Sharing the Love of Sewing

Have you ever seen someone put on a custom-fit garment for the first time, and light up with excitement about how great they look?

I think I’m hooked on that feeling. I’ve always sewed for my mom and sister as well as myself, but earlier this year I sewed for a cousin who lives far away… and she loved her dress so much that I offered to make dresses for her sisters! And then somehow, at a family reunion, we ended up with this: a conga line of 7 cousins and aunts, all wearing Gillian-made dresses and looking FABULOUS!

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As it happens, no fewer than three of these dresses are made from Cali Fabrics, so let me tell you more! Some other dresses are older makes that my sister and I brought to pass on to similarly-sized relatives, but my goodness they fit our family figure well. 

  • It all started with my cousin Grace, who is at the front of the line in deep blue. She mentioned wanting a twirly velvet dress last winter, and I was only too happy to oblige with a Cashmerette Appleton!
  • Next in line is my aunt, who is wearing a dress I made myself years ago – but doesn’t it suit her so well? She’d like a few tweaks in the style, like a longer skirt, so I’m going to make her a custom version this summer.
  • Third in line is me – and you might remember this Cali Fabrics Burda dress from my post in spring! I love the way Liverpool knit gives the dress a bit of structure, but is still so comfortable to wear!
  • In centre place is my mom, who is wearing a brand new Jalie twist-top dress that I made with this Ikat ITY print from Cali – and it’s still in stock!
  • Third from the end is another new dress, made specially for my cousin Becca! We picked a beautiful rayon French Terry from Cali Fabrics, which is sadly now out of stock – but there are some other great print options!  She liked her sister’s velvet wrap dress, so we stayed with the same pattern.
  • Second-last, but not least, my aunt Tracy, who tried on a few dresses I’d made and ended up taking home this maxi I’d made years ago! I’ve got plans to sew her a few other things this summer.
  • And in the caboose, my most reliable model of all – my sister Anne! I’ve sewn several Cali projects for her over the years, including these matching t-shirts a modal knit wrap dress.

So, here are my tips on sewing for other people:

Cousin Sewing

Choose a design and fabric that gives an adjustable fit. 

Stretchy knits and adjustable features like elastic waist or wrap ties mean that there is a lot of wiggle room in the fit! This wrap dress I made my cousin in French Terry probably could have fit any of us, even though it was custom made for her. Our family genes run strong!

Cousin Sewing

Plan together 

Here are two dress, sewn for sisters with different styles! On the left, she wanted sleeves, a high waist and soft blue… on the right, she loves bright coral, bolder designs, and wanted to fit her broad shoulders! I ask both sisters to look through the Cali Fabrics knits and my own blog to let me know what colours and designs caught their eye. We chose the floral French Terry right away, and even though I ended up using local fabric for the coral dress, it really helped to know what they like!

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Be flexible. 

I tried a new-to-me pattern for my mom’s dress, and it turned out rather snug. No problem – I added a 1″ panel to the sides, and now it’s perfect! In a busy print this like Ikat ITY, no one would notice the fix.

(That’s my granny turning 100, btw! Good reason for a family reunion, don’t you think?) 

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Compare to Ready-To-Wear

I also made my dad a t-shirt this summer, which he is modelling along with my mom’s dress! I used the Charcoal Midweight Recycled Poly/Lycra Stretch Jersey Knit from Cali Fabrics, which is sadly out of stock… but any of these solid Cotton/Lycra knits would work well!

I used the Sayward Raglan tee, which I had already sewn for my husband… but I got worried when the pattern suggested sewing a 2XL instead of Dad’s normal store-bought size M or L. I compared a RTW tee from his closet to the pattern pieces, and then was able to cut and sew the pattern with confidence that it would fit!

And finally…

Don’t stress it too much! 

Remember that it is a gift of love, and they’ll feel special in something handmade. We sewists can be hypercritical of fit on ourselves, but in my experience, people who have worn RTW all their lives won’t notice that drag line or crooked seam like you will!

None of the clothes I make are *perfect*, but they can still make people I love feel like a million bucks. What better to spend your time and fabric stash on than that? 

Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow

Hi! My name is Gillian, and I love to sew! I blog at craftingarainbow.wordpress.com and I run the Sewcialists.

I’ve enjoyed sewing since I was a kid, but when I started sewing clothes in 2012, it became a bit of an obsession. I’m all about wearable, comfy everyday clothes – and my wardrobe is overflowing! I’ve pulled all the colours that I love wearing into my personal colour palette, which keeps me inspired and my fabric shopping on track. I’ve ordered from Cali Fabric for years, and I’m so excited to be able to join their blogger team!

I live in Ontario (Canada) with my nerdy and awesome husband and our two cats. I’m a teacher by day, and fabric hoarder by night!

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