‘Tis the Season!

fa122015Wait… How is it the end of the year already?

So apparently there were a few things I wanted to improve on at the end of last year, namely restricting my fabric stash to the number of cards my swatch album can contain, finishing some UFOs and blogging more regularly. I am very proud to say that I did not achieve even one of these goals-not-resolutions! 😂

I bought more fabric than I sewed, I added one UFO to the box of shame and I let my blog sleep at about the same periods as last year. But I’ve been blogging on the (sort of) regular again since September, so there’s that!

Contrary to last year, I didn’t try and cram everything I’ve made before the end of the year. I still have to blog 8 things I made (two tops, two skirts, two cardigans and two jackets). You can get a peek of them at the bottom of the photo montage below of everything I made in 2016, and I’ll blog them in the next year. Some of them (Ondée sweaters, gathered skirt, probably the Chardon skirt, too) don’t deserve a post of their own, but I’ll make sure to include them in posts about other garments when the occasion presents itself. I’ll also make sure to edit this post with links to the future blog posts as I publish them.

Here are all the garments I made in 2016 then:review2016I made 36 items this year, isn’t that crazy? Okay, one or two may be cheating: I finished knitting this cardigan in 2015 and only wove in the ends, blocked it and added the buttons in 2016. And I first finished the first dress of 2016 at the very end of 2015, only in January I made it much more wearable by lengthening it, changing the buttons and adding snap closures. Still, I’m pretty impressed with myself here! 😉

Just for fun, I’ve made some pie charts (on this website)! The first one shows the techniques (sewing, knitting, millinery – still no shoes this year) I’ve used:techniques

The second one shows the distribution of garment types:garmenttype

I’ve actually made four jackets, not two, but I included Monsieur’s and my goddaughter’s in the gift category. Also, I was surprised at how many tops I’d made, but then I remembered, five of them are Ondée sweaters. Not that surprising then! 😜

And the last pie chart is about the brands of sewing/knitting patterns I used:brands

I don’t think that blue chunk at the bottom will surprise anyone! 😉

leastwornI am really happy about how much I’ve been wearing most of what I’ve made. This playsuit is the only piece I haven’t worn at all, but I still find it very pretty so I’m not getting rid of it anytime soon. These culottes and tank on the other hand I’ve worn… but might end up donating nonetheless because I’m a bit meh about them. We’ll see how I feel about them come summer.

Other than these three, I think I’ve become really good at knowing not only what I like, but also what I like wearing. I almost always ask myself two questions before embarking on a sewing or knitting project: “What will I wear it with?” and “Would I buy it in a shop?” and this has proved to be very effective.

mostwornThe pieces I’ve worn even more than the rest are my swallow print Sureau and my star print Cardamome, which are such nice replacements for my first Sureau, and this yellow rain jacket, so perfect for the Belgian climate! I’ve also worn my grey Lupin jacket a lot when the weather still allowed for a light jacket, but for now it’s waiting for Spring. All of my knits have been in heavy rotation, too. Even the last one I completed has been worn quite a few times already.

Before I let you go, I want to keep track of two non-sewing/knitting highlights of 2016. The first one is actually sewing related: I was lucky enough to fly to Toulouse and meet Eléonore and Camille to take part in a photo shoot for Deer&Doe, which was So. Much. Fun!

patron-robe-aubepine

Source: Deer&Doe website

The second one has nothing to do with sewing: during our annual trip to Spain, Monsieur and I fell in love with a stray cat… and brought him back with us to Brussels (on a 12-hour journey of buses + plane, woohoo!)! Fernando was the most pathetic little thing; we gave him something to eat every day but he didn’t let us get closer than a metre without hissing and/or running away. Then one day I managed to get close enough and pet his head… and all of a sudden he became very affectionate with us and literally did not leave the front terrace of the house until we left! Pathetic skinny black and grey Fernando has now become a gorgeous black and white cat and, despite an estimated two years of living on the streets, seems to have perfectly adjusted to apartment dwelling. I was afraid he and Olivine, my first cat (who hates everyone but me – yes, even Monsieur!), would not get along at all, but they’ve been much more civil than what I expected. Olivine tolerates him, which is more than what I had hoped for!

fernandopasaporte

The day after he arrived home!

To get back to the subject of this blog, this time I won’t take any resolutions nor talk about any goals, sewing or otherwise, and just wish you, just like I did for 2016, a happy, creative 2017!

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Polka Dots Again!

cami1Why did I wait so long to sew my first shirtdress?! I’ve been collecting patterns, fabrics and inspiration for years, but so many projects, so little time, such a slow seamstress, you know how it works…

Anyway, here is my first shirtdress then! The pattern is Pauline Alice’s Camí dress. This version is actually a wearable toile: I used some very inexpensive cotton (the same as this one and this one but in a smaller scale) which had a few flaws so that it wouldn’t bother me too much if things didn’t pan out. The buttons are vintage, from my mother’s stash.

cami2I first cut a size 36 bodice with 38 shoulders, but it was way too tight so I sized up to a 38 with 40 shoulders. It’s still not a good fit at the shoulders nor at the collar, which sometimes hangs a bit funny, but it’s passable. I wonder if lengthening the collar stand buttonhole a touch could not solve part of the problem. At the moment this button is not perfectly in line with the rest of the buttons/buttonholes as it should be, and this makes the collar tighter than intended. Not truly uncomfortable, but less comfortable than the collar of my Cardamome.

cami3The rest of the dress fits well (I lowered the waist darts by 2 cm), contrary to what some of these pictures, taken after a day of wear, would have you believe. The waist could maybe stand to be taken in a tiny bit? I’m not sure. The shoulders fit better (and the collar points hang better, too) when the collar is open, but I always wear it closed, so that’s not a satisfactory solution. This has not stopped me from wearing the dress a lot, especially since I usually pair it with a cardigan! Still, I really must learn to fit my (giant?!) shoulders!

cami4I didn’t use the skirt that is included in the pattern but cut twice the whole width of the 150 cm wide fabric x (60 cm + waist seam allowance + wide hem) for an extra full skirt! I also added a buttoned breast pocket (inspired by Annie Coton’s Camí and using Pauline Alice’s optional breast pocket template).

A lot of reviews of the pattern complain about too low pockets, and rightly so. I personally used Clémence’s nifty tutorial (in French, but she links to this one in English) to raise them and couple the left one with the invisible zip instead of placing it right under the zip.

cami7

Pocket AND invisible zip!

Another small complaint I have, which I haven’t read about anywhere, is the lack of precision of the pattern: a grainline arrow that isn’t parallel with the button placket by a couple millimetres (unless that’s intended?), shoulder and side seams that aren’t the exact same length on the front and back pieces (and yes, I triple checked, my tracing isn’t to blame)… Nothing serious, but it does make it look a little bit amateur, and I prefer it when things are more rigorous. I don’t remember encountering the same kind of issues making my Quart coat, so I’ll chalk that up to the Camí being Pauline Alice’s first pattern.

cami6I’d really like solving my shoulder fitting problem on this pattern, so I do intend to sew it again, but first I want to try the other shirtdress patterns I have in my stash, so it may take a while before I revisit this one!

Just you wait until I find my TNT pattern and the shirtdress might become the new gathered skirt!

cami5

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A Favourite Cosy Outfit

cosy1Ah, Cardamome! Ah, Armande! I intended to blog about them separately because each deserves its own blog post, but I was wearing them both on a day I came home from work when it was still (sort of) daylight, so I jumped on the occasion to take some pictures, and a shared post will have to do.

cosy3The Cardamome dress is yet another Deer&Doe pattern (yes, I do intend on sewing them all ultimately!). It was my favourite one from the A/W 2015 collection and I immediately knew I wanted to make it in this starry cotton lawn I had in my stash. It took me a little bit more than a year to get to it, but I didn’t change my mind in the meantime. I also knew I wanted to highlight the curve of the bib with some piping of the same colour as the stars, which are not white but off-white/ecru. It turns out off-white piping is not that easy to find! I resorted to buying some extremely pale yellow piping and tea-dyeing it. It did not make it a perfect match, but quite close, and the difference is virtually unnoticeable when you look at the finished dress.

cosy4I think I’ve said before that I had recently realised that a lot of my clothes could benefit from either going up one or two sizes at the shoulders or making a wide shoulder adjustment. On this dress I tried simply cutting a size 40 at the shoulders blending to a 36 armhole-bust-waist-hips. I didn’t change the height of the shoulders, only the width, so I kept the 36 sleeves. They fit, so I guess this must have been the right choice. I didn’t bother cutting a larger size at the hips because the skirt seemed wide enough. The skirt is indeed wide enough, but barely. Close call there!

cosy5I didn’t make buttonholes for the buttons (vintage, from a yard sale last August) but used sew-on snaps on the front placket and simply sewed the buttons through all layers at the cuffs, thinking I’d add snaps later if it bothered me not to be able to open these. It has never bothered me.

This dress features my first collar on a stand and my first sleeve placket, and both went swimmingly thanks to the instructions for the sleeve placket and this well-known tutorial for the collar.

cosy10Note that I always wear the collar closed because I am a dork and I love it that way! When I see pictures of about everyone wearing it at least partially open, I do realise that I am kind of alone on this one, but this won’t stop me from wearing it closed all. the. time. In the same vein, why do some people want to get rid of the smocking at the waist? It’s one of the cutest details of the pattern, you guys! Plus, so comfortable!

cosy6Now about the cardigan. It’s Andi Satterlund’s Armande, a free pattern if you can believe it! Once again perfectly thought out (the seamless pocket method alone makes it worth your while!), this pattern was a pretty quick and definitely enjoyable knit. Especially in Drops Nepal, one of my favourite yarns, in this gorgeous blue (denim blue – uni colour 6314).

cosy7When I bought the yarn (more than two years ago according to Ravelry), I had this sweater in mind, but I thought I would make the smallest size as usual with Andi’s patterns, so I only bought 11 skeins. But when I started on the project, I realised that I wouldn’t want as much negative ease for this pattern as for my usual cropped sweaters, so I went up a size. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, but 11 skeins were definitely not enough unless I intended to wear my sweater with half a sleeve missing. Lucky for me Saki, who had knit a cardigan with the same yarn, was nice enough to pass on to me her remaining skeins. And double lucky for me, they were from the same dye lot since she had bought them at about the same time in the same shop!

cosy8So after a very short pause I could get back to knitting what was to become one of my favourite cardigans. It goes with much more of my wardrobe than I would have thought, and I simply love its colour, its buttons (from Tissus Passion), its shape, its collar, everything! Like most of my cardigans I very rarely wear it closed, but it does look nice both open and closed.

cosy9I wouldn’t have thought when making this cardigan and this dress that I would like them together so much, but I really do! They’re also the perfect outfit to keep you warm when you’re sick like I am at the moment: the high neckline of the dress protects the chest from drafts and the cardigan is just the right warmth. A thermal cami, two pairs of tights, socks and boots complete what I think is an elegant yet cosy get-up.

cosy2

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Bonjour bonjour les hirondelles

hirondelles1This dress may seem out of season, and as a matter of fact I did sew it in May, but I’ve been wearing it quasi nonstop ever since. It’s the kind of dress that I like to wear in all seasons but summer. So I’ve taken a break from it in July/August but have been very happy to be wearing it again from September on.

hirondelles3Deer&Doe aficionadas will have recognised the Sureau pattern with Bleuet sleeves. It’s my third version of Sureau, and the second time I use the Bleuet sleeves. This version came as a welcome replacement for my first and favourite Sureau, that died a natural yet tragic death last September. I don’t think I could have mustered up the courage to get rid of the old one had I not had this one as a replacement.

hirondelles4Once again I made a few small changes to the pattern, this time to give it more of a retro edge. In addition to substituting the sleeves, I also lengthened the skirt a little bit more than on my previous versions and added retro looking patch pockets (which could have been sewn better, oops!). For these I used the same method as on my rain jacket, i.e. lining the pockets then flipping the top over. I then sewed on some vintage looking buttons (the same as on this skirt), big ones on the pockets, small ones on the fake placket. I love those buttons; I think they give the dress a lot of its character.

hirondelles7The fabric I used is a printed cotton from Veritas. I had been eyeing it for a long time but had never bought it because it was only sold in tiny pieces (most fabrics were 75 cm x 100 cm; this one was something like a fat quarter or something like that). You can imagine my delight when I found it sold by the yard on the Veritas stand at the Stoffenspektakel… for €5 a meter, which was less than the price of a fat quarter in the shop! I bought what was left on the roll, about 1,50 m, precisely what I needed to make this dress.

hirondelles2I serged the seam allowances and I used bias tape for the hem in order to keep as much length as possible. I made the same size as for my first two versions, a 36, and the gathered skirt still allows plenty of room for my 40/42 bottom. Cotton skirts can stick to tights, and it’s the case here, but not too much either. I could see it in some of the pictures, but in real life I never think about it and it doesn’t make the skirt ride up. I might try wearing a slip for more comfort though.

hirondelles5I’m really pleased with this dress. I used to wear my first Sureau all the time; these days I wear this one all the time! Now after using the Bleuet sleeves twice, what am I waiting for to sew the rest of this lovely pattern? I even have fabric picked out and everything!

hirondelles6

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Made With Love

bb1You know me by now, I’m a terribly selfish sewer/knitter. I have to be really close to someone to even think about sewing/knitting them something. And the worst part is, I don’t even feel bad about it! Sewing is my hobby, not my job, and I want it to stay fun… Not that sewing for other people can’t be fun; it’s just not my personal preference, and sewing for myself also puts way less pressure on my shoulders!

bb3But I do appreciate the occasional selfless sewing project, especially when it’s something I wouldn’t sew for myself. Sewing for my boyfriend (blog post about the jacket I made him in March still to come, ahem!) gave me the occasion to have a stab at menswear, which I enjoyed a lot, and sewing this little outfit for my goddaughter, my first time sewing baby clothes, was very rewarding, too!

She turned one in October and I could not not sew her anything! I browsed my Burdas to find something I could see her wearing, and this baby collection caught my eye right away: such cute patterns! I liked the idea of sewing a whole little outfit, so I chose the quilted jacket, the blouse with ruffle collar and the stretch trousers to go with them.

bb4Fabric wise, I went digging through my stash. I own a few cotton pieces I impulse bought at Veritas that are too small to use for adult garments (except maybe a fitted blouse), but so cute I could never bear to part with them. This cherry one was a favourite and I knew it would look so cute on my goddaughter, so that was an easy choice. After that I looked for matching pieces in my stash: a red cotton jersey for the outer layer of the jacket and a blue one (the same I used for this Ondée) for the leggings. I just bought the batting, bias binding (polka dotted because I know my goddaughter is not afraid of print matching!) and buttons (glittery ones for the jacket and plastic snaps for the blouse).

I only had two 75 cm x 100 cm pieces of the cherry cotton and I wasn’t sure it would be enough for the blouse and the jacket lining, but it was, literally to the half centimetre! I sighed in relief when all the pieces were cut! Same with the red cotton jersey, but this time literally to the millimetre, phew!

bb5Burda advises you to cut the pattern pieces before quilting the outer layer, adding 3 cm seam allowances, then re-cutting these seam allowances to 1,5 cm after quilting. I quilted the whole piece of fabric (“basting” batting and outer fabric with spray adhesive and using masking tape to get even lines), then cut the pieces.

Other than quilting the outer fabric, which was looooooong (but not difficult at all), the jacket was a breeze to make! The instructions were perfectly clear, and I don’t know why, but I found it quite fun handling such tiny pieces!

bb6The blouse was also lots of fun to make. I only deviated from the instructions for the hem of the collar ruffle: they have you turn it once, zigzag stitch then cut the excess fabric. I preferred turning the hem twice and using a straight stitch to make a baby hem, which I think gives a much cleaner result.

The trousers were less fun to make (just boring in comparison with the cute jacket and blouse), but they took about an hour from start to finish, so no complaining on my part. I used my serger to assemble the pieces and a zigzag stitch for the waistband casing and the hems.

bb2I finished the whole outfit way past my goddaughter’s birthday (but way before the next one so I’ll count that as a win 😉 ) and could only give it to her mother (who seemed to love it, yeah!) very recently, so I don’t know yet whether it fits her* (I made a size 80), but in any case I’m really happy with the look of the outfit. And I truly liked sewing for her, so this is definitely not the last time I do!

*EDIT: It does! 🙂

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