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!

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Ciré Jaune

cire2Even more than a pair of jeans, a rain jacket had been desperately missing from my wardrobe. I bought some K-way fabric at Les Tissus du Chien Vert some time ago with the intention of making a Minoru jacket, but then I changed my mind when I came upon Kwik Sew K4015.

cire4This pattern was very easy to sew, but even though it’s perfectly possible that the problem was due to an error or miscomprehension on my part, I suspect there is a mistake in the instructions regarding the way the main fabric sleeves are attached to the lining sleeves (step 8 for anyone making the jacket): there was no way I could turn the jacket right side out following these instructions. I unpicked the bottom edges of the sleeves and reattached them my own way (which I’ve seen in several tutorials such as this one). Aside from that part, the instructions were very clear.

cire3Fitting wise I just had to lengthen the sleeves as much as possible by sewing the sleeve bottom edges with a 0,5 cm seam allowance instead of 1,5 cm. Other than that I made no changes, and on any future version I’ll be sure to add even more length to the sleeves at the cutting stage: most of the time they are okay with only that added centimetre, but I could do with a couple more when I’m on my bike. If I ever sew this view of the jacket again, I might also lengthen the front pieces to make them as long as the back (and in that case I’d also lower the side slits): I’m not a fan of the asymmetry there.

I’m in-between sizes and I chose to make a size S, the upper size, because I was going to interline the jacket with polar fleece. I’m glad I did, the jacket would clearly have been too tight otherwise!

cire5The (white) fleece interlining, in addition to adding warmth of course, had the advantage of stopping the lining from showing through the main fabric. You can still see it through the pockets (aren’t they a cute shape, by the way?) and hood, which I haven’t interlined, but I think it would have been much more of an issue had it been showing through the whole jacket.

To interline the jacket, I simply cut the body and sleeve pieces in fleece and basted them to the corresponding lining pieces, then treated them as a single layer: the lining being a simple cotton (the same I used for this skirt, but with bigger dots), I felt it would be simpler to handle than the main fabric.

cire6And indeed, any fabric would have been easier to handle than that beep of a fabric. It’s by far the worst fabric I’ve ever had to work with. I mean, it’s great quality, but it was an absolute nightmare to sew! It was close to impossible to get an even stitch length since it kept sticking to the machine, argh! I thought I was never going to get a decent looking jacket, but once I stepped back I realised this didn’t really affect the general look of the garment.

I used metal snaps to close the jacket, and I like both their look and their practicality. The whole jacket is so practical, I’ve actually been wearing it way more than my Quart coat, which I didn’t see coming! It’s light yet warm, casual yet cute, and it’s such a relief wearing it when it starts raining.

cire1I have no intention of making this view (B) of the pattern again any time soon, but I do have a piece of Liberty set aside for View A, which doesn’t look like much on the envelope picture, but I’m sure has the potential to make a very cute little quilted jacket!

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Sailorette

Sailorette1How many Ondées are too many Ondées? This is Ondée #6 (and — spoiler alert! I made #7 on the same day!). This is also far from my first striped top; what can I say? I know what I like!

I’ve sewn a couple more challenging projects lately, and Ondée is still the perfect palate cleanser for when you don’t want to jump directly from one long project to another.

Sailorette7I made my usual size, and this time I used a navy/off-white striped cotton jersey with lycra, once again from the Stoffenspektakel. The neckline, waist and sleeve bands are made from the same off-white cotton ribbing I used for this T-shirt (from De Stoffenkamer). It’s pretty thick, more than the main fabric. This made it a little bit difficult to sew through the bulk at seam junctions, but it does look nice in the end.

Sailorette2The skirt is one of Deer&Doe’s new patterns, the Zéphyr dress. A skirt version, obviously. I’m in-between sizes (36/38 waist) at the moment and I opted for a 36, which is perfectly comfortable, not too tight at all. I didn’t grade to my hip size (close to a 42), hoping the shape of the skirt would provide enough room by itself, and it does. I do have to wiggle a little bit to put on the skirt, but that’s always the case with any garment that relies on stretch and not on any fastenings: if it fits my waist, it won’t easily get past my hips.

Sailorette5The fabric I used is a navy ponte of unknown composition I recently bought at the Stoffenspektakel with this exact skirt in mind. It is perfect for this pattern, just the right weight and thickness.

I pressed the waist seam allowance upwards and topstitched it in place with a three-step zigzag stitch because otherwise it fell towards the skirt and formed a bulge where the side and waist seams meet. I would do the same for any future version, except that I think I would use a plain zigzag stitch. The hem was serged, then turned and stitched with a straight stitch (no real risk of popping the stitches with this wide hem).

Sailorette6Like the Ondée, this skirt allowed me to catch my breath between two more complicated projects. I think this might be the fastest garment I’ve ever sewn! Two pieces to trace, three pieces to cut, that’s it! I don’t often make a skirt without pockets, but I think pockets would have ruined the shape of this one, so I didn’t add any. I’ve already worn it a few times, and the lack of pockets didn’t bother me too much.

Sailorette3I sometimes feel almost guilty when I make such easy projects, thinking I should spend my time sewing things that are much more challenging, but then again I love the resulting garments, so why feel guilty when I should feel proud to be making pieces I’m going to wear on a daily basis? Just because a project is easy, doesn’t mean it’s worthless, does it?

Sailorette4

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!

Mademoiselle Marinette

Marinette1I don’t exactly remember how I stumbled upon Gasparine, I think it was via Instagram, but I do remember that I immediately fell hard for Miss Marinette. As a lover of 1920s fashion and nautical style, I could not resist its dropped waist and sailor collar and immediately ordered the pattern.

There was one detail I didn’t like, the elasticated low waist: I knew there was no chance for this to look good on me and I decided to simply omit the elastic, easiest modification ever. But when I first tried the dress on, it was way too long and, well, it did not look good at all. So I unpicked the waistband and reattached the skirt directly to the bodice, and that did the trick! It’s crazy how much a few centimetres of skirt/dress length can change the way a garment looks.

Marinette3All in all, the pattern was really easy to sew, to the exception of the collar, but the tutorial for that part made it fairly easy, too. The only step I had trouble with was no part of the pattern: the cotton trim I used had a strong tendency to shrink as I was stitching it to the rayon, which made it a total pain to sew. I managed to keep it under control on the skirt and sleeves, but not at the collar: it literally made the collar ties about five centimetres shorter each, argh! This made them difficult to tie, so I invisibly hand-sewed them in place.

Marinette5The fabric is some rayon I bought at Le Chien Vert. It’s a beautiful fabric, heavy and very fluid. Fearing that the pieces would distort as rayon is often prone to do, I stabilised not only the neckline but also all of the bodice seams with some Vlieseline Bias Tape T12 (I prefer that to staystitching).

Marinette4The pattern has you finish the neckline and sleeve hems with bias tape, but I did not have enough fabric to make some, nor did I want to use some stiff store-bought bias tape on such a fluid fabric, so I made a narrow neckline facing that I topstitched in place (leaving about two centimetres free, that couldn’t be reached by machine, under the collar on each side of the shoulders), and I serged and turned the sleeve hems. I also replaced the skirt gathers with pleats (four pleats, one under each bodice dart), because I had made such pleats on this dress and loved the effect.

Marinette2I like the finished dress very much; the only thing that bothers me a little is the fact that the collar got so distorted by the cotton trim that it sometimes gets a bit wavy, depending on the way I stand. But once again, I never think about it when wearing the dress. Oh yes, one thing that really bugs me is that I completely forgot to add pockets! I keep reaching for them, so I think I’ll have to muster the courage to add some side seam pockets to the finished dress someday…

Marinière With a Twist

Coronis1I don’t know whether it’s the gloomy weather or what, but I so haven’t been in the mood to take pictures of this project. It’s been finished since November 18 and I only (begrudgingly) took the pictures yesterday. I usually prefer taking pictures of my creations before I wear them for the first time because I’m afraid I’m going to ruin them and not get a chance to capture them for eternity or something, but this one has already gotten its fair share of wear before getting photographed.

Coronis4This means I can reflect more objectively on its qualities and flaws: I realised by wearing it that the sleeves, which I wanted to be long, have a tendency to creep up a little bit after a moment and not cover my wrists anymore. As you can see in some of the pictures, I mostly wear my sleeves rolled up, but still, I like having the option of real long sleeves, for when I’m riding my bike in the cold for example. Same with the body: I wanted it to hit exactly at my waist, which it does, but once again when I move it rides up a little bit and I have to readjust it. It’s not so much a problem when I wear it with a dress like I do in the pictures, but with a skirt I risk exposing what I’m wearing under the sweater. I still have enough yarn left, so I’m thinking of unravelling the ribbed parts, add one or two stripe repeats then reknit the ribs. Easy. We’ll see how long it takes me to get to it! 😉

Coronis3

See how the sleeves creep up?

The pattern is Coronis by Emily Ringelman, from Pom Pom Quarterly #10 (best magazine name ever by the way) and it was really easy to follow yet pretty interesting to knit. You can take a look at my Ravelry notes for more technical details.

From afar it looks like yet another navy/white striped sweater, but there’s a twist! Look at this detail picture:Coronis7These stripes may look complicated, but they aren’t at all. You only work one colour per row, and the pattern is really easy both to understand and to memorise. The wool is Drops Alpaca, which I loved working with and love wearing. I already have another project in my queue using this same yarn.

Coronis5I completely messed up the gauge on this sweater: I suddenly decided my gauge (which I had checked beforehand) was too loose, so I unravelled what I had already knit and started over with smaller needles. I still don’t know what possessed me: when have I ever knit loosely? The answer is NEVER! I’m a tight knitter, have always been and will always be! It’s a good thing I had decided to knit this sweater with positive ease for once and ended up with a sweater with negative ease, instead of a too tight sweater as I would have if I had decided on a sweater with negative ease, which is usually my preference for that kind of cropped sweaters.

Coronis6Because of that impromptu change of needles, I had to knit way more rows to get the length I wanted, so I ended up with more stripes than on the original. And I’ll have even more rows and even more stripes when I add some length to the sleeves and body.

But I guess having too many stripes is not the worst flaw a sweater can have, so once I get to lengthening it I won’t have anything negative to say about it anymore! I really like the style and the fit and I think it will look very cute with quite a few of my dresses and skirts!

Coronis2

Les vacances de Mademoiselle Hulot

Hulot1Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday is one of my favourite movies, and every time I watch it I fall in love again with the costumes (among so many other things!). I had been meaning to knit myself a summer sweater worthy of the holidaymakers of the movie for a few years, so in July, when I was trying to decide on my next knitting project, I settled on a striped cropped sweater that I thought would fulfill this need.

I knew I wanted navy and cream stripes on a cropped sweater with a fitted waist; I also wanted to try Drops Muskat, but I didn’t know what pattern to use. I hadn’t even thought about that option, but Mimolette convinced me that the kind of sweater I wanted would be pretty easy to design myself…

Hulot3And she was right! After all, the effect I was looking for didn’t need a lot of shaping; all it required were two rectangles, one for the front and one for the back, a few increases at the neckline and a lot of decreases at the waist, and that’s it!

I knit this sweater Andi Satterlund style, i.e. seamless and from the top down, knitting the top of the back, picking up the front shoulder stitches and knitting the top of the front then joining front and back and knitting in the round (see Ravelry notes for more details).

Hulot2As for the distribution of the stripes, I made it up as I went along. When I realised I wouldn’t have enough navy yarn to go on with my four navy rows, four cream rows design, I simply started knitting wider cream stripes. I was afraid until the end that I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish the sweater, but I did (with less than a metre of either yarn left after I cast off)!

This sweater was knit in less than two weeks, so I could take it to Spain with me and I wore it a lot there both with the red Chardon you see in the pictures and my polka dot skirt. And I’ve already worn it here in Belgium, too, in the week I’ve been back!

Hulot4Now if only my last sewing projects could be as successful as my last knitting projects: I couldn’t finish either of the two summer dresses I’d started before my departure (a Centaurée and the Juni dress from this book that was my final choice for the Outfit Along), and I haven’t had enough energy to get back to sewing since my return. Sooo much easier to knit in the couch than to get up and sew!

Navy Hetty

NavyHetty1It was HOT when I took these pictures, not the ideal weather to be wearing a 3/4 sleeve dress and a wool cardigan! But I was so happy for this cardigan to finally be over that I couldn’t wait for the weather to get colder before I took the pictures.

NavyHetty2I started knitting this cardigan at the very beginning of June, thinking I would be finished in no time. I thought I would knit it in about two weeks, ha! But when I reached the end of the body, I realised my gauge was tighter than I thought and I was probably going to end up with a too small cardigan seeing how tiny the body looked.

I was determined to start from scratch, but not very motivated to do so, so I let it rest for a few days. Then I read on lladybird’s blog that it was probably supposed to look that tiny before blocking, so I changed my mind and chose to go on with the same gauge/size after all.

NavyHetty3Still, I couldn’t shake the fear that I was in fact knitting a kiddie size cardigan (Mimolette laughing her ass off every time she saw how tiny it was didn’t help that fear either! 😉 ), so I lost part of my motivation. That and a very busy month of June meant that there were a lot of days where I didn’t even touch my knitting needles. Oh, and I had to start the first sleeve all over again because I had made a stupid mistake in the way I knit my yarn overs in the round.

NavyHetty4But the Hetty is such a fast knit that, even by knitting one row here, one row there, it was not that long before a whole cardigan fell off my needles.

I added two repeats of the pattern at the end of the sleeves and four rows to each button band to compensate for my gauge being so different from the pattern, but I didn’t add any length to the body because I usually need to shorten my other sweaters/cardigans.

I also picked up way more stitches than recommended (85 instead of 61!) for the button bands, thinking that way it would be easier to stretch them when blocking the cardigan. This meant adding some buttonholes, too: I made eleven instead of eight. Same with the neckband, I picked up 98 stitches instead of 78.

NavYHettyDétailI should have taken a picture of the cardigan before I blocked it (I finished it at night and I didn’t have the patience to wait for the morning light to block it) but believe me when I say it was kid sized: pre-blocking, I think it would have fit a four-year-old!

I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I tried it post-blocking and saw that it fit! It’s very short, but it hits me exactly where I wanted it to, right at the waist! The sleeves too are the perfect length. The whole sweater could stand to be a bit wider though; it is very tight. But luckily it is not so tight that it’s uncomfortable, and as you can see I can wear it over a dress with sleeves.

NavyHetty5You may remember this was the first part of my OAL participation. I’m thinking about changing my plans for the matching dress: I still want to use the same fabric, but I’m having second thoughts regarding the pattern. With the hot weather in Brussels right now and the fact that I’m going to Spain in August, I was thinking about replacing my chosen pattern with the Colette Parfait dress. Right now I have more use of a sundress with straps, so unless I don’t have enough fabric for the Parfait, I think I’ve made up my mind!

Hello Polka Dot Skirt!

PolkaDots1Aaand here it is! Not the most complicated project, but I like the result very much!

I had been meaning to sew myself a skirt like that for years, but you know, so many ideas, so little time… The fabric is actually one of the firsts I ever bought! I had already sewn a skirt with it, which I wore a lot, but I’ve gotten more used to high waisted skirts (and pockets!) so I had been wearing it less and less and meaning to replace it with a new one.

PolkaDots2After sewing my modified Sureau, I was in desperate need of a simple project, one that I could complete in a day or two. I contemplated sewing a tote bag, then I set my mind on that gathered skirt. While I do need a (few) tote bag(s), getting a new skirt was much more tempting!

PolkaDots3The skirt itself took me a day but I decided to put off sewing the pockets to the next day so as not to rush things and make a mess out of them. And I must have made the right choice because everything went smoothly as can be; I didn’t use the seam ripper even once! Even the zipper went in without a hitch (okay, it’s not the most difficult kind, but still!).

PolkaDots5I used Gertie’s book to make the skirt pattern, but you can find the same information on her blog (part onepart two). For the pockets I followed A Fashionable Stitch’s tutorial. Both Gertie’s and this one were very clear and easy to follow and yielded great results.

PolkaDots7I’m really happy with the buttons: big ones on the pockets, small ones at the waistband. They’re from Gotex, one of my favourite fabric stores in Brussels, from a €1 bin full of old dusty button cards. The two buttonholes that close the waistband are a touch too small for the buttons, but at least they feel secure and they were parallel and the same size as each other, so I didn’t bother remaking them.

PolkaDots6I haven’t worn the skirt yet (I always fear if I wear a garment I haven’t photographed yet it will get ruined before I can take the pictures or something), but I’m pretty sure it will get in heavy rotation as it’s the kind of skirt I can see myself wearing both with or without tights, which means I can wear it all year long. I guess you’ll see it again soon with Me-Made-May coming up!

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Blue Stripes

BlueStripes2Woohoo, it’s a dress, not a tunic! And I felt totally at ease when wearing it to work, so it’s not even one of those projects I can only wear when I’m not working! And I love it, it’s very me! And it’s soooo comfortable! And, and, and… !

BlueStripes3In short, if only I had known when to stop the first day I worked on it, this could have been the perfect sewing project! But I didn’t stop when I was tired and it made me both use pins that were too thick (and blunt!) for the fabric, resulting in tiny holes at the side seams (where I had to pin a lot to match the stripes), and… cut a hole in the bodice with the serger blade while serging the waist seam! Twice. That’s how I lost a few centimetres of the bodice and ended up with a babydoll mini dress instead of a high waisted normal one.

BlueStripes4

Just checking… Yes, I can raise my arms without revealing too much!

But I’m pretty proud of myself because for once I didn’t freak out, I just thought ok, how do I fix it, and fix it I did! Also, I’m terribly happy I chose to use this cheap fabric to test run the dress I had in mind instead of the precious fabric (like really precious: there are foxes involved!) I eventually plan to use.BlueStripes5The stripes are still a bit uneven at the waist seam on my left side, but I didn’t think I could fix that without loosing too much length. I first wanted to cover it up with a bow, but I finally chose to let it be, and I must say I don’t see it anymore unless I’m looking for it specifically.BlueStripes6As I said when I showed you my sketch of the dress, the pattern is Sewaholic’s Renfrew top. I changed the top into a dress by adding a gathered skirt. I also added patch pockets (I love patch pockets: easy and cute!) and I omitted the sleeve bands (and lengthened the 3/4 sleeves) and cut my own collar band. I gathered the skirt with elastic, but when I had to redo the waist seam, the elastic got cut away, which resulted in a looser fit, perfect for a babydoll dress.

BlueStripes1I took the pictures coming back from work yesterday, so this is the exact outfit I wore to work. I really don’t understand why black and blue shouldn’t be worn together, so I refuse to abide by that stupid rule!

Wearing a garment as soon as I’ve finished it is usually a sign of success, so I feel like I can say without a doubt that this dress will be worn a lot! I hope the couple tiny holes at the side seams won’t shorten its life too much, and I actually plan on mending those to prevent them from getting bigger. Anyway, let’s hope I learn from my mistakes and my next version goes without a hitch!