A Favourite Cosy Outfit

cosy1Ah, Cardamome! Ah, Armande! I intended to blog about them separately because each deserves its own blog post, but I was wearing them both on a day I came home from work when it was still (sort of) daylight, so I jumped on the occasion to take some pictures, and a shared post will have to do.

cosy3The Cardamome dress is yet another Deer&Doe pattern (yes, I do intend on sewing them all ultimately!). It was my favourite one from the A/W 2015 collection and I immediately knew I wanted to make it in this starry cotton lawn I had in my stash. It took me a little bit more than a year to get to it, but I didn’t change my mind in the meantime. I also knew I wanted to highlight the curve of the bib with some piping of the same colour as the stars, which are not white but off-white/ecru. It turns out off-white piping is not that easy to find! I resorted to buying some extremely pale yellow piping and tea-dyeing it. It did not make it a perfect match, but quite close, and the difference is virtually unnoticeable when you look at the finished dress.

cosy4I think I’ve said before that I had recently realised that a lot of my clothes could benefit from either going up one or two sizes at the shoulders or making a wide shoulder adjustment. On this dress I tried simply cutting a size 40 at the shoulders blending to a 36 armhole-bust-waist-hips. I didn’t change the height of the shoulders, only the width, so I kept the 36 sleeves. They fit, so I guess this must have been the right choice. I didn’t bother cutting a larger size at the hips because the skirt seemed wide enough. The skirt is indeed wide enough, but barely. Close call there!

cosy5I didn’t make buttonholes for the buttons (vintage, from a yard sale last August) but used sew-on snaps on the front placket and simply sewed the buttons through all layers at the cuffs, thinking I’d add snaps later if it bothered me not to be able to open these. It has never bothered me.

This dress features my first collar on a stand and my first sleeve placket, and both went swimmingly thanks to the instructions for the sleeve placket and this well-known tutorial for the collar.

cosy10Note that I always wear the collar closed because I am a dork and I love it that way! When I see pictures of about everyone wearing it at least partially open, I do realise that I am kind of alone on this one, but this won’t stop me from wearing it closed all. the. time. In the same vein, why do some people want to get rid of the smocking at the waist? It’s one of the cutest details of the pattern, you guys! Plus, so comfortable!

cosy6Now about the cardigan. It’s Andi Satterlund’s Armande, a free pattern if you can believe it! Once again perfectly thought out (the seamless pocket method alone makes it worth your while!), this pattern was a pretty quick and definitely enjoyable knit. Especially in Drops Nepal, one of my favourite yarns, in this gorgeous blue (denim blue – uni colour 6314).

cosy7When I bought the yarn (more than two years ago according to Ravelry), I had this sweater in mind, but I thought I would make the smallest size as usual with Andi’s patterns, so I only bought 11 skeins. But when I started on the project, I realised that I wouldn’t want as much negative ease for this pattern as for my usual cropped sweaters, so I went up a size. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, but 11 skeins were definitely not enough unless I intended to wear my sweater with half a sleeve missing. Lucky for me Saki, who had knit a cardigan with the same yarn, was nice enough to pass on to me her remaining skeins. And double lucky for me, they were from the same dye lot since she had bought them at about the same time in the same shop!

cosy8So after a very short pause I could get back to knitting what was to become one of my favourite cardigans. It goes with much more of my wardrobe than I would have thought, and I simply love its colour, its buttons (from Tissus Passion), its shape, its collar, everything! Like most of my cardigans I very rarely wear it closed, but it does look nice both open and closed.

cosy9I wouldn’t have thought when making this cardigan and this dress that I would like them together so much, but I really do! They’re also the perfect outfit to keep you warm when you’re sick like I am at the moment: the high neckline of the dress protects the chest from drafts and the cardigan is just the right warmth. A thermal cami, two pairs of tights, socks and boots complete what I think is an elegant yet cosy get-up.

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Bonjour bonjour les hirondelles

hirondelles1This dress may seem out of season, and as a matter of fact I did sew it in May, but I’ve been wearing it quasi nonstop ever since. It’s the kind of dress that I like to wear in all seasons but summer. So I’ve taken a break from it in July/August but have been very happy to be wearing it again from September on.

hirondelles3Deer&Doe aficionadas will have recognised the Sureau pattern with Bleuet sleeves. It’s my third version of Sureau, and the second time I use the Bleuet sleeves. This version came as a welcome replacement for my first and favourite Sureau, that died a natural yet tragic death last September. I don’t think I could have mustered up the courage to get rid of the old one had I not had this one as a replacement.

hirondelles4Once again I made a few small changes to the pattern, this time to give it more of a retro edge. In addition to substituting the sleeves, I also lengthened the skirt a little bit more than on my previous versions and added retro looking patch pockets (which could have been sewn better, oops!). For these I used the same method as on my rain jacket, i.e. lining the pockets then flipping the top over. I then sewed on some vintage looking buttons (the same as on this skirt), big ones on the pockets, small ones on the fake placket. I love those buttons; I think they give the dress a lot of its character.

hirondelles7The fabric I used is a printed cotton from Veritas. I had been eyeing it for a long time but had never bought it because it was only sold in tiny pieces (most fabrics were 75 cm x 100 cm; this one was something like a fat quarter or something like that). You can imagine my delight when I found it sold by the yard on the Veritas stand at the Stoffenspektakel… for €5 a meter, which was less than the price of a fat quarter in the shop! I bought what was left on the roll, about 1,50 m, precisely what I needed to make this dress.

hirondelles2I serged the seam allowances and I used bias tape for the hem in order to keep as much length as possible. I made the same size as for my first two versions, a 36, and the gathered skirt still allows plenty of room for my 40/42 bottom. Cotton skirts can stick to tights, and it’s the case here, but not too much either. I could see it in some of the pictures, but in real life I never think about it and it doesn’t make the skirt ride up. I might try wearing a slip for more comfort though.

hirondelles5I’m really pleased with this dress. I used to wear my first Sureau all the time; these days I wear this one all the time! Now after using the Bleuet sleeves twice, what am I waiting for to sew the rest of this lovely pattern? I even have fabric picked out and everything!

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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 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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With a Cherry on Top

Cherry1Hello! It’s been awhile hasn’t it?

Here is the last garment I sewed, a Sewaholic Saltspring dress! The fabric is a lovely rayon I bought from Goldhawk Road during a day trip to London with Mimolette last March. It’s not as drapey as the pattern recommends and actually looks more like a very lightweight cotton, but I think it works pretty well for this dress nonetheless. And it was suprisingly nice to work with, too, since it behaves like cotton. The only downside is that I need to press the dress after hanging it to dry or it looks a little bit crumpled and sloppy. Fortunately, it doesn’t wrinkle too much when I wear it, just when I wash it.

Cherry2I love love love the finished dress! And I also loved working with the pattern, which I found very well thought-out. I now understand why everyone kept raving about the shorter lining that helps keeping the blousing in place: it really does its job! I French seamed the skirt seams, and the bodice construction (at least without a zipper) encloses all raw seams, so the inside looks very neat. Also, thumbs up for the sew-along method for turning the straps right side out with a bobby pin: so easy, worked like a charm!

Cherry4It’s an easy pattern as is, but I made it even easier by omitting the zipper. I didn’t like the look of the partially open back of the original version, and I had read that one could put on the dress without a zipper, so that was a no-brainer.

To eliminate the zipper, I cut the back skirt on the fold instead of in two pieces. I could have done the same for the back bodice, but I didn’t think of that before I had already cut it in two pieces, so I just seamed it shut. This accidental back seam turned out quite handy to differentiate the front from the back when I’m getting dressed!

Cherry5Another modification I made was to sew an in-between version of the skirt, lengthwise. I added 20 cm to the shorter version, because I wanted my dress to have a late 70s, early 80s flair.

Cherry6You may have noticed that I’m wearing a cherry necklace in the pictures. When I finished the dress, I felt like it demanded to be worn with a cherry necklace, so I obliged and made one, since I didn’t own any! I’m fairly chuffed with the result, which I intended on wearing only with this dress, but have actually been wearing with an unexpected amount of outfits! The cherries and leaf are polymer clay and the stems pliable jewellery wire.

Cherry3This exact outfit has been my favourite one this summer. It’s a shame it’s not the kind of dress I can see myself wearing with tights and cardigans to transition it to fall, but at least I’ll be looking forward to wearing it again next summer!

A Foxy Twinset

Foxy1Continuing on with catching up with my blogging backlog, here are two Ondée sweaters that together form a twinset! One of them is a collarless short-sleeved one, and the other one is an adaptation of the long-sleeved version, which I changed into a cardigan following Marion’s tutorial. Both are the same size as my other Ondées.

Foxy2Mimolette and I both bought the same fox print cotton jersey knit at the Stoffenspektakel, I’d say two years ago, and this year she had the idea of challenging ourselves to sew that fabric before the end of fall. Thanks to that little challenge, I finally got that adorable print out of my stash, and I went in search of a pattern that would be easy to sew and that would get a lot of wear.

Foxy3Enter Ondée, but with a twist this time since I made a matching short-sleeved top and long-sleeved cardigan. Making the short-sleeved top was a breeze, and the cardigan was not much more difficult: in addition to following Marion’s tutorial, I also interfaced the facings with some knit interfacing and understitched them with a zigzag stitch.

Foxy6My intention was to use the whole length of fox fabric and there was a very small piece left after making the twinset, so I took that as an opportunity to finally try my hand at making some underwear: I used So, Zo’s free pattern and made a pair of panties! I should have made a size bigger or pulled less on the elastic while sewing it because they ended up just the tiniest bit too tight (still wearable), but this will be an easy fix for any future version.

Foxy5I love love love my little fox twinset! I have been wearing it constantly (the fabric is already starting to show signs of wear), and it’s been getting lots of compliments. It was my first time making an Ondée without the collar, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last: it truly is the perfect t-shirt shape for my taste!

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Snails on a Eucalypt

Escargot1I hesitated sharing this top as it is so simple. I would have preferred showing it at the same time as a matching bottom in order not to devote a whole post to such a basic piece, but none of the garments I haven’t blogged yet fits the bill, so here goes.

Escargot2It’s Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt tank, a pattern I’ve made twice already, once in a woven as per the pattern, and once in a knit. I got the fabric from a swap in September (thanks again, Yanoudatoi!). My intention that day was not to come back home with anything, but I couldn’t resist such a cute print, so I allowed myself to take it but use it immediately, which I did.

Escargot3It was a very short length, so I didn’t hesitate for long: the only pattern I could think about that could fit such a tiny piece was the Eucalypt. There wasn’t enough fabric to make the bias tape, so I went in search of some pre-made at Kaléidoscope, where I knew I could find some that was light enough since they carry a lot of Liberty bias tape. Not only did I find bias tape that was light enough, but I found matching bias tape! Not matching as in the same colourway, no, matching as in the very same fabric, with just a tiny nuance in colour!

Mathematics not being my forte, I didn’t buy enough to bind the bottom hem, so I sewed a baby hem instead.

Escargot4In addition to that little involuntary one, I made two voluntary modifications to the pattern: I straightened the hem because I intended on wearing the top tucked in most of the time, and I added a fake button placket.

I don’t think I’ll be back with a new post in the next two days because CHRISTMAS!, so let me wish you a Merry Christmas already, and I’ll see you Saturday!

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The Clue of the Lady In Blue

NancyDrew1Like a lot of people who sew, there are many times when I finish a garment, vow to make another one because I like it so much… and then promptly forget about it.

So when I told you about how much I liked my first Ondée and how I was definitely going to sew other ones, I was conscious that, even though I intended to hold my promise, there was a good chance I’d be swayed by the next shiny new pattern and never keep my word.

NancyDrew3But lo and behold, I did keep my word on this one! And the Ondée sweater is such a fast sew that I actually made two in one afternoon! I’m showing you the first one today, a blue one with white collar, which is also the one I have been wearing non stop since its completion. The main fabric is a cotton/lycra knit from eBay seller Tia Knight. The collar fabric is the same I used on my first Ondée. Looking back at that post, I realise I forgot to mention that I had bought both mint and white jersey knits at the Stoffenspektakel, where you always find loads of high quality cotton/lycra jersey knits in every colour of the rainbow! I also forgot to mention the size I made: a 36, my usual bust/waist size for Deer&Doe patterns.

Like for the first one, I serged the whole top except for the collar (I didn’t feel like changing the serger thread to white just for the collar!), for which I used a zigzag stitch. Once again, I topstitched under the collar with a zigzag stitch.

NancyDrew4The skirt is also a repeat! It’s another version of this skirt I love and wear so much, based on the tutorial in Gertie’s book (also available on her blog). I don’t know how I managed that since I seem to remember I measured the waist of the first version, but the waist is a little bit looser than that of my first one. I intend to insert a small piece of elastic at the back to remedy that, but me and alterations, you know how it goes…

It’s a question of an inch, so the skirt is perfectly wearable as is, but it doesn’t stay in place as well as a skirt with zero ease at the waist.

NancyDrew5Despite that little flaw, I love that skirt so much and have been wearing it accordingly. Did you notice the print? It’s a Nancy Drew print! It’s from a discontinued Moda Fabrics line. As one of Nancy Drew’s biggest fans when I was a kid (while we’re at it, did you know that, in French, her name was “translated” to Alice Roy and she is widely known as Alice détective?), I couldn’t pass up this fabric when I found it three years ago at de Stoffenkamer. I bought it with the intention of making this exact skirt! I cut (more like, tore!) the pockets from the remnants so as not to waste any scrap that could be used. The fabric was narrow enough that I could use the whole width on each skirt panel… including the selvedges!

A note about the fabric: it has that very weird smell (almost, I don’t know… fungusy?) when being ironed. I thought this was maybe due to a storage problem of some sort, but it’s been washed quite a few times already and the smell is still going strong every time it gets ironed, so I’ve come to think it’s probably the dye itself that’s to blame. Luckily, it doesn’t smell at all once it’s cold!

NancyDrew2This outfit is nothing complicated, but I have been wearing it a lot these past few weeks. When the weather was a little bit warmer, I wore it mostly with this cardigan, and these days it’s finally been cold enough to pull this one out the wardrobe. It’s an outfit that I think is both cute and easy to wear. I won’t promise anything, but I’d really like a few duplicate versions!

Little House on the Emery

Emery1What better way to (re)start catching up with my backlog of unblogged garments than with one of my favourite ones?

This is a Christine Haynes Emery dress (size 4), made with lovely quilting cotton I bought (heavily discounted!) from Fabric Rehab. I lined the bodice with some lilac cotton I had lying in my stash.

Emery6I substituted a simple gathered skirt for the skirt of the pattern. I finished the dress fourteen weeks ago (thanks, Instagram!), so I don’t exactly remember why. Probably good old laziness… I remember thinking “yay, I’ll be able to tear the fabric for the skirt!” and then being disillusioned when realising that the fabric was printed a tiny bit off grain, just enough that it was impossible to keep the rows of houses of the print in line with the torn edges. So I had to cut along said rows of houses instead of perfectly on grain to make sure that the houses wouldn’t hang askew on the finished skirt.

Emery3Other than that, this was a pretty straightforward dress to make. However, as with absolutely every single sewing project of mine, there was a moment right near the end when I persuaded myself that it was going to be a dud (it’s a sickness, really!): this time I focused on the imperfect print matching at the back. I didn’t even try keeping whole houses on the skirt for lack of fabric, and weirdly this didn’t bother me at all, but I did try it on the back bodice and the almost but not quite entire houses running along the (hand-picked) zipper annoyed me so much that I couldn’t see anything else anymore. But as usual, after letting things settle for a while and especially after wearing the dress, I can barely see what was upsetting me so much at the time!

Emery4Now that I have been wearing the dress for a while, the only thing I might change for a future version would be to maybe shorten the bodice (or just the back bodice?) by a centimetre or two for an even better fit. The waist is also a little bit wider than I would have chosen, but this makes for a more comfortable dress, so I don’t think I would change that after all. I like my high-waisted skirts to have zero ease at the waist because otherwise they don’t stay put and among other things don’t look as nice with cropped tops as a result, but with a dress there’s no risk of the skirt part moving around since it is held in place by the bodice.

Emery2I’ll be back very soon to try and show you the rest of what I made… before the end of the year! Yes, I am so hopelessly rigid that, save for ones I would complete at the very end of the year, I just can’t start 2016 without having blogged all of my 2015 makes! Or maybe I am just looking for an incentive to start blogging regularly again? 😉

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Ma Pomme Dress

MaPomme1I made this dress as a replacement for one of my go-to summer dresses, which was one of the first garments I sewed. The dress in question was actually a vintage dress refashion, so it’s kind of a miracle that the fabric had held up for so long, but I was still sad when I realised I couldn’t wear it anymore.

Then again, I was also glad to have an excuse for sewing myself a new one of course!

MaPomme2I had bought the fabric (100% cotton; the brand is Little Darling) earlier this year at the Stoffenspektakel with this exact dress in mind. It was a delight to sew and is also really nice to wear.

As for the pattern, well, I didn’t use one! I drafted this dress myself, you see… OK, OK, my “pattern” is literally a rectangle! 😀 And two of the sides were in fact the selvedges of the fabric. So the cutting part was not too difficult: I just had to tear a piece of roughly the length of this dress (and a few centimetres more just in case – which I ended up using as you can see on the finished dress)… and that’s it!

Same with the shoulder straps: after I measured the desired length and width of my straps, I simply tore four pieces (not forgetting to add seam allowances), then rounded one of the short edges of each.

MaPomme3What makes the dress is the shirring of course. I used a method similar to this one (after sewing the fabric piece into a tube – with a French seam – and making a casing at the top to insert a piece of elastic afterwards to avoid ruffles) and it was, once again, very easy. But man did it take a long time! Eighteen rows of shirring along 1,50 m of fabric, I was feeling murderous near the end! Then I saw how cute the shirring looked and I relaxed a little bit. 😉

MaPomme4I forgot to take close-up pictures of the pockets, but they are almost the same (just a little bit deeper) as these ones, made following this tutorial. I did take a picture before attaching them to the dress, though. The buttons on the pockets are the same as the buttons on the straps, only smaller. I bought them at Veritas… in Luxembourg (I hadn’t found any I liked here in Brussels and I was spending two days there)! None are functional.

MaPomme5There are two small things I’m not so fond of with this dress. The first one, the fact that it creates a sort of semi muffin top under the arms (front and back), is inherent to this type of garment, at least on my body. And the second one is simply that I didn’t think to interface the shoulder straps and that they are a touch limp as a result. These two details are what stops me from loving this dress as much as I love the previous one I showed you, but I still like it a lot!

See you soon for the rest of my summer sewing projects!

Encina Dress

Encina1How time flies when you’re on holiday… I hadn’t planned on taking a blog break for the whole duration of my summer off from work, but these two months have flown by and I have just realised that I haven’t posted anything here since the end of June.

I have mentioned previously that I don’t like posting my finished makes in the “wrong” order, i.e. not in the order I finished them, but I have finally come to my senses: this would mean photographing my sundresses in the dearth of winter, which… nope, not going to happen!

Encina2So here is the last thing I made, and a clear favourite! I spent the month of August in Spain, and since I had just gotten rid of a few too old summer dresses, I needed to sew one or two new ones to take with me.

This one is a Japanese pattern, dress F1 from this book (how cute is the cover dress by the way?). As you can probably guess from the loose fit and simple design, it didn’t require a muslin and it was really easy and fast to sew. I made a size M (FYI, my bust is a Burda and Deer&Doe 36) and it was spot on; I didn’t need to take anything in or let anything out.

Encina4When I first inserted the back elastic, I thought it looked really weird, thick and lumpy, but I was surprised by how much better it looked on the finished dress, and although not perfect, it doesn’t bother me any when I wear the dress.

Encina5My only deviation from the pattern was adding two giant patch pockets, for aesthetic and practical purposes. At first I sewed them right along the side seams of the dress (as you can see here), but in the end I felt like they would look better placed about ten centimetres closer to the centre, so I unpicked and reattached them.

Encina6The fabric, a pale blue cotton with white trees, came from Stragier. It cost €15 a metre, which is more expensive than what I’m usually willing to pay for a simple cotton, but it seemed so much cheaper compared to the outrageous prices of most of the fabrics in the shop, and anyway, I couldn’t pass up such a lovely print! Because the trees reminded him of the oaks that adorn the country in the area where we spend our annual summer holiday, it was my boyfriend who dubbed the dress my “Encina dress”.

Encina3I’m particularly happy with this dress. It was unbelievably comfortable in the Spanish summer heat, and I also find it really pretty and surprisingly flattering (though I won’t be mad at you if you roll your eyes at my proneness to find potato sacks flattering…).

Next up, another favourite, the other dress I sewed for my Spanish trip!