Hello Polka Dot Skirt!

PolkaDots1Aaand here it is! Not the most complicated project, but I like the result very much!

I had been meaning to sew myself a skirt like that for years, but you know, so many ideas, so little time… The fabric is actually one of the firsts I ever bought! I had already sewn a skirt with it, which I wore a lot, but I’ve gotten more used to high waisted skirts (and pockets!) so I had been wearing it less and less and meaning to replace it with a new one.

PolkaDots2After sewing my modified Sureau, I was in desperate need of a simple project, one that I could complete in a day or two. I contemplated sewing a tote bag, then I set my mind on that gathered skirt. While I do need a (few) tote bag(s), getting a new skirt was much more tempting!

PolkaDots3The skirt itself took me a day but I decided to put off sewing the pockets to the next day so as not to rush things and make a mess out of them. And I must have made the right choice because everything went smoothly as can be; I didn’t use the seam ripper even once! Even the zipper went in without a hitch (okay, it’s not the most difficult kind, but still!).

PolkaDots5I used Gertie’s book to make the skirt pattern, but you can find the same information on her blog (part onepart two). For the pockets I followed A Fashionable Stitch’s tutorial. Both Gertie’s and this one were very clear and easy to follow and yielded great results.

PolkaDots7I’m really happy with the buttons: big ones on the pockets, small ones at the waistband. They’re from Gotex, one of my favourite fabric stores in Brussels, from a €1 bin full of old dusty button cards. The two buttonholes that close the waistband are a touch too small for the buttons, but at least they feel secure and they were parallel and the same size as each other, so I didn’t bother remaking them.

PolkaDots6I haven’t worn the skirt yet (I always fear if I wear a garment I haven’t photographed yet it will get ruined before I can take the pictures or something), but I’m pretty sure it will get in heavy rotation as it’s the kind of skirt I can see myself wearing both with or without tights, which means I can wear it all year long. I guess you’ll see it again soon with Me-Made-May coming up!

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Sketchbook: Polka Dot Skirt

PolkaDotsThis skirt has actually been finished for more than a week, but I couldn’t muster the courage to draw before today. As for the courage to take pictures, well, I’m still looking for it. Thankfully I’m on holiday at the moment, so it shouldn’t be too long before I find it.

It’s a simple gathered skirt (following the explanations in Gertie’s book) to which I added cute pockets per this great tutorial. I have to say the result is much prettier in real life than on my poor little drawing. Better that than the contrary, right?

Circus Tent Sweater

Chapiteau1Here’s my sweater! Its red and blue scallops remind me of a circus tent and I love it!

I actually finished it on Monday, but I didn’t feel like taking pictures until today, so it had to wait. I even tried forcing myself to take some pictures two days ago, but then I saw that on each and every one of them I looked like this mean angry man with a weird yellow complexion and the battery of my camera died, so I had to accept that maybe I should wait until some other day.

Chapiteau2This really is the perfect sweater either for a beginner knitter or a more advanced one looking for a fast and easy project. Had I not started knitting the wrong size, I’m pretty sure it would have taken me two weeks. Having to start from scratch after reaching three quarters of the work, it still took me just under a month to complete.

The instructions are very clear, and the construction is, as always with Andi Satterlund’s patterns, flawless: I love it when I finish knitting a sweater and I just have to weave in some ends; no seaming required before enjoying my new knit!

Chapiteau3I only made one small modification to the pattern: when I tried the finished sweater on, I found the body was a touch too long for me, which caused an unsightly pleat at the waist. So I simply unravelled a few rows of the waist ribbing (about eight rows I’d say), and voilà!

Chapiteau4It was such a straightforward knit that I really don’t have much more to say about this sweater (ravelry notes here, by the way), except that it’s a shame the cold weather seems to be close to its end here (though in Belgium, you never know…) so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to wear it before next fall.

Knitting: Scallops

 

FestonsAfter my last knitting project, which dragged on for four months, I decided the next one had to be as easy and fast as possible. So I chose Andi Satterlund’s cute scalloped cropped sweater: I had already knit her Miette cardigan and Chuck sweater and each had taken me about two weeks. The yarn I’m using this time is Nepal by Drops (#7120 light grey green and # 3620 red).

I was right, this sweater is a very fast knit, but it’s not finished yet… because I knit it in the wrong size and only realized it after completing the whole body and more than half a sleeve, ugh! What’s worse, I first unravelled and reknit the sleeve a size smaller, thinking the body was ok, before realizing it was the whole sweater that was too big. The smaller sleeve on a bigger body was not a pretty sight, let me tell you! :-D

It pained me a lot to start from scratch, but once again everything went incredibly fast, and here I am with a new body and a new sleeve already, ones that fit this time, so no regrets here! It’s always so much better to lose a little bit of time to undo a mistake rather than to get a finished garment you’re not satisfied with. Also, I should always listen to that little voice in my head: I had a hunch that it was going to be too big from the beginning, yet I convinced myself I should go on and everything would be ok.

Anyway, only a sleeve and the collar to go, I can’t wait!

Sambucus Racemosa

Liberty1It’s been a long time coming, but here it is at last; my first Liberty dress!

When Mimolette went to London, she was kind enough to take my order and bring me back two pieces of Liberty from Shaukat: 1,50m of this orange Fitzgerald and 1,50m of purple Ros. I had never sewn with Liberty before and was pretty curious to see what the hype was all about. I still can’t really get behind the price, but it’s true that it’s by far the softest and nicest cotton to work with I’ve ever used. The only downside is that it’s quite transparent. Not too much for a blouse, but I might have to wear a half slip with this dress.

Liberty7The fabric was a dream to work with and it was my second time sewing this pattern (the Sureau dress by Deer&Doe), so why did it take me so much time to finish? Well, the first thing is, I made a couple of modifications: I changed the sleeves of the Sureau for those of the Bleuet, which was actually not complicated at all, and above all I changed the fake button placket into a functional one that buttons all the way down.

Also, I added side-seam pockets, and after completing them I realised they were lower than I had anticipated. And of course I had French seamed everything (yes, you can French seam side-seam pockets!) so there was no way I was going to undo that. Being the drama queen that I am, I decided if the dress was not going to be perfect, there was no point in finishing it.

Liberty3So it hung on a hanger for a while, until I realised it was not that big a deal and the dress would still be perfectly wearable, especially since, even though aesthetically they seemed a bit low the pockets were actually at the right place for me to put my hands in them. And now that I look at the pictures, they don’t even seem too low to me anymore. How to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Liberty4Then my iron died on me. It began overheating (to the point of literally melting a few centimetres of the serger thread in this dress – luckily at a sleeve hem, where there was also some normal thread holding everything together) then it simply stopped working… and broke water on a pair of trousers! Like, all the water from the container suddenly started leaking through the sole holes. I had to buy a new one, which I didn’t want to do in a hurry and take the first Made in China crap I found, so once again my Liberty dress hung unattended for a while, only missing a hem, and ten buttons and buttonholes (it’s funny how I had no idea how many buttons this dress was going to need when I made my sketch, yet I drew ten!).

Liberty5But I found the iron of my dreams (and of my wallet’s nightmares!) and I was finally able to finish the dress, albeit not without another couple of concerns: first I had to add a tiny press stud between two pairs of buttons (bust and waist) to avoid gaping (worked like a charm!). Then, when I first tried the finished dress on, I realised the neckline, which I had staystitched and understitched, had apparently stretched out despite my precautions: the neckline, which fit perfectly right in my first version of the dress, was gaping like crazy and the facing was trying to escape, the horror!

Liberty6I topstitched the neckline, which cured part of the problem (the right side of the neckline now looked perfect), but the left side was still gaping too much to my taste. I was kind of devastated, then I had the idea of stitching a line of gathering thread on top of the topstitching of the left side and simply gathering (and then pressing into submission) the excess fabric. You can imagine my delight when I tried the dress on again and saw that the neckline finally fit! Now, I must say that, with a solid fabric, this little trick would probably have been much more conspicuous, but with such a busy print, I don’t think anyone’s going to notice anything!

Liberty8I’m in love with the finished dress, which is pretty much exactly how I envisioned it, and I feel like it’s going to get at least as much wear as my first Sureau! And I haven’t really considered the colour orange these past few years, but this Liberty print really makes me long for an orange sweater or cardigan to go with the dress…

Liberty2

Winter Heather

Bruyère1Phew, I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time on a knitting project… According to my ravelry notes, I started this one at the beginning of November, which means it took me close to four months to finish it, yikes!

Bruyère3It’s not even a very intricate project, but as I said before, the lace made me lose my sanity. Well, the lace at the bottom of the body did: the lace of the sleeves went without a hitch (yay stitch markers!).

And just when I was done with the scary lace, I realised I still had to knit more than sixty centimetres of ribbing for the sleeves… I HATE knitting ribbing! Oh, and after completing the sleeves, I realised I still had to knit the equivalent of a sleeve for the collar, gaaah! The collar went really fast, though, especially since I knew I would be done after that.

Bruyère4

Resting bitch face!

And I love the end result, so I don’t even regret spending so much time on this one. After all, if after spending four month and a few stressful moments looking at the same yarn (Drops Alpaca Silk – colour #08/Heather), you still love its colour, it means you made the right choice. I also love the style of the sweater, so light and flowy! It looks great with the Sureau dress you see on the pictures as well as with a few other pieces from my wardrobe. I’ve already  worn it a few times since I finished it, which bodes well for the future.

There were two things I particularly liked about the construction of this sweater: grafting the shoulders and the way you knit the collar. Grafting was one of those techniques I had never tried and was pretty scared of until I actually tried it and realised how easy it was and how good it looked (I used this video). As for the collar, they have you knit double its height, then fold it to the inside and sew it down. That way the collar holds its shape perfectly.

Bruyère5The only part I’m not really happy about is the lace: even after blocking it doesn’t really look like a garland of flowers like the original. The sleeve lace looks closer to the original, so I’m wondering whether it’s not just the yarn that suffered too much from being unravelled and reknit so many times. In any case, at least it still looks cute, so I’m not going to fret!

Bruyère2PS: Here’s what I’m working on now.

Les chaussures d’Antoine

Antoine1What, these old things? Oh, you know, just some shoes I made, no big deal…

Yep, I MADE SHOES!!! SHOES I CAN WALK WITH AND EVERYTHING!!!

Antoine5The first assignment of the schoolyear was to make a pair of men’s shoes. Since I was less than thrilled at the idea of spending so much time on my first pair of shoes and then having to give it away to a [shudder] man, my first question was “can I make those men’s shoes my size?”. And the answer was yes, woohoo!

Antoine6We were asked to take inspiration from a couple (real or fictional) for this first pair of men’s shoes and a second pair of women’s shoes to come. My choice of inspiration was the couple formed by Antoine Doinel and Christine Darbon in Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board and Love on the Run.

So these are Antoine’s shoes: I wanted them to reflect his very classical 1960s/1970s sartorial style, which is why I chose this very conventional colour of leather and kept things very simple regarding ornementation.

Antoine4I didn’t think to calculate the number of hours it took me to complete this first pair of shoes, all I can tell you is it was a very long process with about a billion steps. I also know I messed up a lot of things (fortunately none of them too tragic), the worse of them being choosing a too thin leather for the lining, so brittle that it wouldn’t stop tearing when I was trying to last it. The bright side is, now I know what to check for when buying leather for my next shoes!

Antoine3

Is it lame that my favourite part is the “real leather” stamp on the insole?

On another bright side, none of my mistakes were unredeemable, and I MADE SHOES!

I was VERY proud to wear them for the first time last Wednesday and I had to refrain from telling everyone I met that I was wearing shoes I made myself!

Antoine2I’m probably not the least bit objective, but I feel like they go with everything. And they didn’t even fall apart when I wore them! :-D The fit of the left foot is perfect, and the only problem of the right one is that I have a hammer toe on the right foot that has a tendency to rub against some shoes, which can sometimes become uncomfortable. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to adjust that in future shoes I make?

Phew, I’m already exhausted even thinking about starting the next pair!

Sketchbook: Liberty Dress

FitzgeraldI can’t seem to get back to sewing my coat, and in the meantime it seems like I have a million dresses on my mind! The one I’m working on at the moment is a Sureau whose sleeves I replaced with the sleeves of the Bleuet dress and whose fake button placket I changed into a functional one which I lengthened to get a shirt dress. I also added side seam pockets (in orange lining) because, as you may already know by now, pockets are essential to me and my runny nose.

The fabric I’m using is Liberty of London Fitzgerald. This is my first time using such an expensive fabric so I’m crossing fingers everything goes according to plan!

While I’m talking about the fabric, I couldn’t be bothered trying to render it on my drawing, so I printed a picture of the fabric and I cut and pasted it to fill the dress, then I added the button placket and other details on top of it. Normally I would do that directly on the computer, but since I want the sketchbook to look as good as the version I’m sharing on the blog I prefered that option. And the result is really convincing so I’ll keep that technique in mind for the future!

Blue Stripes

BlueStripes2Woohoo, it’s a dress, not a tunic! And I felt totally at ease when wearing it to work, so it’s not even one of those projects I can only wear when I’m not working! And I love it, it’s very me! And it’s soooo comfortable! And, and, and… !

BlueStripes3In short, if only I had known when to stop the first day I worked on it, this could have been the perfect sewing project! But I didn’t stop when I was tired and it made me both use pins that were too thick (and blunt!) for the fabric, resulting in tiny holes at the side seams (where I had to pin a lot to match the stripes), and… cut a hole in the bodice with the serger blade while serging the waist seam! Twice. That’s how I lost a few centimetres of the bodice and ended up with a babydoll mini dress instead of a high waisted normal one.

BlueStripes4

Just checking… Yes, I can raise my arms without revealing too much!

But I’m pretty proud of myself because for once I didn’t freak out, I just thought ok, how do I fix it, and fix it I did! Also, I’m terribly happy I chose to use this cheap fabric to test run the dress I had in mind instead of the precious fabric (like really precious: there are foxes involved!) I eventually plan to use.BlueStripes5The stripes are still a bit uneven at the waist seam on my left side, but I didn’t think I could fix that without loosing too much length. I first wanted to cover it up with a bow, but I finally chose to let it be, and I must say I don’t see it anymore unless I’m looking for it specifically.BlueStripes6As I said when I showed you my sketch of the dress, the pattern is Sewaholic’s Renfrew top. I changed the top into a dress by adding a gathered skirt. I also added patch pockets (I love patch pockets: easy and cute!) and I omitted the sleeve bands (and lengthened the 3/4 sleeves) and cut my own collar band. I gathered the skirt with elastic, but when I had to redo the waist seam, the elastic got cut away, which resulted in a looser fit, perfect for a babydoll dress.

BlueStripes1I took the pictures coming back from work yesterday, so this is the exact outfit I wore to work. I really don’t understand why black and blue shouldn’t be worn together, so I refuse to abide by that stupid rule!

Wearing a garment as soon as I’ve finished it is usually a sign of success, so I feel like I can say without a doubt that this dress will be worn a lot! I hope the couple tiny holes at the side seams won’t shorten its life too much, and I actually plan on mending those to prevent them from getting bigger. Anyway, let’s hope I learn from my mistakes and my next version goes without a hitch!

Sketchbook: Blue Stripes

BlueStripesI usually stick to one project at a time, but I’ve been soooo bored with my babydoll coat that I’ve allowed myself to put it aside and work on one or two easy projects before getting back to it. And what better suited project than the Renfrew? Especially since it’s not my first go at it, which means no more tracing/cutting the pattern and I know it fits!

Even so, I have already encountered a few obstacles: first, with only 1,30 m of the fabric I chose, I had to do some creative cutting in order to get a 3/4 sleeved dress out of such small yardage. Then I forgot that I’m no good at sewing after 9pm and went on sewing and making stupid mistake on stupid mistake… to the point where I had to shorten an already short dress in order to hide one of them.

Anyway, the dress is almost complete now, and it looks promising (albeit short) after all. See you soon with a new dress!