Enfin Lupin!

I made this jacket almost a year ago and it took me that long to write about it, which might be a new record on this blog! There are three even older creations I haven’t shown here yet, two Ondée tops I don’t intend on blogging about in detail (but which should still appear in future blog posts) and Monsieur’s jacket, which I definitely want to write an article about; I “just” need to take pictures of him wearing it!

The scarf I’m wearing in the first picture is a simple garter stitch scarf I finished knitting in May. It’s such a simple project it doesn’t deserve a post of its own, but I like keeping track of everything I make, so I did want it to at least appear on the blog. The yarn I used is a cotton and silk blend called Florine, by Veritas. It was my first time trying one of their new yarns, and I loved it! It was nice to work with and the finished scarf is delightfully soft. It was too warm to wear when I finished it, but it’s just the right warmth for the weather we’ve been having in September. I guess that’s all I have to say about this incredibly basic project. Except that it was incredibly boring to knit, too: eighty stitches x more than two metres of garter stitch, yaaaaawn!

Now for the juicy part, my Lupin jacket! I finished it at the start of last autumn and it’s proven to be the perfect autumn/spring jacket, the one I reach for whenever it’s not cold enough for my rain jacket. Although I did hope it could read as a 1940s jacket, I was not completely sure it would and was especially wary of how it would look with full skirts, especially since I had sized up to get enough room for my shoulders. I must say, I’ve been pleasantly surprised! It also looks really nice with skinny jeans, with my Cardamome dress, with my Zéphyr skirt… Actually, I don’t remember not liking it with an outfit I was wearing; I just wouldn’t wear it with a long cardigan, that’s all.

I did choose its colour with versatility in mind: I thought grey would look nice with virtually any other colour. It’s the shape I was not so sure about.

The fabric is a thick cotton satin (but fairly matte) I remember buying on sale at Maison Dorée when I was making this skirt in 2013! I had bought it to make a Pavot jacket but went for this other Deer&Doe pattern instead. It was a bit stressful to work with because it unravelled more than I would have liked, which made sewing the welt pockets a touch tricky, but far from insurmountable. I forgot to take a close-up picture of the pockets, but you can see them in the next picture (and I did share a close-up on my Instagram while I was making the jacket):

All in all, sewing the Lupin jacket was much more straightforward than I would have thought. I followed the instructions and, sewing it step by step over a little bit more than a week, got a nice looking finished jacket if I do say so myself.

My favourite part might be the lining. It’s a cotton lawn I got at our first ever fabric swap, once again in 2013! I had already used a small piece to line the waistband and pockets of a skirt. It’s really soft and I love the small floral pattern. I also love the buttons I put on the epaulettes, antique Belgian military buttons I bought at the same time as the ones I put on my Quart coat (I bought a whole box of various antique Belgian military buttons at the time):

There are two small things I would change if I ever were to sew another Lupin jacket. The first one would be to lengthen the sleeves by one or two centimetres. Their length seems right when I stand with the arms along the body, but when I raise my arms (to hold the handlebar of my bike for example), they start to feel a bit short. It’s something I’ve been noticing with all of my jackets (bar one, the Minoru jacket, whose sleeves are unusually long), so it’s not that the Lupin sleeves are too short; it’s just either personal preference or I have monkey arms (or both), in any case something I should keep in mind for any future jacket/coat I make!

The second and last thing I would change is also pretty simple: I would add a hanging loop. It’s something I feel is missing every time I hang the jacket, and it would be such an easy addition, I’m sort of kicking myself for not thinking of adding one beforehand! Like lengthening the sleeves, it’s something I should always keep in mind when sewing outerwear.

Except these two small imperfections, I don’t have anything bad to say about this jacket. Other than not being sure the shape would look right with full skirts, another thing I was wary about was the fact that there is no closures. And, well, the fact that I didn’t even think about it anymore until I started to write this blog post most means that no, this jacket definitely doesn’t need any closures!

I always procrastinate on sewing outerwear (I mean, even more than usual), but I really shouldn’t: it does require more work than sewing “normal” clothing, but the satisfaction is proportional since you get to wear each piece of outerwear so much more than the rest of your clothes!

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Apples and Roses

Last November, I was contacted by Nadja from Schnittchen. She wanted to know if I’d be interested in sewing one of their paper patterns for free. I had never tried a Schnittchen pattern before, so I was curious and went and took a look at what they had on offer. I didn’t want to try a pattern just because it was free; I wanted to try a pattern I would have bought myself. I saw a lot of things I liked, but the style of most of the patterns was still more modern than what I usually wear. The Zoe dress on the other hand seemed like something I would have bought with my own money: fit and flare silhouette, very high waist*, peter pan collar, pin tucks, cute sleeves… Need I say more?

*I’d say between high waist and Empire line.

Bodice and skirt pin tucks.

I debated using this rose and apple print from my stash or buying a solid colour fabric that would bring out the pin tucks better, but in the end I preferred using what I had on hand. Besides, I thought the dress might look pretty cute in that print! I had originally bought it from Stragier, on the same day as this other cotton print, because at €15 a metre they seemed like bargains in contrast with what you can usually find there (to give you an idea if you don’t know Stragier, Liberty tana lawn is by far one of their least expensive fabrics! 😱).

I didn’t make a muslin, but I did try on the basted bodice before sewing it for real. The only fit modification I made was rising the darts a touch. And I have to say I’m quite impressed with the fit of the dress! The bodice, sleeves and waistband are a size 36, the skirt a size 40.

Other than the small fit modification I’ve just mentioned, another minor change I made was adding side seam pockets. FYI, I placed the top of the pockets 7 cm below the bottom of the waistband.

I also added two decorative buttons at the neckline: I couldn’t find any markings for the placement of the collar, so I looked at the close-up pictures on the Schnittchen website and tried to keep the same distance between the two front ends of my collar as in that picture, but mine seem to have ended up a bit too far from each other and because of that the area looked strangely empty. Hence, two red buttons (from my stash – no idea where they came from, but if I had to guess I’d say my mother reclaimed them from an old garment) to fill that space. I think it’s one of those happy accidents because I love those buttons on the dress! Monsieur is less enthused: he doesn’t understand the need for buttons where there’s no opening. I myself have no problem with purely decorative buttons, as you may have gathered by now if you’ve been reading this blog for a while.

My last tiny deviation from the pattern concerns the zipper, which I chose to hand-pick. I could tell you that I wanted to get all couture or something, but I favour honesty over glamour so I must confess that I opted for the method that allowed me to sew from my couch! 😀 I also appreciate the control hand-picking a zipper gives you in comparison to inserting it by machine.

Sorry about the wrinkled skirt and sleeves: I had been wearing the dress all day before taking the pictures.

I haven’t found a lot of pictures of the Zoe dress on the net, and I actually haven’t found any apart from the technical drawing that showed its short-sleeved version (not even on the Schnittchen website), which is the version I chose to make. So I was bummed when I first tried on the dress with the sleeves, because I was expecting something else, something more like the sleeves of these two dresses, with gathers on top. I also found the Zoe sleeves aesthetically too long. But they were very comfortable, and I thought, why not try wearing the dress for a day first and then see whether I’m disappointed just because I was expecting something else or because I really don’t like the sleeves and should maybe shorten them? I’ve been wearing the dress a lot already, especially considering I finished it two weeks ago, and I can’t even see what the problem was anymore! As a matter of fact, the dress literally hasn’t seen the inside of my wardrobe yet!

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Colourful Airelle

airelle1I bought this small piece of Liberty tana lawn (Garden Wonderland) a few months ago with the intention of making a blouse out of it. Then I changed my mind and decided to make a gathered skirt with a back elasticated waistband instead. I made a mess out of said gathered skirt (don’t ask!), and all I was left with were the front and back panels of the skirt, which luckily were juuuust enough for a blouse, so back to square one.

airelle4I decided to try the Deer&Doe Airelle blouse (if you clicked through those links: doesn’t one of the models look familiar? 😀 ) with the sleeve caps of the Réglisse dress, because that was all I could squeeze out of my skirt panels. I had to shorten the Réglisse sleeve caps for them to correspond to the armholes of the blouse, but style wise I think they suit the blouse very well.

airelle3I made a straight size 36, which fits pretty well I’d say. Had I cut the normal Airelle sleeves, I would have graded the shoulders up to a 38, but the sleeve caps allowed me to forgo that step.

airelle6It was a straightforward sew that didn’t take me more than two days from tracing the pattern to finishing the blouse, and God knows I’m a slow sewer! I finished the seams with my serger, which I’ve come to value more and more: it’s fast and easy, yet looks so professional.

airelle7My favourite part of the blouse has to be the collar: I can’t even begin to understand why so many people have sewn collarless Airelles, but different strokes for different folks… I appreciate the darts, too, which give such a flattering fit through the bodice.

airelle2It’s a nice little blouse that can be worn in a lot of different outfits. I have been wearing it both tucked in high-waisted skirts and untucked over jeans and, although I’m more used to my high-waisted skirts and think those kind of outfits are more my style, I couldn’t really tell which way I prefer it. By the way, those are Ginger jeans you see in some of the pictures, but more about them in a future blog post!

airelle5

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Ouardia Blouse

Ouardia2I must have been 17 years old when I bought this vintage skirt at the flea market. It was the perfect hippie skirt, romantically grazing the floor with each step, and I adored its floral print, which reminded me of several Kabyle dresses my mother had passed on to me.

Flash forward a few years later, the skirt didn’t fit anymore, and I thought it would be nice to remake it into something else, such as a Kabyle dress, or more likely a blouse, depending on the amount of usable fabric. The only problem was, I was just a beginner sewer at the time and I didn’t feel up to the task yet, fearing to waste what felt like particularly precious fabric. So I unpicked the skirt, and I put the pieces at the bottom of my budding refashion pile.

Ouardia1When Thread&Needles announced a sewing contest around the theme of travel, I immediately thought of that old project of mine, thinking about my travel to Algeria when I was a little kid: I had gone with my brother to meet our family and discover the country, and I had been given the cutest little pink custom made Kabyle dress, which I had kept long after it had become too small, and later replaced with my mother’s floral print dresses.

I drafted my own pattern, i.e. I copied the dress that fits me best and just changed the underarm area a little bit so that I could wear the blouse without a tank underneath, and drafted a neckline facing instead of adding a self fabric yoke lining as in the dress I copied. I chose to make a blouse and not a dress both because I didn’t have enough fabric and because I liked the idea of a more casual version, worn with jeans or shorts in summer. I thought about adding the patch pockets because I had just enough fabric left that I didn’t want to waste, and I must say I think they look quite nice and they are also pretty useful!

Ouardia4The rickrack was sewn entirely by hand (I love how the pink stitches look against the black inside the blouse!). I wanted each zigzag to lay as smoothly as possible, which I didn’t think would be the case if I stitched only along the centre by machine. At first I intended to sew two parallel lines of rickrack, the pink one you see and a green one, but in the end I decided it would make the blouse too busy and chose to keep it subtler (as subtle as a floral blouse with butterfly sleeves and pink rickrack can be). I won’t lie to you, I was relieved to hand sew a little under six metres of rickrack instead of close to twelve…

Ouardia3I was afraid the blouse would be too short (due to fabric restraints), so I was also relieved when I tried it on and saw that it looked exactly how I had pictured it. Dare I say, even better, with the addition of the cute little patch pockets!

Jolie Mimi

Mimi2Out of my backlog of garments to be blogged, this blouse is a definite favourite! Before I forget, sorry about the print, you can’t make out any details in the pictures because of it… But I promise, the cute collar is there and so are the lovely sleeve pleats!

Mimi4The pattern is Tilly’s Mimi Blouse, which I had been meaning to sew ever since I first saw it. I even had the perfect fabric in mind, a gorgeous vintage pink rayon, but it was too precious to risk ruining it with an ill-fitting pattern, so I decided to make a test version in a less special fabric first.

Mimi5Not that I don’t like the fabric I used, a very soft cotton, light but not too stiff: it’s actually pretty perfect for this blouse and I still love tiny flower prints and could wear some every day; it’s just less unique and irreplaceable than the vintage rayon. Even as a test, unless it was a muslin destined to be ripped apart (yeah, like I ever make those…), I wouldn’t waste my sewing time and energy with a fabric I didn’t truly like and want to wear.

Mimi6I was especially wary of the size I chose to make: I was in-between sizes, and looking at the finished garment measurements, I felt it would be best to go down a size to avoid feeling swamped by a too-large blouse, but I also feared the smaller size I cut would be too restrictive. But it isn’t! And I really like the closer fit. I like this blouse so much, as a matter of fact, that I don’t even want to sew the “final” rayon version anymore, at least not for now; this version feels like the final one…

Mimi7All the seams are French seams, and the facing and sleeve hem edges are finished with a narrow bias tape. I like pretty insides so much! And since this was supposed to be a test version, I wanted to be able to give it away in case it didn’t fit without being ashamed of subpar finishing techniques.

Mimi1Luckily, the test was conclusive, so the pretty insides are for me! I’ve been loving wearing this blouse with my red Chardon and navy Hetty every time the weather has allowed it. I took a picture of the blouse untucked for documentary purposes, but I don’t think I’ll ever wear it that way, at least not with that kind of high-waisted skirt. I might wear it untucked with trousers or shorts though, if I had any… What the heck is still keeping me from sewing myself some trousers, that is the question!

Mimi3

Elderberry Dress

Elderberry1Fall has definitely arrived here in Belgium! 🙂 I could do without the rain of course, but other than that I’m really happy about it: fall is such an inspiring season, knitting and sewing wise (and I’m not even talking about cooking and baking, yum!). As far as knitting goes, I’m still begrudgingly working on the same old project (yawn), so I had to turn to sewing to truly welcome my favourite season.

Elderberry6To me, the Sureau pattern by Deer&Doe is the fall dress par excellence. I don’t really know why, actually: is it the length of the sleeves, the fact that it looks great with tights, that it can be layered effortlessly, that it screams for a floral pattern? Whichever it is, I couldn’t wait any longer to sew a Sureau, especially since I recently found the perfect fabric (at Berger in Brussels), a cotton lawn with tiny blue, white and pink flowers.

Elderberry2The fabric was a dream to work with, as was the pattern. My only tiny complaint about the pattern is that I couldn’t find any mention of the buttons in the explanations (I was wondering whether the button markings on the pattern corresponded to all the sizes or to one size in particular). Though I have to say, I didn’t have any trouble figuring out that part. 🙂 I just found it weird, that’s all, especially on a beginner pattern. Maybe it was an oversight in the first print of the pattern and it has been corrected since? Anyway, I’m nit-picking, other than that the instructions were perfectly clear and easy to follow.

Elderberry3Seeing as the first two Deer&Doe patterns I sewed fit me quite well, I didn’t bother making a muslin for this one. I didn’t make a single fitting alteration and the fit is close to perfect, if I do say so myself. I cut a straight size 36 even though I’m a 40/42 on the bottom, thinking the gathered skirt would be forgiving, which it was.

Elderberry5The only modifications I made were style choices, the first one being that I need my dresses to have pockets (I’m not carrying my tissues in my bra anymore!), so I added two patch pockets. The second one concerns the sleeves: I’m not totally sold on the form of the original sleeves, which are a little too billowy to my taste, so I added an elastic in a casing at the hem. It gives the sleeves a puffier look, which I love. Also, although I don’t know whether to call that a modification, I understitched the collar facing instead of topstitching it. Oh yes, and I lengthened the skirt a little by making a baby hem instead of the recommended 2cm hem.

Elderberry4The dress is exactly as I pictured it and I feel like it was the first project in a long time that did not almost end up in the trash! Everything went smoothly, I took my time on the finishing (French seams wherever possible, and machine overcast stitch on the rest of the seams: waist, zipper side and sleeve setting – oh how I long for a serger!) and poor zipper challenged me didn’t even encounter a problem inserting the zipper, now that’s a first! 😀

Now I have to decide on my next sewing project: another dress, leggings for lounging at home, a desperately needed coat…?

Leather Bag Refashion

Bag1Looks like I’m on a refashion roll! I’ve had this leather bag for about fifteen years and I’ve been carrying it everywhere since. It was my mother’s in the eighties: she used it a lot, too, even on her wedding day! Oh, and she bought it second hand of course, so it has lived at least three lives… which explains why it was so damaged.

Bag2The front was completely scratched and the leather bias binding was crumbling in a lot of places. I knew I could use leather polish to restore the front, but I still had to find a solution for the bias binding.

Bag3Oh, and the strap loop had been missing for years, too. I had replaced it with a hair elastic. Very chic.

The bag began looking so beaten up I stopped using it altogether a few months ago. But I couldn’t resign myself to getting rid of it, not only because it used to be such a nice, practical bag, but also because of its history.

Bag4I didn’t see myself sewing leather bias, so I decided to change the look of the bag by using a liberty(-ish) bias binding instead. It’s bound to be less durable than leather, of course, but I like the look of the blue flowers with the leather of the bag, and I can replace it later if I ever feel like sewing leather.

Bag5At first I hesitated replacing the binding of the pocket because it was much less damaged than the outside one, but it wasn’t perfect either and the bag looked kind of weird with two different bindings, so I decided to replace it anyway. And I must say I love the way it looks now.

Bag6I sewed the bias binding by hand… because at first I didn’t realise I could sew it by machine. I thought about it after sewing the first part, but all in all I also thought the hand would give me more control to sew through the already existing holes in order not to damade the bag and to be able to change the binding more easily in the future. I used a green metallic thread that perfectly matched the green of the fabric.

As you can see I made a new strap loop with the same fabric bias  to replace the old elastic.

The principle of this refashion is so simple I even hesitated using the term refashion, but let me tell you that I finished it yesterday and my fingers still hurt from sewing by hand through leather, even though I mostly used the pre-existing holes. I used a thimble of course, but the thimble itself gave me a blister because my fingers were swollen from the heat and the effort…

But all is well that ends well, and I love my new old bag which I already used yesterday as soon as it was finished. Now let’s hope I won’t forgot to break out the shoe polish more often in order to keep the leather in good condition.

In any case, I’m really happy to have found back my favourite bag!