Hosting a contest.

I opened the TumTum & TukTuk Etsy shop last month!

I would like to thank everyone for their support by hosting a fun contest on the TumTum & TukTuk facebook page. It has been an incredible amount of work but definitely worthwhile and always fun! We’d like to show you our gratitude this holiday season by hosting a contest. The winner receives two free matching pairs of leggings, either for two special little ones or for yourself and a special little one in your life!

The contest begins today and closes November 25th at 23h30
Check out the TumTum & TukTuk FB page for the latest updates and items available in the shop! Please feel free to share the contest details with your friends whom you think would want to partake 😉

Good luck!!



Mère-Poule Dress

My mother made this mother-hen maternity dress 35 years ago. She wore it towards the end of two of her four pregnancies. Cassady and I were born two years apart in the summers of 1980 and 1982. This dress suited the season and the time well. Many of my mother’s friends are quite taken with how pregnant women show their bellies nowadays. The weekly bump photos I share with my mother, in which I sport snug knit dresses and fitted tunics, have been shared among some of her friends. She has only received lovely responses with the other common replies being “we certainly never dressed like that in our day.”

I had seen this dress over the years at the bottom of her storage bins, the print always made me smile. A mother hen with her eggs 🙂 My mother has always had a good eye for unique prints and a fantastic sense of humour. I was so touched when the dress was finally given to me to wear during my pregnancy. I had worn it a few times around the house but felt this dress deserved more, as I tend to feel with most great but outdated pieces. With my mom’s permission, I upcycled this dress to suit the season and the time.

30 weeks pregnant!

I was inspired by the shape of a pinafore yet I couldn’t bring myself to deconstruct her beautiful collar, with its carefully crafted facing and button neck closure. I shorted it by 9″ and sewed a 1/2″ elastic into where my new waistline falls, creating a gathered waistline at the top of my current pregnant belly (approximately 4.5″ from my armpits). Paired with a turtle neck, cardigan or a long-sleeve and add a pair of tights and voilà, my mother’s mére poule maternity dresses another pregnant body!

What to do with the remaining 9″ of fabric?

My mother had made me a beautiful quilt with the remnant fabric of baby clothes and maternity dresses she had made. She used these precious squares to create a beautiful quilt which I have cherished and continue to use. I’ll be making something similar for our baby boy.

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The Renegade DIY Cardigan

This week, I upcyled an old thrift store sweater into a cardigan. I bought this striped 100% acrylic crewneck years ago and have worn it a million times around the house. It’s boxy shape and stretched-out bottom hem were among the reasons it remained just an around-the-house-sweater. As I enter my 3rd trimester (now 29 weeks pregnant), cardigans paired with long tanks/minidresses and leggiings have become wardrobe staples so I decided to refashion my old sweater into a cardigan.

After discovering and falling in love with The Renegade Seamstress Beth Huntington’s website last month, filled with her fantastic sewing tutorials, I immediately went out and picked up her book, The Refashion Handbook. For this upcycle project, I followed Beth’s Merino Wool Cardigan tutorial. Since this project is found on page 60 of her book, I will not be sharing the details with you here, however, Beth has a similar tutorial on her website. After I cut, pinned, sewed, pinned again, sewed some more and then hand stitched the button in place, I pressed the seams and voilà, my old favourite sweater is now my new cardigan!

Before & After
Before & After

I highly recommend Huntington’s book to everyone who enjoys upcycling clothes and working with fabric they probably already own. Some of these projects I have thought of myself and done already and others, like her Renegade Ikat Bag made using an old pretty tablecloth, a black leather sleeve, a denim pocket and an old belt, I will definitely be trying out very soon. Beth Huntington, the MacGyver Sewist!

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The Declutter Dress

Etienne and I moved into our new home last month. The week preceding our move, my husband had me doing some serious decluttering. Etienne helpfully highlighted my closet as top priority and I didn’t fight it. I participated and I think I did a pretty damn good job. I donated nearly half of our (re: my) things to shelters and the Renaissance donation center. There were a dozen pieces of clothing that I felt the need to save. Some that I had either not worn in a while (re: years) and others that I had but perhaps shouldn’t have (re: dire need of an upcycle!).

Yes, that’s right folks, the upcycler cleverly upcycled her own clothes in order to keep them! Here I combined two doomed pieces of clothing into one that I would wear. The black long sleeve crop top and this old daisy knit pencil skirt were both snug and given that I was 25 weeks pregnant at the time, I didn’t need to attach an elastic to the waistline. This simplified an already straight forward process even more. I gently pinned the two pieces together and tried it on to measure the desire dress length. I chose something shorter as I’m pairing most of my clothing with leggings these days. I cut the skirt at the waist band and not at the bottom hem, allowing me to keep the original hem. I told you this was an easy project! I pinned and sewed the top and skirt waist seams together and voilà, my declutter dress!

My new dress!
My new dress!

I think if you’re items are made of stretch fabric and snug enough, even non-pregnant women can opt out of installing an elastic to the waistline. It can also be something you sew in later if need be.

The Dress

We’re going to be parents! And we got married! And we moved into a new home!

My apologies for the four month hiatus, but I return to you all with nothing but great stories and happy news. Etienne and I are going to be parents come the end of January 2016! Our summer began with the news that we will be parents and the season ended with a beautiful wedding. We marked the arrival of fall, our favourite season, with a big move into our new home!

Baby boy Sniatowsky-Pelletier
Baby boy Sniatowsky-Pelletier

As wonderful and thrilling as this whole journey has been so far, the first trimester of my pregnancy was a little uncomfortable. I took comfort in knowing that the discomfort of nausea and fatigue, as my friend Andrea had pointed out, was a sign that everything was working as it probably should be. Sadly, it all left such little energy and time for sewing. Aside from my nursing work, June and July were pretty low key, mainly consisting of lots of naps, carb heavy snacks and a generous amount of a new TV guilty pleasure: Nashville! This saw me through until the very end of July, when Etienne and I entered full time wedding prep mode. Etienne pretty much single handedly organized our entire wedding reception. I am incredibly grateful to my husband for his excellent attention to detail and organizational skills. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a more diligent partner. He stepped up to the plate and took on more than his fair share. I already knew he was going to make an amazing husband and soon an extraordinary father but he certainly earned some extra stripes here. Thank you, Etienne, je t’aime très fort!

For the wedding, I was put in charge of decorations and table arrangement/seating. The flowers were simple, one large white hydrangea was placed in a vase in the centre of each of the ten tables. With the help of my dear friend Nathalie, we cut and sewed 200 white lace triangles and created some beautiful pennant strings which were strung across the ceiling of our reception hall. The lace was upcycled from old white lace curtains I had purchased at Village des Valeurs for 3$ each. I sewed them individually on 1/4″ gift wrapping string from the dollar store. It worked out perfectly, providing that festive wedding feel without that enormous wedding price tag.

Now on to the dress. Since our engagement, I had been dreaming of making my own wedding dress. I had purchased beautiful off white lace from FabricDotCom at the very beginning of the summer yet only started working on the dress the first week of August. I was having difficulty deciding on a pattern yet found myself favouring plunging lace neckline and midi length skirts. I began piecing it together on my dress-form. I created a beautiful plunging neckline with a deep V-back, both meeting at an elastic waistband attached to a gathered double lace layer skirt hitting me mid-calf. It was exactly what I thought I wanted. On the dress-form, it was my perfect wedding dress, however on my 18 week pregnant frame it was not a flattering design nor a comfortable dress. With only two weeks to the big day, I began to panic.

My lovely friend & fellow sewist Andrée-Anne met me on St. Hubert that Sunday to go fabric hunting for dress #2. Armed with a few ideas I pulled from Google Images, Andrée-Anne’s know-how, and my unshakeable determination for creating my own dress, we succeeded in our mission. We found some beautiful stretch fabric at Regent Tissu. I chose a dusty pink lycra stretch blend  for the bust portion and an off-white stretch satin for the skirt. I also picked up some white slinky stretch lining and some dusty rose lace to create a belt.

I still couldn’t decide on a full dress pattern so I chose to build it in pieces, selecting styles that I liked and believed would fit my growing & changing body. I opted for the Burda Bodice Top (04/2013, #115) which I altered by removing the pattern straps and opting out of the front opening.  I chose simple 4mm wide elastic straps from Ultratext. The design shape of the bodice constructed with the strong and tight stretch of the fabric I chose, lent it self perfectly to my growing bust. I had grown from a 34B to a 34D in what felt like just a few weeks!

The bottom portion of the dress was self-drafted following Elena’s maxi skirt instructions off her site Randomly Happy. I attached the bodice to the bottom lined portion and the results wielded were fantastic! It fit my waist, hips and baby bump beautifully. The only hiccup was the bodice which I didn’t adjust correctly. Andrée-Anne has become a true and treasured friend who saved the day- and my dress! As I stood in front of the mirror wearing my unfinished wedding dress 10 days before the big day, she patiently stitch ripped sections of the facing of the bodice open and pinned the bust and back darting adjustments. She taught me how to pin, mark and sew the darts properly while keeping her hands off my sewing machine. “I can’t do it for you, you’ll want to claim full credit for this dress later”, she kept repeating as she encouraged me to dive in and fix my dress myself. And I did. And it turned out to exceed all of my expectations. Merci, Andrée-Anne!! Je te dois bien ça, tu m’as sauvé la vie.

I attached the elastic straps and made a simple lace belt using two button closures in the back and voilà, dress number two became the dress I loved the most and the one I wore to marry my love.

Our talented photographer, and I’m proud to call our new friend, Matthew Perrin took some incredible shots of not only our special weekend but he also documented an afternoon as I worked on my wedding dress. He photographed our unconventional rehearsal dinner, a Baseball game BBQ at Parc Vinet, and our wedding ceremony & reception on the following day. We can’t say enough wonderful things about Matt’s work and I feel like the photographs speak for themselves. Here are a couple dozen to share!

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Before I sign off, some special fashion nods must be given to the lovely Andrée-Anne and actress & model Nastassia Markiewicz. These two beauties made their own dresses for our wedding as well. Andrée-Anne’s two-piece dress details can be found on her blog post. Nastassia’s dress was also a sexy two-piece number which can you believe she self-drafted and created from some remnant that she had in her fabric stash. I’m honestly blown away by these two!

And the food was delicious!

Oyster & Scallop bar courtesy of Choice Harbour

BBQ Ribs, chicken, grilled salads, fries and deep-fried macaroni balls by Blackstrap BBQ

Dessert pies by Rustique

For more details on the day, please visit my mother-in-law Kathleen’s blog post.

African Wax Print Dress

Yesterday, I upcycled a homemade Muumuuu-style dress I found at Village des Valeurs a few months back. The fabric looks more African wax in flavour, similar to many prints I admired throughout my travels in West Africa. The design however appears to be a more modern day take on the m’boubou or kaftan, a traditional West African ceremonial dress, as the sleeves are short. I was lucky with this piece as it’s extra large size allowed me enough fabric to create something completely new and to cut it on the bias. There is no zipper in this dress, only the magic of angling the fabric on the bias for more stretch and ease. I used my Tashenka pattern for the design and some strategic angling to accommodate the print- voilà, my African Wax Print Dress!

I’m opening up shop!

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog front these days but have been very busy in the studio. I love sewing and have been having a blast designing my own pieces but can’t possibly wear them all. Sewing clothes can be a rather expensive pass time as well. So I thought, since graduate school has been delayed at least a year or two, why not open up shop? Etsy makes it so easy to connect makers to buyers so I signed up. My shop will open its (virtual) doors July 2015!

I’ll begin by offering my Tashenka dresses- lace top, cinched waist and print bottom as well as some upcyled tank tops and possibly some baby/kid leggings. I’m taking a chance and testing out the waters- we’ll see where this all takes me. And voilà, just like that Tashenka Designs is born!

The Tashenka Dress
The Tashenka Dress

The Garden Party Dress

The Tashenka Garden Party Dress.

This dress was inspired by my recent makes with the Salme Kimono dress pattern. I love the silhouette of a kimono, however I wanted to design something that accentuated the curves underneath the clothes. I like the design of a kimono, particularly how the bodice and sleeve are a complete unit- one large piece. In true Tashenka style, I highlighted the waistline by joining the bodice and skirt portions at the true waist and cinching it nice and snug with an elastic band in a casing. I also have added short sleeves, my brother-in-law Jules calls them kimono cap sleeves. Traditional kimono designs have unattached sleeves, particularly in the underarm portion, however I reduced this draping look by redesigning the underarm portion in a more tight figure-hugging curve line down to the waist. And voilà, Tashenka’s Garden Party Dress.

DIY Faux Fur Scarf (Tutorial)

Last summer, my mother, Vie Domestique & I scored some beautiful fabrics at Norwegian Wood‘s Montréal studio liquidation sale. I picked up some very unique pieces of fabric, most of which I have yet to use. This 70″ X 20″ piece of beautiful light brown faux fur has been tempting me ever since the weather dropped below -30C.

I had no pattern or plan but I had seen some cute & simple DIYs working with faux fur. Anna from PlanB‘s idea of making a tube-like scarf caught my eye but I didn’t think it suited my personal style. I also thought Create-Enjoy‘s version of the infinity scarf was nice but I didn’t think it would work with the weight of my faux fur. I felt like a classic wrap collar scarf would be something I’d wear and love, so I decided to seize the little sewing time I’ve had these days and make something elegant & cozy inspired by some beautiful Russian sable fur scarves I’ve come to admire.

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  • 30″ X 20″ (approx.) of soft faux fur (if your faux fur doesn’t pass the shedding on black fabric test, I recommend to pre-wash it in cold water and hang to dry- they can shed)
  • A button- I chose a 2″ faux gold. My faux fur deserved some faux gold!
  • Regular sewing supplies (needle, thread & scissors) * This project can be done by hand but I used a sewing machine*


I apologize in advance for the lack of photos- photographing the fur was difficult, few details were visible so I’ve drawn some simple step by step diagrams to go with the written instructions.

Tashenka's instructions for DIY faux fur scarf
Tashenka’s instructions for DIY faux fur scarf

Step one: Cut your fabric into a 30″ x 20″ rectangle.

Step two: Fold rectangle along the long fold giving you a 30″ x 10″ folded piece, with right sides facing (the two fur sides facing each other, *you’re looking at the wrong sides).

Step three: Pin the long side together, keeping both short edges open.

Step four: Now sew along the long side you’ve just pinned. You’ll have a tube at the end of this step.

Step five: Turn the fabric right sides out (you’ll be flipping the tube inside out, fur now on the outside, hiding your just sewn seam).

Step six: Flip the edges of one of the short sides inwards approx. 1″. Basically, you’re tucking the raw edge inside the tube. Now with the edge tucked in, pin & then sew the opening closed. This gives the end a nice finished look. Repeat this step on the other side.

Step seven: You’re nearly done! Now try on your almost finished scarf to decide on button placement. I designed mine to have the hidden long inseam resting on my shoulders and the folded edge along my neck. I wanted mine to be a little snug, wrapping up and around my neck nicely- elegant but also practical for this Montréal winter. Mark where you want the button hole to be placed, which will be on the top flap (the flap that goes on top of the bottom flap) and the actual button will be sewn to the bottom flap, mark this spot with pins.

Step eight: Depending on the size of the button you’ve chosen, you now need to make a slit measuring the length of your button (mine was 2″). Cut a slit into both layers of the top flap. You can either stitch the edges of the button hole by hand or machine. I’ll admit, machine is always faster but by hand might be easier as the fur makes seeing the slit very difficult. (for more details on how to sew a buttonhole, please see: sewing a button hole by machine or by hand)

Step nine: Sew your button onto the bottom flap.

Step ten: Voilà! Put her on and button her up, your scarf is finished!


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