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.

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Checkmate Dress

PiedDePoule1When I saw this dress in the September 2012 issue of BurdaStyle, I immediately fell for it and kept an eye open for a suitable fabric. I found what I thought was the perfect fabric about two years ago at the Stoffenspektakel, but I had so many other projects in mind that this one, like many others, got pushed back to end of the queue.

But this September, when I “needed” a dress for an upcoming party, this pattern seemed like the perfect choice.

PiedDePoule3I used black wool (from La maison des tissus) instead of the recommended leather for the pockets because I wanted the dress to be machine washable, and I didn’t bind the collar (I traced a facing instead). I also changed the back neckline for that of this top, which, in hindsight, was kind of a stupid idea: who wants to bare so much skin when wearing a thick wool winter dress?

I didn’t insert a zipper and the dress pulls on over the head easily. The idea of inserting a zipper on that b**** of a fabric was giving me nightmares, so I was relieved to have the possibility to skip this step! The fabric was the only difficulty I faced during the making of this dress, but without my serger, I simply don’t think I could have handled it! I literally breathed a sigh of relief once every edge of the dress was finished.

PiedDePoule4Sadly, I do not like the finished dress as much as I thought I would. It looks great on my dress form, but not so much on me… I cut a 36 for the bust/waist and graded to a 38 for the hips, when my hip measurement puts me in a size 40! With the fit and flare styles I mostly sew, I can usually get away with cutting the same size for the hips as for the bust and the waist, but I miscalculated the ease on this one, and as a result the dress feels a little bit tight at the hips. And with that fabric from hell, there’s no way I could let the seams out to gain a size. It’s such a shame, because I love the fit of those French darts!

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The dress and sleeve hems were serged, then turned and invisibly hand sewn.

This didn’t stop me from wearing it for two nights out, but now it’s waiting in storage while I figure out whether I’ll wear it again as a dress, shorten it to make a top, or donate it.

Ah well, at least now that the pattern has been traced, I can make another version, in my true size this time!

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Brand New Leopard-Skin Formerly Pill-Box Hat

Leopard2During my millinery training, I made quite a few hats only to learn new techniques and not because I really wanted to make those particular hats. As a result I ended up with a small number of hats that I never wore and that were gathering dust (hats are dust magnets!) and… that started serving as nests for moths, eeew!

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So one night I suddenly decided to take action and either simply throw away what had to be or clean and transform what I thought had potential.
Among the dusty wrecks was this leopard pillbox hat:

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I thought the leopard print was fun (even though I hadn’t really chosen it when I made the first hat) but that print coupled with that shape looked too matronly to my liking and so I had never worn it, not even once. Come to think of it, I had never even taken the time to add the comb it needed to stay on the head.

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I unpicked the petersham ribbon from the inside of the hat and washed everything thoroughly with warm water and soap. That’s what I did for the refashions of my collection and so far I’ve never encountered a problem with that method, be it with felt or straw.

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Since the felt was already wet, there was no need for steam and I immediately shaped it on a block. I could have dried it with a blow dryer but I was in no hurry so I let it dry naturally for two days before I took it off the block. After that I added some millinery wire to strengthen the edge of the brim and I covered that with black bias binding, then I added the decoration (I guess all of my hats must sport either flowers or a bow of some sorts) and finally I sewed on the petersham ribbon inside (the old one was just a touch too short so I used a new length), and then I had a new hat!

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It actually took me almost two weeks to finish the hat, but that’s because I did not work on it every day. Otherwise I guess it could have been made in two sessions, or maybe even one if I had used a blow dryer instead of leaving it to dry naturally.

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Now we’ll see whether or not I wear this new hat more than the old one… Only time will tell! But one thing is for sure, now I store all of my wool hats (except for the ones I wear really often) in hat boxes. So much cleaner, duh!

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Magpie Shoe

Magpie1I made a shoe!!! Yes, a shoe, as in one shoe, not two, but hey, I MADE A SHOE! 😀

We’re only doing single shoes for the moment, no pairs yet (that’s for next year!), and this is my second shoe ever! The first one was this ugly burgundy ballet flat (which I will cherish for the rest of my life because, you know, first shoe ever and all that) that I didn’t really get to design: I only followed the instructions of the teacher, not really understanding what was going on and being kind of amazed when I got what looked like a shoe in the end.

Project4This time we had to design the shoe (it had to be a court shoe) ourselves, based on a black and white animal. I chose the magpie, as you can guess, if not from the shoe itself, at least from the title of this article. And look, my shoe even looks like my final drawing! I only omitted the jewel because, can you believe it, I completely forgot about it! The jewel was there because magpies are alledgedly jewellery thieves.

There were a few preliminary drawings before the final one (these are pages from my sketchbook by the way, not Photoshop collages – but I did edit the contrast after scanning them):

Project1

We were advised to first draw what came to our mind in order to get some ideas, so I drew a few models without thinking about it too much, just to see how the magpie could translate as a shoe.

Project2Then I tried to be a little more precise, which is when I got the idea of the black feathers on a white background. I quite liked the design of the shoe at the top, but not its form. I wanted something that would reflect my style a little more, with a feminine and retro touch.

Project3I was happy with these two drawings, but the teacher found that the top of the shoe was too high. I did not agree at first, but when I drew my design on the shoe last I chose, which allowed me to see how it would look on a foot, I could see how wrong I was! So I made the final drawings, which you saw above, where I lowered the top of the shoe and gave the shoe a more delicate heel.

Magpie2Putting this shoe together was a lot of work. I’m kind of sad I didn’t think to document the different steps, but I will try to do that for a future (pair of) shoe(s). It’s not perfect by any means, and I’m (really!) not fishing for compliments, but I don’t want to focus on the negative details, which are not that obvious when you don’t look at the shoe from too close and are quite normal for a second shoe ever! I just wanted to point out that I’m not under the delusion that my shoe is perfect nor hiding its (many) defects to pretend that they don’t exist.

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The other side, with a simpler design because it’s less visible.

The shoe is made from black and white leather, the inside is lined with thinner black leather. The heel is also covered by leather, the same I used for the lining if I remember correctly, because the other one was too thick, but you really can’t tell the difference. The sole is a thick brown leather, which I had to paint black.

Magpie4The shoe is a size too small for me, so I couldn’t really try it (though I did manage to squeeze my foot into it – not a pretty sight!). The first ballet flat I made was a size too big, so I made sure to chose a last in my size for my third shoe (which I won’t finish before next (school) year, it’s on pause during summer vacation).

The sole, painted black.

I’ll leave you with some detail shots of the shoe. You can see the sole above and the heel and topstitching below. Once again, let me remind you that I spared you from more unsightly close-ups!

Have a nice weekend! I think I’ll spend mine admiring my shoe! 😀

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