Friday, 10 June 2016

A floral v-neck Concord tee

It's the time of year when my lunch break sewing is often replaced by lunch break mowing. So here I am in my summer habitat. In the ongoing battle between garden and sewing room the score must be something like Foxgloves:20 vs Thimbles:1. It's a lucky coincidence that the garments I wear while gardening are not very time consuming to make! Enter my third Cashmerette Concord t-shirt.

Ha! Does that happen to you too? I swear I changed my unsightly garden shoes for matchy matchy ones in an attempt to look presentable!


The fabric is a very soft cotton jersey with a leopard meets roses print on a light grey background. I made view B with the v-neck and elbow length sleeves. I like it when my v-necks form a defined v and I noticed that the sample v-neck Concords had a tendency to show a more rounded shape. I could think of a variety of causes and decided to tackle them one by one.

-Shoulder seams: the seams are so narrow compared to the total back width, they need all the help they can get to stay in shape. I stabilized them even more than I did for the scoop neck tees.
- Back neckline: to prevent gaping at the back I took out a some of the width.
- Neckband: I changed the original overlapping neckband for a mitered v. When there's strain on the overlap (and there certainly is strain on the point of the v with larger cup sizes) the overlap can easily spread out of shape.

Quite happy with the front! Maybe I'll scoop out the back neckline a bit more next time. There's not much more to tell that I haven't told yet in the posts about Concord #1 and Concord #2 so I'll make room for my favourite furry photobomber who claims her minute of blog fame.

Well, didn't we all want the be the star on our 4th birthday? Go on, shine!

I hope I can find time to sew a few summer dresses soon. I'm working on a wrap dress, have plans for a maxi dress and there's a pretty butterfly print waiting to become a sundress. The weird thing is those sundresses will only get sewn during rainy weekends.... Be careful what you wish for?

I hope you'll all have a wonderful weekend with plenty of time for your favourite pastimes!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A sporty Concord tee

Just a quick post to show another Cashmerette Concord T-shirt. I needed a new shirt for the gym and since my wearable Concord muslin gets a lot of wear I thought I'd give the longer version a try.  

Concord tech drawing

Scooped neckline, mid length sleeves with tabs, curved hemline. In addition to the shoulder adjustment I made for the muslin I took out an extra 3/8" halfway between center back and shoulder on each side of the back neckline to fix a bit of gaping. The neckband was cut on the cross grain.
The fabric is a cotton jersey, bought last autumn with a Plantain in mind. 

The sleeves were a bit short on me, next time I'll lengthen them so that I can make decent hems that don't roll every time I bend my arms. I just forgot to add the usual inch for my long arms.
Eventually I didn't use the tabs. There's enough going on with this print, and I liked the look of the sleeves as they are.

The curved hem is finished with facings. The pattern instructions tell you to finish the hem and topstitch the facings before closing the side seams, I prefer to do it the other way around. Close the side seams, stitch the facings together at the side seams and attach them in the round, then make a continuous row of topstitching.

There's something about this shirt  that doesn't feel completely right and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Should I take it in at waist and hips?

Or perhaps shorten it?

Or just leave it as it is and wear it for my weekly workout?

I'd really like to hear your opinions!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Review Knipmode June 2016

Is it me, or are pattern magazine release dates moved forwards? On May 7th the June issue of Knipmode entered my mailbox. Not complaining! It's all about summer dresses and it's making it hard to stick to my plans to make more separates. 

Pattern overview Knipmode 6/2016

Bright colours, lovely necklines, nice seaming details. Yellow dress #8 has interesting neckline features at the back and green dress #7 may look simple at first sight but it has good fitting options.

Asymmetric dress #11 is pattern of the week, which means there's a discount offer for the pdf . I like the style, but I'm not sure how the asymmetric princess seams will work. Will they twist? It will be interesting to see this dress made up!

Knit dresses #1 to 5 are variations on the same pattern. Lots of mix&match options, and all views come in one pdf. I really like the maxi dress for warm summer days in the garden.

You can't go wrong with a lace dress for summer, or a top with lace inserts.

Maxi dress #13 has an open back with twisted ties, lovely if you can afford to go braless!
Just like in last month's special the patterns in this picture are shown in both size 36 and size 46.

So far so good. But.....alarm bells going off!

Look at the upper right corner of the front page! The June issue says 'Patterns in sizes 34 to 54' while previous front pages mentioned 'All patterns in sizes 34 to 54'. 
A small but significant difference.
It came as an unpleasant surprise for a lot of Knipmode readers when the pretty lingerie collection, used as a teaser in the preview, was only available in a very limited size range.

None of these patterns are available in size 34 or above 46, in fact only those readers with either size 40 or 42 can make both slips as well as the slip dress without having to grade up or down. (Not discussing the bras, as cup sizes vary so much). I sincerely hope this is not a forebode of changing policies regarding sizing!

Disclaimer: this review contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016


Thank you all so much for your kind and supportive comments on my previous post. You guessed right, family and friends are very proud of the founder of Enschede Textielstad. It takes a lot of courage and determination to start a weaving mill from scratch. She's working crazy hours, but in between making tough business decisions and preparing the looms for production she did read your reactions and the cheering is highly appreciated!

If you want to follow the search for spare parts, the cleaning of the hardware and other adventures you can now follow @Enschedetextielstad on Instagram (in English).

Over here normal service will be resumed. April was unusually cold, with unseasonal snow and hail storms. Not very inspiring to sew spring garments but things are much better now.

And there's more good news: ten weeks after his accident Mr Foxgloves is as good as new again!

Time to make some spring sewing plans! On top of the list is Concord tee #2.

More on that soon!

Friday, 22 April 2016

I made my clothes / I made my fabrics

At the end of 2013 my youngest daughter quit her job as online marketeer to follow her dreams and make the world a better place. She founded Enschede Textielstad, an initiative to bring back textile industry to her home town Enschede. Last month she bought her first machines and she will soon be able to produce fair fabric from recycled threads. What better day than Earth Day (which happens to be her birthday as well) to share her amazing story.

In April 2013 the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh made her ban fast fashion immediately. She did not want anyone to suffer on her behalf and she started making all her clothes as a protest against the terrible working conditions in the fashion industry. But she wanted to do more. She started asking herself who spun the threads and made the fabrics she now used. After doing some research she couldn't ignore the pictures of young children standing in polluted rivers while dyeing fabrics.
She wanted to raise awareness and initially thought about writing opinion pieces about the fashion industry. But people had already been doing that, and with little effect. In December 2013, during the long ride home from a business trip in Berlin she came up with a revolutionary plan. Enschede had been an important centre for the European textile industry until around 1970. The industry disappeared, but the knowledge was still there. Would it be possible to produce fabric again, locally and in an innovative and sustainable way?

Her first pitch touched an open nerve in the community. Retired weavers offered to help her, entrepeneurs volunteered to coach her and local politicians were very interested. That's when she quit her job to be able to investigate the full potential of her plans.
She describes those first months as Eat. Sleep. Pitch. Repeat. The pictures show her during that period, always wearing her lucky pitch dress. Handmade, of course.

On Wednesdays she had weaving lessons in the Enschede Textile Museum. Retired weaver Johan was more than happy to finally be able to pass on his knowledge to a new generation and under his guidance she soon produced her first dish cloth.

In the meantime she was earning a living by doing freelance jobs. She organized a congress, and she works on a freelance basis for Saxion University of Applied Sciences where, amongst other things, she organizes Tex Talks for the Fashion and Textile Technologies department.

It didn't take long before her plans attracted all sorts of media attention.

Newspaper interviews and television appearances for both local and national networks generated a lot of publicity and positive reactions, confirming she was really on to something.

She was nominated for the VIVA400 list, a list of powerwomen who made a difference in 2015, in the category Wereldverbeteraars (do-gooders).

This girl always had a talent to bring people together, a talent she used well to realise her plans. She built bridges, connected entrepeneurs, politicians, scientists and educational institutes.
Enschede is the home of UTwente, a technical university that works in close collaboration with the business community, making the region a hotspot for innovative product development. A company in a nearby town is recycling jeans fibers, producing threads suitable for weaving.

The first order for Enschede Textielstad rolled in: a manufaturer of maternity wear ordered 1000 meter chambray, made from these recycled threads.

Meanwhile the CEO had searched high and low for the right machines, helped by a team of retired weavers. She was looking for the type of loom her advisors new inside and out because they had worked with the machines before. Last month she used her hard earned savings and bought two Saurer W100 shuttle looms. Oldtimers, built in 1972 and found in a barn in Austria.

Ready for transport


A very exciting moment! More pictures can be found in this gallery

Even the national news had an item about it :)

You can watch an item on regional television here, starting from 8.54 min. (in Dutch)

The machines need a good clean and the hunt for spare parts is on. Daughter and her very skilful and supportive boyfriend are working hard in their spare time to get them ready for action. 

That's the story so far of a true Fashion Revolution hero, and the motto she lives by:

The best way to predict the future is to create it

Happy Earth Day, Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Cashmerette Concord T-shirt, a wearable muslin

Hi there! You just caught me during one of my favourite springtime jobs: inspecting future plum cakes in our mini orchard. 
At the end of each summer I traditionally ruin some tops while harvesting blackcurrants or bringing in the walnuts, giving me a good excuse to sew some fresh shirts during spring. 
This year the planning of new gardening gear coincided with the launch of the Concord T-shirt by Cashmerette Patterns. A classic t-shirt with three hem lengths, three necklines (high, V-neck, scoop) and, most importantly, three different cup sizes. Sold!

As this was my first Cashmerette pattern I checked the stash for muslin options. I found a lightweight cotton jersey of unknown origin, which to me looked like the result of drunk fabric shopping. Perfect muslin material!

Now to determine the right size.Sizing chart instructions tell you to use your full bust measurement to choose your bust size. Hmmm, I've never had any luck when following that rule. 
If your full bust could fit into two sizes, choose the size closest to your waistline.
Don't try this at home if you're middle aged and your waist has it's own agenda!

According to the above rules I had to cut a size 18 C/D cup (I have not been in those regions of the alphabet since high school, wearing a European 36HH bra)  I ignored the advice and went straight for the 18 G/H while adding some extra room for said waistline. This way I worked around the significant negative pattern ease. I can live with negative ease at the bust, negative ease at the back is a no go.

The design choices regarding length of sleeves and bodice were made by the fabric, I could just squeeze it out of 1 meter while avoiding the white horizontal band in the print ending up at apex height. 

When I'm making a new pattern I always start by basting the shoulders first. If the fit in the shoulders is off, the garment will never hang properly. I baste, adjust, and repeat the process till I'm happy. For the Concord tee  I made a shoulder adjustment that Liechty et al describe as Low Neck Base adjustment, so by reverse diagnosis I suppose that's what I have to deal with since I often make this type of adjustment.  I took in 3/8 inch at the neckline, tapering to zero at the armscye and used my calculator to determine the percentage of shortening needed for the neckband.

Cashmerette Concord

As mentioned before the Concord comes in three lengths. The pattern envelope is only showing two views, so what's what? The size chart is giving finished measurements for bust, waist and hip. It would be helpful to see finished back length measurements as well.

Come to think of it, if I remember correctly Cashmerette patterns are drafted for a 5'4" height, but nowhere in the instructions, nor in the size chart on the Cashmerette website could I check this.
It's a pet peeve of mine, but I feel the importance of the height issue is easily underestimated. I know I have sewing friends who are 5'1" as well as sewing friends of 6' tall and most probably Cashmerette customers come in very different heights as well. It's so much easier when you know the starting point!

For those of you who want an indication of the length: I am 5'8" and I cut the mid length, which I expected to be on the short side. Surprise! In the end I shortened it by 1,5 inch it's now finished at a length that's 1,5 inch longer than the crop length. 

The instructions are comprehensive, but when I look at the booklet through the eyes of a beginner I think some useful tips could be added. For instance, clear elastic for the shoulder seams is 'optional'.

When you consider these tiny seams as the anchor for both the neckline and the sleeves, I strongly recommend using clear elastic, or even a woven ribbon to reinforce the shoulder seams! It really helps the neckline to stay in place.

Also, but maybe I'm sounding like my nitpicking editor self now, the instructions tell you to sew side seam and sleeve seam at one go, starting at the waist and sewing to the end of the sleeve. From the waist? Technically the waist is where one of the notches is, about halfway between top and hem. When do we sew hem to waist, a beginner might wonder? I feel this could have been phrased more accurately to avoid confusion. 

O, and last but not least, sew the neckband using this Off the Cuff tutorial

Final verdict: after some minor adjustments I really like the fit of this pattern and there will be more Concord t-shirts in my near future. I'm planning a longer version for the gym, a fun print with a v-neck and a stripey one with medium sleeves.

Edit: as Jenny of Cashmerette mentions in the comments Cashmerette Patterns are drafted for 5'6" and that information can now be found on the sizing page.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Knipmode May 2016 and bonus tall/petite special

Just a quick post for those of you interested in a review of Knipmode magazine. Style wise it's not the most coherent issue of the year, for me the best part is the special. More on that later.

Hmmm. As much as I like Van Gogh, I think we've seen too many of these artsy panels on overly simplified elastic waist skirts. Blue dress #8 has interesting seam lines though.

Did I miss an 80s urban safari revival? 

What? Someone stole my 1985 wardrobe, I swear! I made that blue dress back then and even styled it with the exact same hat, coiffure and shoes. Those trousers, teal skirt and floral tops were in my 80s closet as well. It's like looking at my personal pattern archive! Well, perhaps a new generation will be attracted to this style once again.

Pattern overview Knipmode 5/2016

Jacket #1 is looking interesting, but what on earth is going on at the back?

By special request of Knipmode subscribers another asymmetric collection is included. The chocolate brown skirt above looks nice, but I'm not thrilled about these dresses:

For the time being I don't see anything in this issue that will make it's way into my sewing queue, and that's okay. The queue is long enough as it is and the sneak peek of next month's Knipmode  is inspiring!

I know some of you have been waiting impatiently for the bonus special, which has patterns for a capsule wardrobe drafted for 1.60 - 1.72 -1.84 cm height. The rather classic collection contains a jacket, pants, a blouse with two sleeve options, a dress in two views and a skirt. All patterns are available in European sizes 34 t/m 54.

The black and white collection is modelled in size 36, in the second part of the special the same patterns are modelled in size 46.

According to this pattern overview the patterns of the jacket and the dresses will be available as pdf, but they're not yet showing up in the pattern shop. (
If you want to order the magazine + special:

Happy weekend, and succesful sewing!

Disclaimer: this review contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own.