Colourful Airelle

airelle1I bought this small piece of Liberty tana lawn a few months ago with the intention of making a blouse out of it. Then I changed my mind and decided to make a gathered skirt with a back elasticated waistband instead. I made a mess out of said gathered skirt (don’t ask!), and all I was left with were the front and back panels of the skirt, which luckily were juuuust enough for a blouse, so back to square one.

airelle4I decided to try the Deer&Doe Airelle blouse (if you clicked through those links: doesn’t one of the models look familiar?😀 ) with the sleeve caps of the Réglisse dress, because that was all I could squeeze out of my skirt panels. I had to shorten the Réglisse sleeve caps for them to correspond to the armholes of the blouse, but style wise I think they suit the blouse very well.

airelle3I made a straight size 36, which fits pretty well I’d say. Had I cut the normal Airelle sleeves, I would have graded the shoulders up to a 38, but the sleeve caps allowed me to forgo that step.

airelle6It was a straightforward sew that didn’t take me more than two days from tracing the pattern to finishing the blouse, and God knows I’m a slow sewer! I finished the seams with my serger, which I’ve come to value more and more: it’s fast and easy, yet looks so professional.

airelle7My favourite part of the blouse has to be the collar: I can’t even begin to understand why so many people have sewn collarless Airelles, but different strokes for different folks… I appreciate the darts, too, which give such a flattering fit through the bodice.

airelle2It’s a nice little blouse that can be worn in a lot of different outfits. I have been wearing it both tucked in high-waisted skirts and untucked over jeans and, although I’m more used to my high-waisted skirts and think those kind of outfits are more my style, I couldn’t really tell which way I prefer it. By the way, those are Ginger jeans you see in some of the pictures, but more about them in a future blog post!

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Yes Frills!

frilly2With time, I’ve learned to choose my knitting projects more and more wisely. It’s been years now since I’ve knit something and not had any use out of it. In short, I am usually pretty happy with my finished knit projects. But this one, ah, this one, I like it even more than the rest!

I first discovered the pattern years ago on Casey’s old blog: she had made an adorable turquoise version with white edging which had me convinced I needed the book it came from. Not that easy since it was out of print at the time. I had to wait for quite a long time before it was rereleased, but after months (years?) of stalking the designer’s website, finally, I could get my hands on it, and on volume 2 for good measure. These two books are chock-full of lovely designs I immediately added to my mental knitting queue, with this Frilly Jumper at the top, of course.

frilly1You know how knitting queues go (i.e. not fast), so it took me another few months (years?) before finally starting working on it. I knew I wanted a crisp white edging like Casey’s, but I agonised over the main colour for a while. Then I found this perfect red at Hema of all places (I didn’t even know they sold yarn until then), 100% cotton, and I got down to work.

Ravelry tells me it took me three months to knit, but I think it could have gone much faster had I had more free time during that period. It was an easy knit and the instructions were clear. I hesitated a bit over the size and chose to make a 76-81 cm (30-32’’) based on the finished measurements, which seemed plenty enough for my 33-34’’ bust. It was the right choice: the amount of ease is perfect for me and I love the fit of the finished sweater.

frilly4The only place I deviated from the pattern was the collar: the pattern has a four-piece collar, which I didn’t like at all. In fact, the thing I liked most about the pattern when I first saw it was what I thought was a ruffle collar. Ruffle, singular, not four ruffles. It’s only when I read through the instructions that I realised that there were indeed four separate parts to that collar. This made no sense to me, and I was so much keener on a one-piece collar frill, so I changed it. It was an easy modification: I simply knit one long neck frill of 342 stitches instead of four short ones, and seamed it up at the back afterwards. Apart from than that I followed the instructions for the small neck ruffles, only on a bigger width.

As always, you can find the rest of the technical details on my Ravelry, but this is the only consequent change I made.

frilly5This little summer sweater is one of my favourite knits ever, if not one of my favourite creations ever. It looks exactly like the picture I had in my head, and it goes with so many of my skirts… The only little thing I could criticise is the thickness of the sleeve frills, that prevents me from layering most of my long-sleeved sweaters over it. Still, the weather has allowed me to wear it a lot already, and I know it won’t spend a lot of time in the closet come the next warm season.

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Pastel

pastel1Yes, another gathered skirt with giant pockets; yes, two new Ondée sweaters! I know, I know

What can I write that I haven’t written before, especially since the fabric I used for the Ondées is the same as for my first version, only in different colourways, and the fabric of the skirt is the same as for last week’s culottes, only with vertical stripes instead of flowers? I also used the remnants of the culottes for the pockets and the covered button, so really, nothing new under the sun. I even bought the fabrics in the same place.

pastel5Oh, but wait, I did use a new pattern for the pockets of the skirt! Burda 06/2015 #103a is a gathered skirt, so they only provide you with measurements, no pattern pieces, except for the pockets. I used my usual gathered skirt measurements instead of the pattern measurements, but I did use the pocket piece! I love those pockets: I can literally fit a cat in each one! Now if only my cats would cooperate.

pastel3I have been more into skirts that fall below the knee lately and I would have liked this skirt to do so, but I didn’t have enough fabric left after straightening the grain (I lost about twenty centimetres, grrrrr!), so this length had to do. Judging from the crazy amount of times I have worn this skirt in almost four months, I think I might survive the trauma.

pastel4I have realised since making the two Ondées (and two others after that, oops!) that I should have cut at least a 38 at the shoulders instead of a 36 like I did. It’s funny how at first you don’t see something, and then you notice it and it’s all you can see. I am now the proud owner of ten too-narrow-at-the-shoulders Ondées! Now that won’t stop me from going on wearing them. Also, being the positive person that I am, I see that as an opportunity to sew ten more! Silver lining and all that…

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Culottes and a Eucalypt

jupeculotte1When leafing through Burda, I often need to look past the styling and always need to examine the technical drawings to fall in love with a pattern. Not this time. When I spotted the May 2016 Culottes (#110a), it was love at first sight. And at second sight when I looked at the technical drawing and saw their lovely scalloped front yoke. I needed those culottes.

You can imagine how happy I was when I found a very similar fabric to the one they used in the magazine at the Stoffenspektakel. So happy that I started working on the culottes right away instead of hoarding the fabric for a couple of years as is usually more my style!

I cut a size 40, graded down to a 38 at the waist/top of the yoke (it’s a low waist, so no need to go smaller than that). It was a pretty fast and uneventful make, the only difficulty being the angles of the scallops, where the scallops meet each other. Angles that I didn’t manage to sew correctly; mine are much more wavy than pointy as they appear to be on the technical drawing. But no one who didn’t see said technical drawing is going to notice that, are they?

jupeculotte5Aside from that, these culottes were a breeze to make. They are also quite nice to wear, especially in this fabric (I think it’s a polycotton), which, contrary to other blends I’ve used in the past, seems to have taken the best of both worlds: it presses really well, but it almost doesn’t wrinkle!

However, I don’t wear them very often. Why is that? Because, and I feel so stupid for not having realised and remedied that beforehand, there are no pockets… So, even though I find the culottes so cute and all, I don’t find them very practical, and I keep reaching for the pockets.

jupeculotte2The top I’m wearing with them in the pictures (I unconsciously composed an outfit that is very similar to the one in Burda, didn’t I?) is also a partial fail. I used Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt tank and, looking at my previous versions of the pattern, I shortened the straps, thinking this would lead to a better fit. I also made a few changes just for this version, for aesthetical reasons: I made the straps thinner, deepened the neckline (front and back), shortened and widened the body and added a lace trim (from my stash; I had just the right length) at the bottom.

jupeculotte4I’m happy with my aesthetical changes, but the fitting change was kind of counterproductive: I feel like the fit of the top part is worse than before! And it leads to the shoulder seams falling too far towards the back and the whole top appearing asymmetrical: if I don’t put the shoulder seams back in place, the top seems shorter in the front and longer in the back.

Another thing I’m not happy at all with is the way my bias finished neckline and armholes look. At first they looked pretty good, but after a wash they wrinkled a lot, and no amount of pressing seems to be able to solve that. And yet I had prewashed both the fabric, a quality cotton lawn, and my bias tape, made from the same material.

jupeculotte3I’ve worn the top a lot this summer, both tucked and untucked, so I wouldn’t call it a total failure, but it’s always frustrating when a project doesn’t meet your standards, especially when you don’t understand exactly what went wrong! Ah well, I keep telling myself we are all bound to fail some projects from time to time, and that makes it only better when the next one is a success!

Brigiiiiitte!

VichyMint1When I came upon this mint gingham at the Stoffenspektakel with my partner in crime, I immediately thought of making it into a matching blouse and skirt.

I knew the skirt would be a simple gathered one with giant patch pockets, because you do not change a winning team, but I dithered on the question of the blouse. At first I wanted to make a Mélilot, then thinking I could wear it tied at the waist made me think about Camille’s versions of  this Burda model I had in my stash, and then I remembered Gertie’s pattern, Butterick B5895,  which I also had in my stash (is there a pattern I do not have in my stash, that is the question!), and the deal was done!

VichyMint3I went in search of reviews of the pattern, and a lot of them warned about the surprising amount of ease. I took a look at the finished measurements and chose to cut a size 6 instead of between a size 10 and 12 as the body measurements would have had me cut. Now, the ease wouldn’t have worried me so much was I going to use a drapier fabric, but with this light but stiff gingham I thought it would be wiser to go down a few sizes for fear of getting a much boxier blouse than I intended.

Another thing I read in a lot of reviews was that the blouse was very short. Once again I referred to the finished garment measurements (I also measured the length of the pattern pieces just to be sure) and I decided against modifying the length. But it’s true, the blouse is indeed very short: I suspect I am very high waisted and it falls right at my natural waist.

VichyMint4The pattern only has four pieces, but man do some of them look weird! The only tricky part to sew is the collar, for which you need to be very precise in your cutting, marking and sewing, and I found the instructions perfectly clear.

One thing that worried me was that the grainline does not run parallel to the centre front line, so I had to ignore the grainline on the front pieces for the plaid to be straight on the button bands. Fortunately, this did not cause any problem in the end, phew! The grainline isn’t parallel with the centre back either and I actually like the effect there, but I know it would have bugged me to no end if the gingham didn’t run parallel with the edge of the button bands in the front.

VichyMint5When I first tried on the finished blouse minus the buttons/buttonholes, I realized that going down two sizes and a half meant I should evidently have lowered the darts. So I set out to unpick the side seams and lower the darts by about 3/4’’. I think it was well worth the effort: here’s the before and the after.

After that all I had to do was add the buttons and buttonholes (actually not that easy when you want your centre front plaid to match!), and then make the matching skirt!

VichyMint6I don’t have a lot to say about the skirt, it’s yet another simple gathered skirt. Just like for the blouse, I took a lot of time pattern matching. Instead of pinning, I found it easier/faster (still very time-consuming) to baste the pieces together before sewing them. Once again, worth the extra time.

VichyMint2I like my little matching ensemble, but in fact I’m not sure I’ll ever wear the two pieces together. Separately, yes (already have), together, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a little too over the top? I really don’t know, we’ll see! And worse comes to worst, I’ll still have a cute blouse and a cute skirt!

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With a Cherry on Top

Cherry1Hello! It’s been awhile hasn’t it?

Here is the last garment I sewed, a Sewaholic Saltspring dress! The fabric is a lovely rayon I bought from Goldhawk Road during a day trip to London with Mimolette last March. It’s not as drapey as the pattern recommends and actually looks more like a very lightweight cotton, but I think it works pretty well for this dress nonetheless. And it was suprisingly nice to work with, too, since it behaves like cotton. The only downside is that I need to press the dress after hanging it to dry or it looks a little bit crumpled and sloppy. Fortunately, it doesn’t wrinkle too much when I wear it, just when I wash it.

Cherry2I love love love the finished dress! And I also loved working with the pattern, which I found very well thought-out. I now understand why everyone kept raving about the shorter lining that helps keeping the blousing in place: it really does its job! I French seamed the skirt seams, and the bodice construction (at least without a zipper) encloses all raw seams, so the inside looks very neat. Also, thumbs up for the sew-along method for turning the straps right side out with a bobby pin: so easy, worked like a charm!

Cherry4It’s an easy pattern as is, but I made it even easier by omitting the zipper. I didn’t like the look of the partially open back of the original version, and I had read that one could put on the dress without a zipper, so that was a no-brainer.

To eliminate the zipper, I cut the back skirt on the fold instead of in two pieces. I could have done the same for the back bodice, but I didn’t think of that before I had already cut it in two pieces, so I just seamed it shut. This accidental back seam turned out quite handy to differentiate the front from the back when I’m getting dressed!

Cherry5Another modification I made was to sew an in-between version of the skirt, lengthwise. I added 20 cm to the shorter version, because I wanted my dress to have a late 70s, early 80s flair.

Cherry6You may have noticed that I’m wearing a cherry necklace in the pictures. When I finished the dress, I felt like it demanded to be worn with a cherry necklace, so I obliged and made one, since I didn’t own any! I’m fairly chuffed with the result, which I intended on wearing only with this dress, but have actually been wearing with an unexpected amount of outfits! The cherries and leaf are polymer clay and the stems pliable jewellery wire.

Cherry3This exact outfit has been my favourite one this summer. It’s a shame it’s not the kind of dress I can see myself wearing with tights and cardigans to transition it to fall, but at least I’ll be looking forward to wearing it again next summer!

Gonna Make You, Make You, Make You Notice

Combishort2Have you seen Biquette’s new (freeeee!) pattern, the Brass in Pocket playsuit? Can you believe how cute it is? Did I mention it’s free?

She asked me to be a tester and, even though my sewing time is usually way too precious to me to accept those kind of requests, this time I jumped on it right away. I had crushed hard on her black playsuit and was excited to be able to get a version for myself. This is the kind of sewing project I could see myself dreaming about for years and never actually making, so I took that testing as a great opportunity to sew it without delay.

Combishort6I chose a black twill from de Stoffenkamer, which I had already used in navy for a jacket for Monsieur (to be blogged soonish) and knew was great quality, if not for its propensity to attract every lint, hair, dust particle, you name it… Other than that, really, a great fabric: it presses beautifully yet doesn’t wrinkle too easily, a pleasure to sew and to wear!

The buttons are from my stash: they were rescued from an old jacket. They are plastic, but they don’t look it!

Combishort5Now for the pattern itself. Any problem I might have encountered making it has been changed in the final version, so I can only recommend it to you. The only real technical difficulty is the tailored collar. Mine is not exemplary: I failed to get a perfect angle where the two parts meet, but it isn’t obvious at all on the worn garment (especially in black). And I hear there might be a tailored collar tutorial coming to Biquette’s blog, so yours will probably look better…

Another mistake I made was at the centre front: the overlap of the two fronts is too short on my version compared with the pattern, which made it impossible to space the buttons as far away as per the pattern. This is also why I took off the top pair of buttons: it looked pretty weird in relation with the spacing of the other buttons.

Combishort3Size-wise, I blended a 38 bust, a 36 ½ waist and 42 hips, a very usual adjustment for me, and I’m happy with the fit. I could do with a tiny bit more length in the body: when I raise my arms up in the air, the whole playsuit comes up and it’s not the most comfortable at the crotch. It’s perfectly comfortable when I move around normally, even when I sit; the only problem is when I raise both arms all the way up. But if I were to sew the pattern again, I would add a centimetre or two at the waist seam. Do consider using a wider seam allowance than the 1 cm provided in the pattern in case you need to make the same adjustment.

Combishort4Before hemming the shorts, I was also afraid they were going to be too short once hemmed, but I was misevaluating how much length the 2 cm hem would take visually, and in the end I think the length is perfectly fine, at least with opaque tights as I intend to wear the playsuit.

If it is your style and you fit into the size range (which starts really low but unfortunately doesn’t go very high up — the highest size has a 100 cm bust), go have a look at the pattern: it’s free, but that doesn’t mean it’s amateurish. It has positively nothing to envy of professional patterns. Among other well thought-of details, you can choose to print only the size(s) you want, and you can also choose to print it with or without (1 cm) seam allowances!

Combishort1As you have probably understood by now, I love my little playsuit! I’m not sure how practical it’s going to be (I may have to cut back on my tea drinking!😉 ), or whether I’m going to be able to wear it at work (the length of the shorts is what makes me hesitate), but I think it’s quite unique and definitely gorgeous! So I may not wear it daily like a lot of my clothing, but I know I’ll wear it nonetheless! Monsieur’s opinion is more reserved: “I don’t understand… You look all dressed up on top, and ready for camping on the bottom.”

Sailorette

Sailorette1How many Ondées are too many Ondées? This is Ondée #6 (and — spoiler alert! I made #7 on the same day!). This is also far from my first striped top; what can I say? I know what I like!

I’ve sewn a couple more challenging projects lately, and Ondée is still the perfect palate cleanser for when you don’t want to jump directly from one long project to another.

Sailorette7I made my usual size, and this time I used a navy/off-white striped cotton jersey with lycra, once again from the Stoffenspektakel. The neckline, waist and sleeve bands are made from the same off-white cotton ribbing I used for this T-shirt (from De Stoffenkamer). It’s pretty thick, more than the main fabric. This made it a little bit difficult to sew through the bulk at seam junctions, but it does look nice in the end.

Sailorette2The skirt is one of Deer&Doe’s new patterns, the Zéphyr dress. A skirt version, obviously. I’m in-between sizes (36/38 waist) at the moment and I opted for a 36, which is perfectly comfortable, not too tight at all. I didn’t grade to my hip size (close to a 42), hoping the shape of the skirt would provide enough room by itself, and it does. I do have to wiggle a little bit to put on the skirt, but that’s always the case with any garment that relies on stretch and not on any fastenings: if it fits my waist, it won’t easily get past my hips.

Sailorette5The fabric I used is a navy ponte of unknown composition I recently bought at the Stoffenspektakel with this exact skirt in mind. It is perfect for this pattern, just the right weight and thickness.

I pressed the waist seam allowance upwards and topstitched it in place with a three-step zigzag stitch because otherwise it fell towards the skirt and formed a bulge where the side and waist seams meet. I would do the same for any future version, except that I think I would use a plain zigzag stitch. The hem was serged, then turned and stitched with a straight stitch (no real risk of popping the stitches with this wide hem).

Sailorette6Like the Ondée, this skirt allowed me to catch my breath between two more complicated projects. I think this might be the fastest garment I’ve ever sewn! Two pieces to trace, three pieces to cut, that’s it! I don’t often make a skirt without pockets, but I think pockets would have ruined the shape of this one, so I didn’t add any. I’ve already worn it a few times, and the lack of pockets didn’t bother me too much.

Sailorette3I sometimes feel almost guilty when I make such easy projects, thinking I should spend my time sewing things that are much more challenging, but then again I love the resulting garments, so why feel guilty when I should feel proud to be making pieces I’m going to wear on a daily basis? Just because a project is easy, doesn’t mean it’s worthless, does it?

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Columbus Hat

Columbus1Why the name Columbus, you ask? Well, I was going for a 1940s hat, but when I tried it on for the first time, this is the image that came to mind!😀

I started this wool felt hat at the end of October 2014, but then I sort of lost interest in millinery for more than a year. I kept reading about millinery and collecting images and documentation, yet couldn’t be bothered making a hat, or even finishing the one I had started for that matter.

Columbus4

Velvet ribbon around the edge of the brim.

It’s only recently that I understood the reason for that loss of mojo, right when I also got said mojo back: my hair had simply become too long to play nice with the kind of hats I like… Lame but true! From the moment I decided to cut it short, my hands started itching to work again on the hat I had abandoned more than a year before! There wasn’t a lot left to do so I finished it before even getting an appointment at my hairdresser’s.

Columbus3You can’t really make out any details in the pictures of me wearing the hat, especially since the black felt blends in with my hair, but at least you get an idea of how I wear it pushed back.

Columbus5

Petersham ribbon inside, at the base of the crown.

I moulded the crown of the hat on a simple hat block, then I flipped the brim upwards and hand sewed some millinery wire all around the edge (which you can see in this picture – it’s the white stuff around the brim) for it to keep its shape. This is where I took a more-than-one-year break.

Then I hand sewed some velvet ribbon around the edge of the brim to cover the wire and some petersham ribbon inside the hat so that it hugs the head and doesn’t flop around.

Columbus2I wonder if someday it will stop feeling like magic to be able to make a hat that’s in my imagination come true?

Agatha Au Naturel

Agatha4This is technically my first completed knit of 2016! I started it last August and finished the knitting part at the very beginning of November… but then I waited for two months and a half to weave in the ends and sew on the buttons, no idea why! When I finally got to it, it was nice spending an hour or two on the finishing touches and getting the impression of having made a whole cardigan in so little time!

Agatha1This Agatha cardigan is my seventh Andi Satterlund sweater/cardigan, and my third time using Drops Nepal yarn (a wool and alpaca blend). What can I say, I’m a creature of habit! I have nothing new to say about the yarn, it’s still very pleasant to work with and to wear, and its only negatives would be that it sheds a little bit of hair on any dark clothes I wear with it, and that it has a strong smell when it’s wet.

Agatha2As for the pattern, it uses the same construction as all of Andi’s sweater patterns, but I would rate it as a little bit more difficult than the other ones I have knit. With the different lace panels of the body that don’t have the same number of rows in their respective repeats, it took me a long time to memorize the repeats and I constantly had to refer to the diagrams, save for at the very end. So nothing complicated per se, but it did require more concentration than the other ones I’ve made, and I am kind of in awe of the people who chose this pattern as their first sweater!

Agatha5There are two little things I’m not in love with on the finished cardigan: the first one is the fact that the upper sleeves are a touch too wide for me, even though I made my usual size (Ravelry notes here). When I look back at the pictures of the pattern, I see that’s how they are supposed to fit, and it’s probably just that I’m used to a closer fit, so nothing serious there.

The other small negative is entirely on my part: I don’t know how I managed that, but I messed up the top buttonhole, which ended up way too close to the edge of the button band! I realised that when sewing on the buttons, so I attached the top button accordingly at first, but then I realised I mostly (more like, always) wear my cardigans open, so it made more sense to sew the button on the same line as the other ones, and have it look crooked when the cardigan is closed (i.e. possibly never) rather than when it is open. Plus, I can also wear it with all buttons closed but the top one like I did in some of the pictures here. Come to think of it, the top buttonhole is on the part I knit last, so if it still bothers me after wearing the cardigan for a little while, I could always reknit it… Though I doubt it will be the case!

Agatha6Speaking of buttons, they are one of the things I like most about this cardigan! For once I found what I wanted in my stash: they are a series of six buttons that my mother had rescued from an old jacket she threw away years (decades?) ago, and I love their vintage style; I think they pair extremely well with the natural colour of the yarn and the style of the cardigan.

Agatha3Another thing I love is the look of the side and sleeve decreases, so neat! And the lace panels, both on the body and on the sleeves. And the cuffs. And… Okay, I think it’s fair to say I quite like this cardigan!