New York Hoodie

Hoodie1Proudest sewing moment ever: I not only finished a gift on time (which reminds me, a friend of mine is still waiting for the skirt I promised to sew for her birthday in May… 2013!) but I also drafted the pattern myself!

Hoodie2I had planned on simply tracing my boyfriend’s old hoodie (without taking it apart), but this proved to be such a hassle on a stretchy fabric that I quickly gave up on that idea and found myself drafting my own pattern. I just used the old hoodie and this pattern I own to check whether the length and width of my pattern were correct, then I drew everything myself with a certain amount of guesswork.

Hoodie3By the way, you read it right: I own a hoodie pattern, yet I found it more appealing to draft my own instead of using that one. I really must hate tracing patterns even more than I thought!

Anyway, the result not only looks like what I had in mind, but it also fits the recipient! Luck of the beginner I guess. There’s only one thing I would change in future occurrences of this pattern, and two more the recipient would have me change.Hoodie4What I would change is I would make the hood longer and deeper so that it fits more comfortably over his head. What he would have me change in addition to that is making the whole body and sleeves wider so that he could wear it over several layers (even more than what he’s wearing in the pictures apparently, which is a tank top, a long-sleeved tee and a sweater – and you can see the hoodie doesn’t even look tight over all those layers!) and above all widening the sleeve bands a bit: I swear they aren’t tight at all, you can sort of see it in the pictures, but feeling something touching his wrists is a pet peeve of his so he usually wears clothes that have much more ease than what I personally think he would need (that’s why such a thin – yet very tall – guy wears size XL clothing!). He also feels suffocated when something touches his neck, which is why he didn’t close the zipper all the way up – never will! Ah, Mr Picky, you’re lucky I love you! 😉

Hoodie5Despite his (constructive) criticism, he still said he was happy with the hoodie and he took it with him to New York and I know he’ll be wearing it a lot, so this is actually at least as rewarding a sewing project as those destined for myself.

Hoodie8As regards the technical details, I lined the hood and made the cuff and body bands with self fabric: I initially wanted to use some ribbing for the bands, but I didn’t want to bother with finding (or dyeing) the right colour, and mostly I knew Mr Picky would HATE the snug fit of ribbing! I was a little bit afraid the result wouldn’t look as professional as with ribbing, but I was pleasantly surprised!

I used an assorted purple separating metal zipper which I bought in a great local shop where they specialise in zippers of all colours, types and sizes. They even cut this one to the exact length I needed and it looks like it has always been this length: you can’t see where they cut it or moved a tooth even if you try! Unfortunately, this great shop that has been there for as long as I can remember is moving outside of Brussels in June. 😦

Hoodie7I realised on Sunday that I needed some metal eyelets for the hood lace before I could tackle the next step. Since I didn’t want to wait until the next day for the shop to be open, I delved into my stash in search for a replacement… and found out that I not only had an eyelet plier, but also two whole bags of eyelets in two colours: gold and silver. I had completely forgotten that my mother had bought me those some time ago!

Now that I (know that I) have all those eyelets, it shouldn’t be too long before I replace my own ratty hoodies! Though I don’t think I’ll bother drafting the pattern myself this time, seeing as one of them is so ratty I’ll have no qualms just taking it apart and using the pieces as a pattern!

Hoodie6

Marcianita Dress

Viviane1Oooh, shiny! Maybe too much? And also too puffy? That’s what I thought when I sewed the yoke on and saw it on the dress for the first time, especially after my boyfriend saw it too and started singing this (warning: that link makes noise!) and joking about how funny it was that I was going to a 1920s party with a futuristic costume.

Viviane2But as I said yesterday, even though it’s a bit kitschy, I actually like the end result and I’ve worn it a few times already on days when I wanted to be comfortable yet put together, so I call it a success! It’s not perfectly comfortable, the armholes are a touch too tight (and they have a tendency to wrinkle after I wear the dress for some time), but it’s subtle enough that I don’t really think about it while wearing the dress.

Also, the fabric I used (a silk voile I bought for a song!) is so lightweight that the slightest gust of wind makes the skirt portion fly out and reveal, well, everything under it, oops! Let’s just say there have been a few instances when I was grateful I was wearing opaque tights.

Viviane3

I don’t really know what is happening there. Is that my Marcianita pose?

The pattern (Viviane by République du Chiffon) is a pdf you have to assemble and trace, which doesn’t bother me too much as I trace all my patterns, and at least this means you don’t have to print and assemble too many sheets of paper, but it was a MAJOR pain assembling those sheets as none of them did match! I had to “gather” the paper in many places so that all the lines would remotely correspond to each other, not a pleasant experience. Other than that the pattern was ok and the instructions were clear, though if you ever make it I would advise drafting a facing for the lower part of the yoke to get a rounder and more even edge: if you follow the instructions for that part like I did and just turn the edge under, it’s pretty much near impossible to get a smooth result, especially with a lamé like I used.

Viviane4Oh yes, and I know I’m really slow, but I was surprised at the time it took me to sew the dress compared to how easy it looks, but this may have to do with me using French seams and adding side-seam pockets, or just being even slower than I thought I was… About the pockets, I added them in the skirt part and I was afraid they would be too low, but I don’t need to perform contortions to put my tissues in there or take them out and my hands are in my pockets in most of the pictures I took, so I guess they must be in the right place.

So all in all, this was not the perfect project I hoped it would be, but it’s still a nice dress and I would not rule out making it again with a few modifications now that it’s already been traced.

PS My blog is one year old today!!! Thank you so much for reading! 🙂

Viviane6

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!

PolkaDots4

Sambucus Racemosa

Liberty1It’s been a long time coming, but here it is at last; my first Liberty dress!

When Mimolette went to London, she was kind enough to take my order and bring me back two pieces of Liberty from Shaukat: 1,50m of this orange Fitzgerald and 1,50m of purple Ros. I had never sewn with Liberty before and was pretty curious to see what the hype was all about. I still can’t really get behind the price, but it’s true that it’s by far the softest and nicest cotton to work with I’ve ever used. The only downside is that it’s quite transparent. Not too much for a blouse, but I might have to wear a half slip with this dress.

Liberty7The fabric was a dream to work with and it was my second time sewing this pattern (the Sureau dress by Deer&Doe), so why did it take me so much time to finish? Well, the first thing is, I made a couple of modifications: I changed the sleeves of the Sureau for those of the Bleuet, which was actually not complicated at all, and above all I changed the fake button placket into a functional one that buttons all the way down.

Also, I added side-seam pockets, and after completing them I realised they were lower than I had anticipated. And of course I had French seamed everything (yes, you can French seam side-seam pockets!) so there was no way I was going to undo that. Being the drama queen that I am, I decided if the dress was not going to be perfect, there was no point in finishing it.

Liberty3So it hung on a hanger for a while, until I realised it was not that big a deal and the dress would still be perfectly wearable, especially since, even though aesthetically they seemed a bit low the pockets were actually at the right place for me to put my hands in them. And now that I look at the pictures, they don’t even seem too low to me anymore. How to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Liberty4Then my iron died on me. It began overheating (to the point of literally melting a few centimetres of the serger thread in this dress – luckily at a sleeve hem, where there was also some normal thread holding everything together) then it simply stopped working… and broke water on a pair of trousers! Like, all the water from the container suddenly started leaking through the sole holes. I had to buy a new one, which I didn’t want to do in a hurry and take the first Made in China crap I found, so once again my Liberty dress hung unattended for a while, only missing a hem, and ten buttons and buttonholes (it’s funny how I had no idea how many buttons this dress was going to need when I made my sketch, yet I drew ten!).

Liberty5But I found the iron of my dreams (and of my wallet’s nightmares!) and I was finally able to finish the dress, albeit not without another couple of concerns: first I had to add a tiny press stud between two pairs of buttons (bust and waist) to avoid gaping (worked like a charm!). Then, when I first tried the finished dress on, I realised the neckline, which I had staystitched and understitched, had apparently stretched out despite my precautions: the neckline, which fit perfectly right in my first version of the dress, was gaping like crazy and the facing was trying to escape, the horror!

Liberty6I topstitched the neckline, which cured part of the problem (the right side of the neckline now looked perfect), but the left side was still gaping too much to my taste. I was kind of devastated, then I had the idea of stitching a line of gathering thread on top of the topstitching of the left side and simply gathering (and then pressing into submission) the excess fabric. You can imagine my delight when I tried the dress on again and saw that the neckline finally fit! Now, I must say that, with a solid fabric, this little trick would probably have been much more conspicuous, but with such a busy print, I don’t think anyone’s going to notice anything!

Liberty8I’m in love with the finished dress, which is pretty much exactly how I envisioned it, and I feel like it’s going to get at least as much wear as my first Sureau! And I haven’t really considered the colour orange these past few years, but this Liberty print really makes me long for an orange sweater or cardigan to go with the dress…

Liberty2

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!

Hollyburn Hat

HollyburnHat1Remember this skirt? It was the first project I ever posted on my blog! I had been meaning to make a matching pillbox hat with the fabric remnants ever since I completed the skirt; I even had all of the materials ready, but it took me all of nine months to finally get to it!

HollyburnHat2I used a two-piece premade buckram form which I covered first with a layer of wadding, then with the fabric. Everything but the back seam of the fabric is hand sewn, which allowed me to work on that project mostly from my coach (why do you think I love hand sewing so much?)!

HollyburnHat3Why Hollyburn hat, you ask? Well, first because it’s made from the same fabric as my beloved Hollyburn skirt, a tweed/chevron wool with golden thread woven in, and second because I used the pattern of the waistband tabs of the skirt to add a double tab at the back of the hat! I also used the same wooden buttons as on the skirt: I had bought four especially to make a matching hat!

HollyburnHat4

Here you can see the fabric and double button tab better, as well as the matching skirt…

HollyburnHat5

… And here you can sort of see some of the golden thread that’s woven in the fabric. Much more visible in real life.

HollyburnHat6I lined the hat with the same lining as the skirt, beige Venezia, and I added a beige petersham ribbon. The only thing that doesn’t really match is the ribbon I used to secure the comb (the comb helps the hat stay on the head), but blue was all I had in stock the evening I finished the hat and I didn’t want to wait until the next morning to go and buy some. I don’t know how many of my projects feature that same ribbon: I have a lot of it in my stash, so every time I need some ribbon (to stabilize shoulder seams for example), that’s the one I use.

I’m really happy with the outcome of this hat, which is pretty exactly what I had in mind, and quite proud of the finishing details. The only problem is it’s not the easiest type of hat to wear nowadays (ah, to live in the sixties!), but I can still see myself wearing it from time to time when going out. Though my boyfriend might disagree on that one. His comment when I proudly showed him the finished hat: “Oh cute, perfect for when you go fox hunting!”.

Pink Elephant

ElephantFaceI still haven’t finished my coat, so it’s official then, my first finished project of 2014 is a pink elephant! And it’s not even for me! Will you look at that face: how am I supposed to let it go?

Last Wednesday I was working on my coat and kind of loosing steam when I realised I had completely forgotten to either buy or make a gift for one of my best friends’ baby girl’s first birthday the next day. I thought no problem, I’ll use that cute elephant pattern I recently bought and I’ll be done in no time! Hahaha, how wrong was I?

ElephantProfilAfter spending the whole evening and Thursday morning working non-stop on the elephant, all I had were an empty body sans tail and an empty head sans eyes and ears. Turns out the pattern is cute for a reason: it uses a thousand pieces with darts and you have to clip/notch about a million curves! Nothing difficult really, but time consuming, oh yes!

Let me cut to the chase, I finished the elephant yesterday. Yep, it took me four days to make a stuffed elephant, I’m definitely not the world’s fastest sewer, if one still needed proof!

Style2052The pattern is Style Craft Pattern 2052, from 1979. There are two versions: adult and baby. I chose the adult, but I didn’t think to check the measurements of the finished elephant, so I was kind of surprised to see the size of the beast: 30 cm at shoulder height, 40 cm length without the trunk, oops! Ah well, I’m not the one who’s going to have to find a place for it in my apartment!

What I didn’t like in the pattern (except for the fact that they would have you baste most seams before stitching them – I didn’t and I had no problem whatsoever) was the fact that you have to hand stitch the tail, ears and tusks (as you can see, I chose to omit the tusks: the elephant looks way cuter for a baby without them) afterwards instead of sewing them into seams. The eyes are also supposed to be hand sewn afterwards, but I machine sewed them before attaching the head to the body. There are no seams where you add the ears, so there’s no other solution for them (and it’s possible to get a nice and secure result with invisible stitches, contrary to what the envelope picture would have you believe…), but if I ever sew that pattern again, I’ll be sure to sew the tail into the back seam: it will look better and be more secure.

Also, the sample is sewn in felt, so the tail and ears (and tusks) are sewn wrong sides together, with visible seams. Since I used corduroy (remnants from this skirt) and I didn’t want it to fray, I sewed the ears and tail with right sides together. This caused no problem for the ears, but for the tail I had to adjust its end so that I could turn it right side out.

Elephant3:4Stuffing the elephant was an adventure of its own. I bought a giant (and I mean GIANT, like 1 cubic metre!) bag of polyfil for a song at least seven years ago and although I had used some for a few projects, it must have been self-regenerating or something because all of my projects barely made a dent in it. But this time, the giant polyfil bag has found its master! The elephant literally ate most of it, leaving me with about a fifth of it, if not less. The pattern has you stuff it firmly, so you wouldn’t believe how much polyfil there is inside. And it was not an easy task getting it all in: it took me about an hour, sweating and short of breath, and my arms are still a bit sore.

PinkElephantIt’s not easy drawing with a sore arm, but I didn’t want to abandon my resolution, so here’s the third page of my sketchbook! I normally draw before finishing a project, but the impromptu nature of this project made it impossible, so afterwards it had to be.

I’m really happy with the end result of the project, I’m not kidding when I say it’s going to be difficult to give it away! I really took my time (four days, you bet I did!) to get the best result I could and there are not many things I would change if I had to do it again. And I want to sew that pattern again, though I’ll take filling my wardrobe over adding to the clutter of my home any day, so it will have to wait for another special occasion.

Stash Diet: 2014

Stash-Diet-BadgeWhen I mentioned in my end-of-the-year roundup post that I wanted to stop amassing fabric, Andrea of Stitch Parade was kind enough to let me know that she and her friend Gail of Today’s Agenda were hosting a challenge called Stash Diet: 2014 whose aim is, as is pretty clear by the name, to buy less fabric and use fabric from your stash instead.

I immediately jumped at the chance and joined Stash Diet: 2014 as I felt sharing with more people in the same situation would be of great help in attaining my goal. Everyone has to lay down their own rules, so here are mine, well here is mine, which is pretty simple:

I am allowed to buy one piece of fabric every five projects that use fabric from my stash.

This excludes: lining, interfacing and other notions needed for the projects. If a project absolutely requires a contrast fabric of some sort, I can buy said contrast fabric, but only on a project-by-project basis. This means I can’t buy it unless I’m starting the project right away.

Of course, I don’t have to buy a piece of fabric every five projects. If I don’t buy a piece of fabric after five projects, this means I can buy two pieces after ten projects, three pieces after fifteen projects, and so on… (yeah, like I’m gonna be strong enough to wait for so long before getting my fix!).

By the way, you may have noticed I didn’t mention anything about patterns. I’m focussing on fabric, and not patterns, because I’m still in denial of my pattern addiction I don’t think my pattern stash is problematic (yet) as all of my patterns (excluding books and magazines of course) still fit in two shoeboxes. Though I must admit I haven’t used most of those patterns yet.

Now, regarding the fabric, it may seem like having to wait for five finished projects before being allowed to buy one piece of fabric is quite strict, but let me just tell you about the extent of the damage…

My friend Mimolette and I recently decided, in accordance with our resolution to use fabric from our stash, to organise our stash in a way that made it easier for us to know exactly which fabrics and how much fabric we owned. I personally stash my fabric in plastic boxes I store in this very weird 1,60 m deep / 0,75 m wide / 1,20 m high under-the-rafters cupboard, so it’s not easy checking how much yardage I own of a particular fabric, or how two pieces of fabric would match, and so on. So we thought it would be really neat to cut a swatch of each fabric and paste them in a notebook with information such as yardage, composition, place of purchase, planned project(s)… And so we went to work.

SwatchAlbum

“It is a crag! … a peak! … a promontory! … A promontory, did I say? … It is a peninsula!”

I decided to use Bristol board cards and to place them in a photo album. Very soon I realised the pocket-sized album I had bought was way too small to contain all the cards I had already completed, so I bought a much bigger one, which allowed me to place all of my cards once I had completed them. Then I counted the cards. I’m kind of ashamed, to say the least. Do you want to know how much fabric I own? Okay, I’m just gonna say it: I own exactly 160 pieces of fabric. 160. One hundred and sixty.

I can’t believe it. How did I buy and not use 160 pieces of fabric? My name is Tassadit and I’m a fabricaholic. One piece of fabric every five projects doesn’t seem so strict anymore, does it? I should even stop buying fabric altogether, shouldn’t I?

More seriously, even though counting my fabric was scary, I’m really glad I did it because it not only truly helped me gain some perspective on the extent of my stash, but it also simply reminded me which fabrics I own, which will make it easier for me to reach for them instead of buying some more for my future projects. And with my fabric swatch album, I feel like I can browse the catalog of a shop that would sell only fabric I love, for free, with instant delivery! This will be the greatest tool in this challenge!

SwatchPage

I haven’t filled in the pattern suggestions yet, but I did take the time to classify the swatches first by weight, then by colour and theme!

Are any of you participating in the Stash Diet: 2014 initiative or any other similar challenge? And, more importantly, does anyone own 160 pieces of fabric or, even better, more than 160 pieces of fabric?