I try to sew myself a dress for my birthday every year, but only manage to get to it about every other year. It’s a good goal though, because it gives me a deadline and feels special to wear on my birthday. One year, I sewed myself a Colette Crepe and the year I got married I wore my Victory Pattern Ava wearable muslin. I have been wanting to sew the Sewaholic Cambie Dress for a long time (this pattern came out in 2012), so I am totally late to the party in discovering what an awesome pattern it is.

Sewaholic Cambie Dress

Pattern- Sewaholic Pattern Cambie Dress

Fabric- I’m not sure if this fabric qualifies as Swiss Dot or not, but it is basically a light-weight black cotton with embroidered white dots on it. I think I got it at Pacific Fabrics. It was bought to be a Cambie, but has been sitting in my stash for years.

I lined it with black Bemberg Rayon.

Alterations- Graded pattern from size 10 at the bodice to size 12 at the waist. No other alterations.

Fit- This is the first time ever I haven’t had to make any alterations to the bodice. I felt like the bust darts were in exactly the right place and the length of the bodice was good too. I like the fit of it so much, I’m already trying to figure out how I can use this bodice for other patterns.

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Total time to make (including tracing the pattern, cutting all fabric, sewing muslin and fashion fabric)approx. 28 hours

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Notes- I almost called this post “Birthday Disaster Dress” because that’s how I felt halfway through sewing it.

Problems – 

  • Mistake #1- Had to sew the waist band on twice, because the first time I wasn’t thinking about pattern matching and the way the dots lined up looked horrible– No big deal. I had enough fabric left to cut new pieces and I’m so glad I did. It didn’t take too much extra time and it looks so much better I think. Yay for seam rippers. 

  • Mistake #2- Sewed lining too close to the zipper– I had even read Tasia’s sewalong post on how to sew in the lining, where she says not to sew too close to the zipper, but apparently I didn’t pay it much attention. I’m thinking with a cotton lining this wouldn’t have been such a problem, but with the Bemberg Rayon it was a huge problem. The reason this was a mistake will be explained in Mistake #2. It was a snowball effect.
  • Mistake #3– Was sewing late at night because I was trying to get the dress finished in time for my birthday party. I think you know where this is going. 
  • Mistake #4- Tested the zipper before pressing– I also thought I had sewn over the zipper when I was sewing in the lining and was so anxious to check the fit and make sure I hadn’t just ruined the zipper, that I tested the zipper before pressing it. This is where mistakes two through four added up to me stuck in my dress in the middle of the night because the zipper was caught on the lining. Needless to say, getting me out of the dress involved first waking up my husband to help me and then having to rip the lining to get me out. Sad face.

Amazingly enough, I took it all in stride, because I make mistakes on everything I sew. I have also learned from making several late-night, tear-producing knitting mistakes, that it’s better to just go to bed and deal with it with fresh eyes the next day.

To assure myself I hadn’t ruined the dress by ripping the lining, I woke up early the next day and sewed up the hole. I was surprised by how cleanly it sewed up. The lining got pressed and pressed again and, as long as I have my husband zip me in and out of the dress (like it’s the 50s), there haven’t been any other snagging issues. Next time, I’ll sew the lining further away from the zipper and if it’s Bemberg Rayon again, I’ll edge stitch it down before I sew the rest of the lining together.

See? You can barely see it, so it still has pretty guts!

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Once it was all said and done, it was funny how quickly I forgot about all the problems I had sewing this dress. I loved wearing it on my birthday. It might even be the best dress I have made so far. I really like the construction and the finishing of it. The Bemberg Rayon may have been a bit tricky to work with, but I love the way it looks and feels, so I would totally use this fabric as a lining again. It should be easier next time too, since I know what to look out for now. The shell fabric and the lining together give it a sturdy feeling and a nice weight. There are many versions of this dress online and it looks good in so many different kinds of fabrics that I can see making a bunch more of these.

So here’s to a birthday dress that was a little hard-fought, but in the end I learned a lot and everything turned out alright… in fact, better than alright. It’s a little like how I feel about turning 40, so I guess it’s fitting. 🙂

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Some of you may have seen this pic on Instagram already and maybe you read my post about losing two of our four chickens in one month (due to old age). Since we were worried about losing a third chicken and then one being by itself, Matt and I decided it was time to get some baby chicks. Baby chicks are so cute and grow so fast, so I had to do a little photo shoot to document their adorable fluffy butts!

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There names are (from left to right), Ricki, Winnie, Birdie and Buffy. I know, we got real creative with the names this time. 😉 Ricki is a German Lakenvelder, so I thought it would be funny if her name was Ricki Lakenvelder. Winnie is a Wyandotte and I figured she could be named after one of my favorite actresses in the late 80s early 90s, Wynona Ryder. Buffy is a Buff Orpington, so that one is pretty obvious, but I also love the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, so Buffy it was. Birdie is an Ameraucana, so there is no play on words there. She just seemed like a Birdie to us.

 

About the Breeds-

Buffy the Buff Orpinfgton

Buffy the Buff Orpinfgton

When I was purchasing my first flock, I got all Buff Orpingtons because I was told they were a docile, friendly breed that didn’t startle easily and did well in a noisy cities. They have been a great breed, but no one told me that they go broody a lot, which at times can be a pain. It can really slow up egg production when a growling, territorial hen is trying to become a mother and won’t leave the nesting box or let anyone else in. Especially when it’s not going to happen for her, since we don’t have a rooster. This time, I wanted to experience a variety of breeds, but I still had to get a least one Buff Orpington.

I did some research and picked the other breeds based on temperament and egg production, but also how pretty I though they were.

Winnie the Wyandotte

Winnie the Wyandotte

Winnie is a Silver Laced Wyandotte and I have always loved how the adult birds look. They have a base color of white, but it looks like their wing tips were neatly outlined in black ink.

Birdie the Americauna

Birdie the Ameraucana

Judging by Birdie’s current brownish-gray coloring (these chicks are 7 weeks old now), I’m thinking she might be a Blue Ameraucana. Birdie’s little feather beard is starting to come in so she currently looks like a little hawk.

Ricki the German Lakenvelder

Ricki the German Lakenvelder

Ricki was a breed that not only wasn’t on my wish list, but I hadn’t even heard of it before. The guy at my local feed store wasn’t even sure what she was at first, but there was a sign on the wall that said German Lakenvelder and I wanted four different breeds of chickens, so I said what the heck. We called her “mystery chicken” for a minute until some quick internet searches for German Lakenvelder quickly identified her. Some of the temperament descriptions made me worry that she wasn’t going to be a very social chicken, but so far she is one of the sweetest ones.

Monkey the Speckled Sussex

Monkey the Speckled Sussex

And then there’s Monkey. Monkey is not in the group photo, because we bought her a week later. I really wanted a Speckled Sussex and when I went to the feed store a week later for some supplies they had just gotten a batch of them in. You can introduce more chicks as long as they aren’t too far apart in age and they are not older than first few weeks, so we scooped her up. Matt really wanted a chicken named Monkey and it suits her well. She’s a daring little one and despite her smaller size, she was immediately outgoing and was good at dodging being stepped on by the older chicks. She’s now caught up in size and is also friendly and sweet like Ricki (i.e. doesn’t mind being picked up and handled).

In the past seven weeks, we have practically been able to see them grow overnight. The chick phase doesn’t last long, and while it made our basement super dusty, it was fun to watch all their adorable chick antics and weird sleeping habits. They just graduated from brooder to coop last weekend, so there is so much more to tell. I’ll be doing more posts on what we used for brooders and how the introduction into the new coop went, so if you are interested, stay tuned!

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The knitting bug has got me bad. I’ve actually been knitting more than I have been sewing lately, so I’m a couple finished projects behind on sharing them. One project I finished recently is a pair of yellow fingerless gloves that I knit for my co-worker Lester. Lester and I worked together in the rental department of Glazer’s the first time I worked there, so we go way back. He is an amazing cook and baker and brought me cookies on my first day back to work. Technically, this was a trade for a pot of his signature chili and a batch of yummy molasses cookies, but he’s constantly sharing some delicious creation he brought to work, like whiskey caramels, banana bread and more cookies.

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Lester had a beat up old pair of Nikon gloves in their signature yellow and wanted a new pair of gloves to replace them. He’s a big cycler too, so he wanted something to wear on his bike rides to work. I’d never knit anything with fingers, but I’m pretty comfortable with DPNs now, so figured I was up for it.

Lester and I looked at Ravelry together and picked out the Chilly Podsters pattern. Just to be clear, I am capable of being an unselfish knitter, but what I didn’t realize how much time I would be committing to knitting these. In a totally rookie move, I neglected to make the connection that knitting on size 3 needles would mean that these would take quite a bit longer to knit than my one cable mitts (which were knit on size 9 needles). Lesson learned.

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I cast on in January and it took me several hours just to get the ribbed cuff knit. At that point I wanted to give up, find a new pattern and start over. At this rate, Lester wasn’t going to have these until Spring.

Knit this tightly though, they were going to be some badass, heavy-duty gloves. I talked it over with Lester and he said he was willing to wait so I carried on. We compromised  and decided to leave off the convertible mitten part and just make them fingerless gloves. That way, I would be able to finish knitting these in this decade.

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Luckily, I had plans to go to a knitting retreat in early March, with the lovely ladies from Seattle Yarn. After a marathon weekend of knitting and watching Downton Abbey, I was able to get these finished. While these kind of sucked to knit (I’ll be honest), I’m glad I soldiered on because these are some badass, heavy-duty gloves. Lester seems happy with them, so now I can get back to selfish knitting!

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When I took my City Chickens 101 class back in 2007, to prepare for the flock I would be getting that year, they didn’t really cover what happens when your chickens get old. The average life span of a chicken is seven years, so when my four Buff Orpingtons turned five, it was something I started to think about. That was four years ago and at nine years old, we just lost our first chicken.

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Matt and I have been so lucky with these ladies. Aside from some rodent problems, some pecking issues early on (that were fixed by making their coop bigger), one egg bound situation (that was fixed by a warm bath) and the occasional mite outbreak in the warmer months, they have been relatively healthy and problem free.

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It’s been great owning chickens and we have learned so much. Their chicken coop has evolved from a one room shack to a sprawling mansion complete with custom paint job and cabin nameplate.

We’ve been hosts on Seattle Tilth’s Urban Farm and Chicken Coop Tour three times, which is always fun. These birds have given us so many gifts in the way of food and entertainment.

Last month, I woke up to find one of my ladies (let’s just call her Camilla) having trouble getting down the ramp from the roost. She basically tumbled all the way down and then kept falling over when she would try to get up and walk. I immediately texted my friend Ralee who has become an expert in diagnosing chicken maladies. I followed Ralee’s advice and made a “sick coop” for Camilla, where I could isolate her, give her electrolytes and vitamins and put a heat lamp on her. Ralee explained that the heat lamp allows them to not have to expend so much energy regulating their body temperature, so they can rest and hopefully recover.

She was eating and drinking for the for the first couple of days, but her walking got considerably worse each day until she eventually couldn’t walk at all. By the third day, she stopped eating, so I decided to take her to the vet. Yes, you heard me, I took her to the vet. I took Camilla to see Dr. Fuxa at the Highline Bird and Pet Clinic, knowing full well that I was probably bringing her there to be euthanized. Dr. Fuxa was so amazed at how old Camilla was and humored me by giving her an exam, but I could tell by look on her face that this was simply old age we were dealing with and that is was Camilla’s time to go.

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In the spring they have helped me by eating thinnings from the garden.

Now there is a lot of debate over the best way to euthanize a chicken and there are people who say that if you cannot dispatch a chicken yourself you have no business owning them. I’ve read a lot on this subject matter, to the point of annoying my friends with my constant chatter about it. I toyed with the idea of learning how to do it myself or Matt doing it or hiring someone to come do it, but when it came down to it, I just wanted to take her to the vet.

I also understand that it’s cost prohibitive for some people. I have to admit I felt a little silly paying $80 for a euthanasia for an animal I spent $6 buying. I was also surprised at how emotional I was over the whole thing. I have had these birds for nine years. I’ve named them and cared for them the best I can. I realize that they are different from other domestic animals, but it is hard to see any animal suffer, especially with all the loss we have had over the years.

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In the winter, we’ve treated them with oatmeal.

The remaining three seem completely unphased by the loss of their roommate. They sleep in a little later and take longer getting down the ramp each morning, but otherwise they seem healthy. I have been spoiling them with greens from the garden and black oil sunflowers seeds and we even still get the occasional egg.

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The original “Fab Four” eating yellow tomato cores last summer.

I can’t say for sure how we’ll handle it when the rest of these ladies go. It may not make sense to take each of them to the vet, but ultimately it’s our decision and I know that whatever we do will be done in the most humane way possible.

EDIT 4/11/16: In a weird, sad and unfortunate coincidence, I woke up this morning to find a second chicken, Lorraine, had died. Unlike the first chicken, besides seeming a little slower she wasn’t really showing any signs of being ill. I have been paying extra close attention to the remaining three this past month and had just fed them greens from the garden yesterday. They were all moving around and eating just fine. I even checked on them before bed. Lorraine wasn’t on the roost, but that’s not unusual for her. I petted her and said goodnight and Matt found her this morning. We plan to bury her in the yard tonight.

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When I was in NY last fall, I got to visit Mood Fabrics. I made sure to walk up and down every aisle of all three floors so that I at least saw the whole place, but I was so overwhelmed that I only bought one thing. I did pay the wool section a second visit, because I love plaid and was totally enthralled with their selection of plaid wool. They even have a whole section devoted to wool boucle, which at the time I’d never even heard of. One touch and I knew it would be great fabric for an Oslo Cardigan. I didn’t end up with any of the wool that day (the one thing I bought was a quilted gray knit), but I did order some swatches when I got home and was able to land on a nice black and white plaid wool boucle.

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Pattern- Seamwork Oslo Cardigan

Fabric- Black and White Checked Wool Boucle from Mood Fabrics

The only other time I have bought fabric online was a vintage fabric through Etsy, so this was basically my first time. Having been to Mood and seen what was available there, it made me more comfortable buying it online. With the option to get swatches, you really can’t lose (you just have to be patient enough to wait for the swatches).

I still like to support my local shops, but it’s nice to have Mood as an option for things I can’t find in town, like this wool boucle. Mood seems to do hefty cuts too. The two pieces of fabric I have bought from them seem to be more than what I needed, so that’s a bonus!

I’d never worked with wool boucle before, but thanks to an Instagram conversation, I was forewarned of its fraying tendencies. I worked gently and quickly with it and sewed it all on a serger, so it wasn’t too bad.

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I placed the buttons according to the button guide in the pattern, but I’m not loving where they are. It feels like they should be higher, but I think you would have to play with the placement or add another row of buttons so they didn’t look to low. I have been wearing this open most of the time anyway, so it’s not that big of a deal.

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Alterations- Cut a size Medium, no alterations.

Fit- It’s meant to be loose and slouchy, so the fit is fine. The sleeve cuffs are the tiniest bit tight, but the shoulders are supposed to be dropped, so if I pull them down they are fine.

Notes- I do wish it had pockets and have extra fabric, so I could easily still add some.

Total time to make- 7.5 hrs (includes tracing the pattern and cutting the fabric, which took longer because of the plaid).

Outfit details- pictured with Lark Tee and Ginger Jeans

Inspiration– I always try to look at other people’s versions of patterns to get inspiration. Surprisingly, besides the plaid version on the pattern directions, there weren’t a lot of plaid versions online. I did find this one on Instagram that I really liked.

 

There’s something about the design of this pattern that is a little bathrobe-like, which is probably why Oh, She Dabbles made a version that actually was a bathrobe.


A photo posted by @shedabbles on


This was a quick and FREE pattern (with a Seamwork Magazine subscription) and is super comfy, so I ain’t complaining. It would make a great wardrobe staple in a solid colored sweater knit, so I will probably make it again!

Here are a couple of bonus out-take photos, which I sometimes like the best!

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