Tuesday, January 13, 2015


2015 got off to an awful start here in France. We all went from shock to sadness. Many people found solace in the demonstrations of solidarity. For me, there was something really ominous in these gatherings. I can't help feeling sick to my stomach, because as we all know, this thing isn't over.
So I just want to give anyone out there who needs it a big hug. I know I need it.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Magenta Wrap Cardigan

I love this color!
It's amazing the effect colors can have on one's mood. Putting on a bright sweater helps take the dreariness out of winter.

This is based on McCall's 6559, the same pattern I used here, but with even more modifications.
I originally cut it the same way as my yoga wrap, but this jersey being more stable and less drapey, it just didn't work as well. I decided it needed more structure and added bands and ties.
I still have mixed feelings about ties on a cardigan. For me, a cardigan should be easy to put on and take off, and ties tend to be fiddly. At least in this one, I don't have to thread them through any loops. Plus the fabric, a fine wool/cotton blend is lightweight enough that I can wear it all day and forget about it. If it were heavier, I would want to take it off as soon as I step inside.

I can also tie it up more tightly like a traditional ballet wrap. It would work well this way worn as a top, with nothing underneath.
My ties are just long enough to come around to the front in this case. I couldn't make them any longer than this as my fabric isn't very wide and I already had to piece them at the side seams.

This cardigan is entirely constructed on the serger. The only slightly complicated part was figuring out how to manage the transition where the band becomes a tie. Here's how I did it (I wouldn't be surprised if there was a better way): The band is folded lengthwise, then serged onto the cardigan. So this part of the serging ends where the body of the cardigan ends. The tie parts are then serged inside out, going only so far as to leave enough of an opening to turn them right side out. Finally, the opening is slip-stitched shut. Does this make any sense at all?

I left the edges of the sleeve openings at the wrists raw. I like them that way.

What are your favorite winter brights?

Friday, December 12, 2014

I Made a Raglan Sleeve Sweater Dress Too!

New Look 6298

...That's what I thought when I saw Morgan's gorgeous dress yesterday.
Her fabric is much more interesting than the one I used, but mine was perfect for the look I was going for: I had tried on a dress at COS that I really liked. I had a similar fabric, a wool blend double knit, and a pattern at home that seemed appropriate, so I knew what my next project would be. Well, it's not the same fabric of course (I so wish I could get my hands on some of COS' fabrics!), and the shape of the dress in the shop was actually quite different than this : looser, boxier, but still, the overall feel is similar to me.

New Look 6298

These pictures are an experiment. I don't want to be standing out in the cold in anything less than a coat, and all of our walls at home are covered in books and nick-nacks which would be very distracting. So I tried standing in front of/on a sheet. Looks a bit like I'm floating in space, doesn't it? Or even like a cut-out. So I'm thinking it would be better to have the sheet only as a backdrop, but have the floor show under my feet. Also, the lighting needs to be improved.
Anyway, getting back to the dress, the pattern is New Look 6298. I skipped the pockets. I love a dress with pockets but those particular ones, I wasn't sure of. I went down a size and I think it's just right that way. No fitting alterations other than adding length, and I'm really glad it fits so well over my square shoulders right out of the enveloppe. I'm sure the shoulder dart helps:

 I did have a bit of a problem with the neckline, but that was due to my fabric not having enough stretch. I had to make the band longer than the pattern piece and then, once sewn in, it wouldn't lay flat, so I ended up folding it under halfway and slipstitching in place so all that's left is a thin binding. This resulted in a slightly lowered neckline.

The nice thing about taking pictures inside is my kitty can participate. She kept attacking the sheet, trying to claw her way through it. She's the best sewing companion though, always inspecting my work, and her fur is the softest silk velvet you can imagine.

Friday, November 28, 2014

My Winter Uniform: Slouchy Pants and Sweater.

Burda 7250

This is my favorite combo for winter. The concept of having a style uniform has been very popular lately, well here is mine: a pair of slouchy pants and a sweater. It's what I was wearing most days last winter (alternating with my sack dresses), and what I want to wear this year as well. I love the track pants everyone has been sewing, but I don't think they are as versatile as a classic pair of pants, and honestly, these are just as comfortable.

Burda 7250

The pants are Burda 7250. I've sewn this pattern several times before, and made a number of modifications along the way. My last pair had all the alterations I want for this pattern, so this time around I was able to simply pull it out, cut and sew it up without any changes.

Here's how my pants differ from the original pattern:
- shaped waistband rather than straight
- front slant pockets
- single welt pocket in back
- legs narrowed slightly
- length added so they scrunch up at the hem.

The fabric is a stretchy wool blend which is extremely comfortable, and has a nice heavy drape. However, it tends to snag really easily. I have some pulled threads to show for some of the pinning I did during construction. These pants are bound to age quickly, unfortunately, but I will get as much wear as possible out of them.
Have you seen pictures of Vivienne Westwood with her pilling cashmeres and threadbare skirts? I really admire her for that. I find her attitude so refreshing, when all the style "gurus" seem to be telling us that we must constantly be sorting through our clothes and getting rid of anything that basically doesn't look new.

The sweater is a Fitzpatterns Kate batwing top (unfortunately no longer available on their website).

Update: I couldn't find the Kate Batwing top on the Fitzpatterns website, but you can download it for free here!
Note: for this top, I added a neckband and cuffs, which are not included in the pattern. And since this a slim batwing, it's very important to use a knit fabric that stretches both ways.

 I have made so many tops from this pattern! I love that the sleeve is a rather slim batwing, and it sews up really fast.
I used a wonderful wool/mohair double knit which has a soft and slightly fuzzy surface. I bought this fabric several years ago in Paris and originally intended for it to be a wrap dress, but I soon realized it was too soft for that. I think you need a knit with a bit more structure for a dress, especially in a color like this. So it took me a long time to come around to the idea that it had to be a top (or two tops, I have enough left for another). It was a bit of a let-down at first but I'm happy now. Realistically, this sweater will get a lot more wear than a peach colored dress would have.

Burda 7250

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tweed Malu Jacket.

It's kind of odd how it turned out, because some of the features that I liked best in Schnittchen's Malu jacket are gone in my version. I loved the wide hem band on the model, but on me, the length was all wrong. I considered raising the band, but it would have looked awkward, cutting across my hips. Without it though, the jacket has a bit of a 50s silhouette that I quite like.

As you can see, there's plenty of room for sweaters!
I also loved the wide lapels in the original jacket, but I ended up slimming mine down by about 1/2 an inch, thereby reducing the center front overlap.
The way they spaced their buttons didn't work for me either. I chose to have a single coconut button.

Another change I had to make was to raise the welt pockets by about 2 inches, and I used quite a bit more interfacing than Schnittchen advises you to. Imagine cutting welts into tweed that isn't interfaced. It would not be pretty!

I also shortened the sleeves before the cuffs by more than an inch, though you wouldn't know it. I'm of average height, so this pattern is clearly drafted for tall gals!
Sorry these pictures look so gloomy! It's been really grey and rainy lately and it never seems like the right time to take pictures. I'm only including this one so you can see the jacket buttoned:

In spite of all the cosmetic modifications I made, which were a matter of adjusting the pattern to my proportions, the bones of the pattern are unchanged. It's loose and comfy, and the way the sleeves are drafted, they accommodate my square shoulders quite well. I also appreciate that Schnittchen provides separate upper and lower collars for both collar options (I used the "pointy collar"). It's a well drafted pattern!
There is no back facing, which I'd never seen before, but I decided to go with it and it worked out quite well, I think. Makes me wonder, what is the purpose of back facings in collared jackets?

The tweed is 100% wool, the satin lining is acetate, and the result is surprisingly warm! Oh, and I lined the pockets in flannel to make them extra cozy.

I made a jacket last fall too, and it's still one of my faves! You can see it here if you like: My Peacoat.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pants are hard!

Last year I traced a pair of ready to wear pants that fit pretty well. I made a few muslins and sewed them up. They weren't bad, but they weren't good enough. Good enough, to me, means that I'm pleased and comfortable enough that an item becomes part of the regular rotation in my closet.
So, I pulled those pants out again a few weeks ago, pinned here and there, compared them to other pants in my closet, made up a couple more muslins and sewed them up again. This is where it's at.

It's so time consuming, you know, because every change in the main pattern pieces means you have to redraft all the little bits and pieces to match.

There are still wrinkles that I would rather see gone, like the whiskers at center front. I keep altering that curve in every muslin, but it's never quite right.

I'm ok with having a little extra room under my bum, as it's useful for sitting, but maybe there's still too much there. I would love to hear your thoughts and advice, my friends. And I mean it, don't hold back! I would really appreciate some constructive criticism. I need more of these straight legged pants, and I would like them to be as good as they can be.

The fabric is a slightly stretchy deep navy cotton with a brushed surface. It's pretty stiff and maybe a softer fabric would be more forgiving.

The top is another Simplicity  1366 I made with the leftovers from my Dolores dress. This is my first time making it in a knit and I finished all the openings (neckline, waist, cuffs) with bands.

See one of my favorite pairs of pants here: Comfy Linen Pants

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dolores Batwing Dress

Dolores Batwing Dress

I bought this fabric a year ago. At first I loved it, then I kind of hated it, so I put it out of sight. But the colors were so right for me... I pulled it out again for fall, though I wasn't sure what to make with it. When I saw So Zo's Dolores Batwing Dress, I thought it would be perfect, so I entered the giveaway Zoe was having on her blog. I'm so glad I won. Thank you Zoe! Sometimes, I find, when I'm unsure about a fabric, it's a just a matter of finding the right pattern for it.
I love this dress and have already worn it a couple times in the past week. I no longer have any doubts about the fabric. I'm actually pretty smitten with these crazy tile shapes.

When I measured the pattern, I found it had negative ease around the hips, so, since my fabric, a double knit, didn't have very much stretch, I cut two sizes bigger. Of course, I sewed it up and ended up trimming it back down to my size. But, you know, if I'm not making a muslin, I'd rather give myself a little room for adjustments, even in a knit, rather than cutting something and finding that I cannot wear it. So, in the end, the sizing was perfect, no mods needed.
I like my dresses to be knee length, but this may be just a smidge too long... The fabric is heavy and it seems to grow a bit. I might slice off an inch or so.

I'm glad I chose a very loose style for My Coat, so I can comfortably wear it over these types of dresses. Something that really puzzles me in ready to wear, is that you see a lot of oversized sweaters, but coats tend to be fitted, with narrow sleeves.
See my wings:

You might have noticed it's similar in style to Last Week's Dress. What can I say, I love these relaxed dresses! This is my version of sweatpants I guess... I like to be comfortable, but I still want to feel pulled together. I'd say the major difference between the two patterns is that this one was designed exclusively for knits and the Cynthia Rowley pattern is for either knits or wovens, so it has much more ease in the skirt and sleeve bands.  Also the sleeve shape is actually quite different and the neckline here is more of a boatneck. I'll probably use this one for knits and the C.R. for wovens in the future.

I made a matching slim belt with metallic beads at the end. I almost always make these to go with my knit dresses. I don't always wear them together, but I like to have options. Last week's dress also has its belt, though I chose to wear a leather belt for the pictures.