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!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Floral party in the back Concord

This is my latest version of the Cashmerette Concord tee. I've lost count, but I've made this pattern at least a dozen times. Not bad, considering I was firmly in camp 'why sew a t-shirt if you can just as well buy one' for decades.

One of the many things I like about sewing is the planning stage. The hunt for the right fabric, deciding on a colour, finding notions and adding little details. Step by step the project that only existed in your head comes alive, resulting in a one of kind garment. For years I believed this approach was only worthwhile for special projects. Coats, evening wear, jackets. But once I started making t-shirts I was amazed by the number of design choices you could make for such a simple top.
All Concord tees I've made have different necklines, lengths, and sleeves. I know find that picking fabric for something I know I will wear till it's worn out is even more fun than selecting fabric for a seldom worn special occasion dress. Long story short: once I started making my tees I've never looked back.

The fabric for my umpteenth Concord tee is a rayon jersey from TST stoffen, a Dutch online fabric shop. It has a lovely drape so I wanted to make a flared swing top, just like the blue one I made last year. I kept the sleeves at elbow length because it turned out that's what gets the most wear during our rather unpredictable summers.

Because the blue top is still going strong I didn't want to make an exact copy and I used every last bit of the leftovers to create ties for the back. When mr Foxgloves first  saw my tee he said: 'Oh, nice.' And when I turned around he said: 'Oh! That's really, really nice!' So I guess the ties do indeed add a little interest.

There's nothing more to tell that I haven't discussed previously when it comes to this curve friendly pattern that comes in cup sizes and has become a true wardrobe staple for me.

So I'll end with a few more pictures of the shirt taken out in the wild during a trip to Germany last week, starting with the obligatory Schnitzel und Bier moment.

That's the first of summer holiday sewing done.
Till next time!

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Review Knipmode June 2018

Just a quick post for those of you interested in the contents of the Knipmode 6/2018 magazine.

Pattern overview Knipmode 6/2018

The emphasis is on dresses. Many different styles and lengths, and, apart from a few exceptions, all necklines look very modest. Peter Pan collars, fully buttoned up shirt dresses and neck ties. No halter necks or strapless dresses for the beach, but if you're looking for an office approved summer dress there may be something in here.

Dress 5 on the left doesn't exactly look like a summer dress to me, the autumn vibe we've seen in all spring Knipmode magazines this year is continuing. And so demure. Is that a fashion trend?
Dress 15 (middle) is a combination of tunic 14 and skirt 16. Looks like separates, but the pieces are sewn together and have a long zipper at center back. Not sure why you would want to do that as those individual pieces would be much more versatile. (In the picture below you see the tunic on the left and the skirt on the right)

These garments are all part of a mix & match holiday wardrobe. The pants are a repeat of the same shapeless variety we've seen in previous magazines and I've seen better versions of a cold shoulder dress. But the cropped jeans jacket looks good, either paired with shorts or over a dress or jumpsuit on a chilly night. 

Mix & match holiday capsule

Although it's not my usual style there is something about this month's designer dress (23) that makes me want to sew it immediately. With a v-neck perhaps.

These linen trousers (7) are also on my to-sew list. It's a simple pattern with a v-shaped yoke at the front, slash pockets and a side seam zipper. Not too many details so the focus will be fully on perfectioning the fit.

All in all I'll rate this issue as a useful one. The longer I look at it, the more I like it.

Happy sewing everyone!

Disclaimer: this review contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own. Photocredits: Knipmode. All pdf and paper patterns can be found at the Knipmode shop

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Two Ottobre Design tops

Another finished duo! Lately I seem to be making my garments per two, not sure why? Maybe it's a sign that reality is starting to sink in. The combination of a long RTW fast, combined with my slow sewing pace, is now causing serious wardrobe gaps. Using a pattern that's already gone through the fitting process is considerately speeding things up.

This top started out as a Knipmode dress. That didn't work very well, to put it mildly The knit fabric was too clingy and the tiny print didn't do me any favours. It was both a matter of scale and colour. Up close I liked the mix of chocolate brown, turquoise and white. From a distance the overall colour looked rather muted and there were just too many mini daisies all over me in a knee length dress. The dress was out of sight until it resurfaced during a recent sewing room cleaning.

Before tossing the fabric I checked if it would go with any existing garment in my wardrobe. And it did! Dark brown linen trousers, brown Mabel skirt, white jeans and a turquoise RTW cardigan. This fabric could be turned into the missing link for three different outfits. I figured that as a layering piece the clingyness wouldn't bother me so much, extra colour could be added by the cardigan and the daisy overkill would be reduced to an acceptable level. Triple win!

The top is #9 from Ottobre Woman 2/2014. It's the only Ottobre magazine I own, and it was bought for the pattern of the trench coat I made three years ago. I always flip through the pages of new Ottobre issues but haven't bought any in the last four years. Too many hoodies, leggings and t-shirt dresses. The patterns may lack interesting details, the drafting does not! At a closer look this basic looking top came with a few surprises.

The pattern is half lined. The lining ends just above the waist and the bottom is finished with clear elastic. For European sizes 44 and upwards there's a built in cheater FBA. The front bodice is slightly longer between the arrows to provide extra room for the bust. The extra fabric is gathered before sewing the side seams.

And it worked! No drag lines indicating a bigger FBA was needed. I really like the polished look of the neckline and armholes. No bands, no visible stitching.

Inside (back)

I also made this top in white. Instead of the half lining I used a full length lining as I feared the end of the lining would be visible. Now I'm tempted to line all my tops as it feels so luxurious!  With the half lining you still notice the button and belt loops of my jeans poking through, the full lining is more forgiving and smoothing out lumps and bumps.

As you can see I used off white for the lining as I had only just enough fabric for the outer shell. A good way to use up scraps. This top is waiting for warmer weather to be worn sleeveless with a bright floral skirt. But you have already seen me wear it my previous post, together with a Blackwood cardigan.

I can see myself make a few more of these tops. Maybe change the neckline to a square neck, sweetheart or any kind of neckline you won't be able to create with a neckband. I'm not a fan of facings in knit garments but I sure am a fan of lining from now on!