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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April Fools’ Sweater

AprilFool1It‘s finished!!! I can’t believe it took me so long to finish such a simple project: I began knitting this sweater on April 1st, which means it took me almost three months! I usually knit a sweater in one and a half to two months, but with this one, after a great start with the back, the front took me forever to complete, among other because I kept screwing up the part with the eyelet bows and having to frog and reknit it. After that I kind of lost my mojo and had to wait until I reached the second sleeve to find it again. And now it’s too hot to wear a sweater, waaaah!

AprilFool2But I still have a cute new sweater, yay! It’s exactly as I had envisioned, no surprise about the size or whatever, phew! All in all it was fairly easy to knit (the mistakes I kept doing on the bows where due to my lack of attention, that’s all), especially for my first real foray into colorwork (I don’t know whether to call this sweater colorwork – the chart was so easy).

The pattern is #3 in Phildar Magazine N°69:

Pull3As you can see I’ve changed the colours a bit! I liked the original ones, but I wanted my sweater to be as versatile as possible and I don’t think you could wear such colours in many different outfits. So I chose beige and dark blue, even though I already own a sweater in those colours, because I like nautical style a lot and I thought the form of this sweater was different enough from the other one. And who knows, I might even knit a third one someday seeing as I bought way to much yarn for this project and I still have five balls (almost six) of the beige yarn and four of the blue. 😀

AprilFool3How do you invisibly seam up a striped knit? I couldn’t stop the beige yarn I used to sew the sweater from showing a tiny bit in some places on the blue stripes. I hate seaming up knits!

But what I hated doing the most knitting this sweater was the collar band! Phildar always has this crazy idea of having you knit the collar band separately and sewing it to the sweater afterwards (they don’t seem to know circular needles even exist – they NEVER have you use them). I usually ignore that part and pick up the stitches to knit the collar band directly on the sweater. But this time, my circular needle would not cooperate. I don’t know whether that’s because my hands were sweaty from the heat or just because the needle was poor quality, but after hours (yes, hours! – my left forefinger is still a little numb) of suffering and not even managing to complete one row, I finally had to literally cut the cable of the needle to save the sweater and, the horror, resolve to using the dreaded Phildar method.

AprilFool4Look how cute the back is! They don’t show it in the magazine (you only discover it by reading the instructions!) but it was a pleasant surprise. I thought the pretend button placket looked a little sad without any buttons, so I added three.

So, when’s the cold weather coming back so that I can wear my new sweater?

WIP: Variation on the Marinière

MarinièreEnCoursHere’s the knitting project I was talking about, the one that has been taking forever. I just checked, I began working on it on April 1st (oooh, that’s nice for a marine themed sweater!). I’ve already knit the back, the front and the first sleeve: only one sleeve to go (minus most of its ribbing as you can see)!

I’m using a different yarn than the one recommended and it seems I didn’t estimate how much I would need very accurately: with less than one sleeve (and the collar, but that’s only a few rows of ribbing) to go, I still have six balls of the beige yarn and four of the blue. How many did I even buy in the first place?!

Anyway, I really can’t wait to finish this sweater as I think it will get lots of wear! Well, assuming it fits, you never know (crossing fingers)!

Mon léopard et moi

Léopard1

I wouldn’t think of myself as an animal print person, but our millinery teacher had us design a hat based on a documentary film about the African and Brazilian nature and the image that stuck to my mind was this beautiful Brazilian leopard. What can I say, I love cats!

Léopard2

We were also instructed to use horsehair braid in our design (I can tell you this won’t become my favourite millinery notion anytime soon! – at least not this plasticky kind), and as you may already have gathered from my previous posts, I’m definitely a bow person, so I chose to drape the horsehair braid into this statement bow.

I hesitated between leopard-printed or black horsehair braid, and eventually went with black because the leopard-printed one kind of clashed with the leopard print of the wool felt cone. I now have a few meters of leopard-printed horsehair braid I need to find a use for, ahem…

Léopard3

The base is a one-piece wool felt with hand-molded brim. I had initially planned to leave the edge of the brim raw, but it was a little too soft, so I added millinery wire to strengthen it and I covered it with black petersham ribbon (that’s still a little too wavy to my taste, next time I’ll spend more time ironing it to shape). I think I actually like it better that way as it forms a nice contrast with the background and it echoes the bow.

Léopard4

I finished the hat yesterday (I began working on it in class a few months ago then left it languishing unfinished, oops!) and also wore it for the first time, in keeping with my pledge to wear one me-made hat each week of May. I was kind of expecting to feel self-conscious wearing such a weird hat (well, weirder than what I’m used to), and I was pleasantly surprised by my actually feeling totally at ease and not worrying a bit about people staring or God knows what. So this hat is not as easy to wear as the first three I wore for Me-Made-May, but it’s still much easier than I had first assumed.

Léopard5

Here you can see the inside, with another petersham ribbon (as in any hat) meant to help the hat stay on the head. The ribbon is invisibly sewn by hand, as is the one on the edge of the brim. Every stitch involved in the making of the hat was hand sewn, actually.
Ok, I could ramble on and on about this hat, but I think we’ll leave it at that. I’ll see you on Monday for the next Me-Made-May weekly recap!