Thursday, 4 February 2016

Vogue 8379, the jungle edition

Wooooooahhhhh! While my first V8379 ended up a bit plain and boring, the remake can be described as...well, the opposite. In fact my camera had trouble focusing on the leopard-roses-tropical birds-mix, and the same goes for the human eye. You just don't know where to look in this dazzling print. The pictures were taken on a rather dark afternoon, the flash went off resulting in slightly washed out colours, in real life the fabric is vibrant!

The fabric is a cotton/viscose mix, the pattern is Vogue 8379, a classic wrap dress I made two years ago in solid blue.

What I like best about this pattern are the diagonal soft pleats coming from the waist. They provide nice shaping, releasing extra fabric at the bust without messing with the neckline.

Because of this feature it is gently skimming the curves, which on me is a better look than wrap dresses with a large amount of negative ease at the bust. 

The pattern comes with two sleeve variations: a short sleeve and bracelet length with cuffs. I was short on fabric so the cuffs weren't an option. Without cuffs the sleeves looked a bit wide so I narrowed them below the armscye and shortened the sleeves till just below the elbow.

The fabric had been in my stash for over a year and I knew I would not be able to buy extra in case of emergency. It was very slippery and during an overlocker test run it didn't behave very well, making me think the sewing machine was the safer option.
The instructions mentioned double-stitched seams. Stich along the seam line, stitch again 1/4"(6mm) away in seam allowance; trim close to the second stitching. This results in seams that at first glance look like French seams, but without the bulk coming from the extra fold. I had never used it before, but it looks really good.

I left out the facings, as I knew from the first time I used this pattern that there was no way to let them stay inside.

Neckline turned under and stitched

When I read Debbie's review of the Cashmerette Appleton wrap dress over at Stitches and seams I made a note of her brilliant idea to interface the ties and copied it for this dress. Works really well!

Speaking of the ties: they ended up really short. Of course this may have something to do with the state of my waistline, but that should have been taken care of by sewing up the correct size. Right? When I checked the pattern I noticed a grading issue. Only half of the difference in waist size was added to the next size up. Which would of course be correct if the ties were knotted at the back. But when you tie it as in the envelope drawing, the right tie goes all the way around the waist and the left tie about three quarters. With a difference of 33 cm/13" between the smallest and the largest size this is rapidly adding up, so check it! Adding to an already finished tie is no fun. Ask me how I know ;)

I am very pleased with this dress that is putting a smile on my face everytime I see it. I'm already planning a next version! 

That's about it. As I mentioned a few days ago this dress was inspired by Jungle January, and although finished in time, due to jungle weather conditions it was only ready to join the big parade on the fourth day of Ferocious February.

Thanks to Anne of Pretty Grievances for hosting another fabulous Jungle January! This one is for you Anne, a salute from the exotic woodpecker that is now residing on my right upper arm. Beep beep!

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Message from the jungle

Roarrr! Or better: Beep beep! Oonk-a-lunk! According to the Onomatopoeia Dictionary those are bird sounds. (Onomatopoeia ((ŏn′ə-măt′ə-pē′ə, -mä′tə-) is the formation of words such as buzz or murmur that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to). Isn't that interesting? It undeniably proves the educational value of Jungle January, the annual party hosted by Anne of Pretty Grievances.

For the second year in a row I joined the jungle parade (you can find last year's entry here) so I spent the last weekend of January in my sewing room, turning tropical bird fabric into a wrap dress.

Last night it got a bit creepy, when an army of  decapitated woodpeckers and oonk-a-lunks were giving me the side eye, giving the jungle a spooky Hitchcock vibe. Despite this unfortunate collateral damage things went really well, except for modelling this dress. Why, you ask?

A monsoon flooded the concrete jungle! What's a girl to do, except grab a vine and swing to the highest tree to protect her not-so-jungle-proof footwear?

With less than two hours to go in Jungle January I leave you with a sneak peek of my dress and the promise to show more of this birds/roses/leopards tropical surprise soon. Spoiler alert: I love it!

Punk-er-lunk! Chacalaca!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Review Knipmode February 2016

The opening of Knipmode's February issue is quite spectacular: four designer knockoffs, straight from the catwalk. A Michael Kors coat, a Salvatore Ferramo top and skirt, a Stella McCartney suit and a DVF wrap dress, all from Spring 2016 shows.

Knipmode 2/2016, Michael Kors (Getty Images)

Knipmode 2/2016 Salvatore Ferragamo (Getty Images)

Knipmode 2/2016 Stella McCartney (Getty Images)

Knipmode 2/2016 Diane von Furstenberg (Getty Images)

Although Knipmode offers designer knockoffs on a regular basis, I can't recall seeing official catwalk images next to Knipmode line drawings before. The replicas are usually presented as sewn up Knipmode interpretations next to a picture of the original. Like this DKNY inspired pattern elsewhere in the magazine:

Knipmode 2/2016

Similar, but with noticable differences in the proportions. The line drawings for the designer patterns look like accurate copies. The models are obviously wearing the real thing, but unlike the pattern makers of McCall Pattern Company (as discussed in this post) I doubt if Knipmode's crew had access to the original designer garments at any time. Let's hope they sew up looking as stunning as the originals. I certainly like where the inspiration is coming from!

On a side note, in her foreword the editor mentions these patterns were created for the real fashion victims. Seriously? Addressing your readers as women who are unable to identify boundaries of style, slavishly following trends against better judgment? 
I say that's uncalled for. 

Pattern overview Knipmode 2/2016

This month's illustrated sewing course is for retro styled tapered pants #23

Knipmode 2/2016 #23

Knipmode 2/2016
A collection built around panel prints, designed by Knipmode.

Knipmode 2/2016

More colour blocking, a peplum top that I feel strangely attracted to, despite the fit issues on the model, and a faux leather dress that's embellished with studs in the DIY section.
And lots of skirts. 

Knipmode 2/2016

I really like this set. The cropped jacket is a good match with the intriguing design lines of the Donna Karan style skirt. My personal favourite of the month must be this skirt:

It's on my sewing list and it fits right into my sewing and stash busting plans. I have the perfect fabric (in red). It was earmarked for a dress, but this skirt is well worth changing plans for! 

All in all another inspiring issue. I can't help thinking there are patterns in this magazine that would cause some buzz in the online sewing community had they been released as a single pattern by any pattern company with a stronger online presence!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Sewing plans?

Reading everyone's sewing plans at the beginning of the new year made me stop and think about where I am heading. In recent years I filled some gaps in my wardrobe and now I've reached the point where I can honestly say I don't need to sew anything. What's more, I don't need fabric. Or patterns. I find that a very liberating thought.

I can fully concentrate on what I really want to sew! 

When I reflect on last year's sewing there was one project that I enjoyed from planning stage till sewing on the last carefully selected button: the trench coat I worked on for almost three months. Underlined, bound buttonholes, flat piping, lbeautiful lining, lots of details and some hand sewing. It's the kind of project I love, also resulting in the kind of garment that I know will last for years. In order to make more projects like this I'm going to change directions and slow down my sewing even more. 

When I look at my stash I see a lot of fabric that I like, and only a small pile that I really love. Most of my fabrics are bought locally, or within a radius of 20 km from my home. Cotton and knits are easily available but don't ask for silk, cashmere, tweed or even crepe or you'll get the side eye. 

For a few special projects a year I'd rather buy one length of designer silk than add ten lengths to the stash that don't spark real joy. Ha! Enter the life changing effects of the Marie Kondo method ;)

Now when will these changes in my sewing start? Probably during the second half of this year. After three years of inactivity, caused by a painful back injury, I went back to the gym in November. Just two months later I'm not only regaining strength but I've also noticed a change in my measurements. I'll give it a few more months to see where it's going before starting to make close fitting tailored jackets or other time consuming garments that could turn into a potential alterations nightmare.

So what are the plans  dreams for 2016?

During the first half of the year I hope to:
- Sew a dent in my existing stash by making wrap dresses, shirts, tees and casual skirts 
- Sew a shirt for mr Foxgloves
- Watch all Alison Smith Craftsy classes
- Try new techniques from various Claire Shaeffer books, Kenneth D King's Cool Couture and 
- Learn how to draft slopers
After the summer holidays:
- Make trips to Nanucci Tesutti and Silk Route in Amsterdam, collect swatches from Linton 
  and who knows, maybe even take the train to Paris, to buy special fabrics 
- Start working on one or two jackets

Maybe you noticed the question mark in the title of this post. Perhaps these plans are more ambitious than realistic in a year in which we also plan to redecorate our home and maybe even build an extension. I also know myself well enough to foresee that it only takes one exciting release of a shiny new pattern to change what I want to sew overnight. But a girl can dream. 

To keep myself focused I ordered Vogue 1721 on Etsy, an Oscar de la Renta pattern that will get a prominent spot in my sewing room as it embodies all of my plans in the best way imaginable. For me the picture of that jacket paints a thousand words.

Whatever your sewing dreams are, I hope you'll make them come true in 2016!

Thursday, 31 December 2015

My year in patterns

New Year's Eve. Can't think of a better moment for reflections on the past year. Don't you love reading all sewing hits and misses posts? When I was looking back at my sewing I found it hard to select five hits and five misses, so I tried something else. Sewing statistics! This year I sewed a total of 15 garments. Only one of them was a dress. I don't believe in rules for the sewing room, but I had a vague plan in the back of my mind to sew less dresses and more separates. Win!

Four tops (one unblogged), three skirts (one unblogged), two jackets, two sweaters, a cardigan, a blouse, a dress and a coat. All of my garments have been worn. Some an awful lot, like the jackets and the coat, others less, due to the nature of the garment.

Most worn: Ottobre trenchcoat
This coat took a big chunk out of my sewing time, yet it was worth every minute!

Least worn: M6696

My Christmas dress , finished too late for Christmas 2014, was my least worn handmade garment of 2015. I still call it a big hit because it was there when I needed it: for an opening night at the ballet, a formal dinner in September and, as you can see above, this year's Christmas dinner with the family!

No misses this year, although some projects were more challenging than others....

....but  eventually everything turned out fine and although not very productive measured by the number of finished garments I call it a succesfull sewing year. All handmades in regular rotation, that's what it's all about, right?

During my first year of blogging I discovered a lot of new to me pattern companies and I wanted to try them ALL. This year I'm pretty much back to my regular routine. 

More on the philosophy behind my pattern selection in my next post. For now I want to end with my nine most popular pictures of 2015 on Instagram. If you haven't joined IG yet, please consider to do so because it is so much fun!

Thanks everyone for another year full of sewing inspiration, and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and creative New Year!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Free Knipmode pattern

As a special Christmas gift Knipmode magazine offers a free pdf download of any pattern in their shop. It's a thank you to everyone who showed an interest in the magazine by following their blog, Facebook page or subscribing to their newsletter. All you have to do is enter the code KERST, valid until December 31.

I think it's a wonderful opportunity to check the fit of a new to you pattern company or perhaps rediscover the Knipmode patterns. The announcement was made in a video, so unfortunately Google translate can't come to the rescue for non Dutch speakers. I got some emails from foreign Knipmode fans, asking for help. So here's a quick guide to the Knipmode pattern shop.

You can scroll until you find a pattern to your liking, or search by category: vrouw (woman), bruidskleding (bridal), zwangerschap (maternity wear) and more.
When you found your pattern of choice push button Aan mandje toevoegen (add to shopping cart)
Go to winkelwagen (shopping cart) and push button betalen (payment)
If you already have an account you can now enter the code KERST and push bestelling plaatsen (place your order). If you don't have an account yet, just fill in the required name, mail, address and create a wachtwoord (password).

That's all! The newer patterns (since September 2015) all come in an extended size range (European size 34-54), older patterns come in regular and Plus sizes.Seam allowances are not included. Have fun browsing around!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Burda/Plantain for the holidays!

Hi all! I'm typing this post with sticky fingers as I'm in between making vanilla fudge, baking almond  cookies and making ice cream. You know, the type of job you don't want to do while wearing your new Christmas dress. Last week I finally finished a sweater I cut out last winter, right in time to wear it while cutting holly and other evergreens from the garden, decorating the tree and, well, baking and more baking. 

It started out as a Burda magazine pattern which turned out too short and boxy, so I only used the shoulder and neckline section of that pattern (can't remember what issue it was in, around 2003 I think) and used my tried and tested Deer & Doe Plantain from the bust down.

My earlier Plantains all had a scooped neckline and I'm quite happy with the v-neck for a change. I used a light weight wool knit fabric, bought some time ago because I both liked the colour combo and the houndstooth print. Instead of the neckband I cut a facing, the hems were serged, fold over once to reduce bulk and then hand stitched.

It was getting dark during my photoshoot and I finally managed to get a picture of the back.......

......After several failed attempts to be in the right position in time ;)


The upside of last year's disaster, when I failed to finish my Christmas dress in time, is this year's dress has been ready since January. So relaxed!
Today I'm turning the sewing room into a guest room, carefully removing all pins and seam rippers from the floor. I'm ready to party and spend quality time with my loved ones.

Wishing you all a wonderful time!

Merry Christmas!