Tuesday, 11 December 2018

A floral peplum top

As some of you will know I'm a gardener who often disappears from the blogosphere during the summer months. Summer is for the foxgloves, winter for the thimbles. Except, this year we had what felt like a never ending summer, followed by an Indian summer, and then some more fine days. Less sewing, but lots of outdoor fun!
On one of these glorious days in early autumn we were invited to a garden party in the woods.

I always struggle when part of the dress code says casual. Casual, casual chic, business casual....Definitely not a party dress and heels, but also not my lawn mowing-type casual outfit. Invite me for a formal event and I immediately start planning and sewing an outfit, but I've been terrible at this casual stuff all my life.
For this occasion inspiration finally came from a piece of floral fabric.

A scuba knit with a pretty digital rose print on a dark navy background. It was my first time working with scuba and I did not know what to expect. Because I did not want to break up the pattern in too many places I started looking for a top with cut on sleeves.

Knipmode KM1803-12

This dolman sleeve top from Knipmode March 2018 (available as pdf) more or less fit the bill. This type of top can look massive on me, but I liked the fact that the waist seam would probably provide a hint of waist definition. I cut center front on the fold and skipped the drawstring. The line drawing suggested extra length in the front, but the pictures of the finished garment showed that the front became shorter than the back when the drawstring was used. There was hardly any extra length in the front bodice so I figured I could use that scant centimeter to serve as a tiny built-in FBA.

I did my usual 1.5 cm low neck base adjustment, made the V neck 1.5 cm higher and added 4 cm to the hem.

I mentioned it was my first time working with scuba and I can safely say it'll be the last time as well. Pressing was a nightmare! Scuba is spongy and it was not easy to get a nice and sharp V, not even with the firm use of a clapper. But the biggest disappointment was that this fabric is rather prone to snagging. Luckily I was not yet aware of that fact during the first outing of this top.

The location of the party was so beautiful. We arrived at this dreamy forest (glad I wasn't wearing heels!)

After a short walk we reached an open spot with the entrance to one of the most fabulous gardens I've ever seen. A beautiful cutting garden, a maze formed by Verbena plants, a small open air theatre, stunning ponds, sculptures and a large glasshouse. The garden once was part of an estate that was destroyed during the 1944 Battle of Arnhem. Only the foundations of the large country house remained, and part of the garden walls. Fifteen years ago a group of volunteers started restoring the garden. They did an amazing job and created a peaceful oasis on what once was a battlefield in a region where many lost their lives during airborne landings and fights for strategic bridges.

One more picture of my new top with a gorgeous backdrop of magenta Phloxes.
I always find it funny to see myself from the perspective of Mr Foxgloves, like I instantly shrink 8 inches!

It's been a long and wonderful summer, even though sewing was on the back burner.
Now, with the garden set safely stored in the shed and the chimney sweep's job done I think it's time to officially declare the garden season over and snuggle up in my sewing room.
Or? Even on the 10th of December there are still a few roses and marigolds in bloom, and I picked raspberries for lunch!

 December 10, 2018 chez Foxgloves

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

A 4-in-1 remake roundup

 I've always considered taking pictures to be the bottleneck when it came to creating new blog posts. Apparently that's not entirely true, as I've had these pictures waiting for ages. So, what kept me from blogging for so long? Honestly? I sewed myself to sleep!

It's not that I didn't sew at all in recent months. But my choices were boring, like I was sewing on automatic pilot. Once I realised what was happening I made a few changes that will have a positive impact on my sewing for the coming years, but that's a subject for another post. For now I do have a few of those boring things to share. After all I use this blog to keep track of what I made, and when, and for the sake of keeping it real I think it's best to document less inspired moments as well.

So let's get this out of the way!

In June I made a Deer and Doe Plantain, a t-shirt that is fitted at the shoulders and flares at the hips. I had used the pattern a few times and wanted to recreate the look of one of my favourite versions that I made in January 2015. That tee has been in heavy rotation since then and can no longer be worn in public as it's almost see-through now.

Here's a close up of the fabric. A sturdy textured knit, perhaps a bit too stiff do do justice to the flared hipline, but all in all a versatile garment that makes retiring its predecessor much easier.

Next: a refashioning project.

ConcordTShirt in the Portuguese mountains

I'd been wanting to make a navy and white striped Cashmerette Concord T-shirt but just couldn't find the right fabric. One day I discovered this monstrosity in the back of my closet:

A long forgotten RTW top with a neckline that would only look good when the ties were pulled so tight that the V ended up at belly button level. But the fabric was exactly what I had in mind and the top was tunic length, so plenty of fabric to play with. For a short moment I considered keeping as much of the top intact as I could, but I ended up taking it apart to start from scratch. The sewing was horrible! 

RTW hem on the left, hand stiched hem on the right.

I cut off just enough from the bottom to create a neckband (navy on the outside, half white/half navy on the inside) and ended up with what turned out to be one of my favourite travel shirts.

Working with the Concord pattern reminded me of the time I used this pattern to make sleepwear.
Apparently our high summer temperatures were killing my creativity as not only did I use the same pattern, I used the same print again as well.

In order to prevent a total deja vu effect I used a different colourway of the fabric, drafted cap sleeves and used matching lingerie elastic not only to the neckline but also along the sleeves and hem.

The last remake of this summer is another Helen's Closet Blackwood cardigan.

It was my fourth version of this pattern and I call it Murphy. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The fabric, a lovely cotton jersey, had a faded line down the middle. I was so happy to finally find the shade of pink I was looking for that I failed to notice this flaw. I managed to mostly work around this issue, only to discover later that there was barely enough stretch for this pattern. And it is wrinkling like crazy. Then, right in the middle of this project, my serger knife hit a pin so Murphy's insides looked wonky and frayed.

By this time the only thing that kept me going was that gorgeous pink.

When I first made this floral Blackwood I wasn't too happy with the horizontal seam hitting me at the widest part of my high hip. I considered making the band the same width as the front bands, but suspected the counterweight was needed for a correct hang. So I kept the band at the original width and added 7 cm length to the bodice. Guess what? That looked odd. When I asked Mr Foxgloves for his opinion, without mentioning the length issue, he took one glance, raised an eyebrow and said: 'That cardigan is either too long or too short.' I did not want to restart the now blunt and misbehaving serger so I simply folded the hem band over and hand stitched it to the seam, thus enclosing the frayed edges.
Smaller hem band, same weight, shorter length. Still far from perfect, but much better.
And pink :)

Next up: a few new patterns, sewing for men, Christmas dresses, a brand new sewing machine and exciting sewing plans.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Blackwood in Braga

This cardigan, here worn during our holiday in Portugal, is a top competitor for the title 'most worn garment of the year'. It's the long version of the Blackwood cardigan, made in a very lightweight rayon knit. The ideal garment for layering on an overcast day!

I'm sitting on one of the many balustrades of the baroque sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte near the city of Braga.

Zigzag staircases are leading to a church on top of the hill. Pilgrims are encouraged to climb those steps on their knees! If you're not a pilgrim you can use a water balance funicular or go by foot, as we did.

Here I am posing in the bottom circle from the picture above.

But back to the sewing part!

Helen's Closet Blackwood cardigan

I had made both the longer and the shorter version before so this time I could skip the fitting part. Not that fitting was hard the first time around. The only changes I made were shorting the sleeves by 6 cm (and I have long arms!), and omitting the pockets. I don't like pockets in knits and in this particular fabric even the weight of a museum ticket would probably distort the hang.

This cardigan is a very versatile addition to my wardrobe as it can easily be dressed up with a silk scarf and heels, can be worn over dresses as well as pants and the colour has chameleon style qualities. It looks very different and really fresh when paired with white.
One of the best features is that it can be rolled up into a very small bundle. I'm tempted to sew a little drawstring bag as it can easily fit in my handbag.

Nice accessory when flying to a different climate zone

Just for the record, and because I can as mr Foxgloves patiently took the photos that are always out of focus when I take them with a remote, some pictures of the inside and the back:

More holiday outfits in pretty settings coming soon.

Happy sewing!

Thursday, 23 August 2018

A peasant blouse in Porto

Nothing like upcoming summer holidays to get me into planning and sewing mode! During spring and early summer I've sewn quite a few garments with our trip to Portugal in mind. I managed to take some in-progress shots and made construction and fitting notes but just couldn't find the time for shooting blog pictures. However, after going through our 1500+ holiday pictures I thought perhaps y'all would welcome a change from my boring old back drop and see some action shots instead!

First up is a Knipmode blouse from the supplement of the March issue (KM1803-103)

The fabric I used is a royal blue embroidered cotton lawn, known here as broderie anglaise.
I used French seams and finished the neckline with a bias strip. For the ties I cut a strip on the straight grain from that particular 5 cm wide part of the fabric close to the selvedge that isn't embroidered. I figured this would make my ties more even.
The sleeves originally were in one piece, with a tunnel for elastic just above the elbow. I cut the sleeve pattern right below that tunnel in order to make the lower part of the bell sleeves a little wider, without ending up with extra width in the upper arm.

The only other change I made was straightening the curved hem. I can't recall why I did that and I don't think it's an improvement. Maybe I had a plane to catch and made a shortcut?

Here's an action shot, taken right after we crossed the famous Ponte Dom Luis I, which is no sinecure for someone who suffers from fear of heights. The neckline may or may not have shifted while I was frantically clamping the railing with both hands....

Well, the view was worth it. And even better, we were now on the river bank where all the port houses are located. After tasting a few port wines that bridge didn't look half as scary!

But I digress, we're here for the sewing. What's my verdict on this blouse?
I like the colour.
Anything else? Ehmm, nope.

It's not the pattern. Everything came together nicely, instructions were sparse but okay.
It's not the fabric, which is lovely.
The pairing of the two was less successful. The embroidery gives the fabric a firmer hand compared to regular cotton lawn and affects the drape. Together with the absence of shaping this results in a rather unflattering square silhouette.
Maybe this blouse would look better when made in rayon or silk but I'm not volunteering to test that.

Here are a few more pictures, mostly to remind myself that I'm done sewing boxy tops.

I can't deny that the colour is a perfect match with the beautiful tiles in the Sao Bento train station, which is about the most positive thing I can come up with before I donate or refashion this wadder ;)

Showing up one last time twice

You can't win them all. At least the one and only day in the life of this top was a very good one!

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Heatwave sewing: a breezy Knipmode blouse

Hi all! Although I vanished from the blogosphere during an unplanned two month hiatus everything is well and I have a lot of new sewing projects to document here.
Soon after my previous post mr Foxgloves and I went on holiday to the north of Portugal. We had the best of times and we managed to take some blog pictures of freshly sewn summer wear in a few beautiful spots. Coming soon. The weather in Portugal was lovely and sunny, but much to our surprise we heard it was even warmer in The Netherlands. Turned out this was the start of an unprecedented heatwave. When we returned the garden desperately needed our attention and up till today we didn't get any rain. If you've ever experienced a Dutch summer you'll know how unusual that is. After nine weeks of drought with temperatures rising to 38 Celsius this picture sums up the state of our country rather well:

Photocredits: De Telegraaf

Our infra structure is designed for keeping the water out, keeping the water in is something else!

Amidst the struggle to keep the garden alive I felt the need to sew a lightweight cotton top to stay as cool as possible. I found this lovely floral and dots fabric (two prints in one, winner!) that almost feels like batiste. It has a lovely drape and I decided to pair it with this Knipmode pattern that was on my to-sew list ever since I first saw it in August 2017.


Simple, but with a few nice details like the v-neck insert, a self lined back yoke and high/low hem.

Based on my high bust measurement I was in between size 46 and 48. I chose the smaller size, did my usual 1 inch FBA (which resulted in adding a side dart) and made a muslin which turned out too big at the bust. I pinned out all excess fabric and much to my surprise that equalled completely undoing the FBA and getting rid of the dart. Must have something to do with the release pleats coming from the shoulder and the loose fit in general. Okay then, taping the slashed pattern piece back together. Fine by me! The only other flat pattern adjustment I made was adding 2 cm length to both front and back. From there on it was easy sewing, even with a melted brain.

Not mentioned in the Knipmode instructions, but always a highlight: the burrito!

My fabric perhaps wasn't the best choice for showing the details. I'm tempted make this top again in a solid crepe for autumn.

The shape is definitely more boxy than I usually prefer but it is a joy to wear on hot days. 

The back, showing the curved hemline.

And a close up of the back yoke and pleat.

One last picture of the blouse 'out in the wild' on a trip to Germany:

To everyone enduring a heatwave: keep it cool!

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Roses all over: Vogue 8379

Around this time of year I often feel the urge to sew all the rose prints. This is probably triggered by my view from the breakfast table, which is so beautiful in June.

View 2018 and 2015 (Knipmode top)

My most recent rose print summer garment is this Knipmode top, made in 2015. The reason why it took me three years to add another rose covered outfit is that's it's quite a challenge to find a bright print with the right scale. As much as I like Liberty, Laura Ashley or Cath Kidston rose prints on others, they're just not working on me. Imagine my jump for joy when I discovered this (now sold out) large print in the online shop of TST stoffen:

Rayon jersey with a lovely drape meant the pattern was a no brainer: Vogue 8379. I've used this pattern before for three dresses and a top.

This new wrap dress is basically the same as my jungle dress.

Adjustments I've made to the pattern:
* Lengthened the bodice by 2,5 cm
* Used interfacing for the ties
* Lengthened the ties by 25 cm
* Omitted the facings. Turned under and stitched the seam allowances instead.
* Left off the cuffs and shortened and slightly tapered the sleeves

I'm very happy with how this turned out. The ideal summer dress that rolls up to almost nothing in your suitcase!

Totally ready for summer!