.

HonestlyWTF has some of the best DIY tutorials, inspired by everything from high fashion to Danish music videos.

Wandering in Tacoma
Okay, this one has nothing to do with fashion, but Stephen Cysewski’s photos of my hometown in the 1970s are so inspiring! They perfectly capture Tacoma’s grungy, gritty beauty. I visit this page whenever I’m homesick, or just need to feel a little bit more melancholy.