Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Review Knipmode December 2015

As a long time subscriber to Knipmode I've always been very strict on the twelve issues in, twelve issues out rule. With one exception: the December issue was always a keeper. Not sure about this one though, as I'm a little underwhelmed. Look at the cover. Perhaps it would make a good January front page with all the grey, but does it say Christmas, or New Year's Eve?

Looking at the technical drawings I don't see much that makes me change my mind. Even though some of the dresses are made up in lace and one of the tops has sequins, design wise they're not very different from linen dresses and tops we saw in the spring and summer issues. It's all a

Let's take a look at some of the older December issues.

Designer evening wear, not one or two, but 20 Little Black Dresses in different styles, patterns for stylish accessories like clutches, bow ties, evening coats. 

It's not just about Christmas. The box with my treasured December Knipmode magazines is where I will be looking first when I need a pattern for a cocktail dress for a Midsummer night's party, where I found Prom dress patterns for my daughters, evening wear for a Gala or a dress pattern suitable to attend a formal wedding. I know of students and musicians using the designer patterns to make affordable  outfits for events with a 'white tie' dresscode or stage performances. With eleven magazines a year full of everyday wear, can we please, please have a festive December issue?

End of rant. When you're not looking at the collection through my disappointed eyes you may find some useful patterns.

 I'm all for relaxed family gatherings during the holidays but even secret pyamas can be a little more glamourous in December!

Deck the halls?
The styling of these patterns is definitely more festive, but a tank top, a t-shirt, rectangular skirts with elastic waists and a simple sleeveless dress? Make these patterns up in bright or floral cottons and it's called a summer holiday capsule wardrobe. 

A pencil skirt and a jacket, modeled in two different sizes. The classic skirt is looking good, but something is off with the jacket (#23 and #24). Is it the collar that looks too tiny? The centre front that looks a bit frumpy when the jacket is closed? Is there just too much going on with prints and colour blocking? Or is it the placement of the princess seams and the extra darts? I'll pass.

Now finally, here's a dress with interesting seams! Maybe in red to show off the design details? (The Knipmode website is down, so I can't add any details from the pattern shop)

Let's end this review in a positive mood. Is it all bad? No, it's not. I've already traced A-line skirt #5, I'll keep dress #17 in mind as a summer dress and maybe cardigan 13 will end op in my sewing queue. But is it a collectors item? Certainly not.
This December, and for all events in the next year, I'll be looking at Vogue or Burda for evening wear and cocktail dresses. Or, of course, my trusty box of older Knipmode December issues.

What brought on the change, I wonder? Of course Knipmode found its niche by selling patterns for busy and active women. Not as fashionable or experimental as Burda, not as basic as Ottobre. Over the years I've read several columns by chief editors suggesting we don't want to dress up anymore, all we want to do in December is put up our feet in lounge wear, play games and watch Netflix. But is that really true? Theaters all over the country are sold out for ten days in a row around Christmas, restaurants are fully booked. Whenever I go to the ballet, or a concert hall, I see lots of people dressed to the nines. We need patterns for that!

How about you? Do you like to dress up whenever you can or are you in Team lounge wear? 
What's your favourite source for evening wear and cocktail dresses?

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Brushing up my French with Dior and Carmen

Early this summer, when we were in the Francophone parts of Belgium for a wedding, I felt the need to work on my rusty language skills. After successfully practicing my culinary French in restaurants and bars (très important, non?) I wanted to find some books to bring home to keep up the good work. Of course I went straight to the sewing books when we found a lovely bookstore in Liège. What else? Sewing wise I could not find anything interesting, but there were some very pretty fashion books!
After spending an hour in the reading nook of the store I bought La révolution du New Look.

Great read, and brilliant pictures!

In case you ever wondered about the perfect skirt length, here's Christian Dior telling us all hems should be 40 cm above the floor. No more, no less.

As I was slowly making progress reading this book I received a surprise email by Carmen of CarmencitaB blog : I won her book in a giveaway!

Carmen is the winner of Cousu Main, the French equivalent of the Great British Sewing Bee. She wrote a beginner friendly sewing book including 11 patterns. The book is a joy to read and the patterns for pants, blouses, la petite robe noire, a button down shirt, pencil skirts and more are looking great. The styling is fun, just like Carmen and her blog!

Hi Carmen!

Carmen also sent me a pretty tote bag. If you're part of #bpsewvember on Instagram you'll have seen today's question 'Why I sew?'. Here's one of the many answers:

Merci beaucoup, Carmen!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Why I skipped my birthday dress

Look at that sweater! Sewing doesn't get any easier than that! Just what I was thinking when I started working on a fitness outfit. Quick project, could easily be finished in an evening or two and then over to making a glorious birthday dress. To speed things up I skipped making a muslin.

Clever thinking, Mrs Foxgloves. What went wrong? I used a Knipmode pattern (KM 1510-13) in my usual size 48. It looked a bit big, but as I wanted to wear it as a layering piece it didn't worry me too much.

When I looked at the technical drawing I assumed it was rather short. Something to do with the over all proportions, and the sleeves looking longer than the I added 6 cm extra length. Huge mistake! I was completely misreading the shape. It looked almost wider than long but it was not caused by the sweater being short, but by it being extremely wide! Not too worry, as a commenter on Instagram said: look at the bright side, it isn't too small!

After some chopping and going down two sizes I had another wadder.

Was this thing growing overnight? I recut again. Luckily there was so much excess fabric that I could just cut off all serged seams again, including the raglan seams. I finally ended up with something wearable, but I made three sweaters to get there. Waste of time de luxe. I equally blame the pattern, my own bad judgement and the fabric, which is a very soft, lightweight cotton/poly knit.

I attached the cowl neck twice on the final garment. Brilliant. Depending on how the cowl is worn you see the seam on the inside or the outside of the garment. The only way to get a clean finish both ways was by using French seams. On a very unstable knit. Holy cow, it never stopped!

That'll have to do. I finished my sweatshirt this morning, twenty minutes before my first serious fitness training in well over three years. I recently did some try-outs and my back and various other protesting body parts were finally holding up fine, so my return to the gym was planned for the first Monday in November. Wait, that's my birthday! As you can guess by now I didn't even start sewing my birthday dress. Well, who cares. It's the perfect day to start working on my health again and I'm very grateful to be able to reach a new level of exercise. I enrolled for a year of training and I'm wondering where I'll stand same time next year. I hope to rebuild my strength and, if possible, regain my former shape and size. And look, who needs a birthday dress when you can have a party in the gym???

It'll be quite a journey, for me as well as for my trainer. Cause I'm such a natural ;) See?

Monday, 19 October 2015

Review Knipmode November 2015

Lots of highlights in the November issue of Knipmode: a corset, designs for (faux) leather and a mix & match dress pattern. The cover shouts 'Feest', which is the Dutch word for party. Hurry up, go sew yourself a dress in Christmas lights fabric! I don't know about you, to me it feels like dressing up as a Christmas tree, but lots of people seem to like the bright lights print. I do like the neckline of the shirt on the left!

Bright lights, big city collection

 It's not all about party wear this month. There is also a collection based on Pantone's colour of the year Marsala containing some practical day to day wear patterns. I love the colour mix.

Drum roll! Ever since the November Knipmode collection by Annicke Shireen and Marloes Dadswell, winners of the Dutch Sewing Bee, was announced Dutch sewists have been looking forward to it.  During the show they made some very pretty corsets and some edgy designs in leather, all under extreme time pressure. The items they designed for Knipmode are a fresh breath of air and, just like all other patterns, available in 11 European sizes, from 34-54, that's 83-131 cm bust, 67-113 cm waist and 92-138 cm hip.


My personal favourite from this issue is the mix & match dress pattern. A bodice with six different neckline options, four different sleeves and five skirt options. Going over your personal fit adjustments just once and make over a 100 different styles? Yes, please! 

If you download one of the pdf patterns of the dresses 7-11 all other options will be added for free.
The patterns marked with @ are available as pdf:

My must-have list is not as big as my list from the September and October issues, but I can live with that. (Just as well!) It's my impression that there are a lot of patterns in this magazine that appeal to younger sewists, without being overly simplified and aimed at the beginners-only-segment. Feest!

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

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A knit boucle cardigan

Nine times out of ten my sewing plans start with a pattern. Once in a while I buy fabric without a plan, and only too often it will stay in the dark corners of the stash forever with little hope of being promoted to the sewing queue. But not this time!

When this knit boucle caught my eye I knew I had to have it and after a quick prewash I was spending the next evening in my sewing room, cutting while trying desperately not to exhale. Or sneeze. Nevertheless I ended up with curly stuff from floor to ceiling. And not just in my sewing room either.
It was totally worth it. The fabric is very soft, feels luxurious and was a dream to sew.

For a brief moment I had been contemplating a remake of this jacket, but working with a zipper combined with this fluffiness? Not the smartest plan. I went back and bought buttons, stretch lining and some black ponte for facings. On my way home I looked around and got some new ideas.

These RTW cardigans all had trim along the center front that was part of the facing. Clever and quick! I made a pattern that was a mix of my jungle January jacket and the sleeves of McCall's 6708. The colour of the lining fabric, although black, looked a bit off next to the facings so I left it out (the red cardigan above was unlined too). I took my facing pattern pieces and added 2x1 cm + seam allowance to the front to create a 1 cm wide trim. The facing was stitched to center front, right sides together, then flipped inside, folded one centimeter from the stitching line. Stitched in the ditch and voila, all that was left to do was finish the neckline with a separate band and hand stitch the hems.

In this close up you can see the taupe and copper yarns that add some shine to the fabric, hard to catch in the pictures. I mentioned buttons, but when I added them I didn't like the look. Iiieee! Bavarian hunter jacket vibes!
Maybe snaps? So far I prefer to wear it open.

As there is not much more to tell about this project I tried to experiment a bit with my camera settings. I'm following Gillians's Better Pictures Project and wanted to try Heather B's tip to shoot in Portrait Mode. Although the general idea was that my garments would be in focus and my backdrop would be softer, I have a feeling it's the other way round here. Back to the books!

As part of the Better Picture Project I may as well show the outtakes:

When you check the settings, make sure to be back in position in time!

How many times do I have to say that's the remote. Not a doggy snack.

Me and my furry shadow doing our simultaneous catwalk act. 

Sooo. The pictures need more practice but the good news is that less than two days after I first spotted my fabric-without-a-plan I had finished my first autumn sewing project and a comfy cardigan was packed in my suitcase for a weekend trip!

Edit: by special request now with crappy iPhone pic from the trip. At the Song Dong exposition, Groninger Museum. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Review Knipmode October 2015

Bamm! While I'm in still in the middle of sewing up two patterns from the September issue of Knipmode the new October magazine arrived. Another 25 patterns and six DIY projects. This trial subscription is a killing me, as patterns land in my sewing room at a much higher pace than I will ever be able to sew them up! Ahh, what's new.

As I described in last month's review over at the Curvy Sewing Collection all patterns come in European sizes 34-54 now, that's 83-131 cm bust, 67-113 cm waist and 92-138 cm hip. So far the patterns I've worked with are looking very good. More on that next week I hope.
Over to the October issue.

source: Knipmode

Happy hippie. Okay, been there, done that, so...Never mind famous fashion rules. I need that bootcut jeans she's hiding behind that bag, even though the technical drawing makes it look like it was designed for Rowdy Yates. Yeehaw! Fringe, boho, seventies vibes and some poncho's in the DIY section make this collection spot on trend.

The inspiration for the next set of patterns comes from Mondriaan, Miro and Andy Warhol. Really?

source: Knipmode

I'm not impressed by the (ab)use of big names for pretty basic patterns. Picking bright prints for random patterns doesn't exactly make this an 'Art work collection' but the individual patterns look okay if you're into the style.

Source: Knipmode

Nature and animal prints, theme of the next collection. Here the photography and styling really helps to make the patterns stand out. I think the pattern designers succeeded in making a collection where all ages, all body types and sizes can find something that works. The timeless faux wrap dress is on my to-sew list, as well as my favourite pattern from this issue, a jacket with interesting seam lines:

Or how about a jacket inspired by Dior's New Look?

More contenders to make it to the sewing table chez Foxgloves:

A simple yet stylish coat and a knit dress with lots of fitting opportunities.

All patterns marked with a red @ are available as downloads in the Knipmode pattern store. When I asked the editorial staff why there's only a selection available as pdf they replied it is a cost issue. Only patterns that add something extra to the available pdf-collection make the cut. So far the online shop is merely aimed at the home market, which I suppose isn't very big. The price of a pdf is 2/3 of the price of a magazine. When in doubt, we buy the magazine. Exploring new markets might result in new business plans for pdf's, don't you think?

Another promising Knipmode issue, I say. Now if you don't mind, I hurry back to my sewing room and my growing to-sew list!