Monday, 25 August 2014

Murphy's law for sundress sewing

Back in June, when Heather launched the summer sundress sew-a-long, I was one of the first to sign up. An August deadline? Ample time to sew a carload of sundresses! Or? 
For one reason or another I wanted butterfly fabric for my sundress, nothing else would do. 

When I found this picture I realized I'd unconsciously been looking to reproduce a favorite dress from way back, when Canal Couture and Sartorial Sweatshop were very cute little girls with a love for icecream and colorful hair accessories.

That dress deserved a remake! I visited every fabric store and market I could think of, but no sign of butterfly fabric. Finally I tracked down this Robert Kaufman fabric in Hong Kong.

This beautiful print with tiny golden details was certainly worth waiting for. In the meantime I ordered a sundress pattern from a Dutch online store. Not the cheapest option, but it was in stock and should arrive the next day.

Oops, sorry! Did we say in stock? We meant to say it was on backorder!
Three weeks later: still on backorder. 

June turned into July and we were in the middle of a heatwave. I really needed that new sundress! Plan B:

A Knipmode dress and a cotton jersey. Nice pattern, beautiful fabric but bad pairing of the two. Plan B was a mess.

Still no sign of Simplicity 1803. Mind you, I paid the equivalent of $22 for that silly no show pattern! Some phone calls later I discovered someone in the shop mixed up pattern codes. To make things worse: it had been in stock all the time but I could have waited till Christmas without anyone noticing.
But, allways look at the bright side of life: the number one project in the 2015 summer sewing queue is ready for take off!

Now August arrived and I still did not make a new sundress.
Time for plan C: another cotton jersey and a TNT pattern, see the first picture of this post.

As soon as I started cutting this dress the weather changed from unusually hot to pretty bad, even for Dutch standards. It's the coldest August since 1924. So let's put another log on the fire while I'm finally hemming my sundress!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Sewing room organization

My thread stash was outgrowing it's dedicated space. Well, not just the thread stash, but for the sake of the year of No Rules in the sewing room I will deal with my fabric stash in due time. Promise.
I prefer to keep my thread in boxes, unfortunately the ones I picked last year were getting overcrowded to a point where searching for the right colour became a nuisance.

Luckily I found some much bigger boxes at the sale of HEMA, a Dutch department store. I have no idea what these boxes were meant for (definitely nothing sewing related) but they proved to be the perfect height for Gutermann spools.

So after spending some quiet time near the pond I came up with this improved arrangement. 

I also rearranged my machine needles. Am I the only one needing a magnifying glass to check the numbers on those unidentified needles that wander around my desk?? 
From now on I keep needles that have been used for just one project on a piece of pinked silk, next to their same sized pals. The yellow note on the cover tells me what needle is on duty in my machine right now.

It looks like Schmetz is finally adding colour codes, but until all my needles have been replaced by this new type I'm relying on this system.

Sewing wise this was not the best of posts, but after our summer break both my sewing room and I are prepared for new adventures, starting tomorrow!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Holiday fabric shopping

During summer there's always a battle going on between my foxgloves and my thimbles: the garden and the sewing room are fighting for my attention on a daily basis! Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have noticed an awful lot of harvesting, weeding and planting going on. Not that I'm complaining! Freshly picked black currants, raspberries, apples and blackberries make very good desserts and I baked a lot of pies. So, add a wonderful summer with warm, sunny days to the mix and you'll understand the garden won the first round.

But things are slowly changing. There has been some fabric shopping! This digital rose print was love at first sight. It's like you can touch the petals, feel the velvety surface and smell the rose fragrance. It's a stretch cotton and some day soon it will become a pencil skirt.

It's the first digital print that found it's way into my stash but it was soon followed by another piece. This next one is the 'love it or hate it' type of fabric. Warning, one might consider it a liiiiiitttttle bit over the top.

Yeah, it's LOUD! Like the designer could not stop adding features. Flowers? Check! Birds? Done! More birds? Why not? Antique vases? Yep! O, why not throw in some leopards?

As ridiculous as this print is, I just could not get it out of my head. 
When fabric speaks, I obey.
So, perhaps Moneta #3? 
To be continued!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Dresscode orange

Orange is the must have of the season in The Netherlands. We are not just talking dresses. Orange is a neutral in our streets. This is what our quiet village looks like these days:

This is considered modestly decorated, in the cities the streets look like this:

Foto:ANP/Marcel van Hoorn

A few weeks ago I discussed Dutch women's World Cup fashion, but let's not forget the guys. This tasteful 'cheering suit', believe it or not, was completely sold out by pre-order. Sorry not sorry, boys!

Boys and their toys: stylish accessories for cars.

And we all eat orange pastry. By the bucket.

It's matchday and since it's a well known fact that Team Holland has 16.8 million coaches you understand I have important meetings coming up. Must discuss tonight's line up with family and friends, tough decisions to make! 

The Furry Assistant, ready to beg for orange cookies.
Hup, Holland, hup!

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. 
Team Holland lost the semi finals by penalty shoot outs. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Lace Moneta

A few weeks ago I wanted to make a new dress for a special occasion. Sometimes I select a pattern before buying fabric but his time the fabric led the way. When I discovered this blue stretch lace I knew it would be perfect for a Moneta dress.
I underlined the bodice with a very lightweight jersey in dark navy.

 All seam allowances were catch stitched to the underlining. These are the shoulder seams, you can see the clear elastic used for stabilizing sticking out on the right side.

For the sleeves I used a single layer of the lace, the neckline was turned under as per the instructions and also hand stitched to the underlining, a nice and clear finish.

This dress is a remake of my Floral frenzy Moneta, with a slightly more scooped out neckline on the front. The neckline is staying nicely in place, even when I'm bending over to reward the furry assistant. 

For the skirt I chose to use separate layers to keep a flowy effect. In order to prevent extra bulk at the waistline and hips I drafted a straight skirt for the lining. Both skirts have French seams. I gathered the lace overskirt and sewed both skirts to the bodice, adding clear elastic.

Easy to make, a pleasure to wear!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Saved by the scissors

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out my closet and found a dress in the far corner. It was the kind of dress that adds five years and twenty pounds to your appearance. For said reasons I'm not going to model it on da blog, but you get the picture. No?
Now you do:


I was ready to toss it but then it crossed my mind the polka dot fabric could be re-used for facings or pocket linings. Okay, toss the bodice, keep the skirt. 

On closer inspection of the construction I got a new plan. I'd been wondering for some time whether or not a peplum top would work on my body type. So instead of throwing the bodice in the bin I tried out some peplum variations. Added a gathered piece of muslin..nahh. Looked as frumpy as the original. I tried a half circle, better! I even started to like it! 
As you can see the (wrap)dress had a slight A-line skirt so there was not much to play with once I decided to go see if refashioning could rehabilitate this sad piece of RTW. I drafted some pattern pieces, shaved, hacked, cut, added a back seam, all to make it work. 

The original waistband was a bit large so I used the ties to create a better fit. Hence some extra wrinkles, but I'm okay with those. In fact they remind me of the little pleats in the bodice of Vogue 8379, a wrap dress I made last winter.

I'm happy with the result and I have already been wearing it a few times, together with my Mabel skirt. A fun project!

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

BHL Anna, dressed to the nines!

Oh lala! Here's a picture heavy post starring a By Hand London Anna dress. 

Where shall I begin? Last year I wanted to make this dress for a ballet gala. The pattern got lost in the mail, was sent again, but arrived too late to use it for the occasion. I moved on to other patterns and once in a while I looked at the Anna dress but lost a bit of my enthusiasm. It looked so...I don't know. Everytime I put it back to the end of the sewing queue. Fast forward to Sewing Indie Month. Laura Mae of Lilacs and Lace hosts a Dressed to the Nines competition for Indie patterns. In one of her posts she mentioned being underwhelmed by the Anna dress until she put it on and it came to life. I had the pattern, I already bought the fabric, only one way to find out if I would like it. Cut it! And cut it fast so I could finish it in time to link it for Sewing Indie Month.

I wanted to create a bla(n)ck canvas. A dress that could easily be changed into another outfit by simply adding a cropped jacket or silk scarf. So black it was. I lined the top because I prefer a lining over facings. I used fusible tape to stabilize the neckline and shoulders. 

This picture shows the typical pleats, instead of darts. And of course I could not resist making the split.  I made no changes (wow, couldn't believe my luck!) except for cutting off nearly 6 inches at the hem. And yes, yes, yes, I like my dress! 

To finish the outfit I teamed it with a self drafted silk jacket. Very cropped, because it was a very small piece of silk that had been in my stash for over twenty years. I lined it with matching satin and used the leftover pieces to make some flowers.

I put the flowers on safety pins so they can be removed.

The pictures aren't the best, sorry. The deadline for the link party is today and at 4 pm I could finally start the hemming. By hand. An hour later a thunderstorm passed, it was dark inside and soaking wet outside. No time to lose (and as you can see: no time to press the hem either), as soon as the rain stopped I found a dry spot for the tripod and modeled the dress under a tree to keep the silk as dry as possible. 

This is where I spotted the next thunderstorm. Time to grab my dress and run!

Sewing Indie Month was just the little push I needed to finally make this pattern, and I'm glad I did!
The pattern is still on my sewing table, my next dress will be another Anna. I just have to decide whether I'll make the shorter version or a relaxed summer version of the maxi dress. Or both. To be continued!

Whatever the weather, happy sewing!

Edit: If you like this outfit, voting is open now at this page, my dress is #18, 
       Anna dressed to the nines