Roots: Sewing Your Heritage

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Ok friends… are you ready for a lesson in French Canadian history?  Oh la la… I promise it won’t be too long or too painful…

Heidi from Elegance & Elephants is hosting the Roots sewing series and I am her next stop on this international blogging tour.  Heidi has invited 11 of us to sew a garment for our child based on our cultural background.  There is also an amazing sew along happening so if you’re inspired to create a garment for your child based on your heritage, you can link up HERE.  There are amazing prizes to be won… you can read all about that HERE.

Elegance & Elephants

Canada is a multi-cultural society and for most of us, our roots stem from various cultural backgrounds.   In my immediate family, we have French, Scottish, Vietnamese, Jamaican, Aboriginal and German blood running through our veins.   When designing this garment, I scratched my head a bit wondering which direction I would take.  As the link between all of us is our French Canadian heritage, it made sense to start there.

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Now we don’t really have a national costume but when I think French Canadian, my mind goes immediately to the coureurs des bois of the 17th century.

The coureurs des bois (runner of the woods) were French Canadian woodsmen that traveled deep into the North American wilderness by foot or canoe in order to trade European goods for furs.  Along the way, they learned the ways of the First Nations of Canada and were experts at snowshoeing, canoeing, fishing and hunting.   It was a difficult and dangerous life but one also filled with discoveries, adventure and exploration.

They tended to wear long tunics to cover their bodies from the cold.  It was common for them to wear a tuque (slouch hat).  They were also known for sporting a ceinture fléchée (arrow sash) that tied around their jackets to help prevent the cold from creeping in, and also prevented some back injuries when carrying those heavy loads of pelt.Roots Sew Your Heritage - La gang a Nat14 Sources

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And based on that, this is what I came up with for Maïan…

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A sleeveless tunic, a cardigan with elbow patches, a pair of reversible leggings, a tuque with pompom, and a braided belt…

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The tunic top was based on the Nora dress pattern by Mouse House Creations.  I slashed the bodice in order to add a gathered piece on the bias.  The neck and armholes are finished off with bias tape.  The plaid fabric, a nod to our Scottish background, is from my local Fabricland store.

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The cardigan is based on the Greenpoint Cardigan by Hey June.  I shortened the sleeves and lengthened the wristbands;  I also lengthened the waistband by about 3 inches in order to add length to the cardigan, knowing that Maïan would be wearing it with leggings. The fabric is knit jersey from my stash (love digging into the stash!!!)

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 I also added some elbow patches in plaid…

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For the leggings, I started off with the free Ellie Inspired pattern.   I doubled them, making them completely reversible.  I forgot to take pictures of the other side… it’s pale blue.  I added a strip of the plaid fabric on the bias as a small detail at the bottom of the leggings.  I’ll admit it took me a few attempts as I initially didn’t cut the plaid fabric wide enough and poor Maïan wasn’t able to put her foot through the bottom of the legging.  But I finally figured it out!
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The tuque tested my patience  It should have been the easiest item to make, no?  Yet, it took me four attempts… all other versions just looked very very wrong.  Like an old sock hanging off her head.  She nixed all versions except this one, haha! Smart kid!
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And there you go!  A traditional French Canadian coureur de bois outfit brought to life for an 11 year old girl in 2014.  Best part is that she left for school with the cardigan today…  cool… very cool…
Thank you so much Heidi for inviting me on this wonderful journey around the world and for letting me share a bit of our French Canadian heritage.
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55 thoughts on “Roots: Sewing Your Heritage

  1. LOVE! You manage to alter each piece just perfectly to capture the essence of the your heritage. And reversible leggings?! Genius! Thank you so much for participating, Natalie.

    1. Heidi, thank you so much for creating this amazing sewing series. What a fantastic idea!!!! And thank you for inviting me to take part… I am so honoured!!!

      Natalie
      XX

    1. Indeed, I was channeling the Olympics when making this. Our family loves watching the games and we just can’t wait. Go Canada!!!

      Natalie
      XX

    1. Hi Olga! Thank you so much! We had fun with this photoshoot… luckily, it was a fairly warm day (well, for winter at least) so Maian didn’t freeze her little buns off. But we had a blast with Maian running around waving the flag, haha!

      Natalie
      XX

  2. This is such a beautiful outfit! I am definitely partial to this look coming from both a Scottish and French Canadian heritage myself. And that cardigan – I’d love one in my size! Great look!

    1. Hi Meghan! HOw cool that we have the same background, haha! I might have to make a cardigan for myself too now! 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting!

      Natalie
      XX

    1. Rachel, thank you so much for stopping by! Yep, I’ve decided to pretty much make all leggings reversible now, especially when using think jersey. It just makes sense for Canadian weather! Now I’m totally thinking preparing a little tutorial for the reversible leggings as they can be a bit tricky!

      Natalie
      XX

    1. Hi Deanna,
      Glad you enjoyed this tinny little journey into French Canadian history, haha! And thank you for your lovely comment!

      Natalie
      XX

    1. Hi Tamika!

      Well, I just might have to post a tutorial on those reversible leggins, hahaha! Thank you so much for stopping by and for leaving a lovely commment… I totally appreciate it!

      Natalie
      XX

    1. Renee, thank you! You totally got me… that’s exactly what I was aiming for! It was so important for me that Maian be able to wear all pieces afterwards and that they wouldn’t look costumey at all. I doubt she’ll wear the belt but that’s no big deal… haha! Thank you for stopping by Renee!

      Natalie
      XX

    1. Hi Sally! That red plaid is totally Canadian (and totally Scottish all at once!). I was also looking for that checkered black and red fabric that would have looked a bit more lumberjack… that could have worked too! Just couldn’t find it though… oh well! And we lucked out with the photoshoot… the Saturday in question was the warmest day we’ve had in the last couple of months, thankfully! Otherwise, it would have been an entirely indoors shoot. Still, I agree that Maian was rather brave to be out there without ajacket!

      Thank you for stopping by Sally and for leaving such a sweet comment!

      Natalie
      XX

    1. Thank you Erin! And I agree with the model beging gorgeous… but I am of course totally impartial on that one, haha!

      Natalie
      XX

  3. You did it again. Great history, perfect interpretation with fabrics and styles fit for a young lady, and the best photos EVER! I’m seriously loving those elbow patches. I need some on something I own. Like NOW! I love that you took into consideration she would be wearing the cardigan with leggings. I hate wearing shirts or cardigans that are too short when wearing those. (but I’m 5’11” so everything is too darn short) Yes, I’m an old lady who loves wearing leggings. HA HA! LOVED THIS, Natalie!

    1. Stacey, if I had your body, I would be wearing leggings everyday, haha!!!! Your body is killer!!! I tried on jeggings at Winners this weekend and practically pissed myself laughing… I looked like an upside down traffic cone…. ugh!!!!

      But thank you for your sweet words about this garment. You rock sweetie!

      Natalie
      XX

  4. Love it Nat! Thank you for sharing a little about your history. I might have to go check out the sew-along! Now I got my sewing room back I might just have to whip up a Russian inspired outfit? Or Russian-Australian…

    1. Oh yes Jenya! Do check out the sew along! I would love to see what amazing Russian or Russian/Australian look you come up with!

      Natalie
      XX

    1. Justine, merci beaucoup! I’m so happy that Maian will be able to wear all these pieces on their own and in a modern way. And do you speak French?

      Natalie
      XX

    1. I hear you about the elbow patches Britt… Maian loves them too and has already requested a second cardigan with heart elbow patches so looks like I have my Valentine’s gift for her all sorted out, haha! Now to work on a women’s version for me! 🙂

      Natalie
      XX

  5. Now, I just want to learn how to sew! What gorgeous pieces and pictures! This is the kind of thing that gets passed through generations and that is so wonderful for your family. xo

  6. Hey Nat, you are quickly becoming my favourite blog….I’m getting ready to expand my sewing abilities…from curtains and doll baskets to kids clothes and maybe a thing or two for me…you’re my guru now. Kelli

    1. Hi Kelli! Please forgive my late response… had a bit too much on the go lately! Wow, you left me the best compliment ever!!!! I am so glad to hear that I am inspiring you to sew. Go for it!!! Funny that you mention doll baskets, as I right in the middle of making one for Alix’s birthday coming up on Saturday. I hope it turns out and I will be out of time to make anything else, yikes!

      Maybe we can expand our horizons together when it comes to sewing for ourselves… I’ve done very few things for me so far and have promised myself to change that this year!!! Let me know if you find good (and easy!) patterns!!!

      Natalie
      XX

  7. I am a sucker for a good Canadiana anything! Your girls must LOVE having you around. Hell I’d love having you around especially when I was a teen and couldn’t find pants to fit my height. Beautiful work as always!

    1. Hahaha Alex! You are too funny girl! Now if I can only figure out how to make cloths to fit my body!!! That’s like way too complicated with all the curves and the bumps and such, hahaha!!!

      Natalie
      XX

  8. Lovely and comfortable outfit! The double leggings might be an idea for our eldest, she hates jeans, but I get cold just seeing her in her leggings…
    Fun to read the story behind the clothes too! (bit late,but I’m finally catching up on my blog reading again…)

    1. Nienke, thank you so muc! Yes, the double legglings are so much warmer, perfect for cold winter days. I’m glad you liked the little foray down French Canadian history! 🙂 And no worries about being ate… I am SOOO behind blog reading!! But I’ll get there… too many great posts to read and amazing sewing inspiration to view!!!

      Natalie
      XX

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