Flamingos!

I. LOVE. THIS. DRESS.

I love it so much that I almost didn’t dare starting to wear it! I finished it about ten days before my travel to Spain, so I decided to save it for the travel and didn’t wear it before we left. Once in Spain, we spent a week in Madrid and I didn’t wear it because I wanted to save it for later. Then we arrived at the village where we spent the rest of the holiday… and I didn’t wear it because I felt it was too fancy for the village! So more than a month after finishing it, I hadn’t worn it even once!

Once we got back to Belgium, I kept postponing the first outing of this poor dress: it was not even that I feared damaging it; the problem was that I was afraid to wear it and realise it was not comfortable or didn’t fit as well as I thought or some other letdown and be disappointed. Don’t worry, I have since come to my senses and started to wear it! And it is comfortable, and it does fit as well as I thought it did! 😀

Which it should, since I made a muslin, but still, I was worried! I rarely make muslins. I know, I know, boo me! But I always check the measurements of the pattern and usually baste the garment together to check and correct the fit before I sew it for real. When in doubt, I also use fabrics that I like, so that I can wear the finished garment if it’s a success, but that I won’t cry over if things don’t work out the way they should.

But this fabric, ah, this fabric! I don’t remember where I first saw it, but it was out of stock, so I hunted it down for months (maybe years?) until I came upon it at the late Fabric Rehab. I bought enough to sew a Deer&Doe Belladone, which was what I wanted it for in the first place. When it arrived I realised it was thinner than what I had expected (I was expecting more of a quilting cotton and it is a poplin), so into the stash it went until I found a pattern that would be worthy of such a dreamy piece of fabric.

The pattern I bought on Etsy: it’s a vintage pattern, Woman W388. I loved the simplicity of it and thought such a simple silhouette would suit various fabrics from my stash, including and starting with my precious flamingo fabric. I was a bit bewildered when I opened the envelope to see that it was an unprinted pattern: quite surprising since I’d say it dates from the early sixties! But then I thought it would be nice to try my hand at an unprinted pattern for the first time with what seemed to be a pretty easy one. And it was!

I soon learned unprinted patterns are in fact no more difficult to use than printed ones. In case you’ve never used one, there are holes of different shapes in lieu of printed markings, that’s all there is to is. There’s a key to which shape means what (notches, darts, grainline…) in the instructions, but you don’t even really need it as it’s intuitive enough to be understood just by looking at the pattern pieces if you’ve ever used any pattern, printed or otherwise, before.

So I set out to trace the pieces and sew a muslin of the bodice. This first draft looked horrendous on me! The first obvious problem was that it was much too big. I took off 1 cm at each side seam (4 cm total) and things started to look more promising. I then shaved off between 1 and 1,5 cm from the top of the front piece and between nothing and 1,5 cm from the top of the back piece. I also cut a 2,5 cm wedge off the bottom of the back piece and tadaaa, perfect fit! Okay, maybe not perfect, but as perfect as I can achieve with my meagre fitting knowledge! I’m still debating whether that wedge I took off the bottom of the back piece should have been 2 cm instead of 2,5 cm and have not reached a definite conclusion yet.

The skirt didn’t need any fitting as it’s so full, plus I didn’t even use the skirt of the pattern, for which I didn’t have enough fabric. I made a simple gathered skirt, as full (the width of the fabric) and long as I could with the fabric I had left after having cut the bodice, straps and bias tape. Two widths of bias tape are used for this pattern: a smaller one for the little bows (ah, the little bows!) and a wider one to finish the neckline:

The pattern has you sew the straps inside the bias binding at the back (which I did) and then adjust the straps at the front and stitch them on top of the bias binding. I didn’t like that so I reopened the binding at the front placement of the straps after I had settled on a strap length and hid the strap ends inside. It’s much cleaner/prettier like that.

Another simple deviation from the pattern was the addition of pockets. I hesitated between side seam pockets and patch pockets and opted to use these cute rounded patch pockets I borrowed from a late 1950s robe pattern I had in my stash (McCall’s 4319). I think these pockets look lovely on that dress, so I think I’ve made the right decision.

Although I am one of those annoying people who can’t wait for autumn to start, I must say I’m going to be a bit sad to say goodbye to this summer dress for so many months (this might leave me enough time to find a well-fitting strapless bra to wear with it though, who knows? 😉). I am trying to get as much wear as I can out of it while it’s still possible. I once again took the pictures for this blog post coming home from work and this is the outfit I wore that (rainy) day… Minus a cardigan of course!

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A Dash of Rainbow

Rainbow2Hey, I made something that doesn’t go on the head!

These past weeks I had been craving some sewing time like you wouldn’t believe, yet when I was finally relieved from all of my obligations I found myself actually dreading and postponing my getting back to sewing, like I was afraid I wouldn’t even know where to begin and I would end up with a failure that would put me off sewing altogether.

Rainbow1So I decided on a pattern I’ve made before and I know fits and is easy, the Renfrew. With the warm weather we’d been having (where is that warm weather now?! It’s been raining non stop for days!) I came to realise that my summer wardrobe, me-made or otherwise, was almost non existent (Mr Picky begs to differ). I need summer dresses, skirts, tops, shorts, everything!

Rainbow3I started with a summer Renfrew dress: short sleeves, gathered skirt and a lot of ease at the waist to let that summer breeze in. To get that result at the waist, I didn’t use any elastic for gathering, I just gathered the regular way (but with only one row of thread instead of three so that it would be easier to get rid of that seam) then serged the seam, hoping the gathering row would be cut off by the serger knife. Worked like a charm.

Rainbow7As per usual I “drafted” (such a pompous word for what was actually involved) my own neckband piece, and I also omitted the sleeve bands for the sleeves not to stick to the arms (here’s that summer breeze again!). And as per usual I added some simple patch pockets, because I need pockets on my dresses and I like the look of patch pockets, they help visually structure the skirt.

Rainbow4As you can sort of see in the picture above (and clearly see in the two pictures below), the dress seems solid from the front, but it’s not, there’s a suprise rainbow at the back! I love that detail: the dress looks so classic at first sight (and if I wear a cardigan over it), but it has that little something special.

Rainbow6This was really the perfect project to get back on my (presser, mwahaha!) feet. I’ve already been wearing it almost everyday, though only once styled exactly as in the pictures. The rest of the time it had to be accompanied by tights (in July!), a jacket and rain boots.

Rainbow5And from as soon as I started working on it, but even more so since I finished it, I’ve been feeling ready to tackle projects that are a little more challenging, i.e. ones that I haven’t already sewn before. The next one, which I’m working on at the moment, is a chambray Centaurée dress!

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Circus Tent Sweater

Chapiteau1Here’s my sweater! Its red and blue scallops remind me of a circus tent and I love it!

I actually finished it on Monday, but I didn’t feel like taking pictures until today, so it had to wait. I even tried forcing myself to take some pictures two days ago, but then I saw that on each and every one of them I looked like this mean angry man with a weird yellow complexion and the battery of my camera died, so I had to accept that maybe I should wait until some other day.

Chapiteau2This really is the perfect sweater either for a beginner knitter or a more advanced one looking for a fast and easy project. Had I not started knitting the wrong size, I’m pretty sure it would have taken me two weeks. Having to start from scratch after reaching three quarters of the work, it still took me just under a month to complete.

The instructions are very clear, and the construction is, as always with Andi Satterlund’s patterns, flawless: I love it when I finish knitting a sweater and I just have to weave in some ends; no seaming required before enjoying my new knit!

Chapiteau3I only made one small modification to the pattern: when I tried the finished sweater on, I found the body was a touch too long for me, which caused an unsightly pleat at the waist. So I simply unravelled a few rows of the waist ribbing (about eight rows I’d say), and voilà!

Chapiteau4It was such a straightforward knit that I really don’t have much more to say about this sweater (ravelry notes here, by the way), except that it’s a shame the cold weather seems to be close to its end here (though in Belgium, you never know…) so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to wear it before next fall.

Blue Stone Sweater

BlueStone1Man, do I love this shade of blue! I already own a cardigan in more or less the same colourway, but I couldn’t resist knitting this one. I also think it goes quite nicely with the black collar and buttons. I have been told many times that black and blue don’t belong together, but different strokes for different folks.

BlueStone2This sweater was a very fast knit (yay short sleeves, yay stockinette!)… until I reached the collar. As you can see in my ravelry notes, everything but the collar took me two weeks to knit, and then I spent two more weeks on this ridiculously small collar! I find knitting ribs a little tedious and so slow in comparison to stockinette, plus the weather suddenly got warmer and, contrary to the yarn used for the body of the sweater, which is made of summer appropriate fibers (cotton, linen and tencel), the one used for the collar is a wool/acrylic blend, which was a real pain to knit in the heat. So I only knit a few rows here and there and even put my work aside for a few days.

BlueStone3One month to knit a sweater, even a short-sleeved one, is not too bad, though. And I love the result! It’s really my style with the empire waist gathers and the cute collar and buttons. However, if I must be completely honest, I’ll admit I don’t know what to wear it with. I think it would look nice either with jeans, black slim pants, black shorts or a black skirt, none of which I own! Okay, I do own one pair of jeans but they really don’t fit me well… Now you’re probably wondering what I’m wearing in the pictures. I don’t know if I should really tell you, but those are, ahem, jersey harem pants from my belly dancing days! 😀 They were all I had that looked nice in the pictures, I swear!

Now I should sew myself a few of those basic black pieces I miss, but although I have no problem sewing basics, I don’t think there’s any black fabric in my stash. I never think to buy that kind of fabric because I’m always distracted by prints and colours when I’m at the store. I really should go with a few basics in mind for a change.

BlueStone4Well, back to my new sweater! I’ve already told you about the pattern and the yarn in my WIP post. The pattern was fairly easy (though I still hate seaming up knits with all my heart) and the main yarn was really nice to work with and it also seems nice to wear. If this had been my first time using the yarn of the collar, I don’t think I’d recommend it, but I’ve already knit a cardigan for my boyfriend with the same yarn and it was really pleasant to knit and went through many a machine wash without a hitch, so I’m thinking it was the heat (i.e. my sweaty hands – TMI?) and not the yarn itself that was the source of my problems (the collar began to pill a little while I was sewing it on).

BlueStone5The pattern asks for five buttons, but I only added three because that’s all I had in stock (taken from this dress!). And as a matter of fact I prefer it that way, so that was fate! The sleeves and bottom hem are finished with single crochet, which stops the edges from curling. I was really expecting the collar not to stay in place and having to tack its ends to the sweater, but I was pleasantly surprised to see it roll nicely around the neckline by itself.

Except for the fact that I don’t have anything to wear with it (yet!), this sweater is a success in my book! Plus it actually gives me an excuse to go and buy some fabric, so what’s not to love? 😀