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!!

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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.

Whirlaway Dress Upcycles

This morning, I upcycled a large Whirlaway Frocks’ purple paisley stretch polyester dress into a pair of leggings and a strapless top! I picked this number up last week at Montréal thrift-store Eva B for 10$.  All I needed was a little imagination, the new Van Morrison album & a cup of coffee and voilà, I have sweet top to wear today! Perhaps not to be worn together- maybe Amsterdam in the 90s…? I’m wearing the top today tucked into some high waisted jeans!

Before & After
Before & After
What I'm wearing today ;)
What I’m wearing today 😉

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

My Bowie Pants

My Bowie Pants! This past month, I had the opportunity to learn how to make made-to-measure leggings from the lovely & talented Montreal based designer, blogger & sewist, Heather Lou. Heather hosted a two weekend- Sunday afternoons for 3 hours each- DIY legging workshop at Fripe Fabrique, a boutique and do it yourself atelier. (Psst, they also sell online). Michelle, FF’s owner, has a beautiful set of Singer sewing machines for her sewing DIY workshops. After the shop had closed, Michelle transformed her adorable boutique into the perfect studio space for us to learn about knits, measuring ourselves to create our own pattern and make made-to-measure leggings.

Heather began by taking us through the basics. This was especially fun for me as I have never taken a proper sewing class. I had the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions. I discovered a slew of things I’ve been doing incorrectly when it comes to working with knits and stretchy fabrics. I have been using the wrong needle (ballpoint or stretch needles only), that I must invest a couple of my pennies into a walking foot, how to properly gauge the stretch content a given fabric and what is a “grain-line”- just to name a few.  Heather also shared a video with us on how sewing machines work- mind-blown!

We measured ourselves and plotted our measurements on the pattern. We used Cake Patterns Espresso leggings N5555 – a genius design as it really takes into account how we are of all different shapes and sizes. Aside from the usual measurements of waist, thigh circumference and leg length, we measured our front and back rises-these are key measurements to creating the perfect fitted legging. I made mine using a 4-way stretch gold polyester with 5% lycra. And voilà, I call them my Bowie Pants!

Tashenka’s Salme Kimono Dress

This is my second Salme pattern make. Their patterns have become some of my absolute favourites. Elisa and her team certainly know how to design beautiful patterns for women. I recently purchased two to use in the teaching sessions with the women at the shelter. I think they’re great teaching tools as the designs are fashionable yet also uncomplicated. I prefer designs that are simple, my musts are clean lines, few pieces and straightforward instructions. The Salme website also has fantastic and clear sewing tutorials with step by step instructions. For the top of this dress, I used their understitiching tutorial, as well as Tilly and The Buttons’ tutorial on collar facing. I was so pleased with how this collar turned out. I will never make another collar without a facing ever again. Well, maybe not never, but almost never.

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I used two pieces of fabric to make this dress, both of which were rescue-upcycle garments. The top was created from a Léo -Danal by Normie Hum Ltd dress, a now-defunct Montréal clothing line. I found this floral XL dress at Village des Valeurs for $5, a real steal as once I ironed out the pleats I was left with a substantial amount of fabric. The skirt portion of my dress was made from a beautiful large vintage scarf which I got for a whopping 50 cents as it had a couple burn holes, lucky for me they were near the edges. I used the Salme Kimono Sleeve dress pattern, only tweaking the measurements slightly. I also inserted a 1.5″ elastic casing to the inside waistline which I inserted a 1″ elastic through, providing a more snug cinched waist. And voilà, the Tashenka’s take on the Salme Kimono Sleeve dress!

The Veronika Vest.

My sewing projects have been few and far between these past months. The holidays were filled with family and the post-New Year period filled with catching up with friends. Throw in some full time work and I’m left with very little sewing time. However, this sewing machine withdrawal period has allowed for some reflective moments- sketching some design ideas and muse on my muses. Where does inspiration come from? Everywhere. Most often, I find my inspirations when I’m amongst my friends, and this has always been evident with the company I keep. My girlfriends in particular, beginning with my own mother, have had a great influence on my past creations. This week’s vest creation is a nod to one of my nearest & dearest, Lady Veronika– a love-story of sorts.

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Veronika & I, winter 2007-08

Veronika and I have been friends for nearly ten years now. I still remember the first time I saw her- she caught my eye with her stunning smile, killer dance moves as she sported this awesome retro vest. She embodied cool. My brother introduced us (at my request) to which Veronika smiled and grabbed my hand leading me on to the dance floor. I quickly began to understand that that gesture, confident, chic and cordial, was classic Veronika. All of which is reflected in her style. Her style has evolved over the years, as have her beautiful paintings,  however her innate ability to always look elegant and classic yet utterly unique has never ceased. Maybe think Annie Hall mixed with John Lennon mixed with feminine eastern European style. That night Veronika had paired her oversized sheep skin/wool vest (her mother Danuta‘s I later learned) with a off-white lace trimmed blouse, paint stained blue jeans (she was in art-school at the time) and an eclectic mix of bracelets and rings. Make no mistake about it, this was love at first sight.

This image of my friend inspired my latest upcycle project, making my own vest using faux fur. One of my recently found pleasures has been rescuing faux fur coats from the thrift stores, All under 15$, I have been salvaging and recycling the fantastic fabric of some great faux furs coats that I don’t believe will ever find homes again (apologies to those who would wear them as is).  I drafted a pattern using an old nylon/down vest as a gauge and incorporated the original collar of the coat into my design. I removed the lining from a light gold Donnybrook faux fur coat, cut off the sleeves and separated front from back.  I cut the fur and assembled it together. I sewed the bottom and arm hole hems. I’ll admit they look a little rough but I’m pretty pleased considering the improvised nature of this initial iteration. I also repositioned the hook and eye closures. I pair her with my plaid flannel or my floral polyester shirt, jeans and some Dior lipstick and voilà, my own version of the Veronika Vest!

Gold Strapless Minidress

Last weekend, I deconstructed and refashioned an old thrift store gold knit sweater into a sexy little mini skirt. I was so pleased with the results that I’m currently taking apart a few of my older brother’s cast off sweaters. No large sweater is safe now!

I love idea of up-cycling and giving old clothes new life, not to mention how economical and eco-friendly the whole process is. I must use all the pieces of these items but what does one do with just the sleeves? I had a few people put forth some great suggestions- leg warmers were something I considered and then there’s always the easy go-to of piecing together a little clutch. I couldn’t decide so I opened the sleeves up, cutting out the seams, to have a better look at how much fabric I had to work with. I was in need of a dress for my staff holiday party tonight so I manipulated the remaining fabric and made it fit, more or less, to my Tashenka dress pattern. I inserted an elastic to the top hem of the gold knit portion for it to hold well. Before sewing the top to the bottom of black stretch knit fabric, I inserted a 0.5″ elastic to the bottom hem of the gold knit top to bring in the waistline for a sexy silhouette. And voilà, I present you my chic lil’ work Christmas party dress!

1982 Miniskirt

Being a child of the 80s, I was lucky enough to have owned a bedazzler machine. I bedazzled a lot things: T-shirts, hats, bags and jeans. I was younger than Molly Ringwald from Pretty In Pink, far too young for a sewing machine then but just old enough to put studs and sequins on anything and everything. You name it, it had sparkles on it. My apologies to my brothers, whose clothes weren’t spared. This is why I was so excited when my friend Kerstin challenged me to refashion this colourful and sparkly sweater into something “cool and wearable”. I immediately saw the potential for cool but I was a little apprehensive for the wearable part of her challenge. Even after refashioning this piece, would I even choose to it pull out closet for a night out?  I wasn’t convinced but I accepted the challenge. 5$ later, it was mine. Later that week, I was showing the pieces I had picked up at Renaissance to my lady friend Mandy and she suggested I make a skirt from the piece Kerstin had chosen.

Before & After
Before & After

Of course, I thought, a miniskirt would work really well! I began to stitch-rip some of the sequins off. I began with the yellow, telling myself that it was the most problematic colour on the piece. Yet, after removing all the yellow, it was still unbearable to look at. Off went the blue… and then some green. By this point, only a few pink flowers with a little green were left on the front and the back. I cut the sleeves off  (they are awaiting a project of their own) and redesigned the bodice into a skirt using my Tashenka dress pattern. I lined the skirt with a thin stretch organic black cotton since the sweater material became too sheer when stretched. I inserted a 1″ elastic to the waistband and hemmed the bottom- voilà, a pretty little miniskirt made from a sweater that was probably loved by some girl in the 80s!