Friday, 15 July 2016

Review Knipmode August 2016 (and Knipmode July 2016's highlights)

The cover of Knipmode's August issue is all about sun and sea. Perhaps the endless weeks of heavy rainfall and the fact that I'm shivering in my long sleeved shirt right now isn't helping much but this theme feels a bit.... unseasonal? School's out for summer, holiday suitcases are already packed and summer sale started weeks ago. My overly ambitious summer sewing plans were made months ago!
Well, you can't judge a sewing magazine by its cover, right?

Surprise! No swimsuits, just one pair of shorts and also a bunch of long sleeved jackets, cardigans, dresses and sweaters! 

A black and white capsule collection consisting of dress #15 with interesting seam lines, a nicely shaped fitted dress (#24), skirt #13, loose and boxy top #8 and, not shown, cardigan #12 and trousers #11. Combining items from this capsule will make outfits suitable for all types of weather. 

It's easy to imagine the dress on the left worn with tights. Not sure about maxi dress #1 for summer. The model is showing a lot of leg when seated but the line drawing looks like an awful lot of fabric. It will make pretty autumn lounge wear though.

The 'Oh boy' collection mixes mini skirts and masculine blazers, bow blouses and oversized cardigans. Whoever did the text editing for the cover certainly put me on the wrong track!

A floral collection, love the neckline of the dress on the left!

Some of the patterns are now also shown by models wearing size 46 by request of many Knipmode readers. 

Overview of Knipmode 8/2016  pdf patterns

All in all there's nothing in this issue that will end up in my summer sewing queue, but it's not too bad either.

Last month I skipped the review of Knipmode July 2016. However, that issue contained two patterns deserving an honouroble mention.  For over a decade now Knipmode collaborates with Dutch designer Mart Visser.  Once in a while the Mart Visser original designer patterns make an appearance in the magazine. These are my most treasured issues as the design details are often intriguing and challenging. For the July issue he designed a party dress and a kaftan, both are available as pdf pattern on in European sizes 34-54. Not as remarkable as some of his earlier evening wear patterns, but still really pretty!

Have a nice weekend!

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

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Silent stitching

Last month, on Father's Day, we lost my father-in-law. While the funeral arrangements were being made I decided to make a dress. Not that I needed the dress, I just needed the stitching.

It felt like the right thing to do. My father-in-law was a fan of handmade garments and he always encouraged me to sew. There was so much on my mind and I had trouble thinking straight. Whatever I was going to make needed to be simple and without fitting issues. There was no time for fabric shopping either so I was looking for a trusted pattern and fabric from the stash. I settled for a black double knit and V8379, a dress I could make on automatic pilot.

When I was sitting in my sewing room the only sound was coming from the birds in the tree next to the window. I hardly remember cutting, stitching or finishing the seams. Sewing helped, like it always does. By the time I was silently hand stitching the hem good memories started to replace the images of his difficult last weeks. My dress was finished in time for the funeral which took place one week before his 97th birthday. He will be missed dearly by all of us.

Today I bought a large bunch of Dad's favourite flowers. He used to grow them on his allotment. Thinking about the gardening lessons he taught me over the years and looking at the sunflowers is cheering me up. And although we are still busy emptying the house I will try to start sewing again soon. Cause it helps.

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!