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 it 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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Pastel

pastel1Yes, another gathered skirt with giant pockets; yes, two new Ondée sweaters! I know, I know

What can I write that I haven’t written before, especially since the fabric I used for the Ondées is the same as for my first version, only in different colourways, and the fabric of the skirt is the same as for last week’s culottes, only with vertical stripes instead of flowers? I also used the remnants of the culottes for the pockets and the covered button, so really, nothing new under the sun. I even bought the fabrics in the same place.

pastel5Oh, but wait, I did use a new pattern for the pockets of the skirt! Burda 06/2015 #103a is a gathered skirt, so they only provide you with measurements, no pattern pieces, except for the pockets. I used my usual gathered skirt measurements instead of the pattern measurements, but I did use the pocket piece! I love those pockets: I can literally fit a cat in each one! Now if only my cats would cooperate.

pastel3I have been more into skirts that fall below the knee lately and I would have liked this skirt to do so, but I didn’t have enough fabric left after straightening the grain (I lost about twenty centimetres, grrrrr!), so this length had to do. Judging from the crazy amount of times I have worn this skirt in almost four months, I think I might survive the trauma.

pastel4I have realised since making the two Ondées (and two others after that, oops!) that I should have cut at least a 38 at the shoulders instead of a 36 like I did. It’s funny how at first you don’t see something, and then you notice it and it’s all you can see. I am now the proud owner of ten too-narrow-at-the-shoulders Ondées! Now that won’t stop me from going on wearing them. Also, being the positive person that I am, I see that as an opportunity to sew ten more! Silver lining and all that…

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Culottes and a Eucalypt

jupeculotte1When leafing through Burda, I often need to look past the styling and always need to examine the technical drawings to fall in love with a pattern. Not this time. When I spotted the May 2016 Culottes (#110a), it was love at first sight. And at second sight when I looked at the technical drawing and saw their lovely scalloped front yoke. I needed those culottes.

You can imagine how happy I was when I found a very similar fabric to the one they used in the magazine at the Stoffenspektakel. So happy that I started working on the culottes right away instead of hoarding the fabric for a couple of years as is usually more my style!

I cut a size 40, graded down to a 38 at the waist/top of the yoke (it’s a low waist, so no need to go smaller than that). It was a pretty fast and uneventful make, the only difficulty being the angles of the scallops, where the scallops meet each other. Angles that I didn’t manage to sew correctly; mine are much more wavy than pointy as they appear to be on the technical drawing. But no one who didn’t see said technical drawing is going to notice that, are they?

jupeculotte5Aside from that, these culottes were a breeze to make. They are also quite nice to wear, especially in this fabric (I think it’s a polycotton), which, contrary to other blends I’ve used in the past, seems to have taken the best of both worlds: it presses really well, but it almost doesn’t wrinkle!

However, I don’t wear them very often. Why is that? Because, and I feel so stupid for not having realised and remedied that beforehand, there are no pockets… So, even though I find the culottes so cute and all, I don’t find them very practical, and I keep reaching for the pockets.

jupeculotte2The top I’m wearing with them in the pictures (I unconsciously composed an outfit that is very similar to the one in Burda, didn’t I?) is also a partial fail. I used Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt tank and, looking at my previous versions of the pattern, I shortened the straps, thinking this would lead to a better fit. I also made a few changes just for this version, for aesthetical reasons: I made the straps thinner, deepened the neckline (front and back), shortened and widened the body and added a lace trim (from my stash; I had just the right length) at the bottom.

jupeculotte4I’m happy with my aesthetical changes, but the fitting change was kind of counterproductive: I feel like the fit of the top part is worse than before! And it leads to the shoulder seams falling too far towards the back and the whole top appearing asymmetrical: if I don’t put the shoulder seams back in place, the top seems shorter in the front and longer in the back.

Another thing I’m not happy at all with is the way my bias finished neckline and armholes look. At first they looked pretty good, but after a wash they wrinkled a lot, and no amount of pressing seems to be able to solve that. And yet I had prewashed both the fabric, a quality cotton lawn, and my bias tape, made from the same material.

jupeculotte3I’ve worn the top a lot this summer, both tucked and untucked, so I wouldn’t call it a total failure, but it’s always frustrating when a project doesn’t meet your standards, especially when you don’t understand exactly what went wrong! Ah well, I keep telling myself we are all bound to fail some projects from time to time, and that makes it only better when the next one is a success!

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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A Few More Stripes

Marine1With fall around the corner, I’d better increase the pace of my blog posts if I don’t want to end up photographing my summer makes in the cold season.

So here I am already, a mere two days after my last post, and with two garments instead of one! I didn’t think either of them deserved a post on its own, and I wore them together a lot on holiday, so I decided to photograph and write about them together, too.

Marine2The shorts were sewn first, the day before a five day trip to Italy, when I suddenly realised that I didn’t own a single pair of shorts since I got rid of an old pair at the end of last summer. Even though I’m more of a dress/skirt kind of gal, there are some instances when nothing beats a pair of shorts.

Marine3I leafed through my Burdas, quickly found this pattern that seemed both easy and quick to sew and immediately went to work. I had just bought the fabric, a navy stretch cotton, at Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre a few days earlier during a trip to Paris (yes, I was lucky enough to travel a lot this summer!), so I hadn’t stored it yet, and I thought it would make for a comfortable pair of shorts.

I made a size 40, which corresponds to my hip measurement, and I didn’t bother to make a muslin, so I was pleased to see that the fit was okay. Far from perfect, but okay. They do tend to give me a wedgie during walks (and not only during walks, judging from the back picture!), though, and I guess elasticated waist shorts are never that flattering anyway… Ah, well!

Marine6The pattern was easy and fast to sew. I mean, if I can sew a pattern in a day, it has to be really easy and fast. The only thing I failed to understand was whether the side seams had to be closed or remained open. I thought they were supposed to remain open, but when I tried on the shorts and lifted my leg, the opening gave way much more than a glimpse of my buttock! So I sewed them shut afterwards, and I think it makes the shape of the shorts look nicer from the front, too.

Marine4The tank was also made from a piece of fabric I bought during my Paris trip (this time at Sacrés Coupons). And it was also a fast and easy sew. The pattern is Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank, which I had sewn previously, but in a woven. I went down a size (I graded the side seams from the smallest size) to accommodate for the stretch of the cotton jersey knit. And when I tried it on, I decided to shave off a few centimetres from the shoulder straps.

Marine5I serged the side and shoulder seams, and simply serged and turned the neckline, armholes and hem, and topstitched with a zigzag stitch.

I don’t see myself wearing the shorts outside of very casual situations, but I love the tank, and I think it can easily be dressed up, especially tucked in a high-waisted skirt.

And no, I don’t think there is such a thing as too many stripes in a wardrobe!

The Five-Month Skirt

JupeGrise1Long time no see, huh? I haven’t stopped sewing and knitting of course, but I needed to put blogging on the back burner for a moment. I hadn’t imagined I wouldn’t come back here for over two months, though… It was really weird (and not in a good way) taking pictures of myself again… By the way, my hair looked smashing in the mirror, but in the pictures it looks like a hot mess, whatever.

JupeGrise2This skirt took two months in the making and still had to wait for close to three more months to get its blog post. I like that this allows me to speak about it more knowingly than if I had blogged it right away. When I had just finished it, I felt like it was going to be easy to wear and to match with the rest of my wardrobe, now I know I was right! I also know that one should never try on a high-waisted skirt so close to the end of the year festivities and their obligatory overeating: a skirt that fits perfectly at that moment might not fit so well the rest of the year! My skirt is now a little too big at the waist; I might add a second row of snaps to make it tighter in the near future.

What I don’t like in writing about a garment so long after its completion is that I have to make much more of an effort to remember the technical details. But here goes…

JupeGrise3It’s a Burda pattern from a few years ago; this was my second time making it. The first time I used a shiny pink fabric, so even though I still really like that first skirt and find it very flattering, it’s not that easy to wear. I wear it a lot in my free time, but it doesn’t feel right for work. So when I found this corduroy remnant at Tissus Passion, one of my favourite fabric shops here in Brussels (it doesn’t look like much, but there are gems to be discovered there!), I immediately thought of that pattern.

JupeGrise4Like the first time I made a size 36, which corresponds to the size of my waist but not of my hips (my hips are between a size 40 and 42), and, despite having to wiggle my way into the skirt to slip it on, once I have it on there’s enough ease at the hips for it to be comfortable.

I underlined the skirt pieces with some grey Bemberg rayon lining I had in my stash to prevent them from clinging to tights without having to bother with a lining (come to think of it, I don’t think a lining would have been that much more trouble) and it is very effective: to the exception of the waist that bags a little like I mentioned, I never have to readjust the skirt when wearing it.

JupeGrise6I used a thinner fabric for the hidden parts of the waistband, front fly and pockets: a cotton poplin (I think) with tiny grey flowers printed on it, also from my stash (I got it at a fabric swap). This was both because I didn’t have enough corduroy and I feared the corduroy was too thick to work in those places. Also, it looks pretty.

I took advantage of the underlining to hand sew an invisible hem, catching only the underlining with the thread. And I replaced the hidden buttons of the pattern with snaps, and the faux welt pockets with functional patch pockets.

JupeGrise5

See? Functional!

One of the reasons it took me so long to finish this skirt (aside from the fact that I am a very slow sewer) is how scared I was of messing up the fly front zipper. The first time I made that pattern, I didn’t know fly front zippers were supposed to be that difficult and I didn’t have a problem following the instructions of the pattern, but ironically this time I had read in so many places how scary they were that I started to fear that step. I read a few online tutorials that confused me even more, so I went back to Burda instructions… and everything went, if not perfectly (you can see there’s a small bubble of fabric at the top of the zipper), pretty well! So now I am kind of mad at people who make things seem so insurmountable when they aren’t. No, fly front zippers are not that difficult, you just need to go step by step. And while we’re at it, sewing knits is no more difficult than sewing wovens!

I still have a cardigan, a dress and a blouse to show you, let’s hope it takes me less than two months to come back again!

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Christmas Eve Outfit

Réveillon4It’s been a long time since I posted a finished garment, and here I am with some of the crappiest pictures I’ve ever posted on this blog, but they will have to do or I’ll never show you any of the last pieces I made, what with winter and its crazy lack of daylight…

I took these coming back from work yesterday around 3 p.m. (lucky me finishing so early! 🙂 ) and I barely had enough light long enough to take them.

Réveillon1So, this is the outfit I made to wear on Christmas Eve. Last year I made the dumbest choice by wearing this skirt which, although very comfortable for daily wear, became an instrument of torture after I had ingurgitated Christmas dinner. Which is why this year I decided I needed the most ample dress possible in order to eat as much as I wanted and not feel like my clothing was trying to kill me.

Réveillon2Enter my beloved modified babydoll Renfrew dress that could hold triplets and a whole turkey! I sewed the waist gathers the same way as for this one (this gathering method makes for a very loose-fitting waist), the sleeves are 3/4 like on this one, but I used a different method for the neckline: for once I didn’t use a band but simply turned under the neckline edge twice. I felt it was dressier.

Réveillon3The sleeves are wide enough for me to layer a 3/4-sleeved T-shirt under the dress for maximum Christmas (and cold weather in general) cosiness. I did not add pockets for lack of time, but I’ll probably add some in the near future because I keep reaching for them when I wear the dress, and of course I don’t know where to put my tissues.

Réveillon5The cropped sweater started its life as a whole nother project. I wanted a cosy sweater dress made from this glittery sweater knit I had recently bought, but when I tried it on I realised it looked positively awful on me! I have no problem wearing things that don’t make me look as thin as possible, or that make me look pregnant for that matter (I guess the outfit I’m showing you today kind of proves my point! 😀 ), but I do wearing things that make me appear deformed! I put the dress aside, feeling there might still be a way to rescue it, and when I started thinking about my Christmas outfit, I immediately thought simply cropping it might make it the perfect companion to the little black babydoll dress I had in mind. And indeed it did!

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I must have been Captain Harlock in a previous life!

I also cropped the sleeves, which were about as unflattering as the rest of the dress when they were full-length. Since my fabric has mediocre stretch recovery, I put some wide elastic in the cuffs to prevent them from getting distorted over time. It does feel pretty stiff, which was weird at first, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.

The original collar of the dress also stood very weirdly and/or didn’t suit me at all, so I simply turned it under and topstitched it in place. I was surprised by how good it looked after this simple transformation!

Réveillon7I have been wearing this exact same outfit a lot since Christmas, but I haven’t worn the two pieces separately yet, which is weird since a black dress and a neutral sweater (gold and silver are neutrals to me – I’m not even kidding!) shouldn’t be too hard to combine with the rest of my wardrobe. I guess I just like them so much together!

Dirndl Blouse

Dirndl1The sewjo is back! I loved this dirndl blouse pattern I saw in the last September issue of Burda (magazine), and for once I didn’t forget about it and/or postpone it indefinitely! To tell the truth, the thing that motivated me to start this project and not another one was that I had just gotten this piece of fabric from a swap at Saki’s and it was such a weird shape that I didn’t want to bother trying to fold it neatly. I found it easier to start sewing it immediately! 😀

Dirndl3This was a pretty easy sew if not for the fact that I always have the hardest time understanding written sewing instructions. I’m not even going to try and blame it on Burda, whose language we know can be quite cryptic. This time the instructions were clear… I’m the one who couldn’t make any sense from them!

The thing is, I only understood what they were saying once I already knew what I had to do: so when I read a step in the sewing guide, I didn’t understand it, then once I had figured out what to do on my own, I came back to the instructions and thought: “So that’s what they were trying to tell me!”.

Dirndl4Not that you’d need that much handholding sewing this blouse; there’s nothing really complicated there. The only thing I truly needed the instructions for was the neck opening/facing. I have the worst spatial intelligence, so I had to resort to doing a paper simulation of that one in order to get it! Okay, please do not laugh, three paper simulations…

Dirndl5At least those simulations did help and I got a better result than I would have gotten had I dived right in. I just had to topstitch the neckline edge twice instead of once because there were a couple centimetres of the neckline facing that hadn’t been caught in the first line of stitching. I initially wanted to unpick this first line of stitching after sewing the second one, but I decided the two rows of stitching actually looked cute so both could stay.

Dirndl6Once I had understood them, I mainly followed the instructions. The first of the only two things I did differently was inverting two steps: Burda has you sew the sleeve hem first, then the side seams, but I prefer the finish of sewing the side seams first, then the sleeve hem.

While we’re talking about the side seams, I made the dumbest mistake there! I thought I was being clever by using French seams, but I forgot how curved those seams were: there was no way French seams were going to work! So I had to clip my beautiful French seams afterwards, not the perfect finish I was hoping for! I reinforced the underarm seams before clipping the seam allowances to avoid any unravelling.

The second thing I did differently from the instructions was drafting a facing for the top of the neckline. It was supposed to be left raw, which I didn’t fancy at all. That facing trick worked like a charm. No raw edges on any of my clothing, ever!

Vintage faux pearl button from my mother's stash.

Vintage faux pearl button from my mother’s stash.

I find this blouse really cute, it’s a style I’m very fond of. I love it tucked in high-waisted skirts, dirndl or not! Not that you could tell judging from the awful angle I took these pictures from, ahem!

I feared the weather would soon be too cold to wear such a light blouse, but when I put it on I forgot I was wearing a thermal cami and only realised that after taking the pictures, so I guess I can wear it with a cami under it and a cardigan over it and not have to wait for spring after all!

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21st of July Playsuit

July21.1Remember I teased you about an upcoming refashion project? Well, it took me a looooong time, but I here it is at last!

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I heart pockets.

I almost threw in the towel numerous times on this one… At first I didn’t have a playsuit in mind but a dress, but it was impossible to get all the pattern pieces on the fabric. Then I thought of a playsuit after seeing one in a book I was reading, so I dug through old issues of Burda magazine and found this pattern. I thought it would be pretty easy to shorten the legs and add shoulder straps (I don’t do strapless), which it was. I also thought I would it would be easy to place the pieces of this small playsuit on the fabric of the huge eighties dress… which it was not.

July21.3

Do you see any bra straps showing? I don’t!

The dress was very old and there were holes and black stains in a few places, which made it a real headache to place every pattern piece on the fabric. I had to think about it for two whole days before I found a solution. And it was the layout that determined the length of the legs, so I was afraid the whole time that they would be too short.

July21.4You can see on the above picture that I used black seam binding inside the hem. It helped me keep as much length as possible. About the hem: I actually didn’t have a fabric piece big enough to cut the second leg, so I had to add a scrap of fabric to fill the gap. That scrap of fabric from hell was almost the end of me: I don’t know why (well, I think the grain must have shifted while sewing it or something), but it sat in a weird way that made the hem of the shorts awfully uneven. I don’t know how many times I had to redo that small part, but I was ready to give up.

Finally I got a tolerable result so I decided to power through… and now I don’t really see the problem if I’m not looking for it specifically. This is so often the case with my sewing projects: I obsess about a detail almost to the point of tossing the project away, but once I wear the completed project I completely forget about that detail…

July21.5I was really afraid such a playsuit would not suit my figure very well, so when I first tried it on I was relieved to see that it was actually pretty cute. I’m not used to seeing such an ample top on myself, but with the flowy fabric I think it works.

Also the length of the shorts had me doubt, but with the heat we’ve had these last few days I’ve gotten into the habit of showing my bare legs again and I don’t think it looks that scandalous.

July21.6I cut a size 36 for the top and graded up from a size 36 at the waist to a size 38 at the hips for the bottom. I have plenty enough room even though my hip measurement would be closer to a size 40. As regards the two elastics, I have no idea of their length because I pulled them around my waist/bust until I found them snug enough so I didn’t measure them.

I used black cotton voile for the pockets and for the wrong side of the shoulder straps. You can see it peek out from time to time, but I think it looks nice against the black polka dots (which, come to think of it, you can’t really see in the pictures because they are so small), so there’s no real problem here.

The buttons I used came from an old cardigan of mine.

July21.7I finished the playsuit yesterday, which was Belgium’s National Day, so it was quite suiting that I wore black, yellow and red, which are Belgium’s national colours! These are colours I don’t usually like together, but with only a touch of yellow (my rubber duck earrings, and you could also count my golden sandals and straw hat as yellow), I think it works.

So even though this won’t be my most worn garment (playsuits are not renowned for their practicality), I still find it cute and will most definitely wear it in the unexpected heat of this Belgian summer and in Spain where I’ll be spending three weeks in August.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I can also totally see it worn in Fall with black tights and a black cardigan… Or is it just me? Well, if the frail vintage fabric holds up until then, that is!

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