Golondrina Moneta

When I finished this Moneta dress about a year ago and put it on my dress form, it was love at first sight. Then I tried it on and saw that the waist fell about an inch too low to my taste: I like the waist seam of my fit and flare dresses to fall exactly at my waist. And I prefer a waist seam that is a touch too high than a touch too low. But it did not look awful either, so I thought I’d try wearing the dress like that and see whether I’d maybe change my mind like it sometimes happens and decide that I did not mind the position of the waist in the end.

Man did I feel self-conscious that next day at work! I could not not think about that too low waist and kept unwittingly crossing my arms to hide it. It had been a very long time since I had felt that uncomfortable in a piece of clothing (which in turn made me cherish the fact that I’m so used to feeling good in my clothes that it has become a given)! So that was it, I definitely had to alter the waist.

You know me, summer came and I hadn’t even touched said waist yet. I tried on the dress again, to get an idea of how much I had to shorten the bodice and I thought “hey, it actually looks way less weird than I remembered” and wore it the next day. I felt far from as uncomfortable as the first time I had worn it, yet I knew I still had to alter it.

What’s funny is, in the two times I’ve worn this dress, it has garnered a crazy amount of compliments. More in two days than each of my most worn garments in the numerous times I’ve worn them (except for this dress; it’s like I cannot wear this dress and not get at least one compliment — I’ve been stopped on the street by strangers about this dress 😀 )! But none of that really matters when you don’t feel totally comfortable, so I knew I wouldn’t wear it anymore until I shortened its bodice at last.

It took me a few more months, but I eventually did (almost a year after finishing the dress…). And even though this means the skirt now falls an inch higher up my knees and does not hit that perfect-for-me spot anymore, I finally feel perfectly comfortable in my dress, phew! It might still benefit from shortening the back bodice by something like one more centimetre to compensate for my probable swayback, but that’s a detail that can wait for the next version!

I have to say, it’s not the easiest dress to wear in winter though… Not because of its shape, but because of the fabric (from the Stoffenspektakel and tissus.net — I regretted to have only gotten one metre of it at the Stoffenspektakel so I bought some more when I came across it while browsing tissus.net), or more precisely because of the colour of the fabric. It’s proven very difficult to find a matching colour other than black. The only cardigan of mine that does not look too bad with it is my red Mary Mead, but what I need is a black cropped cardigan. I do own a black cardigan, but its shape does not look nice at all with this dress; it makes me feel like I’m wearing a nightdress and a dressing gown. I’m pretty sure a black cropped cardigan could be worn with a lot of other outfits, so I absolutely need to either knit or sew (I’m looking at you, Juniper!) one.

Now that I’ve solved my little fit problem with this dress, I want to make a million more! I love the shape of the neckline (especially at the back), sleeves and skirt. And it’s sooooo comfortable, all the while looking so elegant!

The only thing I didn’t like with the pattern was the way they have you gather the skirt, ugh! I don’t understand how people can get a nice looking waistline with that method: you need to stretch the waistline of the bodice so much for it to match the skirt; even with the addition of the clear elastic (which you also have to stretch too much), I personally couldn’t get a truly clean result and the waist seam is a bit wavy in places.

EDIT (12/1): Oops, I suddenly realised that this is not the way the pattern has you gather the skirt! It has you gather the skirt with clear elastic, then attach it to the bodice. I now remember using this method the first time I attached the skirt and hating it about as much as I hated the method I used the second time around, if not more: stitching the stretched out to the max clear elastic on a sewing machine was such a pain! At least with the method I described above, I was able to feed the elastic through the guiding slot in the presser foot of the serger, which kept it in place much better.

Next time I’ll make sure to apply my usual method, the same you’d use on a woven (always using a contrasting thread for the gathering stitches in order to be able to take them out easily afterwards without messing up the serged seam), but with the addition of clear elastic, and serging the waist seam of course: much less painful, much better results…

Now to choose the fabric for my next Moneta! Or maybe I should make that black cardigan first…

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Flamingos!

I. LOVE. THIS. DRESS.

I love it so much that I almost didn’t dare starting to wear it! I finished it about ten days before my travel to Spain, so I decided to save it for the travel and didn’t wear it before we left. Once in Spain, we spent a week in Madrid and I didn’t wear it because I wanted to save it for later. Then we arrived at the village where we spent the rest of the holiday… and I didn’t wear it because I felt it was too fancy for the village! So more than a month after finishing it, I hadn’t worn it even once!

Once we got back to Belgium, I kept postponing the first outing of this poor dress: it was not even that I feared damaging it; the problem was that I was afraid to wear it and realise it was not comfortable or didn’t fit as well as I thought or some other letdown and be disappointed. Don’t worry, I have since come to my senses and started to wear it! And it is comfortable, and it does fit as well as I thought it did! 😀

Which it should, since I made a muslin, but still, I was worried! I rarely make muslins. I know, I know, boo me! But I always check the measurements of the pattern and usually baste the garment together to check and correct the fit before I sew it for real. When in doubt, I also use fabrics that I like, so that I can wear the finished garment if it’s a success, but that I won’t cry over if things don’t work out the way they should.

But this fabric, ah, this fabric! I don’t remember where I first saw it, but it was out of stock, so I hunted it down for months (maybe years?) until I came upon it at the late Fabric Rehab. I bought enough to sew a Deer&Doe Belladone, which was what I wanted it for in the first place. When it arrived I realised it was thinner than what I had expected (I was expecting more of a quilting cotton and it is a poplin), so into the stash it went until I found a pattern that would be worthy of such a dreamy piece of fabric.

The pattern I bought on Etsy: it’s a vintage pattern, Woman W388. I loved the simplicity of it and thought such a simple silhouette would suit various fabrics from my stash, including and starting with my precious flamingo fabric. I was a bit bewildered when I opened the envelope to see that it was an unprinted pattern: quite surprising since I’d say it dates from the early sixties! But then I thought it would be nice to try my hand at an unprinted pattern for the first time with what seemed to be a pretty easy one. And it was!

I soon learned unprinted patterns are in fact no more difficult to use than printed ones. In case you’ve never used one, there are holes of different shapes in lieu of printed markings, that’s all there is to is. There’s a key to which shape means what (notches, darts, grainline…) in the instructions, but you don’t even really need it as it’s intuitive enough to be understood just by looking at the pattern pieces if you’ve ever used any pattern, printed or otherwise, before.

So I set out to trace the pieces and sew a muslin of the bodice. This first draft looked horrendous on me! The first obvious problem was that it was much too big. I took off 1 cm at each side seam (4 cm total) and things started to look more promising. I then shaved off between 1 and 1,5 cm from the top of the front piece and between nothing and 1,5 cm from the top of the back piece. I also cut a 2,5 cm wedge off the bottom of the back piece and tadaaa, perfect fit! Okay, maybe not perfect, but as perfect as I can achieve with my meagre fitting knowledge! I’m still debating whether that wedge I took off the bottom of the back piece should have been 2 cm instead of 2,5 cm and have not reached a definite conclusion yet.

The skirt didn’t need any fitting as it’s so full, plus I didn’t even use the skirt of the pattern, for which I didn’t have enough fabric. I made a simple gathered skirt, as full (the width of the fabric) and long as I could with the fabric I had left after having cut the bodice, straps and bias tape. Two widths of bias tape are used for this pattern: a smaller one for the little bows (ah, the little bows!) and a wider one to finish the neckline:

The pattern has you sew the straps inside the bias binding at the back (which I did) and then adjust the straps at the front and stitch them on top of the bias binding. I didn’t like that so I reopened the binding at the front placement of the straps after I had settled on a strap length and hid the strap ends inside. It’s much cleaner/prettier like that.

Another simple deviation from the pattern was the addition of pockets. I hesitated between side seam pockets and patch pockets and opted to use these cute rounded patch pockets I borrowed from a late 1950s robe pattern I had in my stash (McCall’s 4319). I think these pockets look lovely on that dress, so I think I’ve made the right decision.

Although I am one of those annoying people who can’t wait for autumn to start, I must say I’m going to be a bit sad to say goodbye to this summer dress for so many months (this might leave me enough time to find a well-fitting strapless bra to wear with it though, who knows? 😉). I am trying to get as much wear as I can out of it while it’s still possible. I once again took the pictures for this blog post coming home from work and this is the outfit I wore that (rainy) day… Minus a cardigan of course!

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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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Minty Fresh Sweater

Mint1As an avid fan of cropped sweaters and cute collars, I waited for about three seconds and a half before ordering the Ondée sweater when it came out. I had been eyeing the Bluegingerdoll Bonnie sweater but had never clicked on purchase, but the adorable collar of the Deer&Doe one coupled to the fact that Deer&Doe patterns usually fit me pretty well made me glad I had waited.

Mint3I can knit the cropped sweaters I need of course, and it’s not like I was desperately looking for something to wear with my high-waisted skirts as I’ve read was the case for so many people, but sewing a top is still a nice change from spending a month or more knitting one. And did I tell you about the adorable collar?

Mint4I immediately knew I wanted to use this mint cotton (with a hint of elasthane) jersey knit, and white for the collar (a crisp white collar is always a safe bet), and the result is exactly what I had hoped for, yay!

Mint5The pattern was really easy to follow and fast to sew. Even the collar, which I thought was going to be more difficult than a classic T-shirt collar, was a piece of cake. I used my serger for everything but the collar, and a zigzag stitch for the latter. A double needle would have been my first choice, but my machine has been acting out lately every time I’ve tried to use a double needle, so after trying in vain different tensions and needles on fabric scraps, in the end I opted for a simple zigzag stitch, which worked like a charm.

Mint2I don’t have a lot more to say about such a straightforward project, but rest assured that this won’t be the last Ondée you see on this blog!

A Dash of Rainbow

Rainbow2Hey, I made something that doesn’t go on the head!

These past weeks I had been craving some sewing time like you wouldn’t believe, yet when I was finally relieved from all of my obligations I found myself actually dreading and postponing my getting back to sewing, like I was afraid I wouldn’t even know where to begin and I would end up with a failure that would put me off sewing altogether.

Rainbow1So I decided on a pattern I’ve made before and I know fits and is easy, the Renfrew. With the warm weather we’d been having (where is that warm weather now?! It’s been raining non stop for days!) I came to realise that my summer wardrobe, me-made or otherwise, was almost non existent (Mr Picky begs to differ). I need summer dresses, skirts, tops, shorts, everything!

Rainbow3I started with a summer Renfrew dress: short sleeves, gathered skirt and a lot of ease at the waist to let that summer breeze in. To get that result at the waist, I didn’t use any elastic for gathering, I just gathered the regular way (but with only one row of thread instead of three so that it would be easier to get rid of that seam) then serged the seam, hoping the gathering row would be cut off by the serger knife. Worked like a charm.

Rainbow7As per usual I “drafted” (such a pompous word for what was actually involved) my own neckband piece, and I also omitted the sleeve bands for the sleeves not to stick to the arms (here’s that summer breeze again!). And as per usual I added some simple patch pockets, because I need pockets on my dresses and I like the look of patch pockets, they help visually structure the skirt.

Rainbow4As you can sort of see in the picture above (and clearly see in the two pictures below), the dress seems solid from the front, but it’s not, there’s a suprise rainbow at the back! I love that detail: the dress looks so classic at first sight (and if I wear a cardigan over it), but it has that little something special.

Rainbow6This was really the perfect project to get back on my (presser, mwahaha!) feet. I’ve already been wearing it almost everyday, though only once styled exactly as in the pictures. The rest of the time it had to be accompanied by tights (in July!), a jacket and rain boots.

Rainbow5And from as soon as I started working on it, but even more so since I finished it, I’ve been feeling ready to tackle projects that are a little more challenging, i.e. ones that I haven’t already sewn before. The next one, which I’m working on at the moment, is a chambray Centaurée dress!

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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! 😀

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!

Blue Stone Sweater

BlueStone1Man, do I love this shade of blue! I already own a cardigan in more or less the same colourway, but I couldn’t resist knitting this one. I also think it goes quite nicely with the black collar and buttons. I have been told many times that black and blue don’t belong together, but different strokes for different folks.

BlueStone2This sweater was a very fast knit (yay short sleeves, yay stockinette!)… until I reached the collar. As you can see in my ravelry notes, everything but the collar took me two weeks to knit, and then I spent two more weeks on this ridiculously small collar! I find knitting ribs a little tedious and so slow in comparison to stockinette, plus the weather suddenly got warmer and, contrary to the yarn used for the body of the sweater, which is made of summer appropriate fibers (cotton, linen and tencel), the one used for the collar is a wool/acrylic blend, which was a real pain to knit in the heat. So I only knit a few rows here and there and even put my work aside for a few days.

BlueStone3One month to knit a sweater, even a short-sleeved one, is not too bad, though. And I love the result! It’s really my style with the empire waist gathers and the cute collar and buttons. However, if I must be completely honest, I’ll admit I don’t know what to wear it with. I think it would look nice either with jeans, black slim pants, black shorts or a black skirt, none of which I own! Okay, I do own one pair of jeans but they really don’t fit me well… Now you’re probably wondering what I’m wearing in the pictures. I don’t know if I should really tell you, but those are, ahem, jersey harem pants from my belly dancing days! 😀 They were all I had that looked nice in the pictures, I swear!

Now I should sew myself a few of those basic black pieces I miss, but although I have no problem sewing basics, I don’t think there’s any black fabric in my stash. I never think to buy that kind of fabric because I’m always distracted by prints and colours when I’m at the store. I really should go with a few basics in mind for a change.

BlueStone4Well, back to my new sweater! I’ve already told you about the pattern and the yarn in my WIP post. The pattern was fairly easy (though I still hate seaming up knits with all my heart) and the main yarn was really nice to work with and it also seems nice to wear. If this had been my first time using the yarn of the collar, I don’t think I’d recommend it, but I’ve already knit a cardigan for my boyfriend with the same yarn and it was really pleasant to knit and went through many a machine wash without a hitch, so I’m thinking it was the heat (i.e. my sweaty hands – TMI?) and not the yarn itself that was the source of my problems (the collar began to pill a little while I was sewing it on).

BlueStone5The pattern asks for five buttons, but I only added three because that’s all I had in stock (taken from this dress!). And as a matter of fact I prefer it that way, so that was fate! The sleeves and bottom hem are finished with single crochet, which stops the edges from curling. I was really expecting the collar not to stay in place and having to tack its ends to the sweater, but I was pleasantly surprised to see it roll nicely around the neckline by itself.

Except for the fact that I don’t have anything to wear with it (yet!), this sweater is a success in my book! Plus it actually gives me an excuse to go and buy some fabric, so what’s not to love? 😀